I always prepare myself for trouble whenever I release a game, or an update for a game. Yesterday, I released update 1.10 for Airport Madness 3D, a substantial update that added an airport and 7 new aircraft. Immediately after doing so, the emails started pouring in. Where is the iOS version? Where is the Android version? How come we have to wait??
If I really wanted to, I could better time the releases so that they would simultaneously arrive to all platforms. I’m sure that’s what Electronic Arts does. Being a little guy, I need to budget my time and workload very carefully. It would not make sense to attempt this, as there are inevitably going to be problems with the game that somehow got overlooked. This happened yesterday, in fact. I released an update on Steam, and not 10 minutes later I received complaints of two substantial game bugs. Now, if I had released across all platforms (PC, Mac, Steam, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Mac App Store), I would have had several days of work ahead of me. However, by releasing the update only on Steam, I was able to test the waters with a ‘soft launch’, fix the critical bugs, then move on to all other platforms.
Why Steam first? Three reasons:
- Steam has an excellent community. The culture on Steam is to report problems on the forum pages. If there’s a problem with a game, you can rest assured it will get talked about. When there is a problem with the PC/Mac direct download version from this website, I usually get an angry email, and sometimes a demand for a refund.
- It’s easier to upload games to Steam. With Steam’s content upload system, called Steampipe, I can upload game changes in just seconds, directly from the terminal window on my computer. I don’t have to wait for anyone to approve the update. I click publish, and the changes appear online, automatically updating all users.
- PC/Mac users pay more than mobile users do. Because I would be crucified for charging $14.99 on any mobile app store, I need to offer a slightly more competitive price tag, like $8.99. This is fair because the PC/Mac version has more features, better performance, higher definition graphics, and more immersive game play with a mouse. I also like to think getting updates first is another big perk for PC/Mac users.