New titles require unique non-game related hook or hilariously weird premise to gain coverage, says Cliff Harris

Releasing a game in 2015: ‘Holy f**k, it’s got harder’

UK indie game development veteran Cliff Harris says it’s become much harder to release a game in 2015 due to the large number of titles being launched, rising ad costs and perceptions of value.

In a blog post discussing the launch of his latest strategy title Gratuitous Space Battles 2, the Positech developer said that with so many games being launched, “the media (including YouTubers/Twitch streamers) won’t care that you released a new game without real hand-waving and pleading”.

Comparing releasing a game in 2015 to 2013, he stated: “Holy fuck, it’s got harder”.

“Just being a good, quality game isn’t going to cut it any more,” he said.

“Unless your game has a famous actor in it, or is hilariously weird in its premise, or has some other non-game related ‘hook’ for the press to get excited about it, you can forget it. I hate worrying about all that. I’m a coder at heart, and this is meaning it’s getting tougher for me.”

He also said that ad costs are increasing, with prices for Facebook advertisements and Google AdWords getting “very, very pricey”.

Harris went on to say that many consumers often add a game to their Steam wishlist and wait for the inevitable sale – heavy discounts which Steam is now famous for. He also suggested this may have distorted the perception of value amongst consumers.

“There is still the inevitable abusive anger about a game daring to cost $24.95,” he said.

“People moan that the price is too high, then say they only ever buy games at 50 per cent off. There may be some logic there but I can’t quite see it myself. Every game I’ve ever released on steam has had a thread saying its cost too much. I suspect every game on steam has that thread. I suspect it’s the same posters too.”

Harris said despite the difficulties of releasing a game in 2015, particularly when compared to just a couple years ago, Gratuitous Space Battles 2 appears on track to sell well.

You can read the full blog post on releasing the game here.

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