If You’re Planning To “Release Now, Port later” Then Here Are 3 Hidden Costs Most Game Devs Don’t Know About (And 3 Step Action Plan On What To Do Instead)

After reading this article you’ll learn 3 mistakes that can cost you MORE in time and money than if you did a simultaneous launch on both PC and console.

You’re also going to get 3 techniques and a “cheat sheet”, showing you step-by-step how you can avoid these costly mistakes and optimize your game launch so that it has the best chance at a financial success.

And these techniques will help you save 4 to 6 months of dev time… and save money that you would have had to put into because of the extra production time.

So if you’re thinking of porting your game AFTER your initial release, then go grab your your favorite drink… get comfy… and let’s learn something new about how to optimize your game launch…

“Release Now, Port Later” vs. “Simulations Launch”?

Small game dev studios, or new studios, don’t often have the time, money, people power to do a cross-platform, simultaneous launch.

So it makes sense: put all your time and energy in releasing your game for your desired platform… to your target audience… then port later when you have extra time and resources.

And the money you earn from your first launch can be used into porting your game (ie. buy dev kits and hire porting companies) for your “second launch”.

Also, having a second launch on a new platform will give you an extra bump in the games news cycle.

It’s like you’re “double dipping” with your marketing. It’s like you’re getting two “day one” releases.

But hold on!

This type of thinking is dangerous because most game devs don’t see the hidden costs in time and money when they pursue the “release now, port later” strategy.

In the short-term “release now, port later” looks good… but most game devs often don’t see the long-term costs.

So let me show you what these 3 hidden costs are. And then let me show you 3 techniques so you avoid these 3 hidden costs.

My goal is to help you optimize your game launch so that it has the best chance at a financial success.

I’ll give you all the info I can about the pros and cons of a “release now, port later” strategy.

Then you can decide if “release now, port later” is better for you than a “simultaneous launch”.

Ok, here’s the first hidden cost…

Hidden Cost #1: You Miss Out On The Biggest Addressable Market When You Stagger Your Launches

The fist reason why “release now, port later” is a bad strategy is because players and media will give you only ONE shot at a launch.

Media and players will NOT give you a second look.

There’s no such thing as TWO “day one” launches (i.e. “day one” launch on PC and then another “day one” launch on console months later).

Let me show you what I mean…

Say you plan on releasing your game on Steam because that’s your core audience.

But since you don’t have time and the resources, you plan on porting your game later.

Oh, also because of time constraints, you’ll set up your your Epic, GOG, Itch stores later as well.

But most game devs don’t realize…

You get one opportunity to launch your game.

There is no such thing as a “second launch”. There will never be another time where you have as many “eye-balls” on your game than as you do on your first launch.

Sure, when you have a second launch on a different platform, games media might pick it up and talk about it.

But you have to remember: brand new games come out all the time. And for games media, “new” is more valuable than “old”. If your game has already launched then the games media is not going to give you the same attention as when you first launched. This is because up-to-date, cutting edge news is more attention grabbing than old news.

And it’s the same with players. Player’s are not going to give you the same attention to your second launch as they would on your first launch.

And sure, console players may not have heard about your first launch on PC. So your relaunch might be “new” to them. But you’ll soon learn in “Hidden Cost #2” why this thinking will cost you more than you thought.

But even so… even if your launch is “new” to console players and they don’t know about your PC launch… your second launch will never be as big as your first launch.

That’s because your second launch is usually not your target audience.

Most likely you put all your time, energy, resources, marketing money in your first launch — for your biggest market, your target market.

Your second launch will most likely not have the same amount of energy, time, and money put into it.

And the sales you get from your second launch might not justify the time and money you put into it because your second group is not your target audience (I’ll talk more about this in “Hidden Cost #2”).

So remember… you only have one launch. By hitting the PC and console market at the the same time, this will give you the biggest chance at success.

That’s because a simultaneous launch gives you access to the BIGGEST addressable market — all in one shot.

If you stagger your launch, you’re missing out on grabbing the biggest addressable market all at once.

Also, you’re missing out on all the excitement and momentum that is generated by player word-of-mouth and media buzz during your FIRST launch.

Having two launches means your’re fragmenting that momentum…. it means you’ll break that momentum.

All that time, energy, money you put into marketing will be wasted if you stager your launches and lose that momentum.

Also, having one single launch means all this excitement also helps you with game store algorithms. The more excitement around your game, the better chance you’ll be featured on store pages like Steam, Microsoft Store, Xbox Games, PlayStation Store, etc. Store algorithms favor games that have a LOT of activity from their user base.

So by simultaneously releasing your game on PC and consoles, you are optimizing your launch to grab as much attention as you can. You’ll never have this mass momentum that you get from your first launch.

Of course there are exceptions like exclusive deals. But these games that have exclusive deals and stagger their launches on different platforms ALREADY have mass momentum — way before they launch.

In fact, this strategy works because of “scarcity thinking” (i.e. if you think you can’t have something you want it even more!).

But remember, games that have exclusivity deals are made by studios that have a catalogue of highly successful games. They already have years of marketing momentum behind them.

But if you’re a small studio, or a new studio, without a catalogue of successful games, without any marketing momentum, then you most likely won’t get an exclusivity deal.

Even so… big indie devs and AAA game devs and publishers more often go for a simultaneous launch if they can. That’s because they know this mass momentum, and launching their game in front of as many people all in one shot, is very important to how financially successful their game will be at launch.

Ok… let’s move onto…

Hidden Cost #2: You Will Pay Twice — In Time And Money

Remember how I said that f you have a second launch, you are possibly exposing your game to “new” players.

For instance say you launch on PC. Then you port your game, and release on console a few months later. And maybe to the console crowd your game is “new” to them because they didn’t know about your PC launch.

And let’s imagine the best case scenario…

Say this happened successfully. Say that you “double dipped” your launches. And your first launch with PC was a success. And months later your second launch on console was also a success.

What most game devs don’t realize is a second launch is NOT FREE.

Let me explain…

Another reason why “release now, port later” isn’t a good strategy is because if you’re going to spend money and time on ads, marketing, content, YouTubers, media, then you only want to do this ONCE.

Remember, a relaunch is not FREE.

All that time, energy, money you spend on marketing for your first launch is not going to “rub off” on your second launch.

So you will have to do ANOTHER marketing spend for your second launch.

And marketing your game AFTER your launch is not a good return on investment.

It’s not a good return on investment because any sales you’ll get from your secondary marketing push may not be worth all the time, energy, and money you put into a second marketing push.

That’s because your second launch is often not your target audience.

You’ll get a far better return on investment if you focus all your time, energy, and money into ONE market push — and do it all in ONE shot.

That’s because your best advantage you have during your first launch is because you’re NEW.

Players and media value new over old. And as time passes, you lose that advantage. That’s why you want ONE marketing push. Because a secondary marketing push won’t be as affective because you’ve lost that “newness” advantage. And also, your second launch will not be your biggest market.

So plan a simultaneous launch because you only have to do ONE marketing spend.

But if you “release now, port later”, you’ll have to do another marketing push. And that means more time and money put into a second marketing push — that may not be a good return on investment.

And remember, players and media will not give you a second look. They’ve moved on. They’re already onto what’s new and first. A relaunch means you’ve lost your “newness” advantage and any marketing you do will be wasted.

Ok… next…

Hidden Cost #3: Porting Your Game Could ADD At Least 4 to 6 Months Of Extra Dev Time… And Don’t Forget The Energy And Time It Takes To Get Certified And Do QA

Getting a license from Sony, Nintneto, Microsoft to put your game on their store is not an easy process.

You need to remember that consoles won’t let just anybody make a game for their store.

You actually have to “pitch” your game and get their approval before they give you a license and send you their dev kits.

And when you’ve gotten the dev kit and license, and you’ve ported your game, you still have to go through a certification process. The certification process also takes time.

All of this licensing, certification, approvals, getting the dev kit eats up time.

How long?

Well that depends on who you are…

The approval, licensing, certification process for a studio that has an already established businesses relationship with Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo can be a few weeks.

But if you’re a new game studio, and you don’t have a publisher that has a relationship with a licenser, your approval process will be low on their priority list. You could wait months for this process.

And that’s just for listening and certification…

You still need to PORT your game.

That takes time, too. Whether you port the game yourself or hire a porting company, expect to wait at least 4 to 6 months.

This means the money you’re making from your first launch is now going BACK into more production time. You’re eating up money for the extra dev time.

But we’re not done with more hidden costs in time and money…

You also need to account for QA.

You need to put in time and money into QA to make sure your game meets the quality standards of a licenser (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo), and pass final certification.

And you need to put in time and money into QA for your own quality standards. You need to make sure the console version is just as good as the PC version. You may have fixed most of the bug on the PC version, but that doesn’t mean new bugs won’t show up on the console version.

Also, don’t forget that you have to change UI art and graphics and controller schemes when porting to console.

All of this takes a tremendous amount of time.

And most game devs don’t realize these hidden costs until way too late. So they either have to delay their game. Or they decide to “release now, port later” because they don’t want to add another 4 – 6 months of dev time when the game is done-done on their chosen platform.

But remember…

“Release Now Port Later” Means You Have To Double Your Work And Pay More In The Long-Term

“Release now, port later” seems like a great strategy — in the short-term.

But in the long-term, game devs don’t realize that they are essentially doubling their work in the long-term. And this extra work also costs money.

If you plan for a simultaneous launch, you only have to do ONE marketing spend. And you can do your internal and external testing in ONE shot.

But if you plan to “release now, port later”, you’ll have to do TWO marketing spends. And your second marketing spend may not give you a good return on investment.

Also, if you plan to “release now, port later”, you’ll have to do two QA tests (one before your first launch, and one after porting your game). And having to go through two QA sessions will cost you extra time and money. It’s better to do this all in one shot.

“Release Now, Port Later” Means You’ll Miss Your ONE Chance At Financial Success And Lose Out On Potential Sales

Remember, you only have one launch.

If you do ONE launch, you’ll be putting your game in front of the BIGGEST addressable market that you’ll have for your game at that time.

No other time will so many “eye-balls” look at your game. “Eye-balls” form players, “eye-balls” from media, and “eye-balls” from store algorithms.

This amount of attention will give you the biggest chance at game sales because all of your momentum you built up and fully optimized and saturated in ONE shot.

But if you fragment your launch, you lose that momentum… you lose your “newness” advantage… you lose all the buzz media will give… you lose your chance with store algorithms picking you up and featuring you… you lose out on player’s interest.

You only have one shot because media, store algorithms, and players will NOT give you a second look.

So, if you want your game studio to grow… if you want the best chance at getting the most sales for your game… if you want to avoid spending another 6 months in time and money AFTER your game is done… then you need to plan for a simultaneous launch.

But how? And what if you don’t have all the time and resources to do all of this? What are your options?

Well, let me show you that next…

What To Do Instead…

The obvious thing to do is to plan a simultaneous launch during pre-production — as early as you can.

Doing so means you can budget your time and money better. You’ll know that porting will take, say, another 6 months at least. So you can consider that extra time when deciding your release date.

But this isn’t so easy to do. And you might not have the time, people, money to do a full simultaneous launch.

So to help you decide which strategy is best for your game studio so that you optimize your game launch and give it the best chance at success, here’s a step-by-step walk-through on what to do.

Best of all, this action guide is easy to implement. And cost you no money.

And after you implement these techniques I’m about to show you, you’ll know which strategy is best for your game studio for the most optimal game launch you can possibly have.

And even if your well past pre-production and into say 237 day into full production, you can still use these techniques NOW because no matter where you’re at, you can still benefit from having a good plan.

So if you want to avoid the costly mistake in time and money when you “release now, port later”, and help you decide what’s best for your game studio, here’s what to do…

Step 1: Download The “Simultaneous Launch Cheatsheet” To Help You Get Make The Best Optimal Decision

Porting will require a non-trivial amount of development time. This includes the time spent just learning all about the new platform itself — let alone the actual execution of setting up store pages for each platform.

And remember, this additional development time must be paid for.

So to save you time and money… to help you dramatically improve your productivity… I created a Cheatsheet to give you a “top-down” view on how much time and energy it will take to do a simultaneous launch.

Use this to help you decide what’s the best strategy for your game studio:

Click here to download the: Simultaneous Launch Cheatsheet.

Ok good…

Once you got your Cheatsheet open, let’s move onto…

Step 2: Use The “Simultaneous Launch Cheatsheet” To Determine Lead Times — So There Is No Surprises

The last thing you want is to be 3 months away from launch and find out it’ll take 6 months to port your game. Being not prepared means you might have to delay your game or miss that window where you have the most “eye-balls” when you launch.

So provided in the Cheatsheet is a spot for you to fill in lead times for porting and QA.

To do this, you’ll need to contact porting companies and QA companies and get an idea of how long it would take them to port your game. And fill in the lead times in your Cheatsheet.

You’re not committing to anything. You’re not paying for anything. Right now, you’re just figuring out how long it may take to port your game.

Knowing how long it will take to port and conduct QA (plus how long it will take to get final certification from a PlayStation, Microsoft, Sony license), will help you determine your release date.

If you don’t know how long this may take, then you may underestimate your release date. And you don’t want to get stuck with only two options: delay your game or “release now, port later”.

Ok, next..

Step 3: Schedule A Formal Meeting With Your Team (Or Yourself) And Decide On A “Porting Plan”

The idea with the “Simultaneous Launch Cheatsheet” is to give you a one-page, “top-down view” to help you make quick decisions on…

  • Does your studio have the time to do a simultaneous launch?
  • Does your studio have enough funds for the extra time that is needed for a simultaneous launch?
  • Or if our studio doesn’t have all the resources to do a simultaneous launch, is there a way to optimize your launch in a way you haven’t thought of before — maybe you were planning just to do a PC launch on Steam… but looking at your Cheatsheet, maybe you can also launch on Steam Deck + GOG + Microsoft Store (PC only) + Epic to help optimize your launch and get as many “eye-balls” on your game at launch
  • Or maybe because of time, money, and resource constraints, “release now, port later” is more feasible and you’re ok with that

Set up a time. And sit down with your team (or yourself) and go through the Cheatsheet.

The Cheatsheet is designed to be ONE PAGE to make it easy to help you decide what you and your studio can pull off.

Your Action Step RIGHT NOW…

Do this right now. Download the “Simultaneous Launch Cheatsheet”. Fill it out the best you can.

Then email port complains and QA companies to get lead times. Tell them how big your game is and the scope. Get an estimated “ball-park” figure on how long it will take to port your game.

The earlier you do this, the better because it’ll help you determine which strategy is best for the most optimal game launch.

Remember, you’re not committing to anything right now. You don’t have to pay a dime. You just want to get times to help you make a decision.

So do this right now because the faster you get this done, the faster you can decide what is best for you and your studio.

And when you have time later, have a meeting with your team. Use the one-page Cheatsheet to help you decide on your porting strategy.

“But I Can Tell You RIGHT NOW, We Don’t Have The Time Or Resources To Do A Simultaneous Launch!…”

Now, you might be saying this:

“This is great advice. But I can tell you without looking, I don’t have time or the money to pull off a simultaneous launch. I’m already spread thin and there’s no way I can find time to do all of this!”.

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Thanks! And looking forward to helping you find players!

Later,

Dariusz Konrad
Port Stanley, Ontario
Canada