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Why did my first game fail?


Failures in game development can be a hard thing to discuss because no-one ever feels comfortable discussing why something we're often quite attached to just didn't work out. Your first game is your baby, you don't want to admit something has gone wrong. 
Tappy Donut failed and I want to talk about why and what lessons can be learnt. 

Troubled History

One of the biggest problems a game can have is a troubled history. I'm not going to go through what happened with Tappy Donut all over again (please read my brief history post) but it played a big role in why it failed. 

If a game doesn't have the best footing to begin with, it's already troubled. The problems I had lead to a lack of passion and there were times when I didn't want to work on the game. I just wanted to release it and be done with it.

This attitude made promoting my game hard. On the one hand, I was genuinely curious as whether any sane person would play it, but, on the other, felt a bit blase. 

Unrealistic Expectations

One of my biggest issues I had was unrealistic expectations. It's very easy to look at the success of a mobile game that blew up or an indie developer that made it and think to yourself "that can be me". 

Game dev was new to me and I came into it a little bit naive. I expected to have a few more downloads than the handful it actually got (it got about 17 from Google Play and Amazon) and for it to have a little bit of positive press (didn't get any). 

How wrong was I. 

When developing games, you have to be realistic and have a good plan in place (especially when it comes to marketing). I had neither. 

Never Rush

Perhaps the most important lesson I learnt is to never rush your game and release only when it's ready. It's very easy to get swept up in enthusiasm and release a half-baked game that just isn't ready. 

Lessons

  • Make a game you're passionate about 
  • Don't rush development
  • Be humble
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Think carefully about marketing
  • Understand your audience

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