Six tips for managing multi-platform game releases - MCV

Six tips for managing multi-platform game releases

Debbie Bestwick presents the Worms team’s top advice for going cross-platform
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It’s always best to ensure you’re prepared for your game to go cross-platform and maximise your earning potential. Here’s a few tips that every indie developer needs to know.

1. Do your homework

Prepare for much document reading and forum searching. During the process of speaking with platform holders, you may be given an account manager. They will be invaluable in guiding you through the process of developing your game for their platform, so listen to them. They’ll tell you any additional hurdles to cross, like getting your game approved, submitting the game for review and getting pictures and text for online stores and social media.

2. Know your lead times

As a publisher, we quite often see people underestimate the time needed to get their game on console. Every game is different, but don’t be lured into thinking this is a quick process – it can take months. We provide a customised ‘requirements’ document to all our partners which helps them make accurate assessments on timeframes.

Getting your game onto consoles usually involves changes or additions to your code. If your game has online multiplayer, you’ll almost certainly have a lot of work to do.

3. Go the extra mile

Localisation doesn’t sound like the friendliest of terms, but it can make a difference when reaching out to other countries. Do some research and find out where games similar to yours are doing well in the world, then see how much it would cost to support that country’s language.

And don’t hard-code all of your in-game text. Translation is much easier this way, opening up new avenues to sell your game.

4. Usability

As a developer, it’s very easy to get tunnel vision and adapt to flaws in your game. An in-depth usability test is a great way to flag any potential issues for players experiencing the game for the first time. If consoles are not the lead platform, this is a great time to see how well the controls translate.

5. Age ratings

Do some research into your target audience. You’ll need to make sure you’re releasing at the right ratings in the right regions. Age ratings can be a costly process and you won’t be able to enter final certification without these ratings in place. Most ratings usually take one or two weeks to return; however, some can take up to a month.

6. Submission time

Platform holders have high standards to maintain. From functional tests to compliance, your game will be put through rigorous checks to ensure it’s suitable for release. You will have been developing your game with all these checks in mind if you did your research at the beginning.

Submission itself can take several days, but you get a pass or fail report at the end. If you didn’t pass first time around, you’ll need to fix up whatever came back and submit again. Generally, Team17 schedules two fails before passing, including time to fix up any issue.

This could add months to your expected release date. It’s crucial for indies to factor this into their time and budget; you might need to support yourself for a long time before your game finally gets released.

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