Bombing on launch day: it is one of the biggest fears among not only indie developers, but anyone that is launching a product. There is nothing more terrifying than having tons of angry customers complaining that your game is not working correctly and demanding their money back. We are not going to sugarcoat it: an abysmal launch day could kill any momentum you had going into the launch. Even so, it does not mean that your indie game is dead on arrival. Below are the steps you need to take to worsen the below of an abysmal launch.
Take a deep breath, regroup with your team
Before you do anything, take a deep breath. Handling this worst-case scenario is going to be impossible if you do not have your bearings about yourself and continue to stay stressed out about the entire ordeal. Take a walk for a moment, cry if you have to – heck, go to your local kickboxing facility and kick/punch every punching bag you can find! Just be sure that whenever you get ready to tackle this debacle, you have a clear head. Nothing productive is going to get done if you allow your emotions to get the best of you and you are thinking fuzzily.
When you’re ready to tackle this problem, regroup with your team and give them an overview of what is happening. You all need to be aware of the severity of the situation, and the more everyone knows about what is currently going on, the quicker everyone will be able to solve this problem(s).
Listen to your customers
Go to your inbox and social media pages to learn exactly what is going wrong with your indie game. Invite players on social media that is having problems trying to play your game to tell you exactly what is going on. Not only is this a quick way to identify what the problem(s) may be, but it shows that you are owning up to the problem(s) and are turning to your customers to aid you in making this situation right. It’s bound to impress a few customers, and even more once this situation is over. Solid customer service – even in the face of an indie developer’s worst nightmare – is always mandatory!
Read between the inevitable cursing you are going to receive to look for patterns regarding what is going wrong. What is the main problem(s) so many people are having with your game? Figure it out, present your findings to your team, and…
Formulate a game plan
Once you have a few possible leads to the problem, regroup with your team and create a plan of action for fixing this problem. This could very well be a trial by error situation, but you have to do it. Keep working and burning the midnight oil until you have fixed the problem. Who knows? Maybe you will turn this failed launch day into a success story after all. The best way to ensure this is if you…
Keep your customers ‘in the know’
The only way you are going to come out of this situation successfully is by being a constant open book to your customers. You need to keep your customers filled in on what is happening with the updates, which fixes you have applied, and you need to invite your customers to keep filling you in on any problems they may be having. Continue assuring them that you and your team are doing everything possible to fix these problems as quickly as possible and that you sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. The last thing you want to do is not communicate consistently with your customers; if they feel like you are avoiding them, they are going to feel ripped off (and then, you’re going to have an angry mob of gamers asking for your head). Nobody wants that!
A disastrous launch day is quite possibly the worst thing that can happen to any indie developer. Even so, it does not mean that it is the end of the world. There is light at the end of the tunnel; and if you play your cards right you will meet it sooner rather than later. Here is to hoping that you never have to experience a disastrous launch day, but if you do? Take our advice!