2008 wasn’t a good year. This was the year of recession. The year of price drop to $6.99 on portals. The year when portals started war for and against exclusives.
A lot of things happened I couldn’t keep up. In the middle of 2008 I started development of GabCab with Reflexive and Russell Carroll. This game took a lot of my time and I said to myself that I will focus on it and don’t blog or improve my website until it’s done. I’ve learned a lot during development of GabCab and I don’t regret it, but meanwhile, while world moved forward, my site moved backward. Now, once GabCab is done, I have a time to think about what happened and you can read few of my thoughts below.
There are few things that make portals preferred source for games instead of developers site. Let’s call them Unique Selling Points (USP) and let’s take a look at Big Fish Games (biggest portal at the moment).
* A New Game Every Day – 365+ a year. Yes, BFG releases more than a game a day, sometimes even 3 games a day.
* Online games – and that’s right, a new game every day too.
* Exclusives – and BFG provides a lot of exclusive games for 7 days or more.
* Daily Deals – Every day new deal, for just one day, for as low as $2.99.
* Forums – where you can chat not only about the games.
* Catch of the Week – similar to Daily Deal, but a game is available for full week.
* Tomorrow’s Game Today (TGT)- available only to Game Club members.
* GameClub itself (if you sign up you get TGT and games for $6.99 instead of $9.99)
* Very good support (and Live Chat for Game Club members)
* Top 100 charts
* 1 minute movies for each game
* Game manager
* Over 1000 games in catalog
Did you count? That’s 13 unique selling points! How many of those do you have on your site? Do you even release your own game exclusively on your own site for a week? Do you have at least 1?
What do you have that BFG doesn’t have? Walk through? Think again. More screen shots for your game? Longer text description?
Other portals may not have the same USP (their unique for a reason) or have some of those points but with a different name (that’s called marketing and trying to make it unique). GameHouse has all you can eat subscriptions, iWin has Steals & Deals and Cash Games.
And that’s not all. BFG sends newsletters two times a week. Do you send it at least once a month? Portals also do a lot of marketing. When you have so many USP you can invest a lot more into Pay Per Click ads (or any other ads). They don’t have to recoup that investment from the sale of a single game, they can and do repeat business.
Now you know (if you haven’t already) why some portals sell tons of games and why you don’t. But seriously, did you really expect to do as much as 300 men army of portal employees? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against portals selling so much, I’m just trying to find out how we can sell more.
Is there something we can do to fix this situation? To sell more without hurting relationship with portals? I really hope so.
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