I spoke with Joel about their marketing strategies they've approached over the past 10 years - they have used publishers and were even a publisher themselves at one point. Ludosity has grown from a bunch of uni students to an extensible game studio with over 20 game titles released by them to date!
Who Are You?
We’re Ludosity, we have been around since 2008, nearly 10 years now. We were a bunch of kids fresh out of university, and in our first years we changed a lot as a team and company, before finding our “thing” in 2011 or so. Since then we’ve had a pretty recognizable look and atmosphere to our games, lighthearted and funny with a cartoony style. Our team size has also been at a stable 6 since then. Our most famous developer is Daniel Remar who also makes games on his spare time (Iji, Hero Core, etc)
What’s your Game?
We’ve made so many! Over 20 titles in fact. Well over 50 SKU’s if we’re counting that. Our most well-known are Ittle Dew, Card City Nights and Princess Remedy. We also published Progress and helped on Magicka and Scrolls.
Today we wanted to talk about Ittle Dew 2.
How did you come up with the idea/concept for this game?
Ittle Dew 2 was our first proper sequel, so we set out to make it bigger and better than the original. All of the things we ourselves weren’t happy with, and the most common feedback from the first one were on the top of our list to improve upon. So that was very much the mindset when we first started thinking about Ittle Dew 2.
How long did it take to build? What was that process like?
I have highly selective memory and I’m notoriously bad at remembering how long ago events occured, but I want to say Ittle Dew 2 took us about 18 months. Though the game was finished in 12 months, and the rest of the time was dealing with publisher and console. From a development perspecitve Ittle Dew 2 went very, very smooth. We’re such a well-knitted team now with so many lessons learned under our belt that things actually sailed along without any hiccups – that is, until we were approached by a publisher and they gave us money for console porting. The porting in itself was not difficult, but things were unnecessarily delayed because of the lag between us, the publisher and the console companies.
Have you released a game previously? If so, how did it go?
We’ve kept ourselves afloat on sales from our own games and occasional gigs for 9 years, so we’re doing okay!
Is this your full time job?
Well yes, but I also have other commitments, such as being a board member on a couple of local game-related organisations and helping out our sister company whenever I can.
Have you used an external publisher before?
Used a few, been one ourselves once.
Did you have a marketing budget? If so, what was worth it? What was a waste?
For Ittle Dew 2, the marketing was handled and funded by our publisher. For our previous games, we have mostly used “free” PR such as outreach on social media, and very limited paid marketing. We tried paying for ads in the past put that has not been worth it – our games are not mass-market enough for that I believe.
Do you rely solely on game purchases for profit?
It’s a mix of sales and gigs.
What was/is your marketing plan/strategy?
Here I’d like to skip over to our upcoming game, Card City Nights 2. Because now for the first time ever, we have a dedicated PR/CM/Marketing person that comes in a few times a week and whip our lazy butts into actually pushing out our messages according to the launch plan. It’s something we should have done a long time ago, but I thought I could handle it myself. I can’t, not with also being the CEO and all that entails. It’s incredibly nice to do it right this time!
What advice did you take 5 years ago? Is it still true today?
Five years ago we’d already been up and running for a while, and I wish we had followed more advice about marketing even from the start. We have shyed away from things that feel too cheezy or like bragging and as such our marketing have suffered in its reach. You should be proud about what you do, and show it often.
What advice would you pass on to developers who are looking to launch their game?
Don’t forget about PR and marketing! Write a launch schedule and follow it! If you can, have someone that is at-least partly dedicated for this work.
What’s your favourite element of the game that everyone should know about?
Ittle Dew 2 is on its surface a fairly classic adventure game in the Zelda-style, but something that you might miss about it is that it’s extremely open-ended and made for speed-running. That’s something that I love about it. There are also so much secret content in there, probably more than half the game is hidden!
Why should I play it?
It’s a fun, funny and extremely polished adventure game, shock-full of secrets and super-tight gameplay!
Where do you get inspiration to build games or come up with an idea?
These past few years now most of our games have started as jokes on the whiteboard. Someone draws something silly, someone else expands upon it, and before you know it there’s an idea for a new game. We also prototype a lot, we probably made 50-100 prototypes and sometimes they are “promoted” to a full game and sometimes we draw inspiration from its mechanics or feel.
For aspiring gamers reading this who want to work in the games industry/make games, what advice can you give them?
Well I think it’s a very different question if you want to work at an existing game company or start something of your own. The latter is all I know about, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to be honest. It’s very difficult. Start with just yourself or maybe one more person on the team, see if you can gain traction and build from there. Don’t invest money in a new startup before you have some traction.
What marketing information did you wish you knew before launching your game?
There’s so much, but here’s a small tidbit that have surprised me a lot in just the last 1-2 years – people like email! I had completely discounted email as something old and archaic next to Facebook and Twitter, but it’s actually not at all difficult to get people to sign up for newsletters, and especially betas. So gather those emails.