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  • Launch Parties: Not Just For AAA

    [03.19.19]
    - Nathaniel Ferguson

  • Loose Ends

    There are a few loose ends of information I learned organizing and running this event which I wanted to throw here.

    First off, make sure it's easy to buy your game. We offered raffle tickets for people purchasing our game for $3 and had three different ways to do so. They could purchase on Steam, Itch, or by Venmoing our company account $3 and getting a steam code from a dev. We made it super easy to purchase games, but we never really pushed it or gave people instructions for it - learn from our mistakes and advertise how people can support you.

    Second off, organizing a launch party as a small indie or student is definitely doable and I would say worth the time, but there are a lot of other costs. It's stressful. Student or small indie projects can sometimes have the benefit of having a loose release date, but that's not something you can do when you've announced a launch party. In addition, it's a lot of planning and double-checking and coordination in what will likely already be a crunch period. I was one of the leads on Rollossus, and planning sprints, assigning tasks, doing my share of programming, and planning a launch party is a lot. Depending on what's left to finish in your game and the size of your team, you might run yourself pretty thin.

    Thirdly, make sure your developers are distinguished at the event. People should be able to tell the difference between developers and game players. Even beyond recognition, people may have questions, or need to get somebody to restart a build or machine.

    Fourth, try and choose your venue as carefully as you can. We got lucky with our venue. It's an arcade bar, for one. Additionally, the owners were incredibly accommodating with trying to earn us some money, as well as reaching out to their partners to provide prizes. Our marketing lacked in places, but we ended up picking up some extra traffic just due to regular customers who showed up to the bar and went "oh cool, release party".

    Fifth, decorate a little! We didn't have a lot of time to prepare decorations, but I spend a few hours doing a few crafts. I printed out some concept art, traced it on cardboard, cut the cardboard, and then glued them together. I made some stands for them and we were able to place them around the venue.

    Finally, have a backup plan. We had a few Nintendo Switches with Super Smash Bros on hand in case all of our machines broke, or if the builds decided they wanted to break. Thankfully we didn't need to use them. However, if we did, nobody would be mad about a Smash tournament.

    Conclusion

    Launch parties are achievable things for indies/students to do for their project and the benefits could very well outweigh the costs. However, you really should evaluate what amount of time you have left on development, because missing out on critical features isn't worth having a release party for. Just under half of our game's revenue a week after launch has been generated from the release party alone. Good luck!

    Author: Nathaniel Ferguson
    Email: [email protected]
    Portfolio: www.ngmferguson.com
    Twitter: @ngmferguson
    Move or Die GDC talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB8CvsOjDvg

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