History from “early access” to “official release”
March 24, 2023, produced by our company“METAL DOGS”was officially released on Steam. Two and a half years counting from the start of early access. From the planning point of view, it will take about 3 years. This time, I would like to look back on the progress we have made so far.
In the first place, what is “early access” and “official release”?
In the first place, what does it mean to be “finally released” instead of “finally released”? I should mention the platform “Steam” for that.
“Steam”Basically, it’s a platform for selling games, but there are various innovative or ambitious mechanisms, and the most distinctive and famous one is currently.“Early Access”it might be.
This is simply called “paid participation beta test”, and the actual content is almost exactly the same. We sell game works that are not yet completed and are still in production, and use the sales to raise the funds needed for production. At that point, we also try to improve the accuracy of the finished product by listening to the opinions of grateful players who belong to the early adopters. It is a mechanism that can be done.
I also saw the part where I was able to use this mechanism well in “METAL DOGS” and the part where I misunderstood how to use it, so I would like to include that as well.
Planning September 2020
It was around October 2020 that the project for “METAL DOGS” was first brought up, or rather, we brought it up. The title “METALMAX XENO REBORN” (MMXR) was released from KADOKAWA GAMES in September of the previous month, and several themes leading to “METAL DOGS” were raised in the initial movement.
In a nutshell, the issues were measures to expand the customer base and user communication. At that time, after the development of MMXR, we were working on its sequel, but for better or worse, the results of MMXR were too “true to the assumptions”, so we decided to take a similar attempt to expanded reproduction and compete. The reality was that I was a little apprehensive.
So, I felt that it was necessary to take some measures to overcome them to some extent before the sequel, but the framework prepared by the publisher KADOKAWA GAMES was, of course, only for the direct sequel. Therefore, “METAL DOGS” had a somewhat strange origin of counter-proposal to the publisher in the form of “self-development”.
Of course, “METAL DOGS” is a spin-off of the traditional series “METAL MAX”, so it is necessary to negotiate with the publisher who holds the rights even after the proposal. Do you feel that the year went by with it?
This is a trend that is rarely seen in the industry.“Evil Management Philosophy”I think it’s very suitable for
However, once again we will reach a perverse landing of becoming a “half-publisher”. Roughly speaking, the publishing and development funds on Steam are covered by us, and home sales are KADOKAWA GAMES.
Alpha version acceptance December 2020
While negotiating with the publisher, the production was already progressing during that time, so it was just around this time that the company“Acceptance inspection of alpha version”is done.
By the way, the alpha version refers to “the one that implements all the basic systems necessary for the game”. METAL DOGS was a game with elements of roguelite and hacks and slashes, so roughly speaking, in the ROM here, “automatically generated dungeons” are “walking dogs”, “defeating enemies”, and “obtaining treasure chests and items”. We aim to create a state where you can pick up items that randomly change their performance and change your status and appearance accordingly.
Recently, we often have a “prototype version” to confirm that “Is it really okay to make this game? Does it look interesting?” exists. However, there was no flow of “accepting it properly” (that’s wrong!). This is mainly due to the tight schedule, but the meaning of the word “acceptance” has changed a little for us in the progress of this work.
“Acceptance” generally refers to the act of submitting a ROM under development to the publisher to confirm that there are no problems with the progress of production. However, in this work, we are half the publisher, so if we fail the acceptance inspection, we will not pay ourselves, which is another strange phenomenon. In reality, that kind of thing can’t happen, and it shouldn’t happen (because it would just be non-payment of salaries, right?) At the same time, this means that “the company will continue to spend money during the production period.” It is nothing but that. Horrible, isn’t it?
In other words, there was a structure where “you can get money from the publisher if you deliver the ROM”, but this time it’s “nobody will give you something if you don’t try to do it”. Therefore, it became necessary to raise funds at the same time.
Funding March 2021
We are a small company, and we don’t have fancy things like internal reserves (like corporate savings). Therefore, it was necessary to consider the option of “loan from a bank”, which had never been considered before.
It can be said that this in itself was the greatest adventure, but the examination proceeded relatively smoothly, probably due to the influence of the corona disaster (I think it was a point that it had been more than 10 years since the company was founded. Yes, but trust is important.) The number of documents to be prepared for this examination was unprecedented, but that’s what happens when a certain amount of money moves. Fundraising has started to take shape.
To put it bluntly, I feel like I started to turn my attention to the outer part of “game production” from around here. Up until now, the “publicity” that the publisher has been responsible for is the most important part of that. With the idea of getting something, I started the predecessor of this series, “24 Frame’s Insider Revelation Diary”.
Beta version acceptance May 2021
By the way, while negotiating rights and raising funds, before we knew it, the production of the game itself had progressed to what was called a “beta version.”
Roughly speaking, the “beta version” is also “a version that can be played through after brushing up to some extent based on the alpha version”. In general, it is one of the climaxes in game production, and it is often the case that a period beyond proto and alpha is set.
So, even in METALDOGS, the production period for the beta was naturally long, but if this is unnecessarily long, there is a possibility that “even though it took a long time to make, there are many parts that did not meet the intention.” will increase. Due to such sensory concerns, we decided to divide the beta version into “β1” and “β2” (this is also a common method these days).
Therefore, we set “β1” as March 2021 and “β2” as May 2021. As mentioned above, acceptance of ROMs such as “α” and “β” is no longer a matter of “getting money if you clear it”, and here, “ROM submission” is no longer a ritual to tighten your mind. There is also a part that has become.
Specifically, in β1, we were able to get to the ending for the time being, and in β2, we continued to improve the quality of the details and fix bugs. Also, during this time, the challenge of “public relations”, which is an almost unknown ocean for us, has progressed, and the quality improvement in β2 has been based on that context.
PR activities July 2021
Now, what exactly was our “public relations” that we have progressed to this point? First of all, the following methods are often used in home video games that we have become familiar with.
(1) Make an exposure by asking the main media for coverage along with the completed game photo and image board.
(2) If cooperation with specific content is possible, consider measures such as collaboration.
(3) Pay advertising fees and ask about publication on websites, magazines, etc.
In reality, there are many more things that are done, so the above is just a small part, but METAL DOGS also does a certain amount of things like this thanks to the kindness of the producer of KADOKAWA GAMES, which is the owner of the rights. is ready. However, at the same time, we felt that the situation was still unsettling.
In the first place, the advertising budget is also self-financed, so (3) is almost absent. Even if that is a premise, it should be noted that the sales platform for this work is not the so-called “household game” that we are familiar with, but the PC-based “Steam”.
Peculiarities of “Steam”
“Steam”, which is convenient and enjoyable for users, has many changes when viewed as a “sales platform”.
Simply put, Steam’s “top-selling” line-up is too weird when compared to the home version. The differences in the best-selling products for each platform is that even if you look only at major players such as Nintendo, SIE, and Microsoft, each hardware has its own characteristics, but Steam’s top-selling peculiarity is not the ratio. .
Why is this happening? We had to start thinking about it again. In other words, it is an analysis of the platform “Steam”. And with this as the beginning, this production will receive a lot of feedback, but the details were much deeper than I thought. Let’s change the section here and talk about it next time. stay tuned!
Tags: #24Frames Evil Management Philosophy #8th Philosophy early access fundraisingGamesIndustry .biz Japan Edition-