New Exposure for an Old Game
If you're visiting this site for the first time today, chances are you've reached it via one of several recent very popular videos covering my game Super Amazing Wagon Adventure. You might mistakenly think the game is a recent release until you see the previous blog post titled “Postmortem” dated September 27, about three months after the game's initial Xbox Live Indie Games release. Through no action on my part, my six month old game is experiencing a huge rush of new interest that is as incredible as it is puzzling. In this post I'll break down what happened, what I've learned, and what's next for me.
The recent interest in my game started with a YouTube video Two Best Friends Play : Xbox Live Indie Games III. My game is only shown in the last couple of minutes of the video, but Two Best Friends are insanely popular (the video has 739k views), so it lead to a big spike in Xbox sales. In fact, 12/24, the day the video was posted, broke my previous record for single day sales of the Xbox version of the game, and the game continued to sell better than usual for the next few weeks.
I figured this spike in sales was a pleasant fluke, and sales would settle back down to their previous levels. Then, the perfect storm of publicity began. On 1/17 Giant Bomb did a Quick Look followed by a Northernlion Let's Look At on 1/18 and a TotalBiscuit WTF Is on 1/19. The TotalBiscuit video is currently siting at over 187,000 views. Wow! It's still too early to say exactly how big the total effect on sales will be, but it's safe to say that, with the exception of the IndieRoyale bundle (which my game was not exactly the focus of), the game has never sold better. I don't actually have XBLIG numbers yet for 1/17 on since the sales reports are currently delayed a few days, but the Desura numbers alone make that statement true. The publicity has also pushed the game into the top 100 Greenlight rankings for the first time. This is especially amazing given that before the publicity spike the game was only about 53% of the way to the top 100.
I've done literally nothing to make any of this happen. Both the Giant Bomb and Northernlion videos were the result of viewer requests, and I think TotalBiscuit found the game via Giant Bomb. So, basically you all made this happen. Word of mouth turned into publicity which cascaded into more and more publicity. Thank you! It's pretty incredible to see sales and page view numbers an order of magnitude greater than the previous day, especially so long after the game's release.
What I've Learned
This recent attention is a total shock to me, and I've already learned a few game development lessons.
- You never have “enough” exposure. I figured that after having the game featured in IndieRoyale and covered in numerous game press outlets (GameSpot, Destructoid, Edge, Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, etc) just about everyone who would possibly be interested in my game would have already heard of it. I was very wrong. It seems that, at least for small indie games, you never really have “enough” exposure.
- YouTube has amazing reach. The impact from TotalBiscuit's video in terms of sales and page hits is incredible. YouTube isn't the future of video game press. It's the present. I'm not sure if there's many (any?) traditional video game press outlets that can consistently get hundreds of thousands of views.
- January is a great time for indie games. If you subscribe to TotalBiscuit or Northernlion's channels, you've probably noticed in the post-holiday dearth of AAA releases they are covering a lot of smaller indie games. It's a great time of year to release an indie game or promote a previously released indie game.
What's Next For Me
Following the PC release of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure I spent about a month working on a new game. I then took a 3 month hiatus to work as a contractor at a software company, but as of January I'm back to work on my new game full time. All of the new interest in Super Amazing Wagon Adventure has given me more confidence that just maybe I'm not making a huge mistake and I can make this indie game development thing work as a career. The new game is still in the early stages of development, so I don't want to talk about it here for fear my plans might change, but if you follow me on Twitter you'll get a bunch of early ideas and screenshots. I'm hoping to build off of everything I learned making Super Amazing Wagon Adventure.
I'm also keeping an eye on Greenlight. I don't know if this recent publicity is enough to get my game on Steam, but if the votes keep coming in there's a chance. Whether or not it happens, just being in the top 100 is already a huge achievement. There are over 1000 games on Greenlight, so being in the top 100 places my game in the top 10% of indie games.
Thanks again, everyone, for all of your support. I never expected this level of success for Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, and it really is a dream come true for me.