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January 10, 2006


Cliff Harris

I'd read this before, but after recent discussions at indie gamer (and a few recent pitches to me from retail publishers) it's still a fascinating read. The bit about portals keeping the customer away from you is right on the money. I suspect the portals ARE here to stay now, it's just a pity to have witnessed how quickly everyone rushed forward to help them takeover the market, and mold it into a retail model for the new millenium.


I want to comment on the illusion of sales from portals. I have my best selling game on a portal. The first month, it sold a bunch (due to a newsletter, of course). After that, virtually none. I'm literally selling 10x as many copies from my own site. So it's not that my game is bad. There's obviously a failure on their end. And my site has AWFUL traffic. I don't doubt for a second that their traffic is more than 1000x higher than my own. It would be interesting to see a 'conversion' number comparing unique hits per month to sales.

Obviously, I pump my game up right on the front page, while they have relegated it to somewhere in their back catalog. But I think it all makes an interesting point. Portals really are a myth, unless you are that smash hit they're focusing on. I had totally envisioned it as a little bonus income, but I figured they'd sell a few more copies than I do, and it would just be the royalty split that makes the income (much) lower. Not so. I had this image of portals as just a churn of thousands of sales like crazy. No, you gotta do this stuff for yourself. Only you will put in the effort behind your titles, keep them prominent, push the right kind of people at them.

Portals are one gigantic conflict of interest. Bully for them, sucks to be us!

(By the way, I predicted the whole thing a couple years ago in an interview at Indiegamer... too bad it's defunct so I can't be proven omniscient!)

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