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Marketing efforts and KPI’s – Week 1

Hello dream-fulfilling Giants!

It’s been almost a week since the previous post were we setup our targets for the Space Mercs steam launch on July 31st! If you haven’t read it, I recommend giving it a quick scan so you’ll know what I’m talking about here. We’re going to look at our KPI’s (Wishlists, traffic, impressions and store visits), see how we generated them (articles, interviews, tweets) and setup a plan for next week!

Let me start this post by saying THANK YOU! In a single week we almost managed to get 50% of the way towards our launch targets! And with about a month and a half to go things are looking really nice. So take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back because it’s you guys who made it possible. Here’s a wip gif from the Campaign and Loadout screen that I’ve been working on (6 mb, might take a few seconds to load). You deserve it.

Now, let’s look at our KPI’s.

Week in review: Results

Last week we were sitting at 189 wishlists. Using the formulas discussed, at that point in time, we were looking at 567$ in revenue on launch with about 100 copies sold. We went further and estimated that we would be increasing at wishlist count by 4 wishlists / day leading to a total of 446 wishlists and assumed we will bank about 1338$ on release while selling 223 units.

So what’s body count at now? Well:

  • Wishlists: 489
  • Estimated week 1 net revenue: 1467$
  • Estimated copies to be sold: 244
  • Estimated year 1 net revenue: 7335$

Safe to say we’ve blown pass our estimated target for launch in the worst case scenario! This past week in review looks like this:

On average, we increased our daily wishlist count by 50 wishlists leading to a total 300 wishlists in 6 days or, better said, a 158% increase in just 6 days. Can I cry now, because I feel like crying.

Let’s look over the data we have from Steam. We’re going to go into a bit more details like: Steam traffic, impressions, visits, CTR and conversion rates – with all the data being supplied by the Steam Dashboard Itself.

First off, this is how Steam itself helped us this week. The following screenshot is from the dashboard and shows the amount of Impressions and Visits our steam store page got from Steam. CTR is the conversion rate between how many times our game capsule (little image with the game’s name) was displayed on the store and how many people clicked it to get to the game’s page (where they can wishlist it):

Our game capsule was displayed 15,386 times on the store page (note that this doesn’t mean that people actually saw it. It counts the number of times it was loaded). People clicked it about 1,188 times to access the Space Mercs store page. That’s a 7.72% conversion rate.

Now, let’s look at the total amount of traffic we had in this period:

Woah! External traffic (brought in by our marketing efforts) accounts for almost twice as many visits to the game’s page. Our marketing efforts to steam’s promotion efforts is literary 1.8:1, aka almost double. So much for just release on steam and the store is going to promote you. Impressions in this case accounts for how many times the steam widget was displayed on an external website, while visits is how many people reached the game’s page in total. Our CTR is above the roof but mostly because we’ve directly linked people to the page.

So what can we learn from this? Well, steam has a lot more reach and visibility than anything I’ve done before but targeted traffic trumps it. With a only 7% conversion rate from the impressions steam gave the game I can only take a single conclusion: My capsule (image for the game) sucks really, really hard! I need to step up my steam capsule game a ton.

On the bright side, our marketing push for this week blew us past our worst case expectations and moved us into the “we might make it” territory. But this doesn’t mean we have to stop here. Let’s go into even more detail by looking at all the traffic combined and spit our our visits to wishlist conversion rate:

In total we received about 3,454 visits to the game’s page this week with 300 people adding the game to their wishlist. This gives us a 3,435/300 aka 11.5 visit to wishlist conversion rate. Out of 10 people visiting the game’s store page, 1 will wishlist it. How many wishlists we got from steam vs from direct traffic we will never know, but it’s safe to say that we’re performing better than I initially expected! Now let’s look at who the people who wishlisted our game are or, at the very least, what operating system they are using.

Ogh this is a sight to see for me! Linux is leading the known platform-specific wishlist race with 147 additions. Aka a 1.6:1 ratio Linux-to-Windows. The nerd inside of me is extremely happy because, even if the data will change as we near release, it shows that there’s a market out there. For small indies, like me, looking for low-volume sales Linux is a boon that they should not overlook.

If you’re an indie dev looking at this and thinking “agh cool, yeah I’ll target Linux” listen closely to the following: Test your Linux build, at the very least every week. Test the linux build after every middleware your integrate. Make sure it runs well on Linux and do not skip your QA process. If you’re using Unity, Linux is a one-click export but that’s only if you’re just using Unity and nothing else. A ton of developers wait till the very last moment to do a linux build and discover too late that they can’t do it, or it doesn’t work. I’ll go into more details about this process in the future.

Results Recap – and how we managed to achieve them

In the period between June 10th and June 16th we:

  • Increased our wishlist count by 158%
    • 300 new wishlists
  • Manage to direct 3434 people to our store page
    • 1188 visits being from steam
    • 2246 from our direct marketing efforts
  • Achieved a wishlist to visit conversion rate of 11.5%

It’s been an amazing week for us and it went better than expected! We achieved the results above from (but not limited to) the following sources:

  • An amazing article from the beloved Gaming on Linux website! They covered our new trailer, screenshots and improvements from the public demo – viewed more than 7000 times. As always, lots of love towards Liam and the Gaming on Linux staff – they do amazing work promoting Linux games! You can read the article here.
  • An article from Hardcore Gamer, by James Cunningham, that covers the same topic as GoL! No views data available but it certainly had an impact! Thank you James, I mean it. Article here.
  • Linux Game Consortium who covered the launch date, trailer on both LGC and Linux Game News! Thanks a ton – you have been added to my press list!
  • A /r/linux_gaming post that leads to the GoL article which got more than 160 upvotes!
  • Our new youtube trailer which is sitting at about 859 views! View it here.
  • A viral imgur post we made on monday that brought in about 85 wishlists.
  • Some of my twitter tweets linking to the store page that got a couple thousand impressions and a few tens of link clicks. Not much but they count! Example 1, example 2, example 3.

Going forward – goals, marketing efforts, Beta 6

This week has come and gone very fast. I haven’t managed to get Beta 6 out to my discord community yet! I’ve finished integrating the new cockpit into the game and empowered it with a ton of features – from bullet tracking, to a targeting system and more. We’re also overhauling the game’s UI from a screen overlay to being built into the actual space ship! Right now I’m trying to finish the Loadout screen so I can call the game campaign feature complete before I move onto finishing the content (missions, weapons, ship upgrades).

In terms of wishlist expectations we’re still targeting at least 1000 wishlists before launch. We’re 48.9% of the way there but that’s the minimum amount required for the game’s launch to have any chance of allowing me to make another game this year. It’s either that or I have to get another job doing Free2Play stuff while using evil, anti consumer, tactics!

We’re going to stick to our worst case scenario expectations of about 4 wishlists per day and hope we will never drop that low. At the current rate we are going at we need about 13 wishlists / day leading up to the launch on July 31st in order to achieve our target. Going by our worst case expectations of 4 wishlists / day, we’re looking at 641 wishlists on launch.

You can help us out in quite a few ways:

  • The easiest way is to go to our store page and wishlist the game, so you’ll be notified when it comes out.
  • Another way is to spread awareness of our marketing efforts, for two reasons:
    • First one is that it’s going to help other developers estimate their launch performances
      • Improve their marketing efforts
      • Adjust their expectations
    • Second one is that it’s also going to help boost the awareness of the game to people inside the industry. This doesn’t mean just game developers, but also editors and writers. They might not want to write about the game by itself but they might find an angle about Steam’s state and the game could get some more awareness because of that!
  • In order to help spread awareness about this you can link people to this blog post, the original one or the live data tracking document itself.
  • Third options to become our patrons. For as little as 1$ a month you can help us reach a steady revenue stream. We’re up to 50$ a month right now and, long term, it helps a ton.
  • Forth option is to follow me on twitter and re-tweet my stuff! It’s going to increase my reach and hopefully help get some more people to notice the game!

And with this we conclude this week’s marketing efforts and results! I really do hope next week’s post will be even bigger and more cheerful! I’m forever grateful to my lovely giants for helping me get here! I am extremely aware that, if it wasn’t for you guys, our worst case scenario would have become true!

THANK YOU,

Giants!

 

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Resources for Linux Game Developers

Hello tuxedo giants,

With the help of Raven67854 (co-host of the Offtopical Podcast and fellow gamedev) I compiled a list of resources for Linux Game Developers. It covers topics such as Streamers and Youtubers, using Unity, Services (people porting or offering porting services) and more. I’m hoping that with this resource list I can aid other game devs that are bringing their games to Linux OR give a bit more of a nudge to those who are on the fence about doing it! It’s not a complete, exhaustive list, but it should help getting you started on the journey! We need more native games on the platform, now more than ever!

Unity for Linux Developers

I published an article on this blog a few months ago about using Unity on Linux in 2019 and I was quite rough with it. For my last two projects, Farm Life and Space Mercs, I’ve been using Unity exclusively – the 2018 edition and it’s been wonderful. Marc (mdiluz) reached out to me after the article and pointed out some problems with my approach towards Unity’s “Stable” builds and the fact that the one I should use is the “experimental” 2018 version and let me say, it’s a huge difference. I will rebute the previous article soon enough but until then here’s where to get the latest Unity Hub version together with my overview on the situation!

  • Download Unit Hub 1.6.0 for Linux from here: https://forum.unity.com/threads/unity-hub-v-1-6-0-is-now-available.640792/
  • Install the 2018.4.0f1 official release version
  • 2019.1.2f1 seems to have problems with built-in packages like TextMesh Pro and the LWRP. All the errors you get on start require you to remove all the packages installed by default. I’m looking to upgrade my projects from 2018 to 2019 and I’ll update this bullet list with an article on what I did soon!

Unity 2018 is mostly stable for me with little to no crashes and really decent performance, at least compared to the 2017 version. I’ve used it to port Farm Life to linux and exclusively to work on Space Mercs with little to no problems. There are a few issues tho’, like trying to close Unity windows which requires a lot of fiddling with the mouse. But overall the performance is almost on par with the Windows counterpart. Note one thing: It does not ship with MonoDevelop or any other text editor. I recommend doing the following:

  • Download Visual Studio Code from here: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/setup/linux
    • They have .deb, .rpm, snap packages and even a repo to use!
  • Install the .NET Core SDK on your distribution based on the article here: https://dotnet.microsoft.com/download/linux-package-manager/ubuntu18-10/sdk-current
    • There are guides for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu 18.10 to 14.04 (19.04 is not covered yet and there are a few problems with getting it to work on 19.04 due to missing packages – to be fixed soon), Debian 9, Fedora 27 and 28, CentOS, OpenSUse and SLES! Should cover most of your needs!
  • Open up the Unity editor and go into Edit -> Preferences -> External Tools tab
    • From External Script Editor click the drop down menu and select browse. Navigate to your the binary for Visual Studio Code and select it
      • if you don’t know where the binary for Visual Studio Code is located, open up a terminal and do: which code
      • normally it should be under /usr/bin/code
    • Create a new script inside Unity’s Project Browser and double click on it. VSCode should pop-up and work properly!

Unity seems to have really picked-up the pace with development and with the 2019 edition reaching preview status Linux is really close to becoming a first class citizen. I can, finally, wholeheartedly recommend it!

Porting your games to Linux

Linux needs more native games! I love Proton and what Valve are doing with it but using Proton doesn’t guarantee full support and games working on it at this point can break in the future with updates and due to middleware support (see the EAC scandal). I’ll say it, Proton is amazing, but native support is better! Depending on the technology your game is based on, porting to Linux can be as simple as outputting a build for it with the click of a button (Unity) to just compiling it on Linux directly. In other cases you really need to dive deep into the code and change quite a few things. Luckily, there are many solutions and services to aid you here – including hiring someone who specializes on that! We’ll start with this.

At this point in time I know of a few developers who specialize in this and, with my interactions with them, can recommend them for this task:

  • Ethan Lee
    • Website: http://www.flibitijibibo.com
    • References: Super Hexagon, Capsized, Rogue Legacy! Active developer on FNA and Proton!
  • Timothee Besset
    • Website: https://about.me/TimotheeBesset
    • Refferences: RocketLeague, Quake Live – mostly unreal engine from what I gathered.

As for known studios, there are quite a few you could reach out to! There’s Aspyr Media (Civilization VI, Start Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Geometry Wars, Broderlands 2), Feral Interactive (DiRT 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex), Abstraction Games ( Danganronpa ), RuneSoft (Ankh).

Twitter user @hardpenguin13 maintains a Github repo with a more comprehensive list of Studios and Developers porting games to Linux!

For resources, here’s a compiled list of articles and videos that can help you get started!

  • Building for Linux the smart way [Article – Leszek Godlewski]
  • Game Development with SDL2 [Video – Ryan C. Gordon, Slides ]
  • Getting Started with Linux Game Development [Video, Ryan C. Gordon, Slides]
  • Porting to Linux at Linux Conf Australia [Video – Cheeseness, Slides]
  • Linux/SteamOS Game Development [Video – Ethan Lee, Slides]
  • Cheeseness talking with Ethan [Article – interview style! Good resources and points of view on technology to use]

List of Linux Gamecasters/YouTubers

First thing’s first, the reason this list was compiled. Besides, the wonderful linux news website, GamingOnLinux I did not know other places or people (Influencers. let’s call them that) with whom to speak to put more eyeballs on my latest project. As such I reached out to Raven67854 to see if he can aid me. And he did, so be sure to thank him dearly on twitter. This is a list of Linux streamers and youtubers that can put some eyeballs on your game after you brought it to Linux!

JakeJw93 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Jakejw93
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jakejw93

Xpander69
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Xpander666
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Xpander69
Mastadon: https://mastodon.social/@xpander69

Snowdreike
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/snowdreike
Twitter: https://twitter.com/snowdreike

HexDSL
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/hexdsl/
Mastadon: https://linuxrocks.online/@HexDSL

Eegee
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EtherealGaming1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/egee_irl

Penguin Recordings
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/PenguinRecordings
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sabunator

GamingTux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GTuxTV
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gtuxtv

Holarse
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/holarse
Twitter: https://twitter.com/holarse

Gotbletu
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/gotbletu/

Linux4UnMe
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Linux4UnMe/

sneekylinux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/sneekylinux
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sneekylinux

quidsup
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/quidsup
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quidsup

Ghost67Linux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCglkWuyZDppWD2BVsyI4r3A

ChrisTitusTech
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/homergfunk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christitustech

SwitchedToLinux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoryWpk4QVYKFCJul9KBdyw
Twitter: https://twitter.com/switchedtolinux

GasGregor
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DasGregor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DasGregor

JoeCollins
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BadEditPro
Website: https://www.ezeelinux.com/

DistroTube
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVls1GmFKf6WlTraIb_IaJg
Mastadon: https://mastodon.technology/@distrotube

Bryan Lunduke
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BryanLunduke
Website: http://www.lunduke.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BryanLunduke
Mastadon: https://social.librem.one/@lunduke

TheLinuxGamer
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/tuxreviews
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thelinuxgamer
Mastadon: https://social.librem.one/@gbryant

GamingOnLinux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GamingOnLinuxcom
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gamingonlinux
Mastadon: https://mastodon.social/@gamingonlinux
Website: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/

Level1Tech
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/teksyndicate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Level1Techs
Website: https://www.level1techs.com/

The Linux Experiment
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5UAwBUum7CPN5buc-_N1Fw
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thelinuxexp

Linux4Poets
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChAZdofPrVJ4i2aXbLm_V3Q

KyLinux Cast
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC30WrT9v3qc4UCmDtIyH3ww

InfinitelyGalactic
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/InfinitelyGalactic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ingalactic

DwangoAC
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/dwangoAC
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrTASBot

ChrisWereDigital
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAPR27YUyxmgwm3Wc2WSHLw
Mastadon: https://linuxrocks.online/@ChrisWere

Destination Linux
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWJUSpXVHTaHErtGWC5qPlQ
Website: https://destinationlinux.org/

Linux Gamecast
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/linuxgamecast
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VennStone
Website: https://linuxgamecast.com/

We opted to include public means of contact in the form of twitter/mastadon or their website’s contact form instead of providing a list of e-mails that can be used to spam them.

I hope this list is going to help you get started with bringing more games to Linux! Like I said in the begining – we can never have too many native games! As for me, I hope you are all aware of my Linux 1st Initiative and methodology behind my games. You can help support this initiative by becoming a patreon subscriber, and get some amazing Linux games in the process!

Good luck Giants!