NeoGAF Giveaways: Free Stuff, Rewarding Top Contributors, and New Avenues for Indie Game Exposure

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
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#1
We've been big on giving back to the community for a long time now, but until recently we had to rely on custom hacks like Modbot and couldn't integrate it with the site proper very clearly. No doubt many gaffers didn't even know it existed, but many, many games found a good home that way.

You may or may not have noticed over the last few days, up on the header navigation (between What's New and Watched Threads) we now have a Giveaways tab. No purchase necessary, though some giveaways will be restricted by your current NeoGAF usergroup status level (void where prohibited etc.). The instructions and restrictions will all be made clear in the details when we get more simultaneous promotions up, but mostly any restrictions in place will be to discourage spam entries and keep eligibility to the active userbase.

But Why?

You matter to us, and we want you to enjoy your experience here. I've allocated a budget to general giveaways; not sponsored by publishers, just out of pocket for members of the community

In some cases, too, separate (perhaps...premium) giveaways will be set aside for users identified and usergroup promoted to top contributor status (great posters; people who put time into official thread creation; news hounds, sales fiends etc.). We're working on finalizing that system and identifying our first set of top contributors. You help make the community great, and we appreciate that.

We're rolling out official giveaways provided by the administration first, but we'll be bringing back user-to-user giveaways as well, which were extremely popular and a great way to spread good will between users. Stay tuned for updates on that as our top sysadmins continue crunching code on your behalf.


Indies

NeoGAF has always had a special relationship with indie game devs, and we want to strengthen that bond, provide better visibility to upcoming promising indie games since mainstream press sucks for that, and we want to do it ethically (i.e. indie devs won't be paying us for the "privilege" of being highlighted this way; we'll curate the selections and have minimum key distributions to the community, but that should be all) and without undermining our firmly independent and neutral position here with NeoGAF.

Through organic word of mouth on NeoGAF, some of the biggest indie game successes in history have resulted. From DayZ going viral, to Bastion, and Rocket League, Indies have cited NeoGAF exposure as significant for taking off as they did. Numerous Kickstarter successes have cited inbound organic traffic from NeoGAF as disproportionately significant to their fundraising outcomes. NeoGAF obviously cares about good indie games, not just AAA blockbusters. It's tough out there being an indie dev, but gamers want to know about the good stuff too and it's arguably increasingly difficult to find. Let's help fix that right here on NeoGAF, where some of the biggest indie successes have made it purely through word of mouth on our...also indie, for life...humble little video game message board here.

Most of us like a good indie game, yeah? Finding good games on Steam is kind of a shitshow these days, though (sorry Gabe). Getting coverage from streamers or viral talk on boards like NeoGAF or Reddit can be rough with the marketplace as saturated as it is, and in our case very strict rules about where self-promotion can take place on the boards to prevent spam and astroturfing, and breaking into the public consciousness can involve anything from payout to dubious exposure-promising services or hopeless spam runs on social media.

With that in mind, one of the goals with deploying this giveaway system is to regularly identify and curate promising and potentially underexposed independent games which are at or near completion that have the mojo to make it but not necessarily the marketing dollars or viral buzz, and use our Giveaway system to distribute a selection of keys for those games to our users, which can kickstart organic interest in your game substantially (especially if it's, y'know, good). We're intending keys from participating indie devs to get distributed a balanced mix of regular active gaf members, officially acknowledged standout contributors who will be encouraged to provide (uncensored, but fair) impressions, and verified live-streamers who can stream and record the games in action (side note: we're working on letting you show a clickable badge when you're livestreaming a game on twitch -- and maybe other services -- that users can click on when they see you post on GAF to take you straight to your livestream, as part of a NeoGAF Streamer community initiative).

Obviously we'll be handling this all in such a way that NeoGAF remains neutral, without corporate leverage exerted against us or bribery, etc., but we think something like a weekly indie spotlight giveaway+impression thread where some keys are distributed, the devs get some exposure and talkback organically and without pandering or payola, and administratively we curate the process fairly (maybe a mix of top-level selection and community voting, depending on feedback and trial runs) would be fun and rewarding for NeoGAF's users, as well as a valuable, free (aside from the necessary key allocation of course) avenue for exposure for those hardworking indie devs out there looking to get the exposure they deserve for their years of hard work.


Interested dev/team? We're not rolling out this aspect quite yet to the newly live Giveaway system, but the necessary components and protocols are in active development and should be coming soon, so send details of your project, steam page or equivalent if possible, its state of completion and intended release date, why you think your project would be a good fit for the initiative, and anything else of note to our secure email and we will add you into consideration and follow up with further instructions at the appropriate time. Thanks! Note: for consideration, we expect a minimum of 50-100 keys or so to be a necessary allocation if selected, but none of this has been formalized yet. Just expect to be giving out enough keys such that regular users can have a chance at drawing one (regular users are important!), top contributors will get them and can weigh in thoughtfully, and verified streamers can load your project up on Twitch et al and stream about it.


User/dev/streamer feedback welcome below. What do you think?
 
Mar 12, 2014
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#2
Giving small teams a way to get more exposure is a fantastic idea. Absolute props for that. Also want to add one idea if you are interested - that would be a completely separate tab for paid threads from any dev or publisher. By separating it you would be telling the community right up front its paid content, while still letting pubs / devs help fund what has always been a great place to get exposure for games.

Also, I am not anywhere remotely related with the field - I just play games.
 
Nov 27, 2012
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robotloveskitty.com
#4
We're just a 2 person indie dev couple, but we've been doing this for over 10 years together. At this point, we've seen first hand how much harder it is to get new games seen by people.

This seems like a wonderful initiative!
The "giveaway+impression" idea makes it reminiscent of a book club, which sounds like a great way for developers and the community to connect!

I know Robot Loves Kitty will be considering this, once our new game is closer to release.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
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#6
We're just a 2 person indie dev couple, but we've been doing this for over 10 years together. At this point, we've seen first hand how much harder it is to get new games seen by people.

This seems like a wonderful initiative!
The "giveaway+impression" idea makes it reminiscent of a book club, which sounds like a great way for developers and the community to connect!

I know Robot Loves Kitty will be considering this, once our new game is closer to release.
Glad you like the idea. To you and other devs watching, one thing to note is that while there will be an element of curation to what we put forward if all goes well, there will probably be flexibility in terms of whether you want to distribute something akin to early access key and look for important feedback rounds that you might not have access to at that scale before shipping 1.0, or give out retail keys (maybe even with, say, a 10-20% off coupon for a friend incentive purchase, even, if desired). Especially when it comes to Steam releases, there's a ton of flexibility with how it can be tailored to a specific project. But we can support other distribution platforms beyond Steam too, of course.

We also have the ability to link steam accounts to participants in these giveaways so that they don't just take keys and drop them on the reseller market instead of using them, but rather than going aggro on the userbase in a DRM enforcement sort of way I feel it's typically better to reward positive behavior. :) We'll be developing the best approaches to these issues as we build out the main Giveaway/Contributor/Streamer functionalities. Contributors and Streamers will likely both be account ID linked on Steam and Twitch respectively, which should address most concerns there about fair play with key rewards.

Everything tying into what's outlined in the OP is under rapid-fire active development right now by the team, and we don't foresee any roadblocks. We're moving to stage 2 of the giveaway functionality today, for example. Should be able to go live quite soon with the first live trials.


P.S. Few things in my excruciatingly lengthy NeoGAF-running career have beaten the sincere appreciation, thanks, and hugs from countless indie devs at E3 and the like; folks who made it thanks to that first spark of organic NeoGAF exposure and the hype train that built out from it on its own merits, once people finally knew their cool thing existed. I'm confident we can do something industry-positive here that's also fun and engaging for our community.
 
Likes: Dienekes
Jun 7, 2016
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#7
This is pretty damn awesome, I'm glad to see this come to fruition this way. I do see this becoming a pretty healthy addition to the site, and can't wait to see it fully visualized and done.
 

ultrazilla

Gold Member
Sep 17, 2011
2,961
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www.scifijapan.com
#8
Very awesome though I'm a bit salty about DayZ(granted we never knew it would turn out like it did in the current state it's in). I find myself gravitating more towards Indie game developers more than ever.
Mostly because I've become disgusted with many AAA games and the shenanigans the developers/publishers pull(DLC, massive day 1 patches-hello 30 gig Deliverance patch and loot boxes that have for the most part become out of control).

Probably my ripe old age of 45(46 in less than two weeks!) Pisces for the win! Growing up on Atari, Coleco, Intellivision, etc.....I just love the Indie stuff alot more as it seems like that's what the developers are aiming for-that "innocence" when gaming was pure and you got the whole game for 1 price. /Sniffs
 
Likes: Mr. Grumpy
Nov 27, 2012
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robotloveskitty.com
#9
... whether you want to distribute something akin to early access key and look for important feedback rounds that you might not have access to at that scale before shipping 1.0, or give out retail keys (maybe even with, say, a 10-20% off coupon for a friend incentive purchase, even, if desired)....
Giving a discount coupon is actually rather tricky on Steam from what we've seen, but I do like that avenue of thought! With Steam's current set up, giving out a key actually means you lose that person's Steam review score (it posts the review, but the vote doesn't get counted). That score is vital for a small game to get more visibility, so encouraging a purchase for a friend etc. is a good way to counteract that.

We also have the ability to link steam accounts to participants in these giveaways so that they don't just take keys and drop them on the reseller market instead of using them, but rather than going aggro on the userbase in a DRM enforcement sort of way I feel it's typically better to reward positive behavior. :)
However you go about it, reducing the chances that the game keys could be resold will definitely be a comfort to many devs. We still have countless Legend of Dungeon keys being resold, which we try not to think about...

Everything tying into what's outlined in the OP is under rapid-fire active development right now by the team, and we don't foresee any roadblocks. We're moving to stage 2 of the giveaway functionality today, for example. Should be able to go live quite soon with the first live trials.
That's fantastic! I look forward to seeing it in action! If you want any feedback from the indie developer's side of things, I'd be happy to give you our thoughts and opinions, or pass questions on to the indie community I run!

One thought to add to your already amazing sounding plan: You may want to think about a way of connecting the developer and the streamers you mentioned. In my experience devs being on stream or in chat can be valuable to both streamer and dev alike.

Best of luck with this, I think indies all over will really appreciate the effort you're going through! If you're at PAX East, find our booth and we'll hook you up with a couple more indie hugs!
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
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#10
Giving a discount coupon is actually rather tricky on Steam from what we've seen, but I do like that avenue of thought! With Steam's current set up, giving out a key actually means you lose that person's Steam review score (it posts the review, but the vote doesn't get counted). That score is vital for a small game to get more visibility, so encouraging a purchase for a friend etc. is a good way to counteract that.[
Didn't know that (probably didn't go to that Steam Dev Days panel haha, or it's a recent change). Yeah, that's an important consideration then.


That's fantastic! I look forward to seeing it in action! If you want any feedback from the indie developer's side of things, I'd be happy to give you our thoughts and opinions, or pass questions on to the indie community I run!
Thanks. This more or less came together today once I saw the puzzle pieces of Giveaways, Streamer verification and live status functionality, Contributor usergroup as a reward mechanism for our top members, and thinking on how to improve outcomes from when we did a couple isolated instances of extreme mass key giveaways of Feep's games, for example, where all of NeoGAF got a key in both instances, but the second time around in a more saturated indie market, utilization of the free keys wasn't even very high. With the structure we're discussing over the course of this thread, though, I think those sorts of pitfalls can be avoided just about entirely. Star users will be encouraged to participate in giving impressions, and streamers almost all are looking to get off the ground with that base of a first few viewers. It's all mutually beneficial, and for NeoGAF on the top end anything community building is a good thing (and I personally want promising indie games to get better exposure).

One thought to add to your already amazing sounding plan: You may want to think about a way of connecting the developer and the streamers you mentioned. In my experience devs being on stream or in chat can be valuable to both streamer and dev alike.
Definitely doable. I'm approaching the idea as a weekly (or however often is viable) self-contained thread where the game is highlighted and discussed and streamed, the devs can Q&A and interact with the community in that thread re: their game freely, and of course livestream themselves as well if they'd like.

Best of luck with this, I think indies all over will really appreciate the effort you're going through! If you're at PAX East, find our booth and we'll hook you up with a couple more indie hugs!
:D
 
Likes: Mr. Grumpy

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
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#12
It is not really a big deal, but is steam going to be basically the only platform this is in regards to?
It might be the first platform supported since we have native ID linking with steam user accounts on the boards here as an option, and that can be useful for what we discussed above re: ensuring keys aren't all being resold or whatever (especially for any folks specifically designated keys to try out something and give a little feedback or stream time), but otherwise, no, any key-based platform should be viable. The giveaway system right now is all Steam keys because there are a lot of legit sources for those where we don't have to worry about unwittingly giving a winner a bogus key.

All the modern platforms should be doable though, with their own individual quirks and limitations, if there's interest. Don't see why not.
 
Likes: Osukaa

Palliasso

Requiescat In Pace
Staff member
Oct 25, 2017
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#13
It is not really a big deal, but is steam going to be basically the only platform this is in regards to?
To expand on what EviLore has already said, the user-to-user giveaways (when those go live) will support users giving away keys to a variety of digital platforms. It will support Steam, PSN, Xbox, GOG, Uplay, EA / Origin, etc in addition to a few other digital platforms such as Ultraviolet or MoviesAnywhere for giving away movie codes. There will also just be a selection for "Unknown / Other" if the particular thing you're giving away doesn't fit into any of the pre-built options.
 
Jun 7, 2016
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#17
I'm not sure that this is the place for me to ask.. but I know that self promo is frowned upon; I'm curious what avenues a dev currently has to show their game to the NeoGAF community?
You can always post on the IndieGAF thread, and talk about your game there, but I'm pretty sure that's just mainly for showing off progress on your games rather then actually advertising them on there.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
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#22
I'm not sure that this is the place for me to ask.. but I know that self promo is frowned upon; I'm curious what avenues a dev currently has to show their game to the NeoGAF community?
Good question. I've always been very strict about commercial self-promotion on NeoGAF because of the desire to keep what floats to the top happening organically (otherwise, why keep the site fiercely independent), and we've rooted out lots of professional astroturfers and other forms of paid shills designated specifically to shape public opinion on NeoGAF for big corporate, so arguably it's a place of some influence and keeping discussion happening organically with as little of that BS as feasible is important to me. :)

On the flip side, of course, when you don't have marketing budgets or bribery or minions to go forth and do your bidding ("one billion facebook likes and we'll give you horse armor!"), you really just have to hustle it yourself and try to get enough attention out there in social mediums to reach self-sustaining interest levels, and I understand that totally. Studios of 5-10 devs or devs with some connections or resources can manage, but there's a whole lot of indie game development out there that's pure elbow grease and passion. Indies not having any functional avenue to get the word out on here unless there already is some level of independent interest from the community, while a sensible structure overall to suppress viral marketing that's worked well for the site, likely biases NeoGAF toward the AAA scale and studio-sized major indie scale (people will hear about games that have the resources to be heard; threshold crossed).

For the most part as an indie on gaf you've been allowed to participate and do q&a in an existing thread about your game that also has self-sustaining community interest without you bumping it or having someone else make the thread on your behalf, etc. You understand due to the nature of NeoGAF's layout with just two main sections for everything, artificially creating or bumping threads disrupts the flow of information and harms it as an aggregate overall, which is another reason why the guidelines about that are strict.

All that said though, this is NeoGAF 2.0 here in 2018, and everything about the previous status quo deserves a fresh evaluation and is getting it. I look on Steam and it's impossible to navigate all the trash and asset swaps flooding it. Humble is good, but it's a store more than a community. A lot of sites that focus on indie games involve some...transactional...requirements, to my understanding. I check NeoGAF and can see what's up in games and gaming as always, but I want to see more diversity in the gaming discussion here and more of those, "oh, hey, what's that? haven't heard of that before....sweet" moments every day. There was a window of that during the Kickstarter fad, but that's mostly passed. We also really need to not ignore the entire smartphone gaming space by default, but that's another story.

Anyway: I think it's perfectly reasonable -- and ties in to the project outlined here as well -- to allow an ongoing thread on the main Gaming board where indie devs can highlight their games and do some q&a with the community and all that, beyond the very limited avenues we've allowed up 'til now. I'll draw up the guidelines and create the thread when ready. It'll be one ongoing thread. Likely no press releases copy pasted allowed, but you'll be able to show off and link to your project and do q&a as appropriate, and we'll keep tabs on it to ensure it's functioning as intended and not being artificially manipulated. It can also function as a useful tool to gauge community interest here in those projects, which will tie in with the other initiative outlined in this thread with the formal indie spotlight cross-promotional threads on NeoGAF up ahead.

Cool?
 
#26
Yes :D

That was a wonderfully detailed all everything! On your end point about creating an ongoing thread, I think you'll find many devs will be appreciative of the opportunity to share their project once it's been completed.

It might be smart to have some format for it, to make sure it's geared towards people going there to discover new things. I'm not sure that I'm explaining the thought well.. hm.. you wouldn't want only bakers to show up hoping to sell cookies.
 
Jun 7, 2016
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#29
I think rewarding OT creators with recognition is a great way to promote it. Hopefully, we'll see more people pick it up. Maybe I'd chime in too.
Yeah I mean really I'd just say less OT, and just people who push and initiate good discussion would be better.
 

abraksil

Neo Member
Jan 23, 2018
42
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#30
I think it's perfectly reasonable -- and ties in to the project outlined here as well -- to allow an ongoing thread on the main Gaming board where indie devs can highlight their games and do some q&a with the community and all that, beyond the very limited avenues we've allowed up 'til now. I'll draw up the guidelines and create the thread when ready. It'll be one ongoing thread. Likely no press releases copy pasted allowed, but you'll be able to show off and link to your project and do q&a as appropriate, and we'll keep tabs on it to ensure it's functioning as intended and not being artificially manipulated. It can also function as a useful tool to gauge community interest here in those projects, which will tie in with the other initiative outlined in this thread with the formal indie spotlight cross-promotional threads on NeoGAF up ahead.
Sounds Cool! I'm an indie dev and I'm doing weekly updates (gifs / vlog updates) on my work. Would this thread be a place for me to share things like this? Is there a place on NeoGAF for things like this or is it not ok to share this kind of content. (Sorry I'm kind of new here)
 
Likes: Mr. Grumpy
Jun 7, 2016
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#32
Likes: abraksil

Mr. Grumpy

Grumpy see, Grumpy do.
Staff member
Dec 5, 2017
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#36
@bucyou
That's right, it's for [OT] threads.

@forgedbygeeks
As far as I'm aware the only difference would be that you'd be with giveaways if you were distributing physical items rather than codes so there's obviously going to be additional costs involved in you distributing those to people, particularly if you were doing it internationally. As far I'm concerned, I can't see any reason for that not to happen.

I'm sure I'll be corrected if that isn't so but it seems good to me.

@MrTickles
Definately, sounds good to me.

What I will say to any indie developers out there is that we are looking to offer a "validated" type membership for members in the business who are able to validate themselves. If you are one of those people then please feel free to contact the people involved in this at this email address.

We're looking to do this with all members working in the industry who want it to happen, it would always be optional rather than mandated so if that's you but you're not working on the indie side of things then please contact the relevant team using this email address.

As long as people in the industry are in good standing here we are able to raise your membership level to full membership which will give you full posting rights. We could also change your User Name to something that may be more appropriate to the company/position that you hold and we can also do the same with your User Tag, which is the membership information below your User Name.

Obviously, all this would require you to validate that you are who you claim to be, usually that can be done via your registered email address so you won't actually have to do anything extra for us to validate you.

If this is appropriate to you then please contact us via the the email addresses I've linked to and include information about any changes to your User Name and User Tag. For instance, if you wanted to be you'd include information like this. (You can't, you can't be!!! It's just an example!!)
User Name - Mr. Grumpy
User Tag - Grumpy see, Grumpy do.


In terms of a new User Name you can check to see if the name you want is already being used by searching for a member in the search box at the top of the page. It is worth remembering though that there may be some User Names which have been taken but possibly haven't been used for years so we may be able to reclaim those if it's appropriate to do so, just incase we can't though when you contact us it may be worth including more than one User Name so that we do have an alternative for you.

For people in the industry who are members here who have other people in their team also wanting to sign up here, once they have created an account if they or you contact us then we can arrange that for you, just to speed things up.

I'm sure it goes without saying but all members do have to follow the same ToS here and that's no different for validated members. ;)
 
Oct 4, 2017
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Seattle WA
#37
@forgedbygeeks
As far as I'm aware the only difference would be that you'd be with giveaways if you were distributing physical items rather than codes so there's obviously going to be additional costs involved in you distributing those to people, particularly if you were doing it internationally. As far I'm concerned, I can't see any reason for that not to happen.

I'm sure I'll be corrected if that isn't so but it seems good to me.
Awesome! Will send you guys an email.
 
Likes: Mr. Grumpy
Feb 22, 2018
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#40
Can we show off some of our pet projects and serious work here? For the benefit of other users? I wont send direct link to gaf secure email until I have a working, playable demo of my original game.

This was me experimenting with unity last year, and that Mario 64 remake by roystan, remember that? It was terminated by nintendo. I thought to give it a new look.

Original by roystan:



Updated:


As for original games, this is what I have in the works;

1: Source art: Everything looks like this before it becomes 5fps animations, 320x200 64 color. (Yes I will never let go of the late 80's - early 90's, I grew up with PC graphics of that era.)



 

Mr. Grumpy

Grumpy see, Grumpy do.
Staff member
Dec 5, 2017
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#42
Fantastic work, nothing wrong with showing it here but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better for somebody to create a general thread for people who create things like this? Just to give room for people to post their creations and discuss it with other people who may well be working in a similar area?

I'm not sure, something along the lines of... Creative NeoGAF [OT] or something? Would anybody who has something to share be interested in maybe doing that?
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff member
May 30, 2004
20,278
4,456
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#45
Update: hope everyone's having fun with the weekly giveaways. This week we're testing the system's ability to handle multiple keys for one giveaway, which is a crucial step toward the endgame as described. We're also working on Twitch API integration for live updates when our users are streaming (the goal being to show a green light and hyperlink when a user is live etc.), which should roll out with the Top Contributor initiative when it's ready. Lot of technical hurdles and custom work involved, so apologies for the time it's taking.

Thanks for the interest via email and we'll get back to you soon on that front, hopefully with actionable news as far as implementing what was talked about in this thread. Cheers.