Originally developed as a kind of joke, Goat Simulator has turned into a phenomena that has gained over 4 million sales across PCs, consoles, and mobile platforms since its initial release on April 1, 2014. Not bad for a rocket boosted stunt goat. What’s more stunning is how Goat Simulator became Coffee Stain Studios’ most successful game without the use of traditional advertisement.

Armin Ibrisagic, game designer and PR manager at Coffee Stain Studios, will be speaking at this year’s GDC in a session titled, “PR & Marketing Lessons Learned from Goat Simulator.” There, he’ll discuss “how they managed to build a strong presence in the press without spending any money on advertisement, and how they maintain an active social media community that rivals the size of those of AAA companies.”

[a]listdaily speaks to Ibrisagic about how Goat Simulator rose to success.

Armin IbrisagicGiven how Goat Simulator started as a kind of joke prototype, did you imagine that it would grow into a phenomenon?

I don’t think anyone of us imagined that, but we’re obviously glad that it did. It’s allowed us to do so much weird stuff the last 2 years!

In what ways did you promote Goat Simulator, and what were some of your expectations?

We never try to promote our game the traditional way. We don’t try to convince people to buy it. I think Goat Simulator is the type of game that you either find funny, or you don’t. If you don’t think goats doing stupid shit is funny, then you’re obviously not going to like Goat Simulator, and you must be a terribly boring person. But I’m not going to blow sunshine up anyone’s ass to convince them. I think the best way is just to show your game to as much people as possible, and then let them decide if it’s something they want to play.

What were some of the ideas that came up in promoting Goat Simulator?

I think the free MMO expansion was probably the weirdest and craziest thing we did to promote our game. Even though the expansion was free, once we released it, it boosted the sales of our game, and we had a ton of fun making the expansion as well. I guess the hardest part when it comes to making up new stuff to do in Goat Simulator is the fact that the game is so insane already. How do you top a simulated MMO? Zombies, of course. How do you top zombies? Bank robbery. How do you top a bank robbery? Well I don’t know yet, but I’m sure we’ll make something up.

Was the April Fools Day release of the game planned or a coincidence?

Haha actually, we knew the game would be ready sometime around that date, but we thought releasing a game on April 1st was so funny that we actually reshuffled our production schedule just so we’d be able to release it exactly on that day.

What is it about Goat Simulator that appeals to so many players?

Jokes aside, a lot of big-budget games have felt really narrow to me lately. Even in open-world games, you end up doing pretty much the same thing all the time. I think Goat Simulator‘s appeal comes from the fact that there are no rules and there’s nothing expected of you, you just get to do whatever the hell you want, and I think a lot of people appreciate that.

Is the Goat Simulator promotional approach applicable to more serious games?

Probably not, but maybe occasionally. For example, I think being completely open with both the strengths and the flaws of a game is only good. It builds up a lot of trust between players and developers. Also, (almost) all games could use some comedy!

Did your promotional approach change with the mobile releases?

Not at all. We kinda just press the submit button on the Apple Store and then we start drinking.

Goat Simulator has recently got a Payday-style DLC expansion. What kinds of thieving skills does the goat bring to the table?

  1. You can buy a paper bag of poo, put it outside someone’s house, and then set it on fire
  2. You can steal cars
  3. You can actually steal all kinds of shit
  4. You can steal people’s cats and make sausage out of them

What do you think of all these goats showing up in commercials these days?

I think the marketing people on big corporations are following me. It’s kind of like in that series Mr. Robot, but these guys are smaller, more like goblins than people. Sometimes they steal odd socks from me, or turn household appliances on or off. I’ll get you, marketing goblin thieves!