So yesterday I did a (very) short talk at What’s Up Pitches about how a lot of Perth game developer websites suck and had quite a few questions/comments throughout the night afterward, which were actually really interesting and awesome. I thought it would be good to compile them all here in one spot:
First of all, when I say they “suck” I don’t mean to offend anyone. I could have said they “could be better” or they “are not ideal” or they “have a lot of room for improvement”, but I didn’t because…well…let’s not mince words, they kind of suck. I also wan’t talking about all of them - just a lot.
We just put something up to have it there, but in reality we don’t actually need a website as we’re not trying to attract anyone yet
At some stage we get to the point where having no website is better than putting up a really bad website. If you don’t think you need a website, fine. However, why are you then putting up something that sends a bad message about you and maybe even makes you look somewhat unprofessional/amateur just to “have it there”? There comes a point where having something bad does more harm than not having anything at all.
In regards to not “needing” a website - maybe if you haven’t released anything yet and aren’t yet close to doing so, not looking for potential investors, not looking for other developers to work with/hire/whatever, not looking for clients to pay you to make them stuff, not looking for potential players to possibly start getting an inkling of who you are - fine. However, if you’re even somewhat close to releasing something and if you’re serious about releasing it and building some sort of player base, you need a website. Whether it be a full-blown site or just a cool looking landing page with some brief info on what you do, it needs to be there.
But we already get tons of enquiries through our website that we don’t want
This one was actually mentioned twice! If you don’t want enquiries, that’s cool. However, the purpose of a good site isn’t just to churn out enquiries. It can be for any of all of the following:
Letting people know you exist
Building a certain image for yourself
Being a part of the online community
Showing your work
Keeping track of your work in a blog to let people know you’re still alive
And all kinds of other awesome stuff
In other words, branding and getting your name out there. I know, “Pffft, branding? Seriously? We make games, we aren’t into that marketing branding crap, fool!” Sure. Totally. Tell me how you go with that ;)
Getting enquiries you don’t want isn’t just an issue with websites of game developers. For example, I get tons of enquiries for Wordpress training even though it’s something I don’t really do anymore. It’s something you can avoid by implementing certain “deterrents”, such as flat out stating on your contact page that you don’t accept emails about “so and so”, among other methods. Believe it or not a lot of people will listen.
There are other ways of breaking out of “the bubble”, like gamer forums and social media
Sure, I totally agree. And game developers should be taking advantage of that. However, covering all of these things in a three minute talk is unrealistic and before devs start trying to get an online presence through social media they should make sure their website is presentable. That’s where people who meet you on Twitter, Quora, forums, etc, will be going back to. If I see an interesting sounding developer on Twitter the first thing I do is check out their site. If the site is…well…bad…it leaves a negative impression about that developer.
There is pressure on game developers to have awesome looking sites whether you like it (or believe it) or not. People think game development is cool. People who like games, anyway. You guys are meant to be all awesome and creative and at the forefront of technology and it should show through your site. A financial firm of some sort might be able to get away with a boring looking site from the 90s, but a game developer can’t. If I went to the Trion Worlds site before buying RIFT and saw an amateur/slapped-together-in-ten-minutes looking site my overall impression of that developer, and therefore their game, would be dampened and my confidence in the game would drop, whether consciously or not.
I know, RIFT is a big game and you might not be making big games. The above still applies. And your website doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. It just has to look decent and provide at least some basic information to the visitor. Does Andreas Illiger’s website look overly complex? No. And I may not be a fan of that navigation. I maybe would tweak some stuff. But it looks pretty, professional, and has brief information, screenshots, and video of Tiny Wings.
Any questions? evil stare
Seriously though, I love feedback - if you have any, leave a comment or email me :)