GameLook report/Independent games have been regarded by many players as a clear stream in the game industry. In the past two years, independent games at home and abroad have also shown a rising trend, from “Dead Cell” and “Hades” to this year’s domestic game “Ghost Valley Eight” “Desolate” and “Dyson Ball Project” are all high-quality products with good reputation and good sales.
This kind of success is a reward to the game team and an encouragement to the latecomers. But for a team that is self-reliant or new to the game industry, it is only the first step that must be taken to gain the courage to enter the field of indie games, and there are still ninety-nine steps to go. At this time, the experience of the predecessors is enough. It’s important.
Not long ago, GameLook introduced the independent game “Escape Simulator”, which was launched for two months and received 95% praise on Steam. Recently, the team leader of the game, Tom (Reddit: u/ps_Tom) from Pine Studio, is on Reddit He said in a long article that the game had reached 4 million U.S. dollars in sales in less than two months, and shared a series of behind-the-scenes information about the success of the game from many aspects.
Unlike room escape games such as “The Room” and “Cube Escape” that emphasize single-player decryption, “Escape Simulator” takes a different approach, focusing on multiplayer and social, just like offline room escape. In multiplayer, players need Use your scouting abilities and communicate with your teammates to solve the puzzles in the current room.
In addition to the game’s preset levels, Pine Studio also provides a secret room editor for the game from the beginning and opens a creative workshop, allowing players to build their own escape room experience.
Most of the following content comes from Tom’s Reddit long article and the content exchanged with netizens.
The epidemic has brought huge dividends to the game industry in the past two years. Tom also said that the Pine Studio development team has successfully captured some changes in player behavior, but these changes have actually shown signs before the epidemic.
“Escape Simulator is not a game designed specifically for those who can’t entertain offline. Our team started working on this product in 2019.”
Tom’s so-called changes in player behavior are the rise of multiplayer games. “The use of multiplayer cooperative mode as one of the core gameplay is a major driving force for the success of the game.”
For the independent game team, Tom believes that the first is to have two qualities, first is a good game (concept), and second is reasonable financial planning.
The first is an excellent game. To do this, “the only way is to have an excellent team”, and this kind of excellence is not only an evaluation of ability, but more importantly, team members need to have a common goal.
Pine Studio, the developer and publisher of “Escape Simulator”, is not a newcomer in the game industry from the perspective of qualifications. The studio has been established for 9 years and has launched a variety of products such as “SEUM” and “THE ACADEMY”. The total number of players for all game products has exceeded 30 million, but according to Tom, the company’s core team currently has only 5-6 people, and it will expand to 14 when necessary.
“During our 9 years of establishment, I feel that our team’s work is not distracted by too many trivial things, but is completely focused on the same goal.”
Secondly, for independent game teams with generally tight funds, a limited budget must be spent on the blade. In addition to game development, hiring an excellent public relations company or making a professional trailer for the game is also a marketing expenditure. very necessary.
“It’s necessary to spend money on marketing. If you don’t have money, you need to save some money.” Tom also said that in the “Escape Simulator” project, marketing expenditures accounted for about the total amount of the project. 6% of the budget.
“Public relations companies can allow the development team to focus on the product during the game release, rather than outside disturbance.”
Regarding the choice of the marketing company, Tom said that Pine Studio’s favorite method is to look for the final production staff of the team’s favorite game products, especially game products that are similar in play to the game project at hand. As for the time to start marketing, of course this needs to be determined by different game products and the rhythm of the team, but “Escape Simulator” is a one-month promotion before and after the game is released.
Game promotion video
Flexible and brave team
First of all, for independent games, the importance of the team is self-evident. Tom also emphasized the role of the Pine Studio team in the game.
Tom said that Pine Studio is a very pragmatic team, “We often question what is’try it right'”. The most intuitive example is that “Escape Simulator” was originally an AR mobile game project, but the team later thought that the game had a greater chance on Steam, so the entire project was migrated to the PC platform.
You must know that Pine Studio invested most of the team’s previous game products in “Escape Simulator”, and even sold the PC porting rights of all the company’s past mobile game products. “Escape Simulator” was originally an attempt by the team to fight back.
Facts have proved that Pine Studio’s judgment is correct. “Escape Simulator” uses its room editor, character model, multiplayer game and other features to perfectly fill the gap in the escape decryption game on Steam. Of course, also because of the uniqueness of the game, Tom said that all major European and American publishers rejected the game.
However, Pine Studio is not completely letting go, and the team also has hidden tricks. Based on the overall quality of the game project before the switch to Steam, Pine Studio optimistically estimates that “Escape Simulator” will be available on the App Store and Google Play Store, and the cost will be recovered within one year.
Pine Studio is also a mobile game company
Proactively communicate with professionals and PR teams
For the marketing plan of “Escape Simulator”, Tom used the term “guerrilla” to describe it. For example, before the game was released, the team contacted a series of developers of similar games and tried to get these developers to promote “Escape Simulator” on social media.
“They are making game products that are similar to yours. If this is not someone worth talking to, who is?”
Tom said that this strategy has worked very well. While accurately reaching the core player groups, the development team has also carried out some interesting and in-depth exchanges with many developers.
Of course, in addition to communicating with other colleagues, the role of the PR team is also crucial. It is precisely because of PR’s advice and help that the game team decided to develop some sample rooms for the in-game editor in advance. This not only allows players to have templates in the inexperienced stage, which reduces the difficulty of getting started with the editor, but also the development team can personally use the in-game editor and thoroughly test and experience it.
Well-known game UP is the main game demo of Laugh against the wind
Use Steam’s policies to expand the influence of the game
“You have to understand the platform on which your game will be released and use it to create an advantage for the game.”
In the past year, due to the epidemic, developers on Steam mainly need to pay attention to various game festivals. If the development team only cares about the number of people on the wish list before the game is released, you can choose to participate in some other activities that meet the conditions for participation, except for some activities that do not have a special section on the Steam homepage. Although not every activity can increase the number of wishlists for the game, it is always a good deal to increase the exposure of the game.
But the premise of all this is that the game already has relatively complete and high-quality materials and Demos. Tom revealed that Valve will review and carefully select the game products to be displayed at the event. “Escape Simulator” participated in the Steam New Product Festival in the early stages of the game with unsatisfactory qualities, although the event has not allowed Few players added the game to the wish list, but at the time the game was not strongly recommended by the V agency at the time, and it did not get the maximum exposure.
Game pricing strategy
Speaking of pricing, Tom said that the final $15 price of “Escape Simulator” was not determined until the last week before the game went live.On the one hand, as a multiplayer cooperative game, the team does not want the cost of multiplayer to purchase the game too high; on the other hand, the price is too low and it is difficult to recover the cost.
But after struggling, the team decided on the “quantity first” strategy, which is to sell as many games as possible in the early stages of the launch, even if it means ultra-low prices. On the one hand, this strategy is adopted because of the nature of multiplayer cooperative games, and on the other hand, it is considered that as an independent game team, Pine Studio’s influence and anti-risk ability are extremely limited.
So the game’s current price of $15 is actually slightly lower than the price expected by the PR team and the studio. I hope to get more sales and attract more players’ attention when the game is released. And this strategy has proved extremely effective for “Escape Simulator”, the game has been on Steam’s hot game list for two weeks at the beginning of its release.
Tom revealed that “Escape Simulator” was originally expected to launch 20 room levels when it was launched. However, like major European and American manufacturers, the team also encountered time limit issues. The originally planned 20 levels were an impossible task, and Christmas The imminent approach and the planned PR plan meant that the team could not bear the risk of the game’s ticket skipping. After careful consideration, Pine Studio finally decided to cut 5 rooms to ensure the quality of the content when the game was launched.
With the help of the PR team, Pine Studio is also able to release the five rooms that have been cut in a short period of time, with a higher degree of completion as the subsequent update of the game.
After the game went live, another decision of Pine Studio was to hold a competition and use cash rewards to encourage players to join the community.
Soon after the start of the sale, the team found that the game’s sales increased and the number of players online at the same time showed a downward trend, so at this point in time, the team released the news of holding a community competition, which also made the game creative workshop The amount of UGC content has surged, and there are many excellent designs. The event has activated the game’s creator community and helped increase the sales of the game.
Sudoku themed escape room created by the player
Some interesting facts
At the end of the article, Tom also shared some little-known facts about “Escape Simulator” and Steam.
For example, some articles on the Internet advise developers not to label their Steam games with the “indie/indie” label. Tom said that this is completely wrong. The “indie/indie” label will make it easier for the game to enter the sales rankings. To gain additional exposure. If the developer minds, just put this tag at the end.
In addition, if the game’s launch date is approaching winter promotion and other activities, developers can apply to Valve to extend the time for game release discounts and allow the game to be included in seasonal promotions.
Regarding “Escape Simulator”, Tom said that the team did not consider the indicator of user retention during the development phase, but instead focused on enriching the types of gameplay players play in the game. “They can solve puzzles alone, they can play with friends, they can also use their creativity.” All of this naturally makes the game more universal and easier to sell.
The number of comments on “Escape Simulator” is so different from sales that the sales data on SteamDB and SteamSpy are not accurate, “at least twice that of SteamSpy.” Tom revealed that the sales of “Escape Simulator” on Steam are “more than 400,000 units”, and the current sales data of the game on SteamSpy is 100,000 to 200,000 units.
Game anchors are very important to independent games. “No large European and American game news portals have reported our games. But many anchors have done this.” Tom also said that during the development of the game, the team has been thinking about the scene where the anchors play the game. The design of all items in “Escape Simulator” can be picked up and destroyed, partly to increase the effect of the program during the live broadcast.
This Article is curated from Source and we only provide the English version of the Story.