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Self-publishing lessons learned from Simon Barratt of Four Door Lemon

By on September 2, 2010
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Welcome to the latest in the series of Lessons Learned from developers who have bitten the self-publishing bullet. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of publishing their own games, wrestled with games marketing, distribution and finance and they are kind enough to share their wisdom and experience with us all.

if you’re interested in self-publishing you can download the first two chapters of How to Publish a Game right now for free. Now, over to this week’s developer.

Four Door Lemon logo

Simon Barratt is a director of Four Door Lemon, a Yorkshire-based developer of games.on multiple platforms. The company mixes work-for-hire development with self-publishing on Apple platforms. Recent products include You Are The Ref, a football trivia quiz based on the comic strip as seen in the Guardian and QuizQuizQuiz.

 
Quiz Quiz Quiz screenshot

What’s been the best thing about self-publishing your game?

As this was our first self-published title it felt really great to be engaging with the players.

We integrated quite a few analytics into the product that allow us to see the playtimes and even now, ten months later, there are a lot of people really enjoying the game. In the past we’ve had a publisher and a client between us and the customer even when we’ve done the majority of the development so this was really refreshing for. We’re able to take the feedback on board and update accordingly.

What’s been the worst thing?

Lack of guaranteed funds! We were very fortunate with QuizQuizQuiz and it sold well for us but self-publishing is obviously a risk and we do have on-going office and staff costs as well as company growth to think about.

I think as we develop more products we’ll see the benefits of the long tails on digital distribution sales and we’ll have a few decent streams of income.

What would you do differently if you did it again?

Although we planned marketing and the first update for QuizQuizQuiz we didn’t plan beyond that till we did the Christmas version. We also threw our pricing plan out the window when we got into the top 10 charts, 

I don’t think we really expected it so had no suitable plans in place.

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing for the first time?

It has been mentioned many times before but marketing is key, you can build a great product but if people don’t know about it what’s the point?

Be sure to enable your app to spread virally if possible, give people a feature to show off quickly to other people to help sell the game. One good piece of advice is to make it really easy for users to give you feedback from in the game, engagement with your players is key and will produce evangelists within your fanbase.

You can find out more about Four Door Lemon at www.fourdoorlemon.com.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com