I believe that it is important to time the release of your game wisely.
If you launch at a time when gamers are not in a buying mood, you will get onto a slow start which may be demoralizing especially if you are an indie startup hoping to get some sales going so you can redeploy the earnings to marketing or development. On the other hand, launching at a time when gamers are eager to spend money will definitely put some money into your pocket assuming you have done a decent job of packaging your game.
In this article I will discuss when I think is the best time to launch your game by sharing my personal experiences.
Sairento VR Was Released On …
We released Sairento VR on Steam on 21st December 2016, which was one day before Steam’s Winter Sale began.
While I cannot share numbers, let’s just say that sales for the first day was very encouraging and when the Winter Sale kicked in, our sales just kept making new highs.
It is worth highlighting here that we did not do any form of marketing prior to this. There was no advertising, no PR, no preview coverage from gaming sites, no YouTuber sneak preview, no nothing. We launched quietly. And I mean really quietly.
But our game practically flew off the digital shelves and by the end of 10 days, we have recouped what we invested into our game.
It is also important to mention that on launch date, we were on a 20% discount off our usual retail of $25. The discount lasted until the end of December, after which we saw a drop in sales. The drop was considered normal as we were still making healthy sales and the holiday season has ended.
The sales eventually converted to our first wave of reviews which were thankfully largely positive, which created the motivation for other VR gamers to pick up our game.
Don’t Launch In December!
Before we decided to launch at such a time, we have heard lots of marketing ‘experts’ and developers warn that December is the absolute worst time to release a new game, especially an indie game. The reason is because loads of AAA titles like to launch during this time to catch the Christmas crowd.
To be honest, we were a little worried after reading all that. But we also rationalized that going by conventional wisdom, wouldn’t it be wiser to go after sales when people are in a buying mood? What other time would be more perfect than Christmas meets Steam’s Winter Sales?
My Personal Take
‘Experts’ may be telling you to stay out of the December period because they want it to be their best kept secret. It is like ‘stock gurus’ telling you to dump a stock so they can buy it or buy a stock so they can sell it. Same theory.
On the contrary, I would advise game developers to consider launching their game very close to a Steam sales event and to put a good discount on it. Gamers are in a buying mood and looking for bargain pickups during such periods. If you have done a good job on packaging your game with a decent trailer and attractive screenshots, chances are you will see brisk sales.
Alternatively, if you cannot wait until a Steam sales event to launch your game, the best day to launch would probably be Friday or Saturday. We’ve noticed that sales are consistently considerably highest during these 2 days.