If you want to get your game in front of the right players, the ones who will love it and aggressively encourage their friends to play, you need to have a great marketing plan for that game. Whether this is your first game or your tenth, you need to create a new marketing plan—resist any desire you may have to borrow from someone else’s plan or use the same plan from your last game. Knowing who and what you need to address, and how to make sure you build the right plan for your game, will be essential to achieving success. Here are the top five things your game’s marketing plan needs to address:
- How are you going to distribute your game? Most developers, especially those working within the indie or casual categories, have a range of distribution channels to choose from. Casual games have a range of platforms designed specifically for players who want to get on and play a quick game or level of a game during the day. Games that have to be installed on a computer, however, usually need more permanent, read trusted, platforms. Many companies choose to market their game just through their own website, while others may pitch the game to retailers or portals.
- Why do you want to play your game? While this might sound like an odd question, you probably created your game with a specific kind of player in mind. Is it the casual player? Or do you want your game to develop a devoted cult following? Are your players preteens, teenagers, young adults, or adults? Are they men or women? There is no such thing as a game that will appeal to all people of all ages. Getting to know your “target audience” will make it much easier to decide how to market your game.
- What is your website going to do? In today’s game marketing, the question isn’t “Do we need a website?” but, “How are we going to use our website?” Are you going to sell your game directly through your website, either through a direct download or a shipped disc? Will you use your site to host your user forum? Or are you going to use it just as marketing tool, complete with a game demo that can help encourage those who visit to buy the full version of the game.
- If you are going to offer a demo, how much of the game will be included? The demo’s goal is to let players have a glimpse at how fun, unique, and challenging your game is, without spoiling the entire game. Once they complete the demo, they should want nothing more than to buy the full version of the game so they have access to the features and levels that are cut out of the demo. This works amazingly well in game marketing. For example, EA used a free download of the “Create a Sim” portion of Sims 4 to market their game late last year.
- How are you going to get the word out? There are thousands of different channels to choose from. If you already have a network of loyal fans, it will be easy to market your game to those individuals through email announcements or social media sharing. If you are a new company or one with little recognition, you will probably need a more aggressive and diversified marketing strategy. Creating custom audiences on social media platforms, sending samples to gaming magazines, sending press releases to relevant news outlets, working with bloggers, running a contest, submitting the game for awards, and even “old fashioned” tactics like placing banner ads or buying ad space in popular games are all viable options.
Of course, a game marketing plan doesn’t end here. You’ll still need to pick your channels, clearly identify your goals, decide on a price, and actually put everything into action. These five things will get you started in the right direction.
Jovan Johnson is a California licensed attorney who focuses on SEO, mobile games, and apps. He is passionate about mentoring students and steering dollars to scholarships, and speaks regularly about career opportunities. He is a principal at Johnson Moo, Furzy, Paymaster.Co, and 320 Instrumentals.