Blog

How to get Seen in the App Store – Maybe…

We have made our UWP (Universal Windows Platform) app for Interference – so how do we get it seen in the App Store? It’s an indie game and it’s free to play – but so are many others in the store.

However, it is also a really good game for all devices – especially those with pens, such as the Surface range – so therefore perfect for Windows Ink. It just so happens that there’s a Category in the Windows Store called “Apps for Windows Ink” – so how can we persuade the custodians of the Store to let our Interference app in?

The apps in there already have been there quite a long time and not many of them are new and on the Universal Windows Platform – so surely Interference would fit in well and be able to show off the Ink’s awesome capabilities.

However, we do not know who the mysterious custodians are – searches via Twitter or the internet do not yield any identities. Well, you can’t blame them – if they let us know who they were – they’d be bombarded with pleas, bribes and offers of all kinds of favours all day every day!

So, we wondered what we could do. Then we decided – let’s mount a CAMPAIGN! We would try to impress the @windowsstore via Twitter. We started back in January – with Day 1. Each day since we have tweeted at the store and included an amazing gif of one of our players playing Interference by drawing a picture.

We have tweeted a plea and a gif everyday since then – we are up to Day 41 today 🙂

Sometimes we try to appeal for sympathy:

Other times we are vaguely threatening:

Then we tried bribery:

So, how’s it going? Well, we’re not in Apps for Windows Ink yet (or even “Apps for Artists” ) – but it’s fun to do each day and just maybe one day….

 

Discoverability – the Struggle is Real!

So you’ve made your game and you think it’s awesome. Even your friends and family think it’s awesome – so how do you get people to play it? Or even find it among all the millions of games out there?

Thinking about Interference – our first game, we have new players join every day. They say things in the comments like:

Vick the Stick 2 days, 3hours ago
“This is hilarious! 😀 ”

PointyCatEars 10 minutes, 30 seconds ago
I laughed so much at this one X)”

Bun 4 days 6 hours ago
“OMG I’m dying here 🙂 How did I not know about this game?”

How indeed? That is one of the biggest problems for indie developers. How do you get eyes on your game?

So, what have we tried already?

  1. Internet
    As suggested by all the best guides on this “discoverability” problem we have got an eye-catching website and the front page features the highest ranked pictures of the week so far, as well as some reviews from the app store. We have also put how to play the game and a link to download the app – for players who don’t want to play the web version. We made it easy to join up and sign in – using Facebook or Twitter, or even a Microsoft login.
  2. Social Media
    Interference is on Facebook and Twitter and I post to both platforms several times a day. I choose both morning and evening to ensure we hit most time zones. Guides always stress that pictures make posts more interesting, so I always include some art work from the game:
    Recently – to make posts even more noticeable I have been posting animated gifs of particularly good or funny pictures to grab more attention. Check out our feeds to see more!
    Facebook doesn’t seem to work too well for the game. The only people who share the posts are my own personal page and the developers parents! We ask friends and family to share – but very few ever do. However on Twitter we have a lot more success. By following other indie game studios and devs, art and drawing groups and interesting individuals we have a good rate of retweeting and likes.
  3. Other websites.
    The biggest spike in new players came when we had an article on the MS Power User website. It was about an update we’d made to the Windows app – but we had a flurry of new players from all over, particularly Indonesia. We already have players from all over the world and this is one of the nice things about Interference – it’s not just a game it’s a community. So, what other websites can we use to promote our game?
    We found this useful list on LinkedIn – called Indie Games Pusher  a list of many webpages, blogs and other media that help Indie Game Developers. Just need to get on that now 🙂
  4. App Stores
    How to get on the front page of an app store – or even in a featured collection  and who decides this seems to be a well-guarded secret. Obviously the most popular games are there due to downloads and reviews and ratings. But, what about “Apps for Artists” and “Apps for Windows Ink“? Interference would be perfect for either of these collections and yet our pleas to the few Microsoft evangelists we know have not produced any results, yet.
    We have a brand new shiny Interference UWP App which we’d love to promote, yet many of the apps in these collections are old and have been there for a very long time. It would be lovely if the app store would feature new apps in here – even if it’s just for a few days. They could have a more vibrant and exciting collection if they did this. We’ll never get 1 million players without a bit of help! 🙂

In conclusion – we will keep on trying everything we can think of. We even went on a TV quiz show and talked about the game at length – we just hope they don’t cut it all out when they screen to show next month!
We’d love to hear from other indie devs about the cunning ways they have promoted and marketed their apps. Please get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn  🙂

 

User Engagement

First, before I begin this post -we have exciting news. As mentioned in a previous blog post  we have a two-pronged approach to raising money for our new game development. Both seem to be going quite well, as today we were informed we had gone through to the second stage of the UK Game Fund application process! We are very pleased about that.

The other possible money-raising idea is now TOP SECRET – so can’t say much more about that at the moment. Keep checking the blog!

So, today’s topic is User Engagement. Now that we have a popular and fun game – how do we look after our players and keep them coming back day after day?

The nature of Interference is that nothing happens immediately. The players choose to draw or describe in a game that has many steps. So between 15 -33 are needed to complete each game. However – that makes it a strength – as we email the player to let them know when their game has finished. This means they will come back to see how their game ended up and how their own contribution affected the game outcome.

This is one of our recent favourite games as an illustration: Owl and Pussy Cat

Another hook is that we allow other players to “like” individual drawings or descriptions, so that players will log back in or open the app to see how many likes they have got. Players can also comment on games once they are finished which helps to get the players engaged with each other.

We also provide a forum area – where we as the game devs can give updates and news on the game and future developments. It also means that any player can start a thread – related to the game or completely random. It had resulted in some interesting topics. There’s the “Where is everyone from” thread created by a player that gives us useful insight to all the countries where Interference is played.

They have even used the forums to make up their own word games such as “Last and First” which has been going for three years now! It really has reinforced Interference as not only a casual game – but a social one too.

It’s good to see the same players returning again and again. We want Interference to be addictive!

Obviously there have been minor incidents where there has been disrespect on the forums – but this is dealt with by the moderation system and players are warned that if they abuse the system they will lose the ability to post on there.

Recently Nathan and I went on a free PR course – run by a local media expert Nigel Howle, which we won as part of the perks of being a finalist in the Business Boost Awards. We try to take advantage of such opportunities – as we are on a start-up budget (i.e. zero!) and we love to learn!

One of the other participants were a local firm that make company videos and they advised us that a company will get much more engagement with their advertising and social media if they include a video. Apparently the ideal length is just 60 seconds – as not many people will keep watching after that.

That is why this year we have resolved to do a short weekly video update for Interference in 2017. That means that everyone will be able to see the people behind the games and maybe we will get some new players too. The only problem is that when the first one was due – we were both struck down with ‘flu! But, a resolution is a resolution – so we did the video anyway – in our pyjamas!

I’m sure you can find it if you look on Interference. Hopefully the next one will be a little more professional!!

We’d love to hear ideas from other game devs about how to engage players – get in touch!

The next blog will be about – how to get your games noticed and find new players!

 

Have you got Loose Vowels?

We’re very excited here at Centrifuge as we have released our second game – Loose Vowels. Not only is it on Windows 10 but – by popular demand – it’s our first ever game on iOS!

So, where did the idea come from? There are a lot of word games out there and we LOVE them – but we wanted to make something a little bit different from the many Scrabble-type games or word searches out there.

As we are also fans of TV quizzes too, we love the final missing vowels round in Only Connect. Talking to friends and family who watch it we found that it was actually EVERYONE’s favourite part of the show.

That gave us an idea for a quick, casual game where we could make a Daily Puzzle with a theme and then make some much bigger puzzle packs in various categories that people could buy.

So, what we do is have a list of 10 words or phrases on a theme, take out the vowels and move the spaces around a bit. Then all the player has to do is solve the clue. These are the Daily Puzzles – here’s an example:

Deck the Halls
PNC NS
T NSL
GN GR BRD
PPC RN
BL LS
MS TLT
HLLY
CN DYC NS
FRY LG HTS
BB LS

Then for the actual puzzle packs , we made eleven categories, for example Animals, did 25 different topics, for example Poisonous Animals, Books about Animals etc. each with 25 puzzles in them. The first pack is free and the other 10 packs are 79p.

But, for players who don’t want to pay there is a new free Daily Puzzle every day! We thought that would get people coming back to the app everyday – increasing the ad revenue too.

We released it first on Windows 10 – but then lots of people were asking us to bring out an iOS version too so that they could play on their iPads. As we were intending to get Interference out on iOS soon, we thought making a smaller game like Loose Vowels first would give us some practice on iOS before tackling something REALLY big 🙂

Nathan finished the coding on Wednesday 21st December – and we submitted it to Apple at 13.40 that day. We weren’t sure if it would get through certification and into the store before Christmas – as Apple said they were taking a break between 23 -27 December. We kept checking the dashboard to see what was happening, with bated breath. Then at around 19.02 last night (22nd) – we had a message to say that Loose Vowels was in the iTunes store!

Thank-you, Apple – that’s a great Christmas present.

Raising Money for Indie Dev Studios

Hello again

Today I’m going to outline two approaches to raising money while setting up an indie dev studio. Grants and Game Shows.

Firstly – applying for grants. There are many grants out there and all have different criteria and terms. Some need you to raise matched funding – which means they’ll give you an amount of money if you can match it with the same amount of your own. This is not too helpful when you are starting out and your games and other products are not making tons of money yet.

So, we just applied for a £25,000 grant from the UK Games Fund. The money, if we were to get it, can only be used to pay wages for UK-based staff and contractors on one particular project, which you had to pitch to them.

The first stage involved filling in a form with our details and something about our top secret new game – and also uploading a video pitch about our team and the game.

The form was fairly simple and only allowed 100 words for the game pitch. However the video had to be 2 minutes long and tell them about the team, what we can do, what we’ve done before (they like it if you can show that you’ve actually finished a game and brought it to market) and some footage of the prototype of your new game idea. You had to finish off with your plans for the future.

So, the form was due in at noon on November 23rd – and we actually made the deadline! We were then invited to upload our video pitch – so now we have to wait until January to hear if we’ve made it to the second round.

The second round involves a much longer form – so we’ll let you know if we get that far! Check out the blog in the New Year 🙂

Meanwhile, we had another plan to raise money – why not go and win some money on a TV game show? Well, we have been on Pointless a few years ago (although we did get knocked out in the second round on both our shows!) so maybe it was worth a go.pointless

We both liked The Code when that was on a few months ago and we had noticed that they were asking for contestants for the new series. I filled in the form yesterday and attached a photo of Nathan in a sombrero and sent it off via the web.

Within half an hour we had a TV researcher on the phone asking if we were free to answer some general knowledge questions over the phone. There would be 10 questions – but she wouldn’t tell us which we’d got correct. We agreed, so I had to take my phone into another room, while she asked me the questions, then leave Nathan alone in the office while he did them too.

nat-sombrero

There was a variety of topics including history, geography, celebrities, maths and poker! I’d better not tell you them all – in case they are still using them, but I knew the celebrity question and Nathan didn’t. Not sure what that says about us! Anyway, as soon as Nathan finished his questions, she asked us to come to Birmingham for an audition on Tuesday!

So, wish us luck! If we get through that, which involves written general knowledge test and a run through of the actual game format, then the TV programme is filmed in January. So, next year could be quite interesting!

Check back soon to see how the audition goes…

 

 

Team IFX go to the TIGA Awards

Last week we enjoyed another jaunt down to London – this time to attend the very swish TIGA Awards at Christ Church in Spitalfields. wp_20161110_18_15_10_pro

We went because our first game, Interference, was shortlisted for two awards – Most Original Game and Best Casual/Social Game – so we had to dress up!

We managed to find some where to stay (as it was going to be a late night!) just down the road from the venue. It was Commercial House – a kind of aparthotel – which was lovely! We especially liked the swans 🙂 It was easy to get dolled up and then walk the 3 minutes down the road to the venue.

The ceremowp_20161110_13_32_21_pro-1ny started at 6pm with a drinks and canapés reception. There was plenty of champagne and the smart staff circled guests with trays of tasty treats – the tiny ham and eggs were delicious, as was the smoked salmon.

When we got there we were assigned Table L, so we hung around there waiting to see who we would be sitting with. We got chatting to Gareth Wright from Double Eleven – the UK studio who reimagined Prison Architect for the Xbox and PS4 as well as making Goat Simulator for the Xbox last year!

We had a very interesting chat about prisons – as I used to work in a couple. Hopefully I gave him a few tips on what it’s like in the “inside” 🙂

Then we had to take out places at our tables so that the food could be served. We were sat with a couple of chaps from a technology tax company MMP – who were up for an award and staff from Spirit AI who make digital interactions between game characters and players “feel human”. They were handing out one of the awards.wp_20161110_22_40_29_pro

There were bottles of beer, water and wine on the table and the first course was fillet of beef with baby baked potatoes and salad. It was very nice, although the chap sat next to me said “I thought that was a starter!” The dessert was delicious though – an individual lemon meringue pie. It was perfectly baked – no soggy bottom here and the top was beautifully browned and crisp. Yummy!

Then the nerve-wracking part began – the giving out of the awards. Well, to tell the truth we weren’t too worried – we knew we weren’t going to win over all the big companies in our categories. So many of the teams who went up on stage were huge – and we are just two people who make games in a home office!

wp_20161110_18_21_27_pro-1The winner of most Original Game was The Assembly – a virtual reality game from nDreams and the Best Casual/Social Game was a motorbike racing game, Raceline CC by Rebellion. They both looked very impressive – congratulations to them. There were so many amazing games shown that we felt privileged to be sitting there with them! In fact Nathan’s Imposter Syndrome was kicking in bigtime! He’s going to writewp_20161110_21_03_33_pro a post about that very soon – so look out for that one. Still it was fun to see Interference up on the huge TIGA screen when they showed our video!

After all the awards had been handed out and all the booze on the tables drunk – the party continued below in the Crypt. It was an amazing space, where a bar was up and running and there were sticks of TIGA rock liberally spread around.

We had a chat with a few of the winners and the TIGA staff as well as reconnecting with Gareth and others. It was a really good night and we were so happy to have been TIGA Finalists in our first year!

 

 

 

Why we Develop our Games for Microsoft First

Microsoft are a huge global company and are always hooking up with other big organisations to improve life through technology in so many areas. But, Microsoft also look after the little guys who just make games too – which is why we love them!

Ever since we started making Interference – our first ever game – they have given us so much help and encouragement along the way. Even though we are just two people making games as a hobby they couldn’t have been more encouraging and helpful. We got to know some of the evangelists and they would often call up and ask how things were going.

Our Critters Award!
Our Critters Award!

Back in 2012 when they were launching Windows 8 they set up a fantastic place in London for 18 months called Modern Jago – where developers, designers and artists could work and meet for free in a disused school in Shoreditch.

jago
Magical Modern Jago

 

 

 

Sadly for us we couldn’t make use of it frequently as we live in Staffordshire – but Microsoft invited us to many free events there over the months.

We attended the Windows 8 Launch there, the Critter Awards and also the Future Publishing’s App Generator Awards where our game was one of the 10 winners. We were given lots of equipment (laptop, tablet, phone) which really helped with our app development at the time. We were very proud of being selected at the Windows Elite who were first to store with a Windows 8 app.

Our certificate and photos from the Critters Awards
Our certificate and photos from the App Generator Awards

 

They certainly know how to put on a party too! There was always free food and drinks and unusual entertainment such as Mixology lessons, Oxygen bars and Make your own T-Shirt Sessions. They were also responsible for introducing us to the awesome Rayguns Look Real Enough band and the tiger onesie!

critters
Wall of Fame – Interference 2nd in on top row!

Since then we have both quit our jobs to become full-time developers and have been accepted on the BizSpark programme which gives us so much more help for our indie games studio. We gain Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN Subscription,  $150/month of Azure Credits, Office 365 Developer, and Windows Store membership. We also get the ability to sign up for 4 Technical Support Incidents for our start-up.

Toasting the Windows Elite :-)
Toasting the Windows Elite 🙂

 

This is saving us a fortune in storage costs each month as Interference – being a drawing game needs a lot of space! So, the first thing we did was to relaunch the web version of Interference – optimised to work on all devices. Then came the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) Windows 10 App – even though we are constantly being asked for an iOS and Android app by our players.

Nathan, our chief geek explains “Developing for Windows is so much easier than the other platforms because they have the best development environment in Visual Studio and in the language, C#  a lot of annoying details are taken care of automatically like downloading something in the background is much easier to implement than in Java or other languages.”

So, our shiny new Interference Windows 10 App is now in the Windows store and the wok begins on the other versions…wish us luck!

PS Before that we are launching our brand new word game (on Windows first!) called Loose Vowels. Look out for announcements soon!

 

 

Team IFX go to Future Decoded

We had a nice break this week and headed off to London for the Microsoft event – Future Decoded. It’s a yearly event that started three years ago and we’ve managed to attend all of them so far.

wp_20161101_09_42_55_pro-1

It’s great to get out of the office and see what is going on ( and will be going on in the future) in the world of tech. Microsoft always put on a good event and are so supportive of developers – and there is usually free drinks too 🙂

We decided to go to the Business day as the speakers seemed to be the most interesting and relevant to what we are currently doing. We were particularly excited at the thought of seeing Professor Stephen Hawking! Sadly, when we got there we discovered that he wasn’t able to make it. We hope he enjoyed the Pride of Britain Awards the night before! 🙂

We were still very happy to be there though, as we could catch up with our fellow local company Risual from down the road in Stafford. They are sponsors of the event and their latest corporate video is always one of the highlights of the day for many people.  All of them are very funny – and I remember well the reception their very first one got from the packed auditorium of thousands of geeks – mainly along the lines of “What on earth…???” Have a look here http://www.risual.com/about-us/ to see it.

This year’s production was very swish featuring cardboard versions of Richard and Alan – the company’s founders. On their stand in the expo you could see the actual models (and the real-life ones). They were handing out bottles of Risual water and at the end of the day – RisuALE – actually brewed by our friends Brad and Viv at Lymestone brewery!

Anyway – back to the point of Future Decoded!

The morning was taken up with keynote speeches from a fascinating array of speakers from different backgrounds. I think the most eye-opening one was from Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre.

I’d never thought about it before, but when he talked about how users of technology are told to change their passwords frequently or make long and complex passwords for every different application they use means that they are being blamed for the weaknesses in the system! What should happen is that the systems should be properly protected in the first place! We as developers have a responsibility to make our applications as safe as possible. it was good to hear about the new National Cyber Security Centre – part of GCHQ. Dr. Levy promised that they would be as open and transparent as possible about the cyber threats they deal with – how they work and where they come from, so that the public is aware of the growing threat from cyber crime.

wp_20161101_12_21_15_pro

Following on from that, at the end of the morning session we heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond who launched the UK’s new National Cyber Security Strategy. It was quite scary to hear about the possibility of another “rogue state” as he called it, could try to air traffic control, power supplies and other vital services to leave us powerless. He said that we would track down the people responsible and retaliate “in kind” to any such attempts.

On a lighter note we were earlier treated to a demo of live translation of Skype calls. They started with two phones simultaneously translating between French and English conversation. That was then joined by Chinese, German and finally Klingon. Very impressive! It’s not quite ready for launch yet – but will be a game-changer when it goes live!

There was a long lunch break – so we took the chance to visit the other Fox pub – at the other end of the Excel Centre – the Fox@Excel They seemed a little unprepared for a sudden influx of hungry geeks – but we enjoyed a very nice chicken chorizo and avocado granary sandwich before returning to the Expo part of the event.

There were quite a few Microsoft partners there and we were particularly interested in the Surfwp_20161101_14_02_50_proace stands with the whole family of amazing machines. We were very tempted to ask one if we could open up our game Interference on it – to see how it was drawing on such a massive screen. It would have been awesome!! 🙂

The afternoon keynotes were also brilliant. We heard from Martine Wright, an amazing woman who lost both legs in the 7/7 terrorist attacks on the London underground. She didn’t let it ruin her life or sit around feeling sorry for herself instead she  skydived, learned to fly, and become a member of the British 2012 Paralympic volleyball team.

It was an inspiring story from someone who had been through so much and yet rebuilt a new life and is having a ball! She even says that 7 is now her lucky number! Makes our petty problems pale into insignificance.

wp_20161101_18_43_23_pro-1

The final speaker of the day was world famous author Bill Bryson! Having recently become an author myself (see the CUP Diaries on Amazon!) this was an added bonus for me! He was funny and insightful and he certainly raised applause and rueful laughter when he said his biggest problem with technology was everytime he switches on his laptop he has to wait for an hour while all the updates get installed. Interviewer Ryan Asdourian, Windows & Devices Business Group Lead at Microsoft.

Ryan asked him then which one device would he take with him to a desert island – Bill replied that there’d be no point as after 48 hours everything would have run out of power. Ryan said “Yeah, we’re working on that.”

Before we left we attended the free drinks reception with beer, wine and the aforementioned Risuale. We stayed to see if we’d won one of the many Surface products they were giving away on the day – but sadly we had not. Then it was onto the DLR and back to Euston for the slow train back to Stoke.

Our next trip to London is just next week – for the TIGA Awards, We are beyond excited to be finalists in 2 categories – as well as Game of the Year. Come back soon for a full report of the night – or we’ll be live tweeting @playifx

 

 

The Joys of Working from Home (cue car alarms…)

internet_dog
Peter Steiner’s cartoon, as published in The New Yorker

“On the internet – no-one knows you’re a dog” from Peter Steiner’s cartoon, as published in The New Yorker  is one of our favourite phrases. What it means to us is that we can make games in our spare room and sell them all over the world – and no-one knows we’re sat there in our pyjamas.

To be fair – we did spend quite a bit of time converting the second floor of our terraced house into a cool office where we would enjoy working. We have an orange wall for inspiration and a metal plaque on the door that says Centrifuge Ltd – so that we have the psychological barrier between home and work.office

We don’t have much of a commute – but it is two floors up from the breakfast table – so we feel like there is some effort involved in getting to work.

It’s a bit of a pain when the doorbell rings and we have to hare down the stairs quickly – only to find the postman has a package for next door but they’re not in so could we take it for them. I think Nathan feels bad always being in when the postman calls – he’s even got a t-shirt that says “Yes – I am working when I’m at Home” to wear when we’re expecting a parcel.

Another downside to home working is that relatives and friends think that if you’re at home then you’re free to come out for lunch, tea, shopping or any random appointment they have and would like company. They quite happily ring up any time of the day – expecting to be able to chat at length about the new Wetherspoon’s menu or to let us know that M&S have the “2 Dine in for £10” offer on again. It is quite hard to say  “I’m really sorry I am in the middle of something without upsetting them.”

Luckily we both get on very well, even when together all the time. It is quite calm in the office most of the time! However, we do miss seeing other people and bouncing ideas off someone from outside of the company. We need to find ways to network with others. There used to be a monthly Stoke GameDev Get–Together at a local Japanese restaurant – but sadly everyone seems to have moved away or drifted off now. Maybe we need to set something up ourselves and try to get a group of like-minded people who also work at home and crave intelligent company!

Then, there is the problem of car alarms and other distractions. Being in a residential area whilst working can mean that there’s always something to distract you. Our area seems particularly bad for random car alarms going off. Even worse, last week there was a brief (thankfully!) power cut – but when it came back on several house alarms started wailing and did NOT shut up! If the occupants were at work then I guess there was no-one to turn them off or reset them. It was very difficult to tune them out while trying to concentrate.

jam2
Awesome Drawing by miramiramira

Home working does have it pros too though! When we wake up and put on the local news and hear about the traffic accidents, long delays and torrential rain – we can smile and grab a few extra minutes in bed before popping upstairs to begin our day. Not having a big commute saves us time, money and sanity. Imagine I used to travel to Birmingham everyday – which involved a 30 minute drive to the station, a 40 minute train ride and a 15 minute bus journey – before I could even start work! Then the same back at night. It was four hours of travelling every day!

Now, I am fresh and awake when I get to my desk. Also, if I have any ideas or there’s any server crisis for Nathan to deal with – we don’t have to go far to get it sorted.

Also, think of the overheads! As a very new company starting out we only have our own funds to keep us going until the games we make start making money. So, we save a fortune by NOT having an office with rent or heating or power or upkeep. We can keep costs to a minimum while we make our fortune. Of course, as we get bigger and take on staff then we’ll need to fins somewhere bigger to suit us, but until then we can concentrate on the games and make them the best we can…

Going for Gold

cup2
Drawing by Zephonarch

Another way to get yourself noticed and make interesting contacts is via awards. Before starting this company I had no idea that you could just nominate yourself for awards – but you totally can!

Start with your local area – does your local paper or Chamber of Commerce have a yearly awards event? There is usually a category for new businesses or small businesses or entrepreneurs – you’re bound to find one that you can fit in. Most are free to enter – they just need a bit of work and imagination on your part. The submissions are usually done via an online form which asks about your company, who works there, what you do and some will ask for financial information and forecasts.

Our local Business Boost Awards asked for a Business Plan too and offered a free course on how to write one. This was great – as I attended it and it made us actually get one written. These are useful for trying to get financial backing or a business loan down the line – so I was so happy to learn how to do a really good one. The course was actually run by an ex-bank manager – so he told us exactly what they look for when asked for loans by companies.

All that information for free!

cup
Drawing by A.S

So once you’ve submitted your application you have a few weeks of wondering when you’ll hear something. If you are new, a little bit different and interesting then you will stand a good chance of at least being chosen as finalists. We’ve discovered that have “Award Finalist” on your website and promotional literature is practically as good as “winner” Quite often you’ll get a ready-made logo to use wherever you want and you’ll be invited to the actual Awards Ceremony.

Our local paper’s Sentinel Business Awards don’t charge finalists or their guests for the event itself– as it is sponsored by other businesses – but usually you will have to pay, and they can be quite pricy. However, if you can afford to send a couple of staff (which is actually the whole company in our case!) then not only will you get lots of publicity but also have chance to meet other business owners and influential people in the business community. It’s all about the networking!

You may also get lots of coverage in your local press and even have a video made of your company and its operations to be shown on the night. You could get to keep the footage to use yourself too. So, it may be worth the cost of a fancy meal to get all this coverage and networking too.

You can also look out for awards in your own industry too – in our case computer games. It is worth having a look around. I wouldn’t bother with ones you have to pay to enter – but we have just tried for the TIGA awards, which has categories for Indie Games Studios like ourselves. We are just waiting to hear if anything comes of it… keep your fingers crossed!

UPDATE: We found out that we have been shortlisted for two awards – Most Original Game and Social/Casual Game! We are beyond excited!!tiga-award-finalist-logo-2016-01

That also means that we are also up for Game of the Year – as voted by the public. Here’s the link if you love Interference: https://tiga.org/awards/game-of-the-year

You’ve got until 31st October to vote.