Polarity – Why Does Negativity Sell?

Running an indie game studio means that I have to develop lots of different skills and undertake a huge range of tasks. Some of these are great fun, like working with extremely talented people and getting to watch a vision take shape.

Talking directly with fans is also incredibly rewarding.

Then there’s the marketing and PR side of things, which, after two years of thinking up cool PR campaigns and succulent headlines to promote our games, I thought I was pretty good at it.

But something happened this week which has shown that I really have no idea how PR really works, and that the world is not the way it should be.

It is rather sad.

You see, we’ve just made a game that absolutely rocks. It delivers innovation and fun on a level that is, let’s be honest, extremely rare in the console games industry these days.

Velocity has been very well received critically across the board, with Edge Magazine awarding a 9/10 score, along with IGN, Pocketgamer and a host of others following suit. Velocity is currently in the top 5 PSP games of all time on Metacritic and GameRankings.

All is good then?

Well, not really. We’re still struggling to gain exposure from some of the biggest gaming sites out there, at a time when the shiny new PS Vita – which everyone wants to succeed – desperately needs games like Velocity. Despite all the things we’ve done right with the game, it seems we’re still not worth writing about…

…that is until we say something negative.

Yesterday I did an interview with TheSixthAxis (one of the most mature, friendly and clued-up gaming communities out there by the way), about how there are issues with the minis platform; a lack of trophies, networking features and demos specifically.

Barely an hour passed since the post went live, and I’m told that IGN picked up on the story, including a statement that FuturLab thinks a lack of trophies is a major problem. Not words that I used.

The IGN post now has over 400 comments, which is far more than the incredibly positive Velocity review on their site. In case you missed it, the review is subtitled: ‘One of the best downloadable games on PlayStation Store.’

Baffling, and really quite frustrating that Velocity wasn’t even mentioned in the post.

Since writing this article yesterday, I’ve noticed that Eurogamer and CVG have also run the story. CVG boosted the drama further and failed to spell our company name correctly. These are leading sites that I’ve worked very hard to try and get content posted on; positive content about our story – our success on minis, and how minis represents a really good choice for indie developers getting started.

It is clear to me now that negativity sells, which is just not the way it should be, is it?

I’ll leave you with a disturbing nugget of truth, which until now I’ve kept under my hat.

I was once advised by a journalist for a leading games industry publication to make a racist comment in an interview, to guarantee wide exposure. The journalist was joking of course, but they clearly had a better idea than I did about how the human condition actually operates.

If you’d like to support an indie developer doing everything right, check this: