Whenever I ask indie devs what they’d like to know about marketing, a lot of them respond saying they have no idea where to begin. With this in mind, I went to Develop this year to give advice about how to get your game on people’s radar. I considered five key areas of discoverability:
- knowing your audience
- sharing your content
- nurturing your community
- contacting influencers
- and spending money on promotion
The following is a broad overview to be used as a jumping off point for further research. Each game is unique. Marketing plans should always be individually crafted. Also due to its absurd word-count, the blog has been split into 5 parts, and linked conveniently above.
Sharing Your Content
Knowing who your audience is will inform where and how you share your content. Of course the first thing you want to do is to find out which social platforms your audience prefers.
Your game can help you to decide which platforms should be your focus. If your game has a unique art style, think Instagram or Tumblr; if it involves a lot of strategy or stats, start up a subreddit.
Also consider how comfortable you are with certain platforms. If there’s one that’s going to be excruciating for you to use and you’re more comfortable with other platforms where your audience also exist, then it’s fine to focus there.
So, what sort of things can you share? Anything really, as long as it’s material your audience likes and you’ll learn that as time goes on. Some starting points:
- Game updates
- Dev blogs
- Fan art / Cosplay
- Promotional news
Besides using social media platforms to speak to your audience, it’s also vital to have a designated space to keep all of the main facts about your game (release date, game description, features, price, etc.). Typically you may already have this in the form of a press kit, but you’ll also want this information to be available to your fans, whether it’s on your website or available via whichever store pages you’re on (Steam, GOG, Itch.io).
There are a few other things to keep in mind once you begin sharing content:
When should you start sharing information about your game to your audience? The sooner the better! As soon as you have a concrete concept of what your game is going to be and when you have something to say.
The longer you have to build your community, the better off you are—the goal is to already have a fanbase when your game is ready to launch. Without a marketer on your staff this may be daunting to think about, but you can scale back how much you share and how often, and then ramp it up ahead of your launch.
- For PC/Premium games, begin sharing at least 6 months ahead of launch*
- Keep timezones in mind, post when your audience is awake
- For big announcements, make sure it’s not during a public holiday, big games conference or a day where long-awaited AAAs are releasing
*This recommendation is for games that are not going through crowdfunding. If you’re considering a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign, that is a whole different beast, and you’ll need to start much further in advance.
Once you start up a social channel for your game, it’s important to keep a consistent schedule for posting regular content. If you aren’t consistent, fans may lose interest in the game or even confidence in your studio.
Be realistic. Plenty of articles will say things like, “Five posts a day is most effective for Twitter,” but if you don’t have a dedicated marketing person, that might be difficult, so pick a schedule you can stick to.
Framing for Clarity
Framing is how you present things to your audience. If you know who your audience is then you will be able to tell what features of your game to push and what images will be more enticing to them.
Framing is also important for clarity. For example, if you want to make sure that fans understand something you’re sharing from pre-production may change, try taking a screenshot or video from within your game engine, so people can see it’s a work in progress.
Your game may also have a certain atmosphere or dialect around it that you want to keep within the branding of your game, however, with marketing, it’s always best to make sure any messaging that goes out to your fans is absolutely clear. Don’t let the flavour of the game interfere with people’s understanding of the game itself or important announcements.
Continue reading > Nurturing Your Community…