Launching a successful product on the Asset Store

February 9, 2016 in Asset Store

Have you ever thought about making some extra money on the Asset Store? Or do you just want more people to see your awesome art and tools? How do you get attention without spamming everybody you’ve ever met and their grandma? Get advice from three publishers who’ve mastered the art of promoting their amazing creations! Put together, they’ve grossed more than $75,000 since October 2015.

There’s no silver bullet solution for all your marketing and communication needs. Everything depends on what you’re making and who you’re talking to. So take these examples as more of an inspiration and less of a to do list.

First of all, how do you even decide what to make? Seems like the best way to success is taking the long road from looking into something that inspires you, through lots of experiments, to talking to the community about what you’re making.

“I have always enjoyed beautiful environments like Skyrim and with Unity 5, it is possible to create them. But the tools to do this are difficult to learn and use so I decided to make my own. It’s been a long journey and three rewrites later, I have finally launched Gaia,” says Adam Goodrich whose terrain editing tool has taken the Asset Store by storm in the fall of 2015.

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Gaia 4

Similarly, Pärtel Lang has been experimenting with physics-based ragdoll behaviors since 2011, but hasn’t actually released PuppetMaster until November 2015. “Developing PuppetMaster has been more like an idée fixe to me than a rational strategy,” he says.

None of the developers I talked to did any sort of sophisticated market research before embarking on making their hit assets. “I’ve learned that assets which come with a specific art theme are not bestsellers, because they target only people who are interested in that particular style. But I’m not in this business just for the money – releasing good quality products and personal satisfaction are equally important,” says Tom Lassota of Beffio, who recently released the slick looking Space Journey set.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s best to just rely on your gut. Adam Goodrich admits that the current version of Gaia is much better due to the input from fellow Unity developers. “Take advantage of the Works In Progress forum while you are in beta – show your work, demonstrate value and invite comments. Get people involved in the process. I really can’t stress how important this is! Gaia is a much better tool today thanks to them. As a  bonus, I now have a bunch of new friends.”

Around a third of his development time was focussed on usability. Understanding the negative feedback was key. ”The people with the biggest issues using your tool are your greatest asset. Put yourself into their shoes and find a way to solve their problem,” Adam Goodrich says.

PuppetMaster pic

Pärtel Lang started his own “Works In Progress” thread much later, roughly a month before the expected launch. It started to slowly gather interest and questions from potential users: “The best way to answer those questions is to make some showcase videos and post them on a YouTube channel and the forum thread. That will keep interested people coming back to the thread, keep it visible and help explain what the product can and can’t do.”

Using social media is important, but not vital. For successful Asset Store publishers, it’s a way of getting their name out there, get what marketing pros call “brand awareness”. Adam Goodrich sees a lot of potential there, if you have something to say: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are an awesome way to grow awareness. Create interesting and relevant stories and images. If someone takes the time to engage with you then it’s a gift – engage right back!”

For Tom Lassota, social channels helped raise awareness for Beffio, but didn’t directly lead to sales: “There still might be some channels for actually boosting the sales, but I have not found them yet – so make sure you let me know when you do!”

SpaceJourney_PIC

Pärtel Lang hardly ever promotes his assets: “I have tweeted about PuppetMaster just once, so other than the Unity Community and my YouTube channel I have nothing.”

Their approach to creating promotional content is also very different. An artist needs images and videos that show his assets in the best light, even if it means spending a lot of extra resources. “I’ve spend 30% of total production time on creating marketing materials only. Eye-catching design is a must. For a customer, the first glance is the most important. If you don’t have a knack for creating  promotional art, I would strongly recommend to hire somebody who could create quality materials for you instead,” says Tom Lassota.  

However, the opposite can be true for an editor extension, as Pärtel Lang found out: “Once I bought some assets from the Store and really spent a lot of time to make a proper cinematic video, but that has not received nearly as many views as the simple voice-over tutorials I made later. Tutorials are really the best way to show the asset in depth, are really appreciated by the clients and considerably help to relieve my support load. So just cut the music and the fancy effects, turn on the microphone and speak to the people – it can do wonders.”

Last thing to remember before you release your assets is to set up Google Analytics. “Check out the demographics of who is looking at your pages and work out where they are coming from. This will provide you with useful audiences to engage further with,” recommends Adam Goodrich.

Just like with design, coding and a lot of other aspects of game development, the best thing to do when deciding on the optimal marketing strategy is to run a lot of tests and get the data you need to make a rational decision.

Comments (7)

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  1. Pablo

    February 11, 2016 at 7:06 pm / 

    This post is awesome. Create more please!

  2. Apel Keshishian

    February 9, 2016 at 11:16 pm / 

    Awesome post! It’s always great to hear stories about successful asset store publishers.

  3. Petesede

    February 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm / 

    One thing not mentioned in this blog, and it is definitely a bonus of both puppetmaster and Gaia is documentation. Make sure BEFORE you launch your product, in your WIP thread on the forums you have a lot of information and links to the documentation and ´how-to´ videos. For instance, he mentioned about puppetmaster that his demo video gets less hits than his tutorial video.

    This is vital on the asset store because so many editor extensions get added with little or no documentation and are only really usable by the people who created them. Gaia and Puppetmaster both did this exactly right, and is probably a big part of their success. Before they even launched their product, I already knew how to use them and that it was well documented in case I had problems. With most editor extensions, you basically get to see what it can do, but then have to cross your fingers and hope that you will be able to actually do it.

    1. Jake

      February 10, 2016 at 6:14 am / 

      Couldn’t agree more. I call it developer blinkers.

      I’ve bought a fair share of assets and see this time over time and is massively frustrating as a buyer.
      Developers with no sense of marketing what so ever, then get angry at you because you don’t understand their product and give it a bad review.
      This is their fault , not yours as marketing a product with proper tutorials is just as important as making it.
      They go hand in hand, but devs think that their product will sell itself, for some odd reason to them, Forgetting they have worked on that product for months/years, while we are just opening it for the first time and they expect us to have the same knowledge as them right off the bat.
      YouTube is a massive FREE SEO platform, second to Google search engine. If you don t use it to make proper tutorials on your product it will fail, simple as that. I as a customer buy from the asset store to save myself time, NOT to sit for days trying to work out how your asset works because you were too lazy to make me understand.

  4. koblavi

    February 9, 2016 at 5:03 pm / 

    getting a 404 when I click the Gaia thumbnails

    1. Zezote

      February 10, 2016 at 1:29 am / 

      I’ve got an very annoying bug these days. As I’m not at US, sometimes when I click at a link, mainly from unity interface help, it changes the unity3d.com/en to unity3d.com/pt and always returns a 404.
      As it changes languages, it dont let you change manually the link.
      For me, the link is working nice. Just take a look if the system changes the internet address.
      Solution to use the help links: log off the unity website (for me worked) and be happy .
      See you around!!

      1. Skyblade

        February 10, 2016 at 9:17 am / 

        Yes, annoying bug, it is everywhere: localized content returns 404 often (russian FAQ links, for example), so it’s simply useless.

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