This past week, I had a somewhat sobering conversation with a marketing professional about Catalyst Wake. But it was also really helpful. I've thought about some things, and I'm going to make some adjustments to the release schedule — more on that later.
First of all, I'm pretty surprised to have been approached by any marketing people at all, and they did so because they liked the look of the game, so that's very flattering. But of course, the amount of wishlists this game has (around 500) makes marketing it a super risky move. Wishlists are the most reliable way to determine if a game will do well on Steam, and the more you have, the better.
I launched my store page early for precisely that reason, it's a common indie dev tactic because theoretically the longer it's up, the more wishlists you accumulate. But when it comes to other things, I'm not so savvy. For example, they pointed out that my store page header lacked contrast and clarity, which is why I switched it out this week.
I used Thumblytics, a site built for YouTube videos, to sneakily do A/B testing for Catalyst Wake's new store page header.
When I pitch this game to interested parties, I can't help mentioning how little I expect it to succeed in the traditional sense. That is the most honest assessment in my opinion.
I follow the philosophy of "make things for yourself". I didn't set out to make a project that would necessarily be accessible or interesting to anyone but me. It appears I'm taking a huge gamble by basing this on my old animations — which almost nobody has watched — and my excitement for this largely relies on my own nostalgia for my old project, which a very small percentage of even my own fanbase feels.
And now we come to the sabotage angle. It was brought to my attention that my new planned release date of December 30th is one of the worst times you can release a game. By launching during the holidays, I would basically be sabotaging my game's chances to make any profit during its first week (first week profits are super important for Steam's metrics).
I had a difficult choice to make. On one hand, it would be nice not to kneecap my own project and make sure it has the best shot in the market. On the other — as I've established, I'm not exactly expecting big profits from this. I don't think I'll be able to break even. The real success will be finally finishing The Evolving World's story, learning the things that I did from this project, and getting to move on to my other projects. That has always been my personal metric for success.
So what I've come up with is a compromise. I don't like the idea of sitting around on a finished game.
Therefore, I will still be releasing Catalyst Wake on December 30th — on itch.io. However, it will be coming to Steam on February 10th. This is a lot like how my other games were released anyway, and it will be good to get feedback and iron bugs out before it's exposed to a wider audience.
It's too bad because I really wanted to be able to deliver it on all platforms at once, but it's my own fault for taking so long and procrastinating this much. I hope you can understand.
Until next time!
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