Marketing is half the game
* Note: We have released a few games without much marketing other than social media and have done well but are far from where we want to be. With our next title GunnSwitch for Steam and PC we will be marketing the game before development even begins and following all the below steps to see the difference in downloads/plays.*
Hello fellow indie game makers and enthusiasts.
Have you heard the stories? An indie game developer spends over a year crafting a spectacular game and it then gets released to the public and no one plays it. The broken hearted game developer then gets discouraged or even quits making games altogether because its "impossible" to find success. This familiar tale has been told countless times over and over in game Dev forums, reddit, gamasutra and around the web. Yes it is very difficult to break through but nothing is impossible.
I myself have not found substantial buzz over even one of our games yet. Though this true I have learned quite a bit about the game industry and have started to work on a good marketing foundation to build and promote my future games to the masses. We as indie game developers are up against big corporations with millions of dollars to spend on advertising and with connections that we can only dream of. We are also up against each other and the thousands that have started making video games every week vying for the gaming world's attention.
Forget the Flappy Bird dreams and ground yourself in the real world. Flappy Bird was like winning the lottery and you know those odds are not the greatest. We need to embrace the evil beast that is marketing and make it a passion that we look forward to doing just as much as creating our little dreams. As an indie game developer we wear many hats, we have to design our games, program them, make art assists, music, sounds, and market our own games. A very challenging prospect, especially if you are doing it all alone. Well if you want to be an indie developer you have to be hardcore and passionate about your art, and that means you're going to have to fit marketing into your schedule somehow. You are going to have to take marketing very seriously if you want people to find your games and in turn make yourself a living doing something you love. I think its worth it.
Here are some things you should do right away if you haven't yet:
Make a home page. Your home page will act like a hub for all the other sites you are going to have to manage weekly and is a great way for your players to get to know you and your games. There are plenty of free web site builders to use, we use WIX.com and it does the job just fine. If you have the money having your own domain name is a big plus and looks more professional.
Get Social. Yes you've heard this buzzword before. This means its time to set up a Facebook Page, a Twitter Page, and a Youtube Channel. This should be the bare minimum. There are many more sites out there and if you can manage it, create pages for your studio on as many as you can. The more sites you are on, the more back links you'll have for Google to find you and gamers alike. Make sure that you can update them all, even if its with the same information, pictures and videos. Some other social sites include Pinterest, Google +, IndieDB, Vimeo, LinkedIN, and Tumblr etc. Another social site that is worth the effort is Twitch, if you have the capabilities to stream online this is a great way to build a community if you do it regularly enough. Reddit can be really good too but they have stricter guidelines when posting your links for self promotion.
Forums. Join indie game Dev forums and get to know your fellow game Dev's. Learn from their experiences and postings and share your own tips and experiences too. Here you can find some game testers, you can also promote your games, find team members, and network and promote to your hearts content.
Hash tags. If you are on twitter these hash tags are useful: #screenshotsaturday for sharing your games screen shots every Saturday. #indiedev and #indiegamedev for sharing anything indie game Dev related.
Start promoting your games early, learn to use social sites effectively. If you can learn to make a game then learning how to use social media is something you can do. It takes time, discipline, patience, consistency and commitment.
Below are some very handy links to the press, Youtubers and Twitch streamers:
The Press and Press Kits.
Here are a few sites you can submit a proper press kit to (we will be going deeper into press kits in an upcoming part in this series):
Youtuber Players and Reviewers
This is all good information though a lot of it is regurgitated all over the web and many of us still can't even get close to getting our marketing game in order. Follow us to see how we implement different strategies and see the results.
Until next time