Wednesday 1 October 2014

From dev to dev: Tom Grochowiak from MoaCube tells us how to promote indie games

MoaCube is an idependent indie game studio, started by two game industry veterans: designer Tom Grochowiak and illustrator Gracjana Zielinska. Together they developed Solstice, Bonfire, Cinders, Co-Op, ArcMagi and Magi. Sounds familiar?

We asked Tom a few questions about his favorite game he developed.

1. What is the game you are most proud of and why?

Cinders. By a large margin. Not only it's the first title we released as a full-time indie studio, and one that keeps us afloat to this day, but it's also the first game where I can honestly say that it's meaningful to us, that it talks about something we personally care for. Coping up with all the expectations society puts on us and chasing that ever-fleeting Cinderella narrative, slowly realizing it may not be that simple, is an important part of growing up. Cinders gave us a chance to talk about it openly and share our own personal experiences.

Also, it's great to see that you can make a game with no zombies or world-saving, and that it's something that people want.

2. Can you tell us, for the developers out there, what did you do to promote it?

These days, promotion centers around having a game people simply want to talk about. Press is overloaded and slowly loses its power, so it's all about word of mouth and social networks.

Cinders was easier to get out there in one regard -- it's a pretty unique title in a very specific niche (visual novels). Fans of niche genres tend to be very centrilized and in touch with each other, so word spreads fast if you have something interesting.

We started by handing demoes to the more established indies in the scene and asked for their advice on what to do next. They pointed us to visual novel communities where we could post and discuss our game, slowly building awarness of its existence. The rest sort of happened by itself. Of course, we also sent review copies to the press and did all the usual stuff, but honestly it wouldn't even come close to the effect of having a dedicated fanbase spawn around the game, promote it on tumblr and forums, support it on Greenlight, etc. Hundreds of dedicated fans are worth more that thousands of dollars spent on ads or press releases.

MoaCube Team (from left to right):
Kate Kluge: one of the artists (responsible for Bonfire)
Agness Mulak: half of the writing team
Tom Grochowiak
Hubert Sobecki: the other half of the writing dynamic duo
Gracjana Zielinska: the artist responsible for Cinders and Solstice

The road to Gaming Heaven is paved with Indie Games.

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