Business

Digital Store is Not Only Option: How These Developers Gain Advantages Through Other Distribution Channels

By Febrianto Nur Anwari

In this article, Platonic Game Studio and Toge Productions share their experience on how they use pre order session and events to sell their game.


If we talk about PC game sales, we’ll think of Steam as the number one platform to sell games. With more than 120 million total registered users, surely Steam is the biggest PC game digital store and platform in the world. This makes Steam a market leader for PC games, far ahead of its competitors such as GoG and Humble Bundle.

Although the digital store is still the main option to sell the game, it turns out some developers also try other distribution channels to drive sales. The distribution channels come in many forms, ranging from social media marketing, open a pre-order session, to the offline event. Usually, the developers sell physical copies of the game or bundling it with something special, such as artbook, and posters.

That’s what has been done by two Indonesian developers, Platonic Game Studio and Toge Productions. Recently, Platonic Game Studio open the pre-order session for the collector’s edition of their latest game, Insurgence: Chains of Renegade called Deluxe Box Set. Also, Toge Productions often make use of game events to give “bonus” to its game’s total sales.

Start from portfolio project

distribution channels Insurgence’s Deluxe Box Set

The interesting thing is, Platonic Game Studio opens a pre-order session of the Deluxe Box Set because of it’s one of the founder’s personal project. “In fact, I am also a graphic designer so I want to have another portfolio in package designer,” said Muhammad Riza, Platonic Game Studio’s Founder.

“Because I should buy the material with a minimum quantity so that I can make more than one. Then, I open a pre-order session for those who want to buy this special edition,” he continued.

It turns out, the result makes Riza very surprised. He said that the collector’s edition was sold out in a short period of time. “I just have material to create 50 pcs of this edition and they’re all gone! So, I should start to reject any incoming orders and close the pre-order session before the exact date,” Riza said.

Muhammad Riza, Platonic Game Studio’s Founder

Riza continued that the main challenge to do this kind of method was he still didn’t know much about how the Indonesian gamers market outside the mobile gaming sector. “It’s kind like gambling for us. But I think, many Indonesian gamers like this type of gameplay because it can give nostalgic feels of 90’s JRPG such as Final Fantasy or Suikoden. So, I think it makes JRPG easier to sell in Indonesia than some other genres,” he continued.

Riza also said that he had done a research before making the limited edition set of the game. And the result was that some local developers had fewer intentions when they made a physical copy of their game. “They only buy a half-dollar DVD box, print the cover, and put the game DVD inside. Honestly, that kind of physical copy is less desirable by gamers because they think that it’s the same as the digital copy,” he continued.

Because of that, Riza started to design the package and added some items inside such as art books and the soundtrack collection. “That is the main selling point of the physical copy. That kind of items make people want to buy the limited edition copy,” he said.

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In the end, Riza said that he had received around 57 orders from Indonesian gamers, but only 50 of them got the Deluxe Box Set because of the material limitation. “This is a proof that Indonesian gamers tend to buy two things, the cheapest one by buying the game through Steam or maybe the worst, pirating the game, or the most expensive one by collecting limited edition of a game,” Riza ended.

How a game event gives “bonus” to the total sales

distribution channels Mohammad Fahmi, Toge Productions’ PR Manager

Another distribution channels that developers can try is through the game events. Whether it’s local or international, game events can give “bonus” to the total sales. But you should consider some factors before deciding to sell your game through game events.

“You should eliminate the mindset that the main goal of an event is for selling,” said Mohammad Fahmi, PR Manager from Toge Productions. “The main function of an event is the brand awareness and also seeking a partner in this industry. But it doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to sell your game in an event. You still can do that, but put your expectation as low as possible,” he said.

“That’s why in Toge, we assume this method as a bonus. Not an option that we will take seriously to drive sales,”

Fahmi also shares his experience when Toge Productions participated in both local and international events. He sees that there is a difference between local and international gamers. So they apply the different method of selling for them.

“In some international events, after the gamers try the game, they will directly open the Steam from their phone. And often, they will also buy directly from that application,” Fahmi said. “But in Indonesia, because gamers are used to pay with cash, we give them an option to buy with cash and we will send the Steam key to their email,” he continued.

distribution channels

“Pro tip: if you want to do that, give a discount for them,” he suggested.

Fahmi also said that the method is very effective. They don’t give so much effort to produce a physical thing, so they can focus on to the exhibition. But this method has a disadvantage in terms of the game review. “Review from people who get the game from the Steam key is not counted as a real review. So, it’s much better if you can direct them to buy from Steam directly,” he continued.

Same with Riza, Fahmi also agrees that you should open a pre-order session if you want to sell a limited edition of your products. And also, if you want to sell your game in an event, you should make sure to minimalize the cost. “One thing is also important, don’t rely on the internet when in an event. Toge usually uses an offline Google Sheet to enter the sales data,” he continued.

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In the end, Fahmi shares an alternative distribution channel to drive sales. “Through a physical distribution, but you need to find a partner to do that. The game also should have its own quality standard and target. Then, you can try to merchandising your product if you have a strong IP,” he ended.

Edited by Devi

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About Writer


Febrianto is the Senior Editor of Duniaku.net and the Lead Editor of Gameprime.org. He started his career in game industry as a game journalist since 2008, and was one of the initial members of Duniaku.net since 2011. His biggest interest is local game developer scene. Currently, his mission is to spread the news about Indonesia’s game industry to both local and international game and creative industry’s enthusiast.