Haley Uyrus is marketing manager at Failbetter Games. She’s on Twitter here: @
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.
Knowing Your Audience
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter F. Drucker
Did you make your game because you like playing games and wanted to turn something you love into a career? Because you see games as an important art form? To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter: if you want your company to survive, your business goal is to make money—to sell your game.
Of course, you may have more personal goals for the game, but ultimately you’ll probably want enough profit to enable you to keep making games. In a traditional business landscape, an entrepreneur or CEO would begin by researching the market to find where there’s a gap, allowing them to create a product that is viable for profit. They’d know their target audience from the very beginning.
The games market is a crowded one. Over 500 mobile games are added daily and 4207 games were added to Steam in 2016. Most indie games were probably developed more because of creativity and passion than deliberated market research. This means that knowing your audience is that much more important.
No marketing can be done without understanding who will be most likely to buy your game. How else will you know where to market your game? Which features to push? Which publications and streamers to get involved? Every marketing strategy question will come back to ‘Who is my target audience?’
Helpful Tips on Finding Your Audience
How do you define your audience? First, ask yourself: what platforms will the game be on? What genre is the game? From there you can do research into the demographics for certain platforms and genres. For example, we find that our Sunless Sea players on Steam often fall into the 18-35 year old male category.
Places to start your research:
If in doubt, look to other games that are similar to yours and see if there is information about their demographics. If possible, get in touch with the devs.
There are stats out there about which countries use which platforms, and how much players there spend on games—NewZoo in particular is a great resource. As you begin discovering your audience, you may even find that breaking down audience by country leads to an opportunity to extend your customer reach by localising your game.
Investigating affinity audiences may also help: these are people that may be interested in your game based on their other interests, passions and lifestyle choices. For example, people that like Star Trek may enjoy FTL. Using Google Analytics on your website is a great way to gather this type of audience information.
The best thing you can do to gather audience information is testing—surveys or polls, or even getting a few people to play your game, so you can collect qualitative data.
A lot of the developers I know often have created a game they want to play. This can be great from a design and gameplay perspective, but I think it’s worth mentioning that, when marketing, you should not make any assumptions. Marketing is, at its core, about research and testing. While some of your audience may be similar to you, you may find some players will be attracted to your game for completely unexpected reasons and will notice things you would not.
Marketing is quite a cyclical process: Research, Plan, Implement, Measure, Optimise and then back to Research. Your audience isn’t set in stone, so it’s important to continue to gather audience data and adjust as necessary. Once you begin to gain players, you may notice new trends, and be able to define your target audience even further.
Continue reading > Sharing Your Content…