Today we have a special treat for you. Joe Yu, the South Korean developer of Katuba's Poacher, attended BIC, a huge indie game development expo in Busan, South Korea. Joe and his team are making Katuba's Poacher with GDevelop. In this interview, we talk to Joe about the advantages of going to a game expo, whether being a GDevelop creator is a disadvantage, and when it's worth attending an expo as a game developer. Enjoy!
When it comes to exhibitions, I take them quite seriously. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that opportunities to explore the next steps gradually arise. I've been able to see the next steps for development and seriously consider creating and selling games, so I've been able to meet with various stakeholders to gather insights and information.
A lot of people excited to play Katuba's Poacher at BIC - Busan Indie Connect.
I'm someone who needs a lot of experience. I've decided not to have vague expectations that my game will sell well just because I release it. I want to observe the reactions, inquire about practical difficulties, and strategize. Of course, even if things don't go well, I've done my best, so I believe other options will become visible!
Articles and reviews about the game also contribute significantly to its development. While simply promoting the game might fall a bit short, it can elevate the valuation of the game.
In some cases, this can lead to small sponsorships for the game. In my case, I received multiple rounds of QA and small support from companies like Smilegate.
It's often difficult to determine whether a game was made using GDevelop once it's exported.
In the early stages of the exhibition, there were times when I played the game directly from GDevelop to make modifications, but apart from those instances, I mostly couldn't tell which engine was used.
Most People naturally assume that games are developed using Unity.
This depends on the nature of the exhibition. Some exhibitions don't pay much attention to which game engine is used, while others inquire and scrutinize it. Occasionally, there seems to be a strong bias towards certain game engines.
In such cases, it becomes challenging to claim equal opportunities. In my experience, events organized by development-related companies tend to exhibit this tendency more prominently (localization, server providers, marketing agencies, publishers, and other outsourcing companies).
However, I believe that compared to last year, this tendency has significantly diminished this year.
Katuba's Poacher's first expo booth.
First, consider attending game exhibitions as a visitor. Each game exhibition has its unique characteristics and audience composition.
Some exhibitions are family-oriented, while others are composed of passionate fans of specific genres. Some events focus on demonstrations, while others revolve around special events organized by the hosts.
If their game aligns with the nature of the exhibition, I strongly recommend it. Seeing it firsthand, experiencing the atmosphere, and building relationships with other game developers can be a significant source of motivation for your game development.
Simply attending exhibitions without clear objectives may not necessarily yield favorable results.
In my case, when I decided to participate in exhibitions, I set specific goals. My first goal for attending an exhibition was to see if my game's concept could directly appeal to people and to observe it firsthand. It didn't require a large exhibition for this. (And I aimed for just a simple one-liner article as a goal. 😅)
During my first exhibition, I observed and analyzed user preferences. While I may not be well-versed in marketing, participating in exhibitions for marketing purposes offers an excellent opportunity to attract early adopters. It's crucial to appeal to early adopters first because, if successful, they can influence the general public, followed by late adopters.
Katuba's Poacher demo trailer.
In my case, I participated in exhibitions primarily to showcase the game and determine the direction of its development and strategy. As a result, my participation in exhibitions occurred whenever the game required testing. I presented the game's evolving nature at various exhibitions, which often resulted in heightened anticipation.
If your goal is marketing, it can be beneficial to showcase a game right before or at the time of its release. For promotional purposes, aiming for a game lasting around 10 minutes is advisable. If it becomes too lengthy, it may lead to fewer overall visitors and reduced promotional impact.
If your goal is to win awards, based on my experience, judges often seemed to favor games that were completed.
I initially believed that my game was a very easy action game. However, I soon realized that this was a big misconception after observing attendees' gameplay. After completing the first day of the exhibition, my immediate action was to lower the difficulty level of the game. Additionally, I made more efforts to present necessary game information more actively.
The Katuba's Poacher team watching people play the game at Busan Indie Connect.
I still think there's room for improvement in this aspect. Fortunately, on the second day, people were playing the game more smoothly. I also conducted extensive observations to ensure that people were playing the game according to my intentions. I categorized different player types and observed how they engaged with the game. I noticed that the way information was presented could influence their gameplay styles.
To see people play the game as I intended, I had to prioritize which information was crucial.
One significant lesson I learned from my first exhibition was that even if players found the game challenging and somewhat unreasonable, they would still exhibit a willingness to continue if they found it intriguing. This realization eased my unnecessary concerns and allowed me to focus more on highlighting the game's strengths. I further observed gameplay to identify points that players enjoyed.
Thank you for the fantastic interview, Joe! This information will certainly be helpful for game developers looking to attend conferences. If you'd like to be like Joe and make a game that wows crowds at game expos, start by opening GDevelop right now. It's free!