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Why Solitaire io?

Learn why Subsoap is beginning to focus on building up our Solitaire io site as a free, premium, consumer friendly solitaire destination.

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A Marketing Problem

Our niche is very competitive for various reasons. This is great because the potential market is there, but it does also mean reaching that market is difficult. Especially for developers like us who want to focus on premium games where the user buys it once for a fair price and has access to the full game forever.

Buying ads as a developer is expensive. Many developers who make free to play games will inflate the price of game related ads to drive users to their games. Their games typically have aggressively large amounts of ads and in-app purchases. They pump up the prices of buying ads for everyone, because they throw ads in games as fast as they can at people who go to play their games (making a few cents profit per user at scale is profitable, but at the very least they want to break even), or they promote entirely pay to win payment options in their games where a single person may spend thousands of dollars! We cannot compete with general ad prices for our premium games (the conversion rates are very low, the price is somewhat high, without an aggressive ad supported model or a focus on catching so called whales it just doesn't work), and we do not want to integrate annoying ads or whale hunting IAPs even if that’s the way to make the most money. We only want to focus on premium games. So since it is very expensive to compete with the F2P/P2W game publishers we have to be more creative with marketing. We want to make more games that are so good you want to share them and link to them!

A Visibility Problem

Years ago it was extremely hard to reach the casual game marketplace. Your only real option was to publish on the big casual portals. We did this, and it meant that the casual portals got the lion’s share of what our older games made. It stung, but it was the only option.

We worked for years to try and encourage platforms like Steam to cater more to varied audiences such as the casual audience. We began on this plan years ago before mobile casual games really took off, back when casual portals were the top sellers of the type of games we want to make. At the time, Steam was far more consumer and developer friendly compared to any of the older casual portals, which is why I wanted to support them.

Since then Steam’s audience has exploded, while the casual portal audiences have waned (thanks to the shift to mobile over the last decade), and yet it does not seem like Steam’s casual audience is there. This is in part because Steam is still (and should remain) a core gamer first platform. All of its top games are focused at core gamers, with sometimes mid-core games reaching the top sellers lists, but rarely any true casual game of any kind selling well enough to rank high. On top of that, the tags and labels are muddied as the primary Steam audience thinks it is funny to label games like Dota 2 a casual game. Ok, it is funny! But it hurt genuine casual gamers and casual developers. At least today the tags have been improved and casual doesn’t even show up as a tag on Dota 2 like it used to. But instead the casual tag is filled largely with what we would call mid-core games (games like Plants vs. Zombies or Hearthstone are more mid-core than casual in terms of audience) with a minority of genuinely casual games. This is again the primary core audience of Steam dictating visibility. You can also see this in reviews — it is much harder for a casual game to reach the Overwhelmingly Positive rating due in part to Steam being a primarily core gaming platform. We get many people who review our games negatively, who probably bought it on a whim when on sale, or got it as a “joke gift”, who do not play other casual games at all.

For a while, it was more common for Steam users to apply incorrect tags on games as a joke. They still do, but devs can veto certain tags now.

Valve has made improvements over time to Steam to diminish the reliance on new and top selling lists with its discovery improvements. It is features like these which are very promising to allow more niche games to get organic visibility on Steam. If you buy casual games on Steam you will be shown more casual games. Steam is still not perfect, but people don’t appreciate how bad it used to be. Steam has shown itself worthy to go all in on as a developer as far as PC game sales go. The only real salt I have left with Steam is that they offer better % cuts to the major publisher on the logic that their games bring the most gamers to the platform. That may be true to core, but what about niches like actual casual? Haven’t we done meaningful things to bring casual gamers to Steam? There may be some overlap between Bethesda’s audience and ours enough to bring some of their users to our games, but it’s probably not massive! Meanwhile our efforts have made Steam more viable for other casual developers, many who now benefit from our mostly invisible efforts (even for the casual portals who we used to primarily publish on). So that’s the salt, bigger publishers get a better deal but not smaller ones with entirely different audiences. And the real truth is that it’s about money — Valve wanted to stop bleeding the big publisher who left Steam and made their own launchers because for so long Valve would not budge on the Steam cut to developers. Even though we did help to bring a market segment to Steam and will continue to do so $ wise our financial impact is nothing compared to Valve losing a big publisher’s AAA games due to the publisher wanting a larger cut of their game’s sales.

Speaking of Steam — if you have purchased games from us directly in the past and want Steam keys for them all you have to do is ask. 😎

Our Solitaire Bet

In the immediately future we bet that by providing very high quality solitaire games free to play online we can increase the passive sales of our premium native games on Steam and mobile platforms more than sales are cannibalized. I am perfectly fine for 100 people play our games for free if it means 1 more extra sale above what would have happened. In a sense, this is similar to the F2P whale strategy, except it’s better for everyone. So long as it works! 😇

For the long term, I believe that there is an upcoming web-game revolution about to happen. As Flash is fully depreciated, and mobile devices become more capable, HTML5 based games with high production values become more accessible to more people. Of course native is still the best, but we are seemingly very close to the differences between native and web being very minimal. Already the two games we put up Faerie Solitaire Harvest and Faerie Solitaire Remastered are nearly identical to their Steam releases when played on a computer. On mobile devices I’ve tested on, they play nearly as well. We’re close!

Of course right now playing natively is the best experience possible due to technology constraints. If you’ve never played our games on a PC try one and see for yourself the difference.

Our plan in 2020+ is to make and publish extremely good solitaire games here. No annoying ads. No pay to win IAPs. No accounts required. If you think that’s a good thing, then please reward us with a share to your friends, a link on your site.

Potential Pitfalls

Before deciding to make Solitaire io a priority I did some research on competitors within the solitaire / card game niche. I do not mean disrespect, but nearly all of the top games are very simple without much going on. My initial thinking was that making games with more going on, and higher production values would be a competitive advantage. But this may be misguided thinking! The reason why so many of the top games are simple may be because that is what the market dictates. Still I think that is our best option to differentiate ourselves from others. To produce overwhelmingly high quality solitaire experiences. Some more classic in presentation, others with much more fun meta games going on, but all with another level of polish and care for experience on top.

The question some may have is will all of our new games be released on Solitaire io? The answer is no! 😋 Maybe about half will be released for free here though, and it will be up to you if you wish to support us by buying the native versions or if you prefer to play the web versions only and support us in different ways such as on our Patreon. That said there will be Solitaire io exclusives and Solitaire io firsts! And obviously for this site we will be focusing on solitaire games only. The future is bright for solitaire fans. 🔥

Our long term goal is to build the #1 solitaire site in the world with the most played highest quality solitaire games. We will certainly accomplish this with your support!

It will take time for us to beat the competition in the rankings, potentially years even. We’re in this for the long haul. For as long as we are able!

As always if you have questions you can reach out to us via e-mail at any time.

We at Subsoap hope you have a happy new year!
Best,
Brian

P.S. Is a correction required in this text? Tell me in our Discord!


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