Where is it easier and more profitable for an independent developer to show his game to foreign gamers? We share our experience on the example of the digital board game Fated Kingdom.
The build for early access took two years, and the release is scheduled for fall 2019. The game is a digital board game with a co-op for 2-4 people. It is worth noting that this is a niche game that is hardly destined to become a hit on the release. But this is not a sad post-mortem!
Despite the very specific gameplay, the project was well received: 76% of positive reviews on Steam, good sales to continue development without the need to take credit.
Almost half a year has passed since then, and during this time we released 11 updates, two of which are quite large. We have gained valuable experience working on a non-standard project and solving a variety of problems.
One of them is the promotion of the game without a budget. Next, we will talk more about this, without a doubt, an exciting lesson.
If you are a beginner indie developer, then you need to worry about a whole bunch of things. First of all, you need to make a game. This is the main task, but far from the only one. Independent development alone or in a small composition imposes serious restrictions and sets an indispensability for indie gamedev.
You almost certainly have no individual in the team to advance. Fated Kingdom is created by a programmer and artist. There are many such teams, and often the responsibility of a marketing specialist is taken by the one who is better at this, and not the one who has time for this.
There are other pitfalls, but the main idea is this: an indie gamedev is when you have to be a jack of all trades and quickly adapt to any situation. For us, this meant that we had to check many different sites where you can talk about your game, and then select the most effective ones among them.
1. TIGSource Forum
There are many English-language gamedev forums on the network, but if you want to get the maximum coverage in the shortest time, you only need to select the most visited ones. One of them is TIGSource.com. There is a classic forum of the sample of the century before last. On it, we created the theme of our project with all the important information.
And on the TIGSource forum there is an opportunity to display an approximate degree of readiness for the game
There is nothing complicated in the design, it’s enough to take an example from colleagues in the workshop: a tenacious title, a short description, a list of features, a trailer, some cool screenshots and GIF animations, and in the end you can add more detailed information for especially curious users. All that remains is to periodically “upset” your topic in the list.
This should be done approximately once a day. It is important to be on the first page, this is the main generator of views. How to raise the topic? If the project attracted the local, then it’s enough just to politely communicate with them. If not, then you can “post” links to updates, development diaries, concept art, GIFs or just new screenshots.
This is already a much more interesting resource - a huge database of indie games from developers from around the world. There is much more competition here, but coverage is higher. The beginning is standard: we register and draw up the page of our project. Particular attention should be paid to tags and the "Summary" field, which is the first thing a visitor sees.
Having played with the markup, you can insert key art games into the Summary section to draw more attention to your project.
All salt in an inconspicuous block of statistics, or rather in the field "Last Update". It is set to zero every time you load something or edit the game page. Once a day, updating this counter puts your game in first place in the list of all projects in the IndieDB database, since by default it is sorted by the nearest "updates".
Therefore, it makes no sense to refresh the page more often than once every 24 hours - nobody will see the update corny, because there are more than 50 thousand projects on IndieDB, and the chance that someone will find your own to find out what's new is simply scanty. But this is only one side of promotion on this resource, and not the most interesting one.
The logic of promotion on IndieDB is simple. There are 2 blocks on the main one - the latest articles and popular games. To get into the list of the second, you must write the first
Most views are collected by articles. This is due to the fact that only all of the types of materials are displayed on the main page. Depending on the topic and quality, the article brings 200-500 views. This is the best way to attract the attention of active users who can subscribe to the project.
By the way, the same video, for example a trailer, can be inserted into absolutely every article. Other materials should be taken directly from the game page, anyway, because they will have to be downloaded every day.
All that is required of you on Twitter is to post short messages and be active in the indie environment. But this can be done efficiently and not very. You can talk about various subtleties for a very long time, but we will focus on the most important things that everyone should know:
• Be sure to attach a colorful screenshot, and even better - GIF at some cool moment from the game;
• Do not be lazy to put down relevant tags;
• Take part in various weekly events such as Screenshot Saturday or MadeWithUnity;
• Add a link to the game’s page on Steam, even if before the release even before China.
How often to post? The more, the better, but if time is running out, then 3-4 times is enough. The quality of each individual tweet is much more important here.
Unfortunately, we rarely manage to attract attention to our game on Twitter, but 3000-4000 hits per month is also not such a bad result for free marketing with minimal time.
A huge social network where people communicate on many topics. We are interested in only a few relevant sections. The main one is r / gamedev. There you can communicate with other developers and gradually promote your project. But do not do it too intrusively. It is enough to share experience and a link to the game, where appropriate.
The weekly topics - Feedback Friday, Screenshot Saturday and Marketing Monday deserve special attention. In them you can talk about your game for free and get a response. You can also post trailers in this section, but only if you have at least 100 positive karma. Otherwise, the moderators will simply delete your message as advertising.
This site is the biggest mystery for us. Steamgifts has become one of the most profitable sources for attracting attention to the game. It all started with the fact that we placed the drawing of a single key Fated Kingdom and set a timer for a week. When the time was up, we saw that almost a thousand people signed up to participate.
And someone even left a comment. This is mainly of course thanks for the opportunity to win the key, but there was also a feedback directly about the game itself. We spent only 10 minutes to create a draw, after which we forgot about it for a week, but the “exhaust” from this turned out to be so significant that since then we have been holding draws regularly.
Just one key in exchange for such activity? Why not?
Of course, the applications themselves, no matter how many there are, do not give anything. They need to be perceived as a conditional "display" of the game logo to an interested user. To get a chance to win, the user must open the giveaway page and press the “Enter Giveaway” button on the left side of the screen. And on the right you can place a description of the game. This is the main promotion tool on Steamgifts.
Unfortunately, in the description you can’t place GIF animations or embed a video with a trailer, so you have to operate on the most basic things - text, links and lists. Do not “inflate” the text, a brief description, a list of features and key links is enough. In the case of Fated Kingdom, there are five of them:
• Game page;
• An online document with the rules of the game;
• Channel Discord;
• IndieDB page.
It is enough to make an explanatory description once, and then insert it into each new distribution, which simplifies the already simple business. But there are other subtleties of promotion on Steamgifts. For example, how often to create new distributions? We do this once a week, because just one free key every seven days does not invalidate the game.
Of course, these are not all the marketing tricks that are available to the indie developer. We touched on only five sites that we consider the most optimal for promotion. It’s easy to manage them, on average it takes about 15 minutes per day, but this way you can increase the user’s arrival on the page by about 7-10 percent. This is not much, but for a free tool it is very good.