Champagne Supanova

My business trip to Australia is winding down! By this time next week, I’ll be home on the frosty mean streets of Hoboken, and Where Shadows Slumber will be available on Google Play. That’s quite a change from the hot, humid, Android-less weather here in Brisbane.

I’ve enjoyed my time away from the U.S., and I can safely say the Where Shadows Slumber “World” Tour was an official success. Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to the past two weeks, as well as a look ahead at our next event.

 

Double Supanova In The Sky

From November 2nd to the 4th, I attended Supanova Adelaide. From Nov. 9th to the 11th, I was at Supanova Brisbane. Although the events are part of a series, they felt quite different. Both of them were comic conventions, but Brisbane was much more heavily attended and my table was in a much better location. Even so, both gave me the opportunity to expose Where Shadows Slumber to an audience that otherwise would have never heard of the game. Some people even bought the game on their iPhones right in front of me!

I’m very glad I went – not just because I got to see two beautiful Australian cities, but because it was a chance to bring a bit of joy and mystery into people’s lives. If I had the chance to go to another Supanova, I might dress the booth up a bit different to match the “comic con” theme. But it was still totally worth it! Look out Supanova Gold Coast

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As always, the best part of these conventions is getting chummy with the artists to your left and right. Go support Keelan over at Killustrate (Keelan + Illustrates, he’s not a murderer) by buying some of his cool hand painted artwork! These are not made in photoshop, they’re actually painted and then digitally scanned! Keelan was next to me at Supanova Adelaide, and he’s totally not a bogan so go buy his stuff.

Then, if you’re feeling lucky, grab yourself a replica Ace of Spades from Halifax. I met the whole team at Supanova Brisbane, and got a chance to hold the weapons myself. They feel great in your hand, and you can even paint them yourself if you buy the kit version. Plus, if you’re not a Destiny fan, they’re working on a whole bunch of new guns from classic series like Halo and Devil May Cry. Go vote in their Instagram poll to make your voice heard!

I want to thank everyone I met at these conventions, dealers and customers alike. Everyone made me feel very welcome in this foreign land, and I’m so glad you’re all running around with Where Shadows Slumber pins on your bags now, hehehe. Hope to see you again next time I’m in Australia!

 

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Going To Gameacon?

Gameacon NYC is this weekend at the Resorts World Casino in New York City, which I believe is in Queens. Gameacon was one of the first shows we ever did, though we went to the Atlantic City version. The show has since expanded to NYC and Las Vegas. It’s hard to justify the trip out to some of these places, but since this Gameacon is in our backyard it was hard to say no. Plus, the event manager took $50 off our price since we’re alumni!

Sadly, I’ll be in Australia during this show and Jack will be away. Fortunately, Alba and Noah, our talented audio duo, are here to save the day!

Thanks to Alba and Noah for filling in here – if you’re going to Gameacon, be sure to say hello. And if you’re looking for two awesome freelance composers to bring onto your team, show them your game… I’m sure PHÖZ is looking for a chance at their next masterpiece!

 

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One Week Until Android Launches!

We have just seven days until our global (sans China) release of Where Shadows Slumber on Google Play, so we’re both excited and a bit terrified. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong with our iOS release went wrong, so I have no idea what to expect. This is either going to go really smooth, or go terribly wrong in unimaginable ways. In either case, download the beta for free right now so you can fill us in on any problems you’ve experienced!

If anyone knows how Google Play’s stupid promo code system works, please email me at contact@GameRevenant, comment below, DM me on Twitter @GameRevenant, or throw a brick at my head with a note attached to it. I sent a code to Robert Adams of TechRaptor, and it didn’t work! This poor man has been dying to play the game since Play NYC 2017. He must think I’m trolling him. But apparently Google Play’s promo codes don’t work if your game is unreleased. We may need to go into some kind of Closed Beta just so journalists can play the game a few days early.

We’re also preparing for an Amazon launch, which is basically Android with a different online marketplace. Diligent readers of this blog will remember that we won a Developer Spotlight Feature Thing on the Amazon App Store at last year’s Mobile Games Forum at the end of October 2017. Sadly, the contacts I had for that prize have dropped off the face of the Earth, so this week I’ll be doing a little investigating. If we’re not on your Kindle by November 20th, it’s because we’re waiting for a promotion from Amazon.

Keep your chin up, Android users! We’re in the home stretch. Soon, you’ll be able to taste sweet shadowy goodness. In the meantime, tell your friends about the game, download the beta, download the beta, tell your friends about the game, and download the beta!

It’s only a matter of time now.

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available on the App Store! bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Happy Halloween! Get Where Shadows Slumber for Only $1.99!

Today’s blog post will be brief, as I am headed out the door in a few moments for a three-week excursion to Australia. While I’m there, I’ll be showing off Where Shadows Slumber at Supanova Adelaide and Supanova Brisbane as Jack toils away in the Android mines back home here in Hoboken.

If you’re on our email list, you’ll get a more detailed roundup of all the Where Shadows Slumber news your heart can take in a few hours. But for now, feast your eyes on two glorious pieces of news: our awesome Halloween trailer and our awesome Halloween sale!

 

Our Game Is Just $1.99 For Halloween!

Check out the trailer above! We didn’t just do it because we love Halloween – it’s because Where Shadows Slumber is available at a special price for just a few more days. If you purchase the game on the App Store before Halloween ends, you’ll save $3! After Halloween, the game returns to its original price of $4.99. It’s a steal! (But not a trick) So grab it while you can…

(You can watch the trailer on YouTube here)

 

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We’re Coming to Android November 20th

After the darkness of Halloween, comes the light of the sun – our game is coming to Android toward the end of November! There’s a more formal announcement to follow at the end of the week, but as a reward for reading our blog, we thought we’d let you all know first.

Mark your Calendars, charge your Androids, and throw your Kindles out the window (kidding, kidding) because Where Shadows Slumber launches on Google Play on November 20th!

Don’t forget to try the free beta on your device first to make sure the game runs smoothly. Over 25 people have responded to our survey, and currently 3,500 people are “in the program” on Google Play. We’re capped at 5,000, so get in there while you can! It fills up a bit more each day, so I can’t guarantee your spot. Thanks to those of you who have already helped us crush some Android bugs!

 

 

Upvote Us On Reddit!

We’re enlisting you, the blog army, in one small task… please go to the posts linked below on Reddit and upvote them! It only takes a second, but it will keep our post on the front page of these respective pages and allow people to see our game.

/r/MobileGames
https://www.reddit.com/…/where_shadows_slumber_halloween_s…/

/r/IndieDev
https://www.reddit.com/…/9shv2m/we_made_a_halloween_trailer/

/r/Unity3D
https://www.reddit.com/…/after_35_years_where_shadows_slum…/

/r/MobileGaming
https://www.reddit.com/…/ios_where_shadows_slumber_hallowe…/

Some jerks actually downvoted us! Can you believe that? Why… why? I don’t even know. Counteract their negativity with your positivity! Upvote us for great justice!

 

OK, that’s all for now – gotta jet! Literally I have to get on a jet plane and fly across the planet. Share the game with your friends while I’m at 30,000 feet! Stay tuned for updates about the trip…

 

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available on the App Store! bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Trick or Treat, Scammers!

It’s that time of year again – the leaves are changing, the air is getting colder, and everyone is getting their costumes ready for Halloween!

But mischief is also in the air…

We’ve been enjoying watching Where Shadows Slumber take off on the App Store since we launched last month. However, not everyone is happy for our success. Some people have tried to scam us out of our hard-earned game by trying to get free promo codes even though they aren’t journalists, YouTubers, streamers, or influencers.

Apple doesn’t want us giving these codes out to regular customers! That’s why you only get 100 at a time. They even give you a massive contract that lays out what the codes are for, specifically so you don’t fall for people’s stories. And while I understand we’ll never be able to do anything about software piracy, there’s no reason I need to fall for cheap tricks…

So in the spirit of Halloween, here’s two ridiculous stories of would-be scammers attempting to pull one over on yours truly. Share this funny article with your friends, even if they’ve never heard of Where Shadows Slumber! I think anyone who works in customer service will find this hilarious.

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Scammer #1 – The $8.00 Heart Operation

Our first scam attempt comes from Salama Youssef, who emailed us at contact@GameRevenant.com with this touching copy/pasted tale:

Oct 8, 2018, 6:15 PM

Hello,

I always have an appreciation for Where Shadows Slumber application….

You can offer me a promo code for (Where Shadows Slumber for iphone) application because currently i have lost all my money on the Health of my family (my father suffered a heart operation that cost more than 8.0639 US Dollar (USD) so I am forced to tell your team that my situation finaciere can not allow me and my family pay the rent)

Sorry for the trouble I have caused for you, but, sincerely, I will be very happy if you discharge me from this sum.

God Bless You

Even if we believe this sob story about an $8.00 heart operation, can someone explain to me why this man needs a free copy of Where Shadows Slumber? As far as I’m aware, we don’t offer any of Apple’s new live-saving wearable functionality. It’s a puzzle game! Come on, dude. Also, the Google Translated English is a nice touch.

I didn’t even reply to this email, and he never followed up. It’s probably just an auto-generated email. Good for a chuckle, but time to move on.

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Scammer #2 – My Daughter Ate My Homework

Our next scam took much longer, because this person kept pestering me. Say what you will about Mr. Youssef, but he knew when to find a new mark. But “Zahid Aslan / The Sunflower” just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I had some fun with him. Here’s the initial scam email:

Sat, Oct 6, 4:16 PM

Hi! I’ve purchased Where Shadows Slumber in iOS and was adoring it, but it seems like my daughter accidentally deleted it and when I was planning to reinstall, the appstore didn’t allow me to redownload the game for free for some reason. (No idea why, nothing I did to fix it worked, I even contacted Apple but they weren’t much help) so I was wondering if it’s okay if you can send a redeem code so I can reinstall the game? Thanks! Great game and worth $5!

Sent from my iPad

Not bad. I’ll be honest, this seemed real at first. A+ on this first email. He complimented the game, blamed two other people (his daughter, and Apple) and made it seem like contacting me was a last resort. He even put in the “sent from my iPad” bit at the end. Is this a pro Genji?

I had to dig a little deeper though, because I know how the App Store works. The error he’s talking about is impossible – you can’t “delete” something from your library of purchased iOS apps. So I replied immediately, and nicely asked him for some proof.

Wow I’m sorry to hear that! That’s very strange – it should be tied to your App Store account forever once you purchase it. We used all of our promo codes already, but I can try to see what the problem is.

Do you have the receipt in your email from when you bought it? Send me a screenshot of it and I’ll see how I can direct you. Unless you requested a refund, they should have it in your library permanently from now on.

Apple is pretty strict about refunds, so they’re keeping your money unfortunately [ x_x] but I’ll see what I can do!

-Frank

We hadn’t actually used all of our promo codes… that was just a little lie to get him talking. Then, he blew his cover with one of the worst things you can ever do: fake graphics. Read on…

Yeah it’s strange, I think this is the first time I’ve experienced it, Apple actually told me this

SunflowerScam

But Apple does provide more codes after each update I think, so I guess I will wait for that, since the refunding system for me is a mess and I don’t want to risk it.

Thanks anyway!
Sent from my iPad

Oh, Zahid. You flew too close to the sun, my friend. This is clearly a conversation he had with himself or a friend over Twitter DMs, with their names cropped out. Two dead giveaways here:

  • How could there be a “new bug” with iOS 11 a few weeks after iOS 12 launched?
  • Apple never tells customers to ask developers for promo codes.

Besides, he followed Game Revenant’s Twitter account with his own “Sunflower” Twitter account a few days earlier. When I noticed the similarities between the avatars, I did some snooping and found this:

Scam-Tweet

He must be some kind of weird man that emails developers for keys, and then hands them out on Twitter to boost his popularity. Not today, kid.

Here’s where I stopped responding. His game was up. I knew he was lying to me, and I didn’t have to call him on it. I planned to just ignore him.

But he wouldn’t stop.

If At First You Don’t Zahid…

As it turns out, we actually did update the game around October 7th for unrelated reasons. He apparently caught wind of this. Two days after the first email, he’s back in my Inbox:

Mon, Oct 8, 6:25 PM

Hi, I’ve seen you updated the game a day ago. Do you have a code now? Apple usually refreshes them after each update.

Sent from my iPad

I couldn’t believe he was still trying this! But I didn’t reply. Surely he’d go away, right?

Wrong!

Oct 9, 2018, 12:10 PM

Hello?

Not cool, man. You don’t get to flood my Inbox with annoying messages when you’re trying to scam me. And where’s the “Sent from my iPad” signature? Sloppy. That’s when I decided it was time for an early Halloween trick.

Apple promo codes are 12 digits long, and highly specific. All I had to do was create some random ones and make sure I didn’t accidentally give him real codes.

Sorry Zahid, I took off for Columbus Day! Here’s two codes, one for you and one for your daughter:
U1R7MR99G4Y0
G3TR3KT7N3RD
Have fun!!
-Frank

Apparently he didn’t notice that the second code is “GET REKT NERD” with numbers instead of vowels. These are totally fake! He tried them, and of course they didn’t work.

Oct 9, 2018, 5:12 PM

These are both invalid? Can you double check?

Sent from my iPad

Happy Halloween!

Oct 10, 2018, 5:37 PM

Hello? The codes you sent are not valid.

Sent from my iPad

LOL

Oct 11, 2018, 10:42 AM

Hi?

Man, he never gives up! He probably thought he had me, and got so close but lost out in the end due to chance. It was time for a Twitter conversation over DMs, apparently.

Once More, With Trolling

The Sunflower gives up on email, and decides to try Twitter. Mind you, this is the same Twitter account that has a picture from August where he’s handing out codes! It’s easier to just post the images of our conversation:

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The last code I sent him? Read it again – it spells “NICE TRY BUDDY.”

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He says he’ll check, but we both know the truth – there is no receipt. There never was a receipt. There never was a daughter. There never was an iPad, either.

I haven’t heard from him since, but I hope he reads this blog post!

 

Why Did You Do This, Frank?

Listen, if you think I just did this because I’m a petty artist with too much time on my hands, you’re absolutely correct. Although in my defense, I normally don’t go out of my way to troll people – “The Sunflower” just kept pestering me and I wanted to get him to go away!

The reason I wrote this blog post is to warn indie developers, not just troll people. It’s very easy to fall for these scams when your game first launches – you’re excited that it’s on the store, but there are unexpected bugs all over the place, too. People are reaching out to you for help with issues, puzzles, or writing articles. There’s no time to really tell what’s what, and it’s easy to fall for a sob story about heart surgery or a dastardly daughter.

Customer service will be a new experience for you when you first put your game on the store, but the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes, there never was a customer.

Happy Halloween, scammers!

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Where Shadows Slumber is now available on the App Store! bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

The Long Climb Ahead

Now that our game Where Shadows Slumber has been on the App Store for nearly two weeks, I’m getting a better sense of how things work on the platform. The team was very excited to see our game near the “big boys and girls” of the App Store during our launch weekend. However, since then, our ranking in the Puzzle section has dropped. Where we were once #3, we are now only #196 as of this writing. It changes every day!

Apple’s algorithm for displaying these games is likely based on sales figures and the app’s rating – a combination of quality and popularity. Our rating is 4.2 out of 5 as of this writing, and it also changes every day as more reviews trickle in. This blog post is about our struggles this past week to keep our rating in the golden zone.

 

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Mark Cuban always says “treat your customers like they own you – because they do.”

I’m Now A Customer Service Agent!

I did not expect this unlikely transition, but I’ve gone from head artist on Where Shadows Slumber to Game Revenant’s sole customer service rep. Between responding to reviews on our app page through App Store Connect, fielding questions over email, chatting with people through the Game Revenant Facebook Page, and even responding to bug-report tweets (!) most of my time is spent communicating with customers.

That’s a lot better than not communicating with customers of course, but I still wish I had more time to dedicate to promotion. For example, I’ve been dragging my feet releasing a full 1 minute long trailer. It still hasn’t gone live! I also planned to sign up for physical events where I can go to hawk our product in front of real customers, but I haven’t prepared as much of that as I would have liked.

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Even so, responding to customers is my number 1 priority. We want our rating (4.2) to be as close to 5.0 as possible. You’ll never get a perfect 5.0, so the question becomes “how do we get our average rating as high as possible?” Most of our friends and family probably already reviewed our game at this point, so we can only get new 5 star reviews from new fans. But my strategy is to be super nice to everyone who left a 1-star review, in the hopes that they change their mind. This has already happened once, so the plan is working! (See above – this user experienced crashes and left a 1-star review. After some compassionate understanding and furious debugging, they changed their mind!)

 

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Furious Debugging and Patching

Speaking of furious debugging, if you read Jack’s post last week, you’re aware that some players have encountered serious bugs with our game. Those problems are gone now, but it’s a shame so much of our launch week was spent focusing on these issues. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about Static Objects and the Memory readout in Xcode – one I shall not soon forget! I had a feeling our first few weeks would be focused on debugging, but I was hoping the errors would not be so widespread.

This caused a delay in responding to customers as well, because I didn’t want to reply to them before the issue was fixed. I’m happy to say that we’re mostly good now, at least on Apple devices from the last three years. If you’ve encountered any serious errors your first time playing our game, please download the most recent version of Where Shadows Slumber from the App Store and you’ll find it good as new!

 

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Help Us Out!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Where Shadows Slumber on iOS and leave a 5-star rating. I’m going to ask for that every single time I make a blog post from this point on! It’s super useful and it helps us climb back up to the top of the chart where this game belongs. The higher we are on the chart, the more people will see our game. That means a higher potential for sales, which is money in the pockets of everyone who worked so hard on the game.

And if you’re waiting for Android… just wait longer! We’re ramping up Android testing as we speak. I hope to have more details for you next week.

 

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Where Shadows Slumber is available on the App Store ==> bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

In The News

Things are crazy over here at Where Shadows Slumber HQ right now. We’ll tell you all about it in a future blog post, because a lot of what’s happening is confidential. For now, here’s a roundup of all of the news organizations that have written about our game so far!

Apologies if you’ve read some of these already – part of the reason we do this is to aggregate them and make sure we don’t lose track of the articles. You may have seen some of these on our social feed throughout the week. If you have, you don’t need to read them again… share them with your friends instead!

Shameless reminder that you can still pre-order the game on iOS if you act now:

bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Okay, on to the articles!

 

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The team nervously reads what everyone thinks about our game. (Dramatization)

 

Pre-Order Reactions

When we launched as a pre-order on the App Store, many in the news media were pleasantly surprised to see our game. Others had been waiting for it patiently. Below, you’ll find some of the coverage people wrote before they got a chance to play our game. (Some had already experienced our free 2016 demo, which they mention in their articles.)

“It’s like someone took the ingenious shadow manipulation of Helsing’s Fire ($0.99) and mixed it with the hypnotizing isometric puzzling of Monument Valley ($3.99), which is a mashup made in heaven if I’ve ever heard one.”

-Jared Nelson, TouchArcade

Stunning Puzzle Adventure ‘Where Shadows Slumber’ Finally Arrives September 20th

 

“Personally, I’m excited to get my hands on the game at last and hope there’s a good chunk of content to dig into.”

-Emily Sowden, PocketGamer

The curious puzzler Where Shadows Slumber is finally up for pre-order on iOS

 

TouchArcade and PocketGamer are two of the biggest and most influential websites in the mobile game industry, so it’s nice to see how interested they are in our game! But it wasn’t just English speaking sites that noticed us, we also got some attention from other countries…

 

Where Doze the Shadows is a colorful puzzle where you have to control the shadows and solve difficult tasks with their help.”

Alexander Yarovoy, App-S.ru

“Where Shadows Slumber”: the Wanderings of a Lonely Old Man [Pre-order]

OK, that one had to be fed through a translator to actually read it. You can’t control shadows in our game, so Google Translate probably messed this one up. But we like the idea of referring to our game as a “colorful puzzle.” Incidentally, “the wanderings of a lonely old man” would be an excellent title for my future autobiography one day.

Finally, here’s an interview I did with Megan Meehan over at Blasting News.

“For as long as the game will run on existing hardware, it will be an enduring cultural artifact that people will enjoy for generations.”

-Frank, the guy writing this blog post

Where Shadows Slumber: Interview with Game Designer Frank DiCola

 

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Our First Review: AppUnwrapper

We sent Lisa of AppUnwrapper a promo code last week once we went live on the App Store. Apparently she knew about our game even before we reached out to her, but I never directly asked her how. (The demo, probably) That in itself is cool enough, but she also decided to review it and posted the article today! I don’t want to give away her reaction, because then you won’t click the link. So go read it!

‘Where Shadows Slumber’ Review: One Lantern to Rule Them All

It’s so strange to read reviews of our work. The feeling hasn’t really sunk in yet. I wonder when it will?

One more thing: our Metacritic page has been automatically generated by their system, but it’s looking a little empty right about now. Let’s hope it gets filled up with 5 and 10 star reviews in the coming weeks!

 

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Want a promo code? Email us with proof that you create content for a website or YouTube channel and we’ll send it right over! For everyone else, find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Pre-order Where Shadows Slumber on the App Store Today!

Starting today, Where Shadows Slumber is available for pre-order on the App Store! This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Click here to be taken to our App Store Page!

And share the shortened link with your friends: bit.ly/WSS-iOS

If you’re not sure what “pre-ordering” means, read on…

 

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What Is A Pre-Order?

When a game is available for pre-order, it’s very close to launching on the App Store. So close in fact, that you can tell Apple you want to download the game the instant it becomes available on the App Store! Because Apple knows our game is launching so soon, they may place Where Shadows Slumber on a special “Coming Soon” section of the App Store to advertise it to their customers.

You can’t play it until the game is really available on September 20th, but you can share it with all of your friends! If you pre-order the game, you’ll be charged $4.99 USD on September 20th and the game will load on your device that day.

Tired of waiting for the game to launch? Sorry… we couldn’t pass up this marketing opportunity. Getting the game on App Store’s “Coming Soon” list is a huge boost for a small studio like ours! Besides, it ensures that we can spend the next two weeks marketing and talking to journalists before players get their hands on the game. When people start playing, I’m sure I’ll have to be glued to Twitter and Gmail answering people’s questions and giving them cryptic hints. It’s nice to have a reprieve… this is the calm before the storm.

 

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Do I Have To Buy The Game Right Now?

Yes, you do.

Ok, not really. You can wait until the game launches for real on September 20th before committing to a purchase. Some people like to wait until reviews come out from other customers or game journalists – that’s fine with us. (I do that, too) Chances are that if you follow this blog, you’ve already decided that you’re buying the game. If that’s not the case, just wait a few weeks! We’re confident that Where Shadows Slumber will be a critical success. We’ve put years of work into this game, and we know you’ll be impressed with the final product.

 

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Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Our Marketing Plan

Now that the development phase of our product life cycle is behind us, the Where Shadows Slumber team is putting all of its focus behind advertising the game in anticipation of our upcoming launch. Last night, I met with Alba, Noah, and Caroline at Buzzfeed’s NY headquarters to discuss our strategy. (Jack is knee deep in wedding preparation this week, but we sent him our notes afterward) Shout out to Caroline for hosting us and giving us a tour! The Buzzfeed offices are awesome. I made sure to line my pockets with free candy every time I said I was “going to the bathroom.”

We’ve been pretty transparent about our process these past two years. Though I won’t reveal our planned iOS release date in this post, I can share with you everything we discussed at our marketing meeting last night. I hope this give you a sense of how small indie teams try to spread the word about their products. You’ll notice we’re leaning heavily on free / earned advertising, with a smaller focus on paid advertising. You may also notice that this is a ton of work. As we say all the time, marketing is really a full time job! If you can get someone on your team who does that around the clock, go for it. Wearing multiple hats is pretty stressful.

OK, enough whining! Let’s dive into the details…

 

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Teasing With Teasers

The standard formula for movie promotion these days seems to be:

  • Release a tiny teaser video that builds anticipation for a new product
  • Release a short video that announces the movie’s release date and builds anticipation for the next trailer
  • Release a trailer video that hypes up the final product once consumers can take some kind of market action (e.g. buying a movie ticket)

We decided to do something similar with Where Shadows Slumber. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see a few different videos go up on YouTube to announce the launch of the game. Alba composed different musical tracks for each video, and I’m going to film portions of the game to line up with them. (Play the audio file above to hear the rough cut – don’t worry, there isn’t supposed to be a video with it yet!)

Apple has a button on iTunes Connect that allows us to make the game available for pre-order. This wasn’t what we originally planned, but it seems like games that are available for pre-order are featured on a special part of the App Store. (Now that I have a bunch of iPhones lying around, I check the App Store constantly) If we can get on that pre-order list, we may be placed directly in front of a few million people each week. That would be awesome!

I’m not a big fan of pre-ordering games, personally. I tend to wait until games have been out for years before buying them. But I understand there are a lot of fans out there who don’t want to miss our game and want to play it the second it comes out. Also, any chance to get the game in a premium spot on the App Store is one we can’t afford to pass up. Stay tuned to this blog for more information! Teasers, trailers and announcements will all go up here as well as the Game Revenant Facebook Page, Twitter feed, and Instagram feed.

 

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Journalists and Children First!

There’s another standard industry practice we decided to go with: emailing codes to reviewers ahead of time. Apple will give you 100 free promotional codes that allow iPhone users to download your game even if it’s not released to the public. As long as the build is in the iTunes Connect system and has been approved by Apple, they can use the code to get the game for 28 days.

Journalists will get the game ahead of time, and we’re going to insist that they don’t release their reviews before a certain date. (This date will be prior to the full release of the game, but will likely be after pre-orders have begun.) This is usually referred to as an embargo. I used to think it was a dirty word, but my feelings have changed now that I’m a publisher instead of a consumer. The purpose of an embargo is to make sure that smaller outlets don’t get left in the dust by big sites like IGN. You also want to ensure that people play your game thoroughly instead of rushing out a review. By telling people that their review can’t go live before a certain date, you’re giving everyone else time to catch up with the big boys.

We have no way of enforcing this. If Polygon decides to scoop everyone else, there’s nothing we can do against a media giant. I guess I just hold a grudge forever, and don’t send them a code next time? It’s a bit weird. Anyway, if you think an embargo is something only shady game developers do, I think you’re mistaken. If we insisted on a Day 1 embargo, though… that would be a different story. Reviews for the game will definitely come out before the game is playable by the public, have no fear!

 

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The Where Shadows Slumber World Tour!

Ok, not really.

But at our meeting, we tried to list as many local educational institutions we could possibly think of, so we can go on tour giving lectures about the game. That probably doesn’t seem like something that would attract a massive audience, but I think it’s important. First of all, we’re all dying to talk about our game! We’d love to do a talk at the NYU Game Center, Stevens, some NY high schools, and any podcasts that would have us. We have so much knowledge to share!

More importantly though, we need content to post on our various social media channels to keep people engaged. We can’t just post GIFs of the game, or we’ll eventually give every one of our secrets away. So even if Jack and I talk about the game to a small room of 25 high school students, that video can then get posted to Facebook and reach 4,000 people. There’s really no speaking engagement too small or insignificant for us: everything can be spun into a good social media post.

Our list wasn’t very long, sadly. A lot of these institutions would rather see us become a success before booking us, rather than helping us attain success. No problem – I totally understand. We’ll see how the game does at launch, and try to jump from one talk to another. Hopefully we get to the point where people are dying to book us!

Do you have a classroom, podcast, or event that requires a speaker? Email me at contact@GameRevenant.com with details! We’re doing this pro-bono, so there’s no need for speaker fees or anything.

There aren’t too many conventions happening during the remainder of 2018, other than some Playcrafting stuff. So we’re definitely going to whatever Dan Butchko is throwing at the end of September / mid-October! If we put together an actual “tour,” I’ll put some kind of cool map graphic in a future blog post for you to all see. We might try for PAX East 2019, too. Man, it feels weird typing that. Remember PAX East 2017?

 

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A Website Overhaul

Caroline mentioned last night that our current website could use an overhaul – it’s basically just a splash page right now, because that’s all we really needed. Fairly soon, we’ll be ready for the professional website to go live with screenshots from the final game and a few new features. I’m really excited about that! Web design was never my specialty, but it’s so important for putting on a good first impression.

Most people will experience our game for the first and only time through the App Store. But, for those fans who find out about our game via social media or some kind of ad, they’ll probably get sent to the website. What we have up right now is kind of like a demo website – it shows off the team, some awards we won, and our demo screenshots. We’ve also had a presskit up for a year or two, but I don’t know how many journalists availed themselves of that resource.

The new website should hopefully have a separate section for the team (so it doesn’t clog up the main stretch) as well as some sweet parallax effects. We checked out the Firewatch website and got a little jealous. Don’t be surprised if you see us do something similar in the future…

 

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Wait – Are We Spending Any Money?

So far, everything we’ve mentioned has been free advertising. Since we don’t have any paid conventions planned, and the cost of train tickets to Brooklyn doesn’t really count, none of the above counts as “paid advertising.” That’s a good thing, because our tiny indie coffers are a bit empty these days.

However, we’ll be making use of a few sources of paid advertising. These ad networks let you dip your toe in the water with a little bit of money first before going crazy, so we’ll run some test ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search. If you’ve ever wondered how these companies make money, this is how – from us! I also won a contest last year and was awarded $1,000 in credit for advertising on PocketGamer.com, so we may pick up one of their indie bundles.

Our budget is pretty low here: we’re talking less than $3,000 across ALL of these platforms, for the weeks leading up to launch and then a few weeks afterward. Personally, I would love to see the game make a ton of money before doubling down on these ads. I also need to check the stats on the ads themselves to see if people are really clicking through them to the App Store. If you aren’t careful, internet advertising becomes a dopamine game: put money in, see some orange bars fill up, get happy, and repeat. I want results! We may do an entire blog post about our ads if we get some interesting findings. Stay tuned…

 

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What’s Next?

Now that we have this plan in place, we have to actually do all of it! There’s still a few things left to plan, however. I want the team to have a spreadsheet listing every action item we need to do on launch day, with labels for who is responsible and the time this needs to go live. (This is stuff like “when do we post an announcement blog?” and “when do we all change our Facebook header to an advertisement for the game?”)

And of course, I need to plan out a whole series of teaser posts for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Our Instagram in particular could use some love… I’m just learning how to use that app, and we barely have any followers. I haven’t really spammed those channels over the past few years, but now is the time to let people know something is coming down the pipe. I always hear that you need to see something about 20 times before you’ll buy it. I’ve heard that at least 20 times, so it finally makes sense to me!

 

 

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Thanks for reading this marketing update! If you’re new to this blog, you can find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.