Three weeks back, my punk game band Team Lazerbeam released our latest game-baby. Wrestling With Emotions, like most things we seem to make, started out as a joke. We began turning this joke into a game at a little jam in January. We soon became pretty excited about the project, feeling like, despite it’s silly origins, it really had something to say. Taking a sledgehammer to the faux-macho exterior of TV wrestling, and smashing it away to it’s real homoerotic core, we found ourselves working in a space that not only made us laugh, but left us stoked about the message we’d be getting out there. Fast forward 4 and a half months, and we were, understandably, incredibly excited to launch WWE and get that message out there.
By “launch the game” I mean I drew a poster, and we sent messages about the release to the handful of lovely youtubers who had previously released playthroughs of our last dating simulator – Snow Cones. With no expectations, we stuck the game up on itch.io, did a tweet about it, and left it at that.
In the world of video game launches, our efforts were tiny, but for the three of us this was something of a big deal. In the past, our games landed up online, half-baked, falling apart and tacked together with digital tape. We made no big deal about the fact that Bionic Bliss, Snow Cones or Pizza Quest were out there; these games were primarily made for our own amusement. Honestly, who would give a damn about the release of a game that offers two minutes of gameplay, and three different endings that involve shoving pizza into your face? To our great surprise, those past games did resonate with people. Encouraged by the support we received, and further fueled by our enthusiasm for how WWE was coming together, we set a release date for the game, made the poster, then frantically spent the next few days “finishing” the game off.
What followed were 2 of the most awesome weeks I’ve experienced in my brief career as a game developer. On the day of it’s release, WWE choke-slammed our (admittedly modest) expectations through the floor and just kept going, day after day. Here are some of the lovely, unexpected things that happened in the last three weeks:
- Killscreen (easily Team Lazerbeam’s favourite video game site) wrote a great article
- The game was featured on the awesome experimental game platform, Warp Door
- It landed up on Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Best Free Games Of The Week list.
- Our existing youtube friends were amazing! People like RadiCarl rushed home and played the game on the day of it’s release.
- CinnamonToastKen’s let’s play amassed more than 67 000 views and directed 244 users to the game’s page
- In total, more than 50 different youtubers released playthroughways of the game.
- Free Game Planet wrote an insightful piece on the it
- Thanks to Free Lives and Devolver Digital, the game was played on the main Twitch channel, in the hour leading up to E3. At it’s peak this meant that more than 21 000 people were watching Ruan playing WWE. Reactions were as varied as you’d expect from 21 000 different game fans.
- South African creative showcase between 10and5 covered the game.
- WWE landed up on the front pages of both itch.io and gamejolt
- 1288 people downloaded the game from itch
- 813 got it on Gamejolt
- 25 people chose to pay for the game on itch! To date it’s raked in a staggering $77!
All in, the launch of Wrestling With Emotions was like something out of a dream. We’re dumbstruck that the game has been downloaded more than 2000 times, and watched by thousands. We landed up being featured on our favourite sites, totally without any effort from our side. We got to see some awesome youtubers return to The Lazerbeam Universe, and others experience it for the very first time. On the flip side, some new ones discovered us through WWE and even started delving back into our older titles.
Rich, Jay and I are insanely grateful for the support people have shown us. While the game understandably weirded-out and confused some, the amazing thing has been to see how many people totally get what we’re doing. Silly and absurd as it is, this game resonated with people and that means The World to us. It’s left us really inspired to work on the game further, and have plans to release an expanded “Ultimate Edition” later this year. Past that, we’re just ultra-stoked to continue on our Lazerbeam adventure together.
Our hugest thanks to every single person who’s been a part of this amazing launch, we can’t wait to bring your more!