The W.R.K.S Games State of Play 2020
It seems the gaming and media industry is not without its curveballs for one that has been around as long as it has.
It's been quite a year. Started with lows and finishing with highs. It was a year of transition, evolution, and maturing as a company.
We started the year by being dealt a near existential blow. Steam wasn’t pushing our product organically. Normally an indie developer making a decent product can rely on Steam driving the sales. However, Valve has come under significant competition from a variety of areas and Steam is no longer reliable as an organic driver of sales for most indies.
As such we had to drive that through paid marketing. Which then posed a new conundrum. We had to up the price to allow for paid marketing to be viable with the 30% cut Steam took. This was a non-starter as we were already a fairly but premium-priced product in the right price bracket for what we were offering.
So there was only one thing to do: release on our own store. Of course, we had to build it first.
The bold decision was made to delay the release of Blood Bond — Into the Shroud by one year, focus the development efforts of launching the W.R.K.S Store two years ahead of when it was planned in our business plan, and re-invest our limited cash in another year of infrastructure building rather than launching the game and focusing on revenue.
For a small self-funded company, that is a very big decision to make. I am glad I made it.
That single decision led to a year of company maturity and development that has now seen us end the year with all the infrastructure and tools we need to maximize our sales starting next year, and make us independent by bringing the entire sales and marketing path of the company in-house and under our control.
Blood Bond — Into the Shroud is finally completed and going through its last few weeks of development as I write this. We have a publishing partnership in place with Immanitas Entertainment who will be bringing the game to worldwide markets.
This also marks the first partnership in a year of experimenting with partnerships that we are about to head into. We have three options for commercialization. Third-party publishing partnerships. Going it alone. Or both.
I do believe that in the long run, sales optimization can only be done if we go it alone and build our own worldwide sales and marketing effort. As per usual, I do not want to make decisions without facts and experimenting. So 2021 is going to be the year of partnerships as we try out that option first.
Our deal with Immanitas is signed and done and they will carry the PC version of Blood Bond — Into the Shroud to gamers around the world.
The console and Switch distribution are under discussion for 2021 releases.
We are going to start development on Blood Bond — Jarl of Guilon and Jin’s Revenge in 2021 and will hopefully be co-funding and co-publishing with other publishing partners in 2022 and onwards.
2021 also marks the launch of our second universe, Katana-Ra. A feudal Japanese and Cyberpunk mixed universe that will open a new world of storytelling into our community.
The Jordenheim RPG launched. Our first tabletop RPG product landed on the marketplace with strong positive critical reviews now starting to roll out about the game.
We launched our first motion comic, Legends of the Shroud — Volume 1, streaming on YouTube now.
The W.R.K.S Store
The early launch of the W.R.K.S Store was one of the key achievements. A heroic effort by our two-man development team to put a state of the art e-commerce platform into the field in less than 6 man-months of development. We are coming out of beta now and adding the PC games to the existing tabletop games store to launch the full W.R.K.S Store in early next year — an begin our path to actively competing in the digital sale and distribution marketplace — taking on Steam and the Epic Store head-on.
Our feature set is strong, the technology bleeding edge and we look forward to adding a competitive offering for indie gamers to get their product to consumers and to giving the gaming fan base a new home for their digital purchases.
It was a landmark year for the W.R.K.S team. In most startups, the entrepreneur is the driver of success, the solver of problems. A company does not really mature as a business until the team steps up to take over that mantle and take ownership of the business growth and the drivers of success. The mettle of that team then becomes what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve that and how they balance adhering to the direction of leadership with what they themselves bring to the table.
2020 was the year W.R.K.S Games moved forward more due to the team than me. It was a great thing to see. In January, we stood in front of a year that might have ended us. I did not mince words on the matter when I introduced that risk to the team and laid out the plan that needed to happen to get us out of that situation.
We now end the year, not only haveing beaten the problem but nearly a year ahead of the milestones in the business plan — and that is due entirely to how the team stepped up this year.
The world largely fell apart in 2020 but the W.R.K.S team built upwards instead.
Around September this year, we stepped away from being W.R.K.S Games the startup and became W.R.K.S Games the company and we start 2021 with new jobs open on the team, products in the field, a new storefront, and a clear focus on the next milestones, and our first steps into revenue and profit.
The 2021 Mission
All staff, freelance or otherwise, that complete one year of significant contribution to the company are added to our profit share and company share programs. We welcome several members of the team as shareholders in the company with this new year.
Our management team is now completed and Mark Leonard and Alexander Nikolic are joining the senior team as the COO and CFO respectively. Our main goal for 2021 is driving the pillars of revenue and profit in the company and it is time to complete the senior team that will be driving that vertical in the business. Both are people that I have known for a long time and I believe add the missing competencies and skills we need to take that next step.
We are launching our full PC game store, a new content universe, and the first early views of our next two multi-platform game titles. We will also be launching the second book in the Jordenheim RPG and a host of new free updates to the Jordenheim RPG game.
We will also be taking our first steps in a two-year plan to go public on the AIM, the London Stock Exchanges secondary market by 2022 end, with the appointing of our board later in 2021 and beginning the search for our financial advisory partner to prepare for an IPO.
Why plan to go public so early in our life? Most modern tech entrepreneurs do indeed prefer to build private value before going public at a huge valuation. This model however only makes the founder rich and a bunch of VCs rich. It does not allow the average person to get rich.
By going public early at a lower more accessible valuation we allow the average investor to buy shares in the company at an affordable price and hold it till we become a high-value company — making it possible to turn many people into millionaires while we build the 9 figure company valuation we want.
Wealth redistribution is only possible if we give people the pathway to be part of the wealth accumulation as we build it — and preferably as early as possible.