Letters is a heartwarming coming of age story about finding the right words.
🇨🇭 Zurich, Switzerland
📅 September 2018
🏆 3 Founders
💵 Kickstarter raised over $24k
5am Games was founded in 2018 with the goal to create unique games with strong aesthetics and relatable stories. As an all-women dev team we combine our experiences to create authentic female protagonists and hope that games like Letters can play it’s part in changing the male dominated narrative in games.
We love experimenting and coming up with innovative game mechanics. We want our players to think out of the box and enjoy something they have never seen before.
In our first big project Letters – a written adventure, we invite players to use text in a completely new way. We take elements from traditional word-games and reinvent them in an adventure game scenario which completely changes their appeal and character. We use text to build our game world and let players use the power of words to rewrite it.
Aleksandra Iakusheva created the first prototype for our word-based mechanic 2015 in our first year of university. First Selina Capol, then Martina Hotz joined her to make a real game out of it together. We created the first prototype of Letters in 2017 and applied for a grant from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. To our great joy we actually won the grant which motivated us to found a company and solely focus on creating Letters in 2018. We plan to release the game in 2021.
We all created games before but Letters is our first commercial game project.
The Kickstarter campaign launched on October 22nd 2019. We had a website, twitter, facebook, instagram, discord and a newsletter before launching the campaign where we posted quite regularly. We used those channels as well as our private ones to spread the word. In the last ten days of the campaign we posted at least twice a day on every channel to boost our engagement and used different facebook groups, discord channels, imgur and reddit to increase our reach.
We spent a small sum for ads on twitter and facebook but it wasn’t very transparent to us how well they worked.
We were featured by AlphaBetaGamer, PowerUpGaming and couple of other websites (they’ve found us on Twitter). Also our Demo was featured by itch.io and was on their front page for at least one week. All for free.
What really helped in terms of PR – posting on all our social media three-four times a day, also we got on the front page of Imgur with a post about our game studio.
Letters is inspired by the branching storyline of Life is Strange, the personal feel of A Normal Lost Phone, the nostalgia of Emily Is Away Too and our own experiences growing up.
All of us love unique game mechanics, authentic female characters and casual, comfy games without unnecessary violence. We think that words matter, but they often get overlooked in video games. By borrowing elements from traditional word-games like Scrabble and combining them with a wonderful story, beautiful art, and charming characters, we want to show everyone that words are fun.
Even though we work on an extremely small budget, it’s still expensive to own a company. Being based in Switzerland, the costs of living are very high, especially in Zurich. Also we work 60-100% on our game so there isn’t much time to work outside of the company.
We also don’t work with a publisher or investor which means that we need to collect the money for the production, business costs and commercialisation on our own beside our work on the game itself.
We apply for all grants, awards and accelerator programs we can and have been very lucky so far. We’ve won three grants in Switzerland and were part of three national and international accelerator programs. And now our Kickstarter campaign was funded too! Everything together has kept us afloat until now and will ensure that our company will continue to exist for many more months to come.
We are friends with many game designers and young entrepreneurs in the industry. Their support is and always has been invaluable. So always be active in your local game dev scene, show your game to as many people as possible and ask them for help and feedback.
Create social media channels for your game or post about them regularly as soon as you have something to show. It can be very basic, it can be something that will change in the future but be present on social media to grow a community early on.
We are not looking for anyone to hire but we are interested in collaborating with a publisher or investor to make Letters – a written adventure the best game it can be.