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.
We’ve talked about community, but what about getting in touch with the press and other influencers? These people will send new members to your community, and without new people joining, your community could become a time sink rather than a valuable resource.
First step—create your list. Whether you’re using a spreadsheet or Mailchimp, it’s best to create the bulk of your press list early on, once you do it, you’ll only have to update occasionally.
Make sure you have all the major publications included first. Many sites will list at least a generic firstname.lastname@example.org, if they offer up more detailed information, make sure you can delineate between who does previews vs. reviews vs. news etc. If your studio releases on a variety of devices and platforms (console/PC/mobile), it’s good to tag them along those lines as well—don’t send your mobile game to PC Gamer or RPS!
It’s also good to look at which specific journalists cover games similar to yours. Much like defining your audience, it’s important to make sure the publications you’re adding are the right fit for your game, too.
I’d recommend making a separate list for YouTubers and Twitch streamers. You’ll be contacting streamers closer to launch, and generally want to use a more casual tone with them, so a separate list makes things easier. Contact streamers who will have specific interest in your game and its mechanics.
When should I contact them?
When you have something to show them, mostly. For the press, especially if this is your first game, get in touch with them when you have something to show—that could be an announcement trailer or a demo. Having something to show is great, but if you have anything for them to play that will always be better.
Unlike your community, they won’t want updates when every new feature is added, instead, save contacting the press for times when you have big news like partnering with another studio or releasing Early Access.
Consider the timing:
- don’t send out a press release during E3 or any other busy events
- make sure a slew of big AAAs aren’t releasing
- generally avoid the pre-Christmas window, which will be overcrowded
Journalists are busy and thrown hundreds of games, so don’t be afraid to politely check in with them if they haven’t answered. Try to be as personal as possible—besides sending out a blanket press release, send out more personal emails to important publications and journalists who are a great match to your game.
Remember that press are people too, so getting to know their likes and dislikes, and about them personally, will help you develop good working relationships with them.
A few quick tips
- Don’t forget timezones! If most of your list are US publications, don’t send it out at 9:00 BST
- Generally it’s better to send out press releases Tuesday–Thursday
- For press reviews, ideally start sending out keys for press review 3–4 weeks ahead of your launch
- Unless you have a specific planned review with a YouTuber, send out keys to streamers much closer to launch, a week or less
What should I include?
It’ll increase your odds of being covered if you add assets to your news press releases (trailers, demos, GIFs, a new batch of screenshots etc.), and your information should be structured to shout about the best bits first.
Include any directions or info that will make the process as frictionless as possible (like if there’s a particular trick to getting the build running). Be sure any embargoes are clear and unmissable, and always make sure there’s a clear link to your press kit—and keep it updated!
Continue Reading > Spending Money on Promotion…