Publishing on a global scale has never been simpler for indie game developers. Digital distribution platforms make it incredibly easy to reach massive audiences in an instant, a move that has opened the door for creators of all sizes to start selling content and building businesses around creating games.
Third-party digital distribution platforms are an enormous asset for indie developers. Relying on them exclusively leaves out much of the bigger picture, however. Releasing a game is one thing, but turning that project into a successful long-term business requires thinking beyond raw sales. It’s about marketing, it’s about community, and it’s about maintaining your independence while growing to reach more players.
Creating a home base for your games and for your business is the next step in the indie journey. A self-run platform is an extension of your team, and it allows you to leverage the full potential of player engagement, analytics, brand loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and more. These efforts work in concert with your presence on third-party platforms, allowing you to take advantage of their discovery and sales features while building a centralized, community-driven hub for all of your products.
You’ve worked hard to make a game you can be proud of. Every scrap of code belongs to your team, and as such, you’re free to do with it as you wish, including listing it on as many digital distribution platforms as possible. The more the merrier, right?
In addition to partnerships with third-party platforms, many indies also operate a self-hosted platform that links to their game’s main website. Selling directly to consumers allows you to offer a highly customized experience with full control over purchase flow. You can advertise game expansions after checkout, show users related merchandise, or just give them a thumbs up and thank them for buying direct. It’s all up to you.
Having a self-owned platform in addition to a presence on third-party platforms means you get the best of both worlds, including discovery and built-in customers from the latter, and full branding and control for the former. You also won’t lose ownership of your game. Even if your favorite platform shuts down, players will still have a reliable place to go for new purchases or re-download.
One of Xsolla’s core features is a customizable digital distribution platform you can create, edit, and manage on your own. Offer pre-order packages, custom add-ons, merchandise, and much more, all in a unified dashboard you can set up in minutes. Xsolla Pay Station handles the back-office stuff such as currency conversion, taxes, and fraud prevention.
The relationship between you and your players doesn’t end when they click ‘Buy Now’. Players are your community, they’re part of the experience that defines your brand. That community will be a prime source of sales going forward, not to mention feedback for improving your games. They also serve as evangelists for every new release. Nothing sells a product like a personalized recommendation from a friend.
For many digital market spaces, 40% of their revenue comes from repeat customers, themselves making up only 8% of a site’s visitors. As you can see, loyalty is an incredibly powerful force. The best way to foster this feeling is to make your players your own, right from the very beginning.
The difference between a customer and your customer is an important one. When a player buys your game from a third-party distributor, they engage in a transaction: they get a game, you get paid. Depending on the platform, you may be able to contact customers or add them to a mailing list, but at the end of the day, the customer belongs to the platform, not you.
Running your own platform lets you capture customers who are most interested in your product. These are the best kinds of fans, the ones who want to participate in the community. They share feedback, report bugs, and help other players when they get stuck. Engaging with these people creates a deep sense of ownership. That can only be accomplished if you have an active home base with a good, self-run sales platform.
Who are your customers? What kinds of games do they play, and how did they find out about your game? Indie developers know analytics can be helpful in designing new products or focusing on outreach efforts. The problem is getting ahold of that data in the first place, a feature that isn’t offered by every third-party distribution platform out there.
With a self-run platform on your side, you can leverage an impressive amount of analytics to learn all you need to know about your players. Discover which ad campaigns are doing their job, find out which games or DLC releases are the most liked, see how many users stick with the free tier vs. jumping up to paid, etc. Only by scrutinizing this data can you improve as an indie developer and as a business.
Xsolla eases the burden of information collecting by delivering a wide variety of analytics to a single unified dashboard. Your platform, your customers, your information, and your team’s long-term success, all in one place.
The indie market is likely to become even more fragmented over the next few years. New distribution platforms are rising and falling at a rapid pace. Weathering these stormy seas means having a secure and stable home base, complete with a self-run sales platform. It’s the perfect solution for stimulating growth and connecting with your community, and with Xsolla’s straightforward toolset, it’s easy to get started.
Build your own platform today, schedule a call today with a publishing expert at email@example.com