Without marketing, the game that you have put enormous amounts of effort into may simply disappear into the abyss of ‘games that could have been great’, without ever seeing the light of day or the players that it deserves.
As an intrepid indie game developer ready to unleash your amazing game on to legions of eager fans, you’ve probably realized by now that there is a lot more to producing a successful game than simply making the game.
With the sheer number of excellent indie games in the market, even the best of them may go completely unnoticed without one important piece of the puzzle — marketing.
So, you’ve decided to implement a marketing strategy. Unfortunately, not all marketing plans are created equal, which means you’ll have to put a bit of effort into implementing an effective marketing plan.
Specifically, one that is tailored to the needs, habits, likes, and dislikes of gamers.
Essentially, a marketing plan involves public relations, or “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics”.
Here are a few basic tips for PR:
- Only show off finished assets
- Never mention the competition
- Avoid direct interactions with fans
- Don’t generate buzz too early
- Let the game speak for itself
If you’re shaking your head at these marketing rules, then you’re already a step ahead of the competition.
According to Wolfire’s John Graham (Co-Founder of Humble Bundle), these are exactly the opposite of what you should do to market your game and build a fan base.
Unless you open yourself up to sharing your development process and interacting with the gaming public, while active promoting the strengths of your game, you and your game are unlikely to see any return on all of your hard work.
With that in mind, these are real ideas for developing and implementing an effective marketing strategy for indie game developers:
First of all, while your game is in the open development process, you should begin to implement your marketing plan.
To start, get out there and make friends and build a community of like-minded gamers and developers.
Participate in message boards and groups on social media, keep a regularly updated blog about your game, guest blog, and keep your social media profiles active.
During development, you should “make noise” about your game and the process.
Be open and be real in your communications on various platforms and be a regular contributor to the conversation, while giving insight into your game and your own development process.
Allowing people to see your process and even interact with you on a personal level gives them an insight into what goes into producing your game.
When they are able to see the process, they feel more interested and connected, and at the end of the day, people are more likely to buy something from someone that they like.
Share concept art, inspiration, and personal insights — anything that you experience in the development process.
One important note: everything you share does not have to be just about your game.
Make small talk, discuss things you have in common with your audience, make friends.
Don’t be afraid to be the one to reach out.
You may have to initiate contact by sending cold emails and messages.
Casually talk about other games indie games and developers that inspire your own work.
Also, embrace cross-promotion opportunities that come up, like guest blogging and sharing other developer’s work on your own platforms.
Remember, it’s all about building and becoming part of a community.
Your community doesn’t have to be just online.
Attend parties, meet ups, conferences, and conventions where you can interact with gamers and fans, continuing to build your brand, interact with the gaming press to boost promotion, gain support from a fan base, and make connections that may become important farther down the line.
Building and maintaining your community may be easier said than done, so in part 2 we’ll talk more about the specifics of communicating as your continue to implement your effective marketing strategy.
Interested in becoming a game developer or improving your current development career as an indie? Get to know the industry insights and stay updated on the latest game development marketing news here at GameFeatured!