Six months ago just hearing about marketing , PR made me feel weird, guilty and a little sick. Then, somehow, I realized that I would have to face it. Without marketing, all time invested in the game Rats “Time is running out” would be a pure lost or it would stay a hobby practiced at high cost.
For months, I surfed the wild web in a quest to find the key of indie game marketing’s knowledge.
Know what? I found no key at all but tons of real interesting info.
The last few days I’ve made a little reading session of 1 week to search some up to date and relevant info about indie game marketing and I’m about to share it with you.
I’ll begin with, at my point of view, the kind of “Bible” about indie game promotion.
I strongly recommend you to sit down, watch these two videos and take notes.
How to apply science to marketing
Where do we start:
If your Lazy here the Transcript
Contents of a Marketing Plan
These sections of a marketing plan are listed below.
Game Marketing: Part 1 – Defining your Marketing Strategy
Assuming you are at the beginning of the process, there are 2 key artifacts you need to create:
• Marketing strategy
• Marketing plan
I advise you to keep these two things separate, at least, in the beginning. I recommend this because thinking strategically about something is very different to thinking tactically or focusing on the more tangible parts of a plan.
• Don’t visit Twitter and forums only to post an update on your game’s development. If you’re not a part of a particular community, it’s better to not spam there at all. (Some may not agree with this, but IMO it’s kind of a scumbag move.)
• Don’t play the ‘Top-secret project’ game! If you don’t show how cool your game is, then no one will know how cool your game is. Unless you’re already a successful developer, but then you wouldn’t be reading this, right?
Seriously, it’s a gold mine without guards. However, despite all of that info available freely I keep seeing the one puzzling mistake that indie devs repeat over and over again. It’s the way they describe their game to the gamers.
Here’s what you would usually find on the developer’s website or their Steam Greenlight page:
– Unique and engaging gameplay
– Multiple game modes
– Fifteen different levels
– Dangerous enemies
– Robust multiplayer
You think I am exaggerating? Go to Steam Greenlight, click on a few random pages, experience madness.
I mean congratulations, mister developer – you are already better than some devs who slap a Chinese Wall of text on the page, forgetting the invention of paragraphs, let alone bullet points. Still, you are not selling me anything here. You are actually sabotaging your own creation.
Let’s recap: You can reach out to the press when you announce your game, though that may only work if you have name recognition from already releasing a successful game, or if you’ve previously worked at a big developer and have a strong track record (like the Yacht Club Games crew). Beginning Alpha and Beta testing, starting a Kickstarter campaign, and going on Steam Greenlight or Early Access are also great times to look for press.
One of the best ways to catch people’s attention is by drawing inspiration from a concept in the film and televsion world: the logline. A logline is a one- or two-sentence summary of a script that communicates crucial story and plot elements with an emotional hook.
1. A logline must have the following
– the protagonist
– their goal
– the antagonist/antagonistic force
AAA Season – September to November
As stated, avoid this release window at all costs. This season is specifically reserved for the AAA giants that want to release their biggest IPs before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The holiday shopping season belongs to gaming’s biggest players, meaning you need to wait until…
Late July – August
Late July and most of August is also a dead month for game releases – specifically because AAA studios are getting their biggest properties ready to be launched during the AAA season (as mentioned above). The tail end of summer is a great time to release your new indie game, as the chances of your indie game getting overlooked by a AAA game is pretty slim.
If there’s one word that excites PC gamers, it’s “sale.” Humble Bundles and Steam promotions often drive people to buy more games than they know what to do with, which can be lucrative for game developers. Still, it’s not so clear if sales are a good or bad thing for devs.
Steven Honders is part of a six-person development company called Speelbaars. You might have never heard of them, but they are working hard to change that — they plan to launch their first game, Lumini, Q2 2015. Speelbaars and any other small team looking to market their product on a limited budget can take advantage of what we learned from our discussion with some of the most successful independent game developers to date.
We’ve highlighted some key points, as well compared Speelbaars’ answers to the seasoned developers to check to see if this new game dev company is on the right track.
The Binding of Isaac had an average of 150 sales a day shortly after release, but it skyrocketed to more than 1,500 copies a day seven months in. The reason? YouTube.
When you’re ready to get in touch, be sure to send emails instead of using YouTube’s built-in messaging system. If you do the latter, you’ll almost certainly get lost in the deluge of spam.
In your email…
• Be brief.
• Be personal and relevant. Don’t send a bland, heartless form message.
• Explain what makes your game worth playing and entertaining to watch.
• Link to a trailer or in-game footage, if you have it handy.
• Include a way to download your game. Whether that’s a Steam key, link to a file or otherwise.
Twitch fills a different function than Google’s video site, its 55 million users are just as important. Heck, last spring it accounted for 43.6% of all live video streaming traffic on the web.
What’s your preferred way to receive a pitch for coverage from a game developer? What should the pitch contain to make it easiest on you to feature it?
Honestly bog-standard PR releases explaining the game, containing a code and info on who to contact if I need more info is what I want. I’m not a fan of the whole “saw your channel, loved it” thing unless you can really prove it–comes off as fake, especially when people copy and paste the wrong name. all I really want is the elevator pitch, some photos, videos, gifs to show me what Im’ getting into, and immediate access. If I have to email back I’m a lot less likely to bother with the game if it’s borderline. I’ll almost always check out a steam code or download. Also this might sound weird from the outside, but embargos are great. I love being able to play a game for a week, heck even a month before go live and collect my thoughts, do a real careful look, make a perfect video. I hate that rush to cover new stuff, really stresses me out.
Facebook groups for indie developers are one of the best ways to connect with other indies around the world. In these groups you can ask other indies for advice or discuss about various topics of development.
Indie game developers face an uphill battle in competing for attention with giant brand owners, but here’s some tips that they can use to level the playing field.
Generally, the main things a games developer is thinking about when considering what to focus on for their next title are which platforms they will target, what theme and what type or genre of game. Sure, these are incredibly important decisions but as we go into 2014, I would suggest that there are some other decisions that need to be made that will have a bigger impact on whether you succeed or fail. That’s a big claim, but things are moving so fast in our industry and competition is so intense that it is justified. 2014
1. Facebook Integration
If you don’t already have your own social network of players, then the last thing you should be trying to do is build one. Many of the large social networks have provided APIs so that you can use established networks of players that have already invested considerable time building links to their own friends online. Leverage those. By integrating existing networks into your game (and you can integrate more than one), you encourage players to do your marketing for you.
Leaderboards are probably the oldest social feature used in games and are used to increase the level of competition amongst players by ranking them in a variety of ways with the aim of generating more game play.
Pac-Man celebrates his 33rd birthday this year. Wow. I’m sure it’s hard to believe for those of us who fed the yellow monster quarters and penny’s galore throughout the 80’s. Well, harder still to process is the fact that in many ways Pac-Man set the template for social games almost 30 years before the term was proliferated.
Now you may have a Idea of what you have to do and it’s a lot of work for a small team. This sound scary, you’re probably the only one in your team who have ability or some interest in all this wisdom. This seem to much work for one man with only 24h In a day.
This next article may help with your daily routine.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.
A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. An intellectual mise-en-place. Bourdain envisions the perfect execution before starting his dish.
Let me know if you find some relevant content not included in this list. And the usual typo of a french speaking lumberjack …