Starting Out In Online Digital Distribution

So I recently broke into the Game Industry. Started working for a game developer that also has their online digital distribution store (pretty much like Valve with their Steam, but of course on a much smaller scale). In fact, there are 2 of them: one for a specific region, and one is worldwide. Incidentally, the first one is the one
bringing in most income (the 2nd site has a much more limited games choice). Within the company  I’ve been working mostly on their websites and also in tech support.

So yesterday I was offered a great opportunity – to take over the online digital distribution store that is focused on worldwide audience. Needless to say, I could not pass on that opportunity and took the job. However…

I have never run anything of such scale before. I always wanted to, but never got the chance. So now here is my chance, opportunities are potentially endless, but I have no idea what to do. I have done some online marketing and promotions before, but nothing  like that. For example, I have never signed a contract with a
publisher or developer to sell their games in my store.

I need to come up with a structured plan for myself on how I am going to develop this project. There seems to be overwhelmingly many things to do, and I have no idea what to start with, and from what side to approach it, so to speak. What research do I need to do first?

So my main questions is: what steps do I need to take first? Second? Third? What sources can I read about running a digital distribution website?

I understand that this is a great challenge for me, but also a great opportunity. And I am more than willing to make it work and eventually be a big part of the gaming industry. I hope you can give me some advice and show me the direction I need to go from this point on.


Jay’s Answer: If I were in your shoes, I’d start by gathering analytics about your website (visitors, language, search terms, pages visited). That’ll give you a baseline to be able to judge the results of your actions.

Next, I’d ask a lot of questions of your management team: what are their goals, their expectations, resources they’re willing to commit, and how they think they would achieve these goals. The point here is to ask, listen, and learn.

After I gathered all this data, I’d send a summary of what they said. The goal now is to ensure they’re consistent with what they say and how they react to the “big picture”. I wouldn’t yet commit to these goals – the point is to document the conversation to understand the internal needs.

Next, I’d try to reverse engineer how my competition does their marketing. What is their traffic, their pricing model, their SEO data, etc. The goal of this is to begin to start a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) – so you can leapfrog the competition’s efforts (or borrow some great ideas from someone who’s not a direct competitor).

If I was planning on courting developers to sell their products on your site, then I’d start talking to them about their needs and also learn about your competition through their eyes. By doing these informational interviews (you’re not promising anything – you’re again asking questions and learning) you’ll build some strong allies with a vested interest in how you proceed.

After this, I’d have a good idea of what management wants and how best to proceed. I’d start slowly, measuring the results of my actions (compared to the baseline analytics).

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