It has been a while since I last reported from the hangar. That's because the "hangar" now is an actual office. Well, in some way at least: I moved to a different city which kept me away from doing AirlineSim-related work for a few days but on the other hand resulted in a new appartment with my first ever dedicated room just for work. Within this environment my favourite daily schedule would look something like this: get up late, grab some coffee and unhealthy food, lock myself into the office, do programming all day long, chat with the team and fans every now and then, leave the office at some late hour of the day. Unfortunately, besides the fact that my girlfriend would probably be gone after a few days of practicing this schedule, there are many more aspects to "making AirlineSim" than just writing the code.
Let me take yesterday as an example. I didn't write a single line of code but dealt with something that's somewhat new to the project: Marketing. For years AirlineSim has been a hobby project. There was no definite goal for finishing the game or reaching other milestones. Everything was more or less done for our own and the fan's amusement. High player-numbers were a nice-to-have but not something we would put a lot of energy into achieving. Now that the game needs to pay our bills, things look slightly different. Player-numbers translate to revenue, revenue (hopefully) translates to profit, profit translates to food on the table and a roof overhead.
So far, most to all of our players found us via web forums or other forms of word-to-mouth advertising. Every now and then we posted some news on major German browsergame portals and the size of our publisher in Germany came in handy, too. It was no different with Nicosia and the server just filled up to a decent level without us doing much. With the upcoming second game world, I expect things to be different. We need to actively spread the news about AirlineSim or otherwise the project will remain where it is today in terms of size. Keeping in mind that the primary goal right now is a steady revenue stream able to support life's expenses of two persons, avoiding such a stand-still is a must.
So what I did yesterday was a first step to a somewhat structured way of doing marketing. I don't see us spending big bucks on advertisements any time soon, so the easiest and cheapest thing to do is expanding the PR. This means, building up a list of contacts within game portals and other news sites that might publish news from and about AirlineSim. The difficult thing for me was that the international market is completely new to me. I had no clue about what websites are relevant to the browsergame-scene internationally. Consequently it took me almost the whole day to gather a few dozen email addresses of editors. Whether they will report about us when we first publish a press release (like the launch of the next game world) remains to be seen. Also, the focus is placed on English-speaking aviation and flight simulator portals right now while I know from our statistics that there are many players who found us via Greek, Dutch or other sites. If you happen to know sites that might be interested in our press releases, please let me know in the comments. And in case you operate one yourself don't hesitate to email me!
After this tedious work I will try to connect the marketing-efforts and my desire to do programming in that I will implement some features into Aquila that allow you to mail a recommendation to play AirlineSim to a friend (or preferably, many of them). For you this means free credits whenever a new member is admitted this way and buys a minimum amount of credits. At least that's what my plans look like right now. Let me know what you think!