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Marketing games with no budget

Not everybody has the money to market their game. Still, everyone has to do it. The question is "how?" Doing Things That Don't Scale might be the answer you're looking for.

Albert Palka, Blogger

April 28, 2015

6 Min Read

I am currently available for freelance projects. If you need some help with PR and Marketing, creating communication strategies or just want to talk about the weather, feel free to ping me on LinkedIn or send me an email at [email protected]. You can follow me on Twitter too! :)

Last week I wrote an article about Doing Things That Don't Scale, which briefly discussed achieving marketing success with no marketing budget at all. Unfortunately, I didn't explain the subject thoroughly enough and I'm going to do it today!

Paul Graham, startup guru from YCombinator - the most prominent startup accelerator in the world back in 2013 wrote an article where he coined the term "Doing Things That Don't Scale." It's hard to find a good definition of this term, but I found a well-written answer on Quora written by Anil Alur, co-founder of GoMowgli:

... When (he) says "do things that doesn't scale" he means as startup you will have to do lot things all by yourself, which is not required in the long run. ...

Basically, as a CEO/Co-founder of a newly founded startup you have to work hard on your own to acquire customers and start selling your product. There's no money on the table, there are no investors to back you up; it's just you and your idea. And you have to do marketing and PR on your own. So how can we translate this concept into our gaming world?

Instead of CEOs we have Lead Developers or studio Co-Founders or even solo indie developers. Doing Things That Don't Scale means you as a developer have to put in work and start making things happen instead of waiting for people to come to you. What are the examples of DTTDS? How do you market your game for $0?

1. Facebook groups

Facebook, despite what many people say, isn't dead. Zuckerberg simply found a way to finally monetize his platform. What he did was he cut discoverability and user engagement by not showing fanpage followers the content if the fanpage admins aren't paying.


Although fanpages aren't as useful as they used to be, people found a "loophole" - Facebook groups. Groups not only provide your content higher visibility (every person inside a group will see your post), but you also get notified when someone posts his stuff there. 

Facebook is currently my biggest user acquisition channel for a project youtubeforindies.com - YouTube guides, tips and the biggest contacts' list on the Internet delivered every Thursday directly to your inbox. 

Every time I post something on the groups I follow I get enough comments to keep my post at the very top of the page. However, only valuable content stays there so cat memes are a big nono.

What type of Facebook groups am I referring to? Well, here are a few that might get you started and give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Indie Game Developers - 44,415 members

Indie Game Chat - 13,046 members

Independent Game Developers - 1,733 members

Indie Game Developers ~Sunshine~ - 1,312 members

Indie Games Advertising - 1,947 members

The Gaming Society - 14,185 members

2. Twitter events

Twitter is old and mostly popular in the US, but since games are a global business, developers might find it super useful. However, due to an enormous amount of people using it on a daily basis it's super hard to be heard. 


Almost every day there is at least one "event" dedicated to game developers. What you do is you post your content adding event's hashtag. For example #screenshotsaturday, #wipwednesday, #indiedevhour and so on.

Good friends of mine, Thrive Games, who are currently working on their first super dope game called Dragon of Legends acquired almost 4,500 followers by attending plenty of the events mentioned above on a regular basis. It took a lot of Nathan's, Thrive's Lead Designer, time and effort to get the Twitter account where it is today, but it was worth it because now they have a big crowd to communicate with. 

Also, don't forget to use Tweetdeck to not get buried in Twitter feed messages!

3. Start talking with people

Let's say your game starts getting some initial traction. People start writing to you, posting comments on various sites and Social Media. What do you do? 

Well, most of the developers, especially those working solo, don't do anything. They don't want to waste their precious time, but what they are REALLY doing is missing a huge opportunity to gain an incredibly active fan base.


Another good friend of mine, DroneLocker, made a game called Antumbra. He literally answers every single private message and comment on NewGrounds. He also answered every e-mail, tweet and tried to be extremely active on Facebook while taking care of his wife and kid.

Effects? Top10 game on IndeDB 5 weeks in a row and still going strong. Incredibly high playrate compared to other games. One of the most popular games on Kongregate this month, and on top of that - his game was noticed by people like Markiplier and dozens of other YouTubers.

Because of the enormous interest in his game, DroneLocker is slowly working on Antumbra 2 - a game he would've never created if it wasn't for his countless hours spent on answering every single message online.

4. Interesting examples from the start-up world

If the last 3 ideas isn't enough, check out some of the Doing Things That Don't Scale examples from the Start-Up world. Maybe you could tweak them and use for your marketing campaign?

Doing Things Don't Scale worked wonders for Buffer

First 2,000+ customers acquired thanks to DTTDS for Groove

Stanford Start-Up course was amazing!

HelpDesk had to manually enter data, but it paid off!

Remember, DTTDS strategies take a lot of time to implement, but they cost you nothing and could be extremely effective as shown in the examples above. You just have to figure out a way to apply this process to your marketing strategy.

If you don't know how to apply this article to your game's marketing strategy or don't even know how to market your game at all, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]. We will figure something out! :)

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