Four things you might forget before you launch your game
When you start getting closer to your game’s launch, your life is going to be consumed with bug squashing and polishing. It’s easy to get so focused on production that you lose track of all the things required to actually sell your game.
Incorporate these tasks into your project planning. If you leave yourself enough time, you won’t be overwhelmed with a scramble at the last minute.
Certification takes time
If you’re releasing on a console platform, you can’t just publish your game on first-party storefronts. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all have their own approval processes.
The broad term for final approval is “certification.” Developers must submit their games for a litany of tests, including major bug checks, achievement or trophy implementation, proper button icons, error message presentation, memory handling, and more.
This process can take a couple of weeks, if you submit during a lighter period. If your game enters the queue during the busy season (before the holiday rush), it can take a month or longer.
If you fail certification, you’ll need to fix the problems and submit all over again. Make sure you allow enough time to go through certification a second time, just in case.
Get your age rating
Most regions have a content ratings board, like the ESRB in the United States and Canada and Europe’s PEGI. If you want to sell your game at retail or on many digital storefronts, you’ll need a content rating.
There are different processes for each of the ratings boards. If you are releasing on mobile or only as a digital PC and console release, you may be able to get away with a simplified submission that covers a number of international agencies. The ESRB requires a more in-depth submission process for retail games.
You should plan to have your rating in place a few months before releasing your game. Missing this step may necessitate a delay.
You need your assets well before you launch
Go look at a sales page on your favorite digital storefront. There you’ll find screenshots, video, description text, logos, and more. All of these assets must be created and formatted (often in an extensive range of sizes).
Planning on localizing your game for different regions? You’ll need all of your content in a variety of other languages, also.
Even if you already have the screenshots and trailers on-hand, creating those pages on each storefront takes time. You can’t list your game for pre-sale until everything is in place. Don’t wait until the last minute. That’s often when you can least afford the time.
So, when do I get paid?
Launch day has arrived! You’ve pressed the button, and the sales are starting to roll in. That money is funneling right to your bank account, right?
Each storefront has different payment terms. The soonest you’ll see sales revenue in your account is Net 30 (that’s 30 days after the close of the sales month). Some console platforms hold funds for 45 days after the end of the current quarter. Let’s say you release your game on October 1. You shouldn’t plan to see that money until on or about February 15 of the following year.
If you don’t plan for this lag in payment, you could end up running short. Payment terms (as we previously discussed) are a crucial piece of the cash flow picture.
You can read more about the production pipeline and getting your game to market in The GameDev Business Handbook (available now in digital format).