Last year, my wife and I founded Arcade Badgers Limited with the help of Princes Trust, Business Gateway, and Dundee Development Grant.
We started with the idea of breaking down the barriers to playing games – making them as accessible as possible.
Our first game, Germies, a riff on the standard Match-3 gems formula, was released last year. While a lot of the people we did get it infront of thought it was great and loved it… we had hell getting any form of distribution for it. For those that actually DID reply, we were often just sent with a decline notice, and no way of figuring out why or what was so wrong with it. So the game has sortof stagnated a bit.. we had all sorts of ideas to add in later on, depending on feedback, but as we got next to no feedback as we couldn’t get it out to people, we lost our confidence.
So, a year later, and we’ve just finished our second game, Grim… and we’re having the same issues yet again.
We’ve managed to get it up on itch.io and gameolith, who have very open policies on getting games on their service… but again, we’re getting rejection notices from others… one particular “indie” game store declined us without even actually playing the game, so what they based it off of I have no idea. The screenshots? The gameplay trailer? And if so… what was so wrong about what they saw to decline it with a generic message?
The barriers for game development itself are coming down, thanks to the likes of GameMaker et al, and there are more games being made than ever before.
This is great.
Making games is fun, especially in a collaborative way, with a melting pot of ideas being thrown in to see what sticks and what slides down the wall.
But we now have an issue of getting these games out there to people.
We thought that Germies, being HTML5, and ad-supported with non intrusive ads away from the game area, would’ve been a fine game to get everywhere. That wasn’t the case, so with Grim we were a bit more conservative with making it PC, Mac and Linux, and charging a small £2.99 for 100 levels, upto 4 player local co-op, 3 difficulty settings ( which do change the game somewhat, with Easy allowing anyone to play through the game regardless of their age or skill level ) and a good solid arcade game… being a bit more “standard” doesn’t seem to have helped either. So what is the magic incantation here? What is it that all these portal gatekeepers are looking for? And more importantly… why?
If someone’s made a game, there’s bound to be someone else that’d love to play it.. so why is it so hard to get that game to them?
Why are the portal gatekeepers defining what we want so much…
Last year, I let this all get to me and ended up in a bad way again.
This time, I’m not going to stand for it… as if we’re having trouble getting our quirky little game to people who might want to play it, there’s bound to be others in the exact same situation.
The barriers for development may have fallen.. but the barriers for distribution certainly haven’t.