Within the indie gaming industry, the Drope.me Indie Games Awards initiative represents a significant moment that deserves exploration.
In this interview with the CEO of Drope.me, we will delve into Drope.me Indie Games Awards event, considering its role and impact in the sector.
We will examine how the Drope.me Indie Games Awards have influenced the indie game ecosystem, casting a critical eye on the goals and results achieved. The conversation will develop around the CEO’s experience, who will share his reflections and perspectives on the event.
We will also address the challenges that indie developers face in the current market, evaluating how the Drope.me platform can serve as a tool to help them stand out in a competitive environment. This section aims to provide a balanced overview, highlighting both the opportunities and difficulties of the sector.
We will conclude with practical and direct advice for indie developers, provided by the CEO of Drope.me, based on his extensive experience and deep knowledge of the industry. These tips aim to offer support and inspiration to those engaged in the indie gaming sector.
Brief intro of Dima Okhrimchuk, founder and CEO of Drope.me
Dima Okhrimchuk is the founder and CEO of Drope.me. He is responsible for providing strategic direction for the business, overseeing day-to-day operations, and leading a talented team of professionals. He is a gaming enthusiast who was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and later moved to Los Angeles, USA. Dima holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and a degree in international economics from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
Before founding Drope.me, Dima had worked in corporate finance and tech but soon realized that power suits weren’t his thing. In 2019, he co-founded an esports organization and later launched Organization.GG, a platform that allowed esports players and Twitch streamers to make money by playing with their fans. In February 2022, when the russian federation invaded Ukraine, the platform mainly focused on charity initiatives, raising over $60,000 for UNITED24, the government-run fundraising platform initiated by the President of Ukraine. In early 2023, Dima made a pivot to Drope.me, an AI-enabled influencer marketing platform that connects gaming companies, micro-streamers, and their communities.
What inspired the creation of Drope.me’s Indie Game Awards, and how do they align with Drope.me’s overall mission?
The creation of Drope.me Indie Game Awards 2023 was inspired by our commitment to recognizing and supporting indie game developers. We understand these developers’ challenges in getting their games noticed and appreciated in a crowded market. The Awards align with Drope.me’s overall mission to empower game developers, especially indie creators, by providing them with a platform to connect with influencers, increase visibility, and drive success for their games. The Indie Game Awards celebrate creativity, innovation, and the spirit of independent game development, reinforcing Drope.me’s dedication to building a thriving gaming ecosystem.
Also, what’s important is that this initiative is community-driven because we believe that community is the core of the gaming industry. That is why community members chose all the winners and nominees of the Awards. The project’s first stage was when we invited gaming enthusiasts to submit their favorite indie games of 2023. By doing so, they received 500 points that could be exchanged for participation in Drops and winning fabulous prizes: Steam gift cards, game keys, hardware, swag, and more. After, it was the voting stage when all the gaming community members could vote for the shortlisted nominees. After they shared the vote, they could also leave their email to win an indie game they voted for.
How do you envision the Indie Game Awards impacting the indie gaming community, particularly developers and micro-streamers?
Drope.me Indie Game Awards have already positively impacted the indie gaming community. The recognition and celebration of outstanding indie games have provided exposure to deserving developers and inspired micro-streamers. By showcasing these indie gems, the Awards contribute to the growth of a diverse gaming landscape, fostering collaboration and recognition within the community. As a result, we gathered over 700 submissions and set 34 Drops with 800+ participants.
Now we know the winners of each category and would be thrilled to highlight them again!
- Game of the Year – Lethal Company
- Week in Hell – Blasphemous
- Dreamy Crush – Peppino Spaghetti from Pizza Tower
- Lobby Created – Lethal Company
- Meme Game – Pizza Tower
Winners were revealed live at a Twitch ceremony on December 21, 2023. We had so much fun because we wanted not only to close the Awards and announce the winners but also just to have a great time with our community. That is why we invited five streamers who are active Drope.me community members and hosted a gaming quiz for AYV3E, HarkerRyan, PNKFacil, ultracauaHD, Agent. I was the host of the event, and together, we made a great stream on Twitch, drawing a peak viewership of 54 and an average of 40.
It’s certainly been an exciting journey for the Drope.me team, nominees, partners, and community, and the response was inspiring, too! We’d be excited to extend this initiative further.
Were there any criteria besides community nominations used to select the games?
The community could submit only indie games issued in 2023. Yet there were no other limits: games could be available on PC, mobile, Roblox, UEFN, and more.
What were the award categories for the Indie Game Awards 2023, and can you tell us about the prizes at stake?
We have decided to go with five categories:
- Game of the Year: Best indie game of 2023.
- Dreamy Crush: Favorite indie game character of 2023.
- Lobby Created: Best co-op indie game of 2023.
- Week in Hell: The most challenging indie game of 2023.
- Meme Game: The indie game of 2023 with the funniest jokes.
As for the prizes, indie developers received 0% promo codes for launching influencer marketing campaigns on Drope.me, along with promotion among a community of 25,000+ gamers and streamers specifically interested in indie content. Indie winners also got additional credits of $250 for launching campaigns on Drope.me.
Streamers could earn cash rewards for promoting Awards to their community by participating in a campaign on Drope.me. Players and fans who submitted indies for awards received points that allowed them to win prizes in Drops (Steam/Amazon gift cards, keys to VALORANT, LOL, Fortnite, etc).
Could you elaborate on the rationale behind specific award categories like “Dreamy Crush” and “Week in Hell”? How do these categories capture the essence of indie games in 2023?
The “Dreamy Crush” and “Week in Hell” categories were designed to reflect indie games’ diverse and unique qualities in 2023. “Dreamy Crush” aimed to recognize games with captivating characters that players admired the most. After the voting, the community picked Peppino Spaghetti, the main character from Pizza Tower, who is definitely charismatic. On the other hand, “Week in Hell” had to acknowledge games with challenging, time-consuming, yet exciting gameplay experiences.
These categories are all about the creativity, innovation, and emotional impact indie games bring to players in 2023.
How do the Indie Game Awards fit into Drope.me’s future vision, especially regarding support for indie developers and streamers?
Drope.me Indie Game Awards play an important role in aligning with Drope.me’s future vision. By recognizing and celebrating outstanding indie games, Drope.me contributes to the visibility of deserving titles and provides a platform for indie developers to gain support. The Awards enhance Drope.me’s position as a hub for indie gaming promotion, fostering a community where developers can showcase their work, streamers can engage with quality content, and gamers can discover exceptional indie titles.
Have there been any notable collaborations or partnerships born from the Indie Game Awards, and how have they benefited the indie gaming community?
We were lucky to collaborate with two great partners within the initiative: Lorgar and Indie Games Devel.
Lorgar is a gaming brand that produces high-quality gear perfect for casual and competitive gaming. Lorgar joined us as a prize partner, providing gifts for the community that were drawn using Drops.
Indie Games Devel, a dynamic gaming media outlet we’ve long admired, joined us as a media partner. Their involvement brought extensive coverage and highlighted the initiative, amplifying its reach and impact.
These collaborations have enriched the Drope.me Indie Game Awards experience and contributed to fostering a stronger and more supportive ecosystem for indie developers and gamers alike. As we reflect on these partnerships, we’re grateful for the shared enthusiasm and commitment to enhancing the indie gaming community.
Are there any other initiatives planned to further support the development of the indie gaming industry in the future through Drope.me?
We’re currently discussing the Indie Roadshow launch for 2024. This initiative was the first attempt we developed to support indie game developers. It focused on supporting indie game developers by giving them over $12,000 to promote their games with 17,000 micro-streamers on Drope.me, and we assisted 65 game developers in their initial campaigns. Due to its success and high community interest, we later extended the initiative, allowing over 300 companies to apply and engaging over 890 streamers.
This year, we want to expand the initiative even more and consider opening a call for sponsors to make this a truly big and impactful event. We may also be running a separate event for Roblox and UEFN creators. There’s much more to come, so stay tuned!
As an AI-enabled influencer marketing platform, how does Drope.me tailor its approach to meet the unique needs of promoting indie games?
Drope.me tailors its approach to promoting indie games by offering a unique performance-based model. Gaming publishers and developers pay only for results and set prices for those CTAs that suit their goals the most. We integrated Twitch, Twitter, Discord, and other platforms’ APIs to Drope.me so everything can be tracked automatically.
When launching a campaign, a gaming brand sets a budget (starting at $500), goal, and duration, chooses CTAs and influencers criteria. As a result, there’s a unique campaign tailored to the needs of a particular brand.
Unlike other platforms, Drope.me focuses on delivering results for gaming publishers and developers, allowing them to track campaign effectiveness and make real-time adjustments. This approach is crucial for indie game developers who often operate with limited budgets and need to maximize the impact of their marketing efforts.
AI is driving the development of the gaming industry nowadays. So we decided to integrate a special feature into Drope.me, that will be announced soon, to reduce manual work for clients and optimize processes like content review and revision. Now, UEFN publishers and developers will be able to review the content submitted by players with the help of AI. Let’s say one of the campaign actions was to reach a specific level and play on a particular Fortnite map.
To prove that this level is achieved, a community member should take a screenshot of them playing on the map and upload it to the campaign on Drope.me. AI will review the screenshot and notify the brand whether this action is completed to save time for the company and enhance the process overall. We plan to expand this feature to the other games and for influencer actions, too. For example, brands will be able to review 4-hour streams or 10 videos in one click using AI that will also highlight the most important moments in the submitted content. But we’ll test the initial UEFN concept only for now.
What’s also essential is that Drope.me targets micro-influencers with CCV 8 to 200+ on Twitch. These content creators are often overseen by brands, considering them too small to bring impactful results. On the contrary, these influencers can be the best solution for indie developers or even AAA titles. Yes, they have smaller communities, but their viewers are much more engaged and likely to try products that influencer suggests. So, such collaborations will be shot straight at the target. Also, engaging micro-streamers is a budget-friendly solution, which is an excellent benefit for indie developers who have just started building their brands.
Could you share some effective strategies or success stories on how indie developers have leveraged Drope.me for game promotion?
Absolutely! Currently, over 170 influencer marketing campaigns have been launched on Drope.me by game developers and gaming publishers. To succeed with your campaign on Drope.me, it’s important to:
- Choose relevant campaign actions that support completing your goals.
- Set a fair campaign budget. Again, it depends on your goals, yet remember that influencers earn on promoting your game, so there’s a connection, too.
- Align the campaign on Drope.me with your other marketing activities.
- Initiate a wishlist spike on Steam (a significant increase in the number of users adding a particular game to their Steam wishlists within a short period). It is a crucial stage that helps to be noticed by Steam algorithms.
As for the case, recently, we had a successful one with the Project Planet: Earth vs Humanity indie game by Fifth Harbour Studios. The team wanted to generate buzz just before the launch and in the initial days post-release. They made a wishlist spike on Steam to enhance outcomes using Drope.me. They also restricted streamers to specific actions for impressions, ensuring diverse content from various creators. Coupled with additional promotional efforts, the game secured the top spot on Steam following its launch. Fifth Harbour Studios spent $1,800 on a campaign, with 134 streamers accepted and over 300 streamers’ community members involved.
Based on your experience, what emerging trends do you foresee in indie game development and marketing in the coming years?
I believe we’ll likely see the following:
- Shift to performance marketing: The traditional marketing model gradually gives way to a performance-based approach. Indie developers increasingly recognize the importance of measurable results, allowing them to optimize campaigns in real-time and maximize the impact of their marketing efforts.
- Paid UGC: Leveraging user-generated content (UGC) has become a powerful strategy. Indie developers are expected to invest in initiatives where users are incentivized to create and share content related to their games. This not only fosters community engagement but also serves as an authentic promotion.
- GenAI to facilitate relationships: Integrating AI in fostering relationships within the gaming community is a noteworthy trend. AI tools will likely be utilized for personalized communication, community management, and understanding player preferences, enhancing the gaming experience.
- Micro-influencers’ rising significance: With their niche and engaged audiences, micro-influencers will continue to be a focal point in indie game marketing. The authenticity and relatability they bring to promotional campaigns resonate well with the gaming community, making them valuable partners for indie developers seeking to expand their reach.
As the indie game development landscape evolves, embracing these trends can offer developers a competitive edge and open new opportunities for creative and effective marketing strategies.
What are the major challenges and opportunities you see for indie developers in today’s gaming landscape?
It’s getting harder and harder to stand out of the crowd and draw players’ attention to your game. According to the latest SteamDB 2023 report, around 40 games are launched on Steam daily. The market is highly saturated these days, and surprising someone with some cool feature or a plot twist is almost impossible. Yet, the good thing is that developers don’t stand still and find significant opportunities. The rise of digital distribution platforms, access to game engines and development tools, and the growing interest in unique and niche gaming experiences provide many options for indie developers to thrive. Collaborative initiatives, like those facilitated by Drope.me, help indie developers connect with their audience, fostering a supportive community within the gaming industry.
What advice would you give to indie developers looking to stand out in the industry, particularly in terms of marketing and community engagement in a competitive market?
First, you must define your unique selling proposition (USP). Identify what sets your game apart from others. Whether it’s a unique gameplay mechanic, a compelling story, or a distinctive art style, having a clear USP helps your game stand out.
Influencer marketing is one of the best tools for your indie promotion. Engaging micro-streamers can be a game-changer, as I said earlier. Thus, while developing a game, consider whether influencers would be interested in promoting it. It might sound weird, but in today’s gaming landscape, it’s not enough to make an interesting game for players. It should excite all community members in different ways.
When reaching out to influencers, there are plenty of tools to enhance this process, Drope.me is one of them. But there are situations when a gamedev can have a low or even 0$ marketing budget, and that’s okay. You can still manually develop and run your influencer marketing strategy, using SullyGnome or StreamsCharts to gather relevant influencers, craft compelling offers using ChatGPT, and adjust it further. Ask influencers to stream your game for free if you have no budget. They might agree if they like the game, so ask them out. Later, these influencers can become your ambassadors, so building meaningful connections with respect and gratitude from the start is essential.
Apart from that, work on your social media presence, attend industry events and perform, connect with other indie developers, and exchange feedback about your games. Community is the key to success in the gaming industry, so invest time and effort in interacting with fellow gaming enthusiasts. It does matter.
Concluding Thoughts and Further Resources
In conclusion, this interview with Dima Okhrimchuk, CEO of Drope.me, has provided us with valuable insights into the role of the Drope.me Indie Games Awards in the indie gaming industry and effective strategies for developers in an increasingly competitive market. His insights and advice reflect an innovative and pragmatic approach, essential for anyone operating in this dynamic field. This exchange of ideas not only highlights the current challenges but also opens up new avenues for growth and success in indie gaming.
For more information and resources, here are some useful links.