Jeff Hangartner – Revealing the Path Less Travelled in Video Game Industry

Jeff HangartnerJeff Hangartner, the founder of the gaming start-up, Bulletproof Outlaws has been a professional developer of games over the last half a decade. Creator of Pixelation, the 1st Pixel Art Forum and also originator of the Pixel tutorials which have been published in the form of a book. Jeff has always been a pioneer of the gaming industry.

CG Today is proud to present Jeff’s exploration as he shares the whole process of creating a start-up right from day 1. With the belief that gaming development is coming back to its original “one programmer in the basement roots” idea, Bulletproof Outlaws is chronicling every step of its start-up process from strategies, to marketing, setting goals and outsourcing, successes and failures. The aim is to help other developers who have ideas but are intimidated by the whole start-up process and are not sure how to go about it.

You can visit his website Bulletproof Outlaws to know more about him or send an email to get connected.


You can get banner ads up for as low as $10 per month at some places. It can also go high, like costing around $300. I’ve found that the best way to judge how good an ad is going to be is to go by the price instead of the Impressions. If there are two spaces and one gets 5,000,000 Impressions and the other gets 1,000 Impressions, but the 5,000,000 one costs $10/mo and the 1,000 one costs $300/mo, odds are the person running the site has determined through their own stat measuring that the $300 one is worth the money in comparison.

Pay Per Click

I honestly didn’t mess with this much because it looks dumb to me. Basically the jist seems to be that you pay X amount of money per Click on your banner. So it’s usually listed as $X per 1,000 Impressions or Clicks. But I don’t see the point to this, because an Impression or Click doesn’t automatically mean a sale. So you could have 5,000,000 Impressions and not a single sale, except that at $1 per 1,000 Impressions you’re out $5,000. If you’re a huge company with tons of money marketing a game like Angry Birds, maybe that’s where it’s worth it, but man, right now with limited funds I’d rather take the $X per month solid number so I can plan out my budgeting and stuff. With that $5,000 I could have a bunch of $300 banner ads all over the place. I’m not really “in the know” when it comes to Internet marketing so there might be a reason behind this concept or an optimal time to use it, but from where I’m sitting as an Indie with not much money, I’m staying far away from this whole concept.

Ad Design

If you can do an animated ad, do an animated ad. They catch the eye more than a static ad. If you don’t have any art skills, hit up a microjob site like UpHype or Fiverr and you can probably get some done up for like $5. I did the art for my game pretty large when I originally drew it, and shrunk it down to fit on the iPhone screen, so throwing together banners is pretty easy. I grab some art and toss it into a layout and I’m done. You’ll find pretty much every site has different sizes and shapes for banners, so be prepared to make horizontal skinny banners, vertical fat banners, square banners, you name it.

Track Your Expectations

Don’t just buy ad space and then ignore it, or casually glance at the stats. When you buy ad space (which you bought because you researched the site and made a business decision to advertise there, right?) write down what exactly you’re expecting as a result of that ad space. Stuff like “20 new Twitter Followers”, “50 more hits to my website a day”, “10 new sales of my game in Italy”, etc. Whatever’s appropriate. Then track what the actual outcome was. If you bought $100 for a month worth of ad space, and your goal from that was 100 new sales that month, and you made 5 sales, you have to consider that either that ad space isn’t something you want to renew, or that you might have to change up your ad design for that space, etc. Basically something isn’t working the way you expected, so don’t pour more money into it until you figure out what isn’t working and why it isn’t working and how to try fixing it.

Don’t Get Hooked

We were warned about this in the business course I took: Remember that while your job as someone marketing your game is to market your game, people selling advertising space have a job too – to sell you advertising space. So you’ll run into situations where you buy some ad space, it doesn’t really do anything, but the person tells you “You have to give it a little time, sign up for another month or two and you’ll definitely see results, that’s just how marketing works”. And it’s not necessarily untrue, but this goes back to making business decisions. Do YOU think it’s a good idea? Do you have any reason at all to expect things to turn around with that ad space? If you do, awesome, that’s fine. The key factor is that if you decide to stick with it long-term, don’t do it because you feel guilted or pressured into it, but because you have business reasons to stick with it.

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