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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Ribarro

Why Altidudes Undersold

So it's just recently passed the 6 month mark of the commercial release of Altidudes, a one-button arcade game about skateboarding up a mountain. I'd say the premise sounds pretty intriguing! But then again I made it, so I am a little biased.


So in reference to the above title I want to say no, the game has not done too well. I haven't broken even on it, and I haven't hit the minimum threshold on Steam to start receiving payments which is $100 gross. As unfortunate as this may sound, I never actually intended for Altidudes to do well or make me money, at least not for a very long time. But let's talk about the main problems I am aware of now:

  • Steam Was the Wrong Market - I knew publishing on Steam was a gamble because your average PC gamer is playing on a phat gaming computer that has rainbow lights on it, and you just don't need something like that to play Altidudes. You could be on a potato machine at your local library or using a quantum computer in the government and there wouldn't be any difference in performance or graphics. Coupled with the fact that this is an arcade game and I don't typically see people playing them on Steam, that was another problem. Of all the old Genesis/Nintendo arcade-type games I have researched on Steam, they are seriously lacking in reviews, which leads me to believe that there just isn't a huge group of people looking to play old arcade games on their computers (Unless they have some modern updates like leaderboards, online interactions, etc.).

  • Marketing Inexperience - I read up a lot on marketing during development, and I did my best with the time I had, but I want to make one thing clear: I was terrified of posting on social media because I needed to sound cool, perfect, funny, quirky, interesting, and sexy all at the same time; Or so I thought. This all stems from my days in high school where Facebook was all the rage, and being irresponsible one year we all started passing around answers for our Religion midterm. I felt gutsy so I posted a comment and yeah I know, it was reeeaallly stupid. Once the principal caught wind of that I got suspended (Not even detention! I f'd up so bad they kicked me out of school for a day). After all that I had massive reservations about using social media again, but I've grown since then and I'm way more comfortable making posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media.

  • Was the Game Even Good - This is a difficult one to parse, because the creator opinion is always a little skewed when thinking about their game. Of course it's fun if you play it right! But honestly I don't know if Altidudes is good. I think I created a fairly polished, technically adequate game with a working gameplay loop. When compared to early arcade games which were my inspiration, it probably would have done great back in the 80's. It's decades later though, and I released about the same time as Cyberpunk 2077, why would anyone play my game when a behemoth titan like that is out? I'm still glad I made it and I'll always keep it close to my heart as the first game I ever sold. Even better, I can always use Altidudes to show off quickly at trade shows or GDC. I don't even need an elevator pitch, I'll always have it on my phone so I can whip it out to people and they can play it themselves! Speaking of phones...

  • The Mobile Market - If this was gonna succeed anywhere, it was on mobile. Maybe that's why I was steadfast in my resolve to port it, but I don't even remember at this point. All I know is that porting to ios and Android was such a pain and I hated it, but I'm glad it happened. Something that always ate at me was not spending money to market this on mobile, I really only posted the mobile versions in my newsletter and Twitter, so only those ~200-300 people heard about it. Since I wasn't sure about how much money I would make from the banner ads in-game, I didn't want to throw cash at driving traffic to the mobile store pages, so I waited to see how it did organically. It was not good.

There is a silver lining to all this though, and it's that I have had a secret plan for the game now that my company owns the Altidudes IP. I fully intend to work with Altidudes again in 5-10 years, but for now I am going to focus on creating my first horror game, Playback Trauma.

From day one of making Altidudes my bar for success was hitting $100 in sales on Steam. It hasn't happened yet. but I know it will someday!

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