Making your site different from Portals

Roman over at Anawiki games just made a blog post called: This is why portals sell more than you do. It includes a large list of USPs that the portals have.

So what things could Indies do on their own sites to make them different and worthwhile for customers to visit? Here’s some ideas I had in addition to those mentioned on Roman’s blog post:

Better support. You know your game better than the portals and can offer more accurate support.
Better price. You could in theory offer a better price but then you are into price wars which is not healthy.
Bundles: You can offer bundles, portals don’t do that very often if at all (except for Steam, but Anawiki was talking about casual portals)
Merchandise. You can offer merchandise (t-shirts, mugs etc) for your games.
Pre-sales. You could offer an alpha version for 50% off (like Minecraft) or sell it based on hype before you even have an alpha version.
No DRM. You can offer no DRM and no game-launcher type of application.
Personalized recommendations. You could program a recommendation engine like Amazon has, but it probably wouldn’t be easy, besides if you’ve only made a few games you should just recommend them all 🙂
User-ratings. You could offer user-ratings on the games, but what happens if users give your games too many bad ratings?
Different demos. You could offer different demo lengths, or cut your demo at a cliffhanger and use an upsell screen, but going longer than 1 hour is probably dumb.
Cross-platform. You could offer an online version (maybe Facebook) and iPhone version etc all on the same page. Portals won’t offer a Facebook version as they don’t want to loose players to free Facebook games. Also you can make the different versions all affect the same game profile if you store it online.
Achievements. You could add an achievements systems which the portals don’t have but that’s not exactly quick and easy.
Global High Scores.
In-game chat. You could add this and any other connectivity-related stuff that the portals won’t let you do in case their customers freak out when your game tries to connect to the Internet.
Risky Content. You can use more “out there” or “on the edge” content on your site if you want to appeal to a more niche audience.
Free tips n tricks. You could offer this via a link of the game’s page, or put them in an email newsletter.

Can you think of any more?

3 Responses to “Making your site different from Portals”

  1. hermitC Says:

    My two cents: Integration of community in development. People give feedback for features, graphics and gameplay. Some of them may become beta testers.

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Yes community in development can be very useful. Of course the portals who make their own games do get them beta tested but the feedback is not public like it would be in a forum.

  3. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Some other good ones from the Indiegamer site:

    – Additional DLC/Expansions (portals never offer extra levels and other stuff)
    – User-generated content
    – Contests

    Also you can offer multiplayer, which again portals don’t offer due to the fact that they don’t want their games connecting to the Internet.