Marketing for Indiegame Developer

Part 1: Why, What, When, How and Where

What's in this chapter?

This is the first part of Marketing for Indiegame Developer series. Think of it as super quick introduction to the world of marketing with aim to answer fundamental questions of "why", "what", "how" and "when". ## Why always start with "why"? "Why" is probably the most important question we can ask. It is a magical word, a learning fuel for our brain. Answering the Why before you dive into independent game development might be the only thing that will keep you motivated and keep you going when you need it the most. >How do you explain when things don't go as you assume, >or better, how do you explain that others are able to achieve things >that seem to defy all of the assumtions? Those are the opening words from Simon Sinek TED talk on "How great leaders inspire action". Read that quote again and give it a moment to sink in. ## Why should you read this article? "Why" is especially important when it comes to planning game development endevour. Why? Because your success depends on it. If you anything like me, you might find writing code (talking to the computer) so much easier and surely more logical than marketing activities (talking to other people). This whole series is the result of long hours of research done by your fellow indie developer ([@IndieForger](https://twitter.com/IndieForger)) aiming to reveal "the way" of maximising the success of your game. Think of it as a guide to marketing, from one dev to another. Sounds useful? Let's dive right in to it. ## What is marketing? In broader term, marketing is the set of activities that can be described as means of communication between the company and the client (gamer). Those are: - **Communicating externally** - talking to people (other than your family, friends and co-workers) and asking questions - **Stuff you pay for** - advertisment, sponsorship, tradeshows, etc. - **PR (Public relations)** - asking people to write about your game. - **Social** - asking people to talk about your game, talking to your players. In a nutshell... >### Marketing is telling the world about your game. ## When to start? As soon as you have something to show. It can be a single screenshot, logotype, proof of concept (POC), a little demo. The more you have to show, the better results you will get. The earlier you do it, the more you will achieve. ### What to show? I can not stress enough how important is to NOT show broken stuff. If your game badly crashes at start, don't put it out there until you have fixed it. If you made a screenshot of the gameplay before replacing cubes and squares with shiny assets, it might be worth delaying showcase few days, or even weeks. Long story short **show only content that resembles what your game really is**. There are some exception from this rule but as a general principle remember Internet likes to keep the record of your activities, so make sure first image that shows up in the search results is the one that you expect. Removing content from the Internet, especially after it went viral, is often an impossible task. #### Plan before you start Before you start spreading the word and sharing your game with everyone out there, figure out the strategy. Best to your knowladge, try to estimate expected release date and take it from there. You don't have to plan every single detail but at least have a rough milestones for the project with a sentence or two about the type of content you are planning to present to the world and through which media. ## Marketing effort over time Below asci chart should give you veig idea on how much time should you spend on marketing over time, throughout the whole game life-cycle.
marketing
effort
  ^
  |             x <- release month
  |             |
  |         x   |   
  |         |   |   x 
  |     x   |   |   |    
  |     |   |   |   |   x       
  | x   |   |   |   |   |   x   x
  +-+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+->
                    time (months)
## Where to start? Here is the "must-have" checklist that you need to complete before even thinking of releasing the game. ### Company Website In a perfect world, you should have business site and game site for each game. That will help to identify you by both your brand name and your games. Also, not every gamer is interested in your business related or technical news. If you are just starting as independent developer, multiple websites might be an overkil. One site is easier to setup and manage, cheaper to maintain. If you go with one site remember about creating landing pages with obvious call to action per game you make.

Development Blog

There are few of very important reasons why you should have development blog. Firstly, it allows gamers to check the progress of the game. More importantly though, it will generate traffic redirecting visitors to landing pages. Last and not least, it facilitates interaction.

Try to blog at least once every week but more you do it, better it is.

Social media presence

Regardless of the game you make or size of your studio, social media presence is a must. There are many different platforms and techniques to use social media and that topic deserves a writeup on its own.

You should use all your social media channels to broadcast the message at least every time you blog. But more you do it better effect you will achieve.

Facebook Account

Create Facebook page for your company. This is where you should share interesting development stories and technical updates. Use it to connect to both other developers and gamers interested in you, not only your games.

Additionally create a page for your game and use it to share game updates, screenshots and gameplay videos. You can also share here the most interesting or funniest development stories as well but remember, that not every gamer is interested in algorithms, software or techniques you using to develop the game. Facebook page serves primarily to create and connect with game funbase.

Having updated facebook pages will allow you to come up high in the search listing when someone will google your game or your company. Keep them up to date.

Twitter Account

We could argue which one is more important, Twitter or Facebook. You have to decide for yourself. Just keep in mind important doesn't mean one you feel more comfortable with.

I would suggest that you use twitter in paralel with Facebook to announce both technical updates and game news. There are many gamers on Twitter and many developers too. It takes time to build up followers and get momentum so earlier you start better results you will get.

Never use Twitter to beg game journalists and bloggers to review your game or to argue with gamers or other developers. There are some missrable examples of developers who lost trust because of their inability to communicate.

A Trailer

You just have to have it. Trailer is the best way to attract potential gamers to your game. It is absolutly required and not expensive to produce.

Once you have it you can always use it on your blog, website, link it in the email, press release or social media update.

Few tips for making the trailer for your game:

  • show the gameplay
  • have sound and music
  • keep it short (under a minute)
  • entertain the viewer
  • record it and publish every time you reach a milestone

PLayable demo

It isn't critical but having it and linking to downloadable version when you asking for review increases chances of getting one.

It is just good to have it. You can show it to journalists, use it on tradeshows and conventions and even let player players to download from your website if they wish to try your game before purchasing.

RSS Feed

RSS Feed isn't critical but way to provide fans with yet another way to view news regarding your company.

Where to go?

Game networks directories

  • GameSpot,
  • IGN,
  • Eurogamer

Sites

  • pocketgamer

- toucharcade

Tradeshows

  • http://www.gamescom-cologne.com/
  • http://www.gdconf.com/
  • http://www.paxsite.com/

Festival and awards

What to announce

  • start of the development
  • work in progress updates
  • previews (close testing, alpha)
  • demo
  • video
  • interviews
  • profiles

Resources

Videos

Published by IndieForger