Monday, December 11, 2017

Asking keys for a review

As a publisher of my own games, I tend to receive emails asking for a key to download my games and create a review. That's great because thanks to these reviews, it becomes more popular and more people learn about it. So, I'm happy to give them!

However,  anyone can write an email and ask for a key referencing other people's work. So before sending you any key, your email address must be verified. 

You should do it by following one of the following options:

If you're writing from a web magazine:
a) Please write from an email from the same domain, instead of gmail of hotmail.
b) If you don't have an own email, please include an URL of the contact page of your domain where the email address you are writing is published, so I can check it's the same.

If you're a youtuber:
a) Please include the URL of your youtube channel, and make sure you have your email address published on the "contact information" page. In this way I can check that the email is not a fake one.
b) Make sure that you have been releasing videos recently. Youtube channels with videos from long time ago are not accepted.
c) Make sure your videos are about indie games, not just minecraft.
d) Make sure you have a minimum amount of followers. Please don't ask keys if you're under 1K. Instead, just buy the game like other players do. Being a youtuber is not just publishing videos, but having a community that follows them.
e) Introducing youself in your videos and including a whatermark logo is not mandatory, but it's good to know that you didn't get those videos from somewhere else, and will prevent fake youtubers to use them.

If you are a blogger:
a) Please include a URL showing your email address from the blog.
b) Include visit data from Google Analytics if possible.


That's all! I'm pretty sure that other publishers will be happier if you include this information on your emails when you write them asking for a key, and you will get more chances to receive one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Curiosities about Steam Sales

Spanish version here

Hello!

Today I'm going to talk about Steam Sales from the point of view of a publisher, and also give answer to some mysteries and curiosities about them. I hope you like it!

Worth it?

Several people asked me if it's worth setting a game on sale in Steam where the publisher earns less money per game. Well, Steam Sales offers to publishers a great opportunity to sky-rocket the sells. I mean sky-rocket, not just raise.
It all works like this:

First of all, Steam keeps the 30% of the game, no matter the price, so if a game is sold for $10, Steam will keep $3 while the publisher will earn $7. If the game is discounted 50%, Steam keeps $1,5 and the publisher earns $3,5.
(taxes, currency exchanges, bank commissions, and other stuff are to be taken out)

Let say that someone sells 20 games per day at full price. Well, during a day in Steam Sale like Summer Sales or Christmas Sales, sells can raise to 1000 games per day.
If selling 20 games at full price one can earn  $140, selling 1000 at half price one earns $3,500. As you figured out, really worth it.

But if Steam promotes the game showing it in the main page of the Store, like in a "Flash sale" (those that last 8 hours), then figures sky rocket to 20.000 - 40.000 sells in only 8 hours. In these super-sales, games are much more discounted, let's say 80%, so one gets $1,5€ per game. This generates $30.000 - $60.000 in just 8 hours. Of course, only a few games have the privilege to be part of these sort of super-sales.

External Bundles

Another curious fact is that, when external bundles or sales are running, Steam sells are slightly affected. For instance, Unepic took part in the Humble Indie Bundle 14 that sold around 180.000 units during a week or two, I don't remember the exact time. Anyway, during this period, I was expecting a drop in the sells in Steam because, who was going to buy the game at full price when it was available for less money and even having 8 extra games?

Curiously, sells only dropped around 20%, and raised again once the bundle was over.

Does Steam force you to set the game on sale?

Absolutely not. Sales are a free choice and one can take part in them if wished. Even more, the publisher is free to select the percentage of discount in a game.

Besides, one can create his own sale. They don't tend to be as profitable as the ones Steam does because it is not announced anywhere, and only players with the game in their wish list will be notified.

The "Wish list"

One of Steam's cool features is the "Wish list", that basically lets a player mark a game as "wished". This is a good ally of a publisher because when a game is set on sale, Steam will notify the player with the game "wished" which helps a lot in selling the game.

This may also cause that games come out with a small initial discount because, apart from encouraging new users to buy it, it also notifies those who already have it in their wish list.

To buy before a sale

Steam provides publishers wonderful charts that show daily sells, even by hour, of the games they have published. When in a sale, we can see how these charts raises.

But these charts, these few thin lines, are in fact reflecting the purchases and dreams of a lot of players. So when I see them I think about the few people who purchased the game just before the massive peak of sales. Then I think... How does the player that spent his money in a game, and a few hours later sees that same game on sale feel?

Today, the day I'm writing this article, my last game called "Ghost 1.0" went on sale in a "Steam Daily Sale". Just to avoid this situation, I announced via Twitter and Steam forum that the game would be on sale today. So if anyone was thinking in purchasing the game, he should be notified and won't feel sad because of it.

But due to destiny, after a few minutes Ghost 1.0 was on sale, I read a post of a player that wrote the following words:

"Awwww, it went on sale. I bought this in the wee hours this morning and then see it went on sale. Haha, i don't mind paying the full price for this one bit. Has been very entertaining so far."

When I read it, I saw right that player who buys the game just before a sale, that person that makes a "20" appear in the chart before the peak of the sales. So I sent him a friendship request that was accepted a few minutes later, and we've been chatting a little.

I introduced myself and confessed him that I was regretting his situation, so I told him that if any DLC was coming out I should gift him. Curiously, the guy thanked it, but told me that it was not necessary at all. He was happy with the game and he would also purchase the DLC as soon as it came out. So, I understood that there are players who really know how to appreciate the value of something they are enjoying, and that made me be proud of this kind of people.

The final peak

The last hour in a sale is curious: sells raises even more. It's like the player was waiting the last moment to purchase. Why?
A theory I have is that the player waits until the last moment just in case another cool game appears in the same sale. It's something Steam used to do: in some sales, Steam asked us, the publishers, a default percentage of discount and a deeper one for short periods. So one can set the game 25% on sale during the whole period, and 75% during a day or 8 hours.

Another theory that bounces inside my empty skull is that, during these sales, the player makes a choice of the games he wishes and buys them right before the end. Maybe to prevent discovering a better game when he already spent all his money?

Purchasing after a sale

Another curious fact is that, an hour after the sale are over, the logical thing would be that nobody purchases the game, or have very little ones. If someone wanted to get the game, he should do it during these sales. Specially in Summer and Christmas where all games are on sale and everyone knows perfectly when the sale period will end.

Well, going back to the charts, I find out that after the euphoria of those days of sales, purchases return to its normal level. But curiously, there are people that purchase the game those durig these few hours just after the sales. Said in other words, there are players that pay the full price of a game an hour after the end of the sale period.
What should that player maybe thinking?

One hypothesis: during sales a big amount of new players may get it, and they may spread the word. Due to this, there could be people that knew of this game right after the sales are over or just because he could not go back home to purchase it on time.

However, two days ago, during a videogame event, I was speaking about Ghost 1.0 and, as I knew that today the game would be on sale, I informed everyone about it. The fact is that Enrique, the organizer and host of the event (a nice guy with a cool voice) told me "I'm going to wait until the sale is over to buy the game at its full price to support the developer".

It was not the first time I heard something like that, yet someone told me the same in the past, and maybe part of the people that purchase the game right after the sales period ends are just this kind of people that once again think more in the work and the effort that there is after a videogame, than just saving a few bucks.

Thanks for reading!
And once again, apologizes for writing in Franglish.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

the voice of a beggar

In Ghost 1.0 there is a scene where a beggar talks to Jacker and Boogan.
When I had to voice it in English, I needed an example of a suitable voice of a beggar so I should send it to the voice actor in order to give him an example of what sort of voice I was expecting.

Well, first thing I did is to google "beggar voice". Man, when I watched the first video in the list I got really surprised. I'm sharing it with you all, as it's just minute and half long and it's a unique story:




Friday, September 16, 2016

"Missions mode" mode in Ghost 1.0

Dear reader:

Today I'll write about videogame design. In particular, about a new mode I'm starting to work in my game Ghost 1.0.


The "Missions mode"

The "missions mode" is a set of simple, short and independent missions. The duration will be around 5 to 15 minutes each one, having a different and unique goal.

Unlike other main modes (classic and survival), this one will have no story, no skill tree, and there will not be progression in the character (the game will not be saved).
This mode is basically focused in playing small games when time is low, or just when the player doesn't want to play something complex.


Overpowered

Something I usually enjoy as a player is to be overpowered, said in other words, to be a killing machine and destroy my enemies just by breathing. 
As a player this is really fun, but as a game designer it's a total nightmare because it breaks the rhythm of the game ruining the gameplay.

However, the advantage of being short independent missions is that I can let the player be overpowered and have fun in this way, as it will not have repercussions in further missions because the game is never saved.  It's like the groundhog day: no matter what you do, tomorrow you'll start from scratch.

As an example, the goal of the first mission I'm working in is to collect 20 drones.
At first the player starts destroying whatever with the basic gun. But the more drones he picks up, the bigger the cloud of drones grows, becoming a increasingly powerful weapon that destroys any enemy.

This is a picture of the cloud of drones that will follow you:




Achievements

I'm thinking in creating 3 achievements per mission. One should be just to finish the mission, and two more just to do something specific within it.
In the example of drones, an achievement could be "not to hurt enemies with your gun", therefore, let drones annihilate all enemies in all rooms. I tested it and the gameplay actually changes.

Diversity and fun

My goal is to create diverse and, overall, fun missions. I'll do my best to surprise you in each one... and maybe I'll troll the player a little bit (it's one of my best hobbies, bwa ha haaa!!)

Of course, any idea for a missions is welcomed. Should you have one, just leave it in a comment.

Thanks for reading!
fran

Monday, September 12, 2016

What's up with G2a?

A couple of month ago I complained about G2A in Twitter.
Now that I have a blog, I can write about it:


What is g2a?

Turns out that it is some sort of Ebay where SteamKeys are sold.

The official idea is a website where, besides other types of sell, one can sell spare Steam Keys.
Wait... Spare SteamKeys? Who the hell has Steam Keys and are not using them?
Oh, of course! People that for instance purchased a Humble Bundle and he already owned some games, or simply he doesn't like them.

This is all mere speculation. (very optimistic by the way). But there are other real ways to obtain SteamKeys:

The deadbeat

It's just someone who visit Steam, searches a game that just came out and emails the dev studio asking for SteamKeys pretending to be a Youtuber, Twitcher or, even better, a curator of a huge community group. The standard procedure is to write asking for keys to review the game and publish it making the game more known. Well, once he has the keys, the first movement it to sell them in g2a. A fake moderator of a group can ask for 20 keys, should be sold at 5€ each he can get up to 100€ with that single game. And what's worse, he is preventing the studio to earn that money.

This happened to me with Ghost 1.0: I discovered that someone was selling SteamKeys in G2A. Thanks to Twitter, people who purchased the game in G2A wrote me and sent me the keys. I matched them with all given keys and found out the two smartasses who were selling them. One was a "fake youtuber" with an own channel and the other a fake group administrator.

It turns out that they already sold just half of them. I asked Steam to invalidate the rest, but as they did not accept (they only do this in really bad cases), I just gave them away to followers in Twitter.

The Swindler

The worst way to obtain SteamKeys is to find a game that has its own selling portal (the studio sells the game in their own web), and use stolen credit cards to purchase, for instance, 3.000 units of the game.

Once the Swindler has the keys, he inserts them in G2A and similar webs to get the maximum profit possible. Should he sell them at $5, he could earn up to $15.000.

And the worst of this way is the following:
Should the game be sold 10€ each unit, the total amount paid with stolen credit cards should be $30.000, so the studio earns $30.000 stolen to any unfortunate soul, but just thinking they earned $30.000 cleanly.
But soon or later, the owners of the stolen credit cards find out that $30.000 are gone. The bank investigates, finds the fraudulent payments and the money is refunded, taken from the studio (that maybe used part of the money to start a new game), plus a penalty fee. So, the studio turns into red numbers (earns $30.000, then these $30.000 are removed and charged with a fee) while the swindler keeps all his money.

This is an example:
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AlexNichiporchik/20160620/275379/G2A_Sold_450k_worth_of_our_games.php


What's G2A's fault?

Well, G2A is not the one who is obtaining SteamKeys in an unfair way, but are the ones who are protecting this scum even knowing who they are. They allow them to continue selling keys over and over again.
For instance, there is a guy selling keys of Unepic who has already sold, between other games, around 14.000 SteamKeys. 14.000!

I can understand that someone wants to get a few bucks by selling a few spare SteamKeys but... come on, if someone has already sold thousands of SteamKeys, isn't is suspicious?
Well, looks pretty clear that it's more profitable than suspicious.

What happens when you complain to G2A?
In my experience they asked me the list of SteamKeys to be removed from their database. My problem (the same than anyone else) was that, from all keys given to press and youtubers, I had no idea which of them were inserted in G2A. So I asked them to remove any key from Ghost 1.0 and Unepic from their store. I was answered literally "We can’t prevent other people from selling their keys, this is what our business is all about".

I read other experiences from other dev studios, like "they asked us to sell our game in their shop, cheaper that other sellers, so people will purchase them to us."

Summarizing, G2A is a paradise for those who sell stolen SteamKeys.

Where to buy?

If you wish to purchase one of my games, just do it in Steam, gog or Humble Store, or directly in the online shops of consoles. Never from G2a or similar webs.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fake Youtubers

Dear friends and especially game developers:

Recently, thanks to webs like G2A, the will to obtain SteamKeys from developers to sell them later is spreading like wildfire. One of them is the "Fake Youtuber":

These are the two types of  "Fake Youtubers" I found so far:

A: THE IMPOSTOR

The modus operandi is the following:

You receive an email from a Youtuber asking for Steam keys to play your game and you find out that he has a loooot of followers!! Maybe hundreds of thousands, or million and half. So your eyes shines, you have a heartattack, you recover from it, and you provide him with all the keys he's asking for: Shut up and take my Steamkeys!!! Normally it's one for him to play and a bunch of them for a giveaway in his channel.

Of course who is writing you is not the successful Youtuber, but someone who is pretending to be him.
To check it out, you just have to check the e-mail in the Youtube channel ("more information" tab, then press "See email address" button), and the email you received.

And you may find out that:

1.- Emails don't match. Obviously he is a cheater.

2.- The Youtuber's email is not published (and there is no "see email" button). This is perfect for the fake Youtuber as you can't easily check if the email is legitime. In this case, unless your game is a top seller one, best not to give keys.

3.- Email adresses match... or nearly. Some pretenders use similar e-mail names, by just changing a single letter to make it look the same. You have to check letter by letter.


B: THE LITTLE BASTARD

The modus operandi is the following:

You receive an e-mail froma Youtuber asking for a Steam Key to play your game and upload reviews (which is helpful to make your game a bit more known around the community).
First step is to verify the channel. You find out that the channel has around 1500 followers, a big bunch of videos uploaded of wellknown games, and the email in the channel matches perfectly the email you received.
Since here everything looks ok, and the linnet developer (me the first one) sends him a key... but it is not! It's in truth a "Fake Youtuber", someone who created a valid Youtube account and uploaded stolen videos from other Youtubers. Besides, there must be a way to obtain 1500 followers (No certain idea how it is done, but there could be a web that provides fake followers).

How to unmask them?
Evidence 1.- As videos are stolen, they can't have introductions like "Hello I'm Youtubman, and today I'm going to play Ghost 1.0", because videos are not theirs. Normally gameplays use to include no spoken comments on it (so the developer can't figure out that someone else is speaking).

Evidence 2.- As followers are fake, they can't write comments in videos. And therefore videos have no written comments from people.

So, as a security recomendation, before giving keys, have a chek their videos and their comments.

CONCLUSION

Luckily these people are not a threat to the economy of the developer, as they're normally just a few cases. However the feeling of being cheated is not nice, so it's ok to be careful when receiving emails from youtubers asking for keys.