promote your indie game

Where to promote your indie game

To promote your indie game in a professional way, you need to know where to go to get maximum exposure, discoverability as to be able to be found by your players.

Luckily, there are plenty of online places where you can promote your indie games as to try to maximize the chances for success.

So today, we’re taking a look at some of the best places for indie developers to promote their upcoming games and create the early buzz needed to achieve the indiegame marketing plan.

Where to promote your indie game Table of Contents

promote your indie game - Player playing game
promote your indie game – Player playing game- Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

What are indie games?


Indie games are video games made by individuals or small teams of developers without the financial or technical support of a major game publisher.

One of the best examples of indie games is Minecraft. It is arguably the most successful indie game ever made, and has also won the Guinness World Record* as the “best-selling game with 200 million copies sold by May 2020”. Minecraft’s success can be seen as a result of the free marketing as a lot of the future players had found out about Minecraft through a friend, and a third through YouTube.

As the internet set out to change the world, software developers faced new challenges and a new industry: video game publishing. Games and experiences created in basements and bedrooms suddenly had a huge influence. For the first time, big publishers like Microsoft, Sony and EA had a credible competitor in game developer James Schmaltz and his company Digital Extremes.

Why can indie games fail? Three pitfalls to avoid


Why do indie games fail? And how can developers avoid failure? Here are three common mistakes and how to avoid them.

A- No marketing spend or strategy

promote your indie game - Marketing strategy
promote your indie game – Marketing strategy – Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com


Before starting your game, you might wonder how much budget you can spend on marketing your indie game. First, there is no “right” amount, and success is not tied to a specific budget. A high budget does not mean success, and a low budget does not mean failure.

However, it is understandable that funding is not plentiful in the first year or even the first few years, and for veteran indie games like Minecraft, the early bird advantage is probably one of the factors behind success. The excitement of the new almost always puts the lucky entrant first. This, however, is the exception. Most indie games rely on their own luck and marketing strategy.

Another good tip is to use free channels like social media and game newsletters to promote your game. You need to work on your marketing so that your audience understands why your game is worth buying, whether it’s for mobile, console, PC or all three platforms.

B- Lack of alignment with relevant platforms and channels.


With so many great gaming platforms and channels out there, how do you know which ones to connect to?

There are two platforms that are essential to any indie gaming strategy – Twitch and YouTube. Here we explain how these platforms drive engagement and why optimisation is essential.

Twitch

Since 2011, this live video streaming service has attracted millions of users: according to Twitch’s official website*, 7 million (or more) unique streamers go live every month, with an average of 30 million daily visits. Working with Twitch, developers can engage with viewers and streamers through influencer campaigns, game extensions, products and in-game incentives.

Making your game Twitch-ready during the development phase is usually a good idea to achieve promotion. This includes using the Twitch API in your game, as well as reaching out to existing streamers to test your game. Optimising your game for this platform early on will also optimise the likelihood of streamers finding and streaming your game.

YouTube.

Over the last years, the platform has built a loyal following of over 2 billion users. While it may be natural to go after the streamers with the largest market share, don’t exclude streamers with smaller audiences. Rather, it’s important to find streamers who like the genre of your game and play your game on the platform/console your game is designed for – like Twitch, your game should be YouTube-enabled at the development stage.

C- No long-term plan for the game or story


Here’s a common gaming myth: if your first game is successful, the sequel is sure to sell just as well. As tempting as it may be to update and tweak the original version, we recommend going back to the drawing board.

One of the main reasons gamers are drawn to indie games is originality. Keep this in mind when planning your long-term strategy for your game and its story. People looking for indie games are looking for originality, to have a unique experience that the big studios and their games don’t offer.

Use this insight to fuel your creativity, especially when it comes to your long-term plan for your game and its story. Without the pressure to create a polished sequel to your original game, this frees you up to create another game that delivers exactly what your audience wants.

1: Indie game and development forums

Indie game and developer forums are a great place to find potential players to check out your game. Forums are the perfect platform to promote your game, especially in the early stages. Forums have promotion and sharing forums where you can post screenshots, game trailers, download links, etc. Take advantage of it. Be active in the indie gaming scene and join these forums to help promote your game.

You can share and promote your indie games with the BB community in the “Showcase” section of the official Buildbox forums. We also have a promotion section on our Discord server. But don’t stop there! Join other indie game developer forums such as Touch Arcade and TigSource. Markus Persson “Notch”, the famous Minecraft developer, used the TigSource developer forums to find out more about his next game and get valuable feedback on the development process. Indie online communities are a great way to promote a game before and after its release.

As an example:

2: Social media platforms and groups

There are of course social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. All of these sites give you access to millions of people who want to play your game, and a recent study by Statista estimates that there will be 3.2 billion social media users by 2021. That’s a lot of potential players waiting to hear about your great app.

You can use different strategies to promote your game on social media. You can post promotions and updates, reach out to influencers, promote it in Facebook groups, and use a variety of viral marketing tactics to gain an advantage. Try several methods until you find the one that works best. The ultimate goal is to build a strong fan base around your app. People will get excited about your new toy and spread the word. It takes time to establish an indie studio or indiegame on social platforms, so start early.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.


Choose one or more popular platforms to create an online presence for your game or indie studio. Then add logos, game icons and information to your page to ensure consistency of posts. Then share screenshots of your game, cool new graphics or recently added characters, gameplay trailers, GIFs and teaser videos. And always include a clear call to action, such as “click here”, “download now” or “find out more”. And be consistent with your publishing schedule. Consistency is the key to success.

Get creative with your post imagery and captions to grab their attention. You can also reach out to game reviewers and community influencers to help promote your game. Do some research on the best people in your platform or niche and contact or message them. Some influencers play and promote your game for free, while others charge a fee.

Facebook groups


Facebook Groups are another great place to promote your indie game – you can find almost any group on Facebook, click the join button and instantly start connecting with people who share your interests. Find players who are passionate about retro gaming, racing, iOS and Android apps. The more exposure you get, the better. Many indie developer marketing groups are also on the list. Start a search and list the groups you want to join. Then try to incorporate them into your social media strategy. Here are some good groups to promote your indie game

Other interesting groups

Each Facebook group has different posting rules and guidelines, so be sure to check before joining and try to always deliver value also and not just trying to get value out of them, or you will usually find yourself banned from the group.

3: Discord Servers

An active server dedicated to helping Indie Developers, with more than 1800 engaged members consistently growing.

Very supportive, especially that of Heiny himself. With an impressive Twitter following of over 101k, he is consistently pushes out the news of quality Indie developers and publishers.

A fantastic server (and website) for those looking for work. Very user-friendly with jobs posting channels split out into specific skills, making it easy to find the roles. More than 6300 members offering or looking for work makes of it a very good server to hangon. 

Another active server of over 11,100 members, which independently of the size has been able to keep a community feeling to it. Plenty of support and advice on all things unity.

This is the place for Unity developers, publishers and people who like and use the Unity engine to hang out, socialise and lean on others to help when there is an unfixable problem in your way.

The biggest on this list with a thriving community of more than 63,300 Unreal Engine users, from all over the world. The aim of the server is to allow members to interconnect and exchange experiences and advices.. The server is filled with active channels of informative chats and questions rarely seem to go unanswered from the community. 

Viral marketing tips and advices.


If you are using social media to promote your indie game, use the best screenshots and visuals. The more attention you attract, the more likely you are to get people’s attention.

There are also other marketing techniques, such as promotional codes and targeted ads, that you can use to promote your videogame through social media. For paid apps, promotional codes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow players to get the game for free or try a time-limited version. You can also send promo codes to game reviewers and YouTubers for coverage.

Developers with bigger budgets can also place targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’re new to creating ads, take the time to learn the ropes. There are plenty of free online courses and resources available; the Facebook Advertising Guide offers a wealth of information on getting started with Facebook and Instagram ads; YouTube is also full of tutorials; and the Facebook Advertising Guide is a great place to start.

Also remember to try to cross-promote across all the different channels when using social media. This will give you a wider reach.

4: ProductHunt.

Another place to promote your indie game is Product Hunt, a cool discovery site where you can share and find new products and apps. Users, or “hunters”, can upsell their favorite products. If your product gets a lot of votes, it can be the “Product of the Day” and be featured on the site.You can upload your game for free to Product Hunt, but the number of votes counts. The number of votes determines how many people will see your page.

The goal is to get your game on Product Hunt. To do this, you either need to set yourself up using a tool called “Ship Pro” or contact the hunters and ask them to send you games. The hunters are the original members of the site and have the right to choose which products to display. Just like a social influencer, when a hunter posts a product, all of their followers will receive a notification to check out their game. The more followers you have, the more likely they are to vote and download your game. You can search for hunters through the social platforms on the site.

5: – Reddit Communities

Reddit is probably currently one of the best places online where to promote your game, they have a huge number of communities that can be more or less specific to game genres, and you will certainly be able to find the right one for your game.

Called the “front page” of the internet, Reddit is a huge community forum site where people post interesting news, videos, photos and memes. The site is divided into millions of topic-based communities, called “subreddits”, where users post, comment and vote on other content they share.

Reddit also allows gamers to promote their own applications through special subreddits such as Play My Game. Below is a list of popular subreddits where apps can be shared


Quick tips If you’re using Reddit, earn karma points by getting active in the community first. Don’t give the impression of spamming. The community is relentless.

6: Game review sites

Marketing your game on review sites can also help with discoverability and exposure.

Before you can start pitching your game to game journalists and review sites, you need to prepare your game and a press kit with all the details and best visuals of your indiegame. Once you have these basics in place, you just need to find game review sites to contact and journalists who cover your app’s niche.

Below is a brief summary of mobile review sites to consider.

7: Alternative digital stores for more exposure

Alternative Digital stores can expand your reach by exposing your game to more potential players. Most alternative Digitalstores are not as big as the other game or app stores, but they are effective options because they have less competition and constant traffic. Also, many of them promote new games on their websites and offer paid features that you can take advantage of.

promote your indie game - Steam DIgital Store
promote your indie game – Steam DIgital Store

Other Digital Store options.

  1. Steam
  2. Epic Games Store
  3. GOG
  4. Origin
  5. Humble Bundle
  6. Green Man Gaming
  7. Fanatical.
  8. UPlay
  9. Amazon

Conclusion


There are countless ways to promote indie games online. These were just a few examples. The secret is to start early and be consistent. You need to start promoting your games as soon as you have something to show, and you need to do it in a variety of ways. Create a game developer blog, be active on forums, post on social media, run paid ad campaigns, reach out to game critics, use sites like Product Hunt and Reddit. get your indiegame featured on digital stores and get people excited about your game!

what is a game hook - Braid visuals

What is a Game Hook? (2022)

With more than 600 hundred games released into the market every single day, being able to get the player attention and wanting them to player your game and no the remaining 599 ones, is key for game success. In the article we will help you understand What is a Game Hook and how you can define them to make your game unique to the eyes of the player.

Introduction What is a Game Hook

When making games, there is a question that should always be on the top of your mind. Why do player buy games?

Probably to play them. But there are games on the player’s shelf that have probably never been played. But, on the other hand, most people buy games to play them and not to be a piece of decoration on shelves.

But why do they buy game A and not game B because it has a higher rating on the principal gaming medias? Or because it has a higher rating on YouTube channels?

Generally, these are the things that draw my attention to a game. But they are not factors that compel players to buy a specific game. Every game must have something special, something that makes it unique at the eyes of the player, something that people who are interested in games, or the games genre, will immediately understand and excited about. Something that makes them want to play the game, something memorable.

In game development, we call this a “hook.” A good hook can make the difference between a player buying the game or not. In this article, we will try to give you some insights on how to find a good hook and how to create one that is so mind-blowing that no one will ever forget your game.

So, what is a game hook?


Although we have somewhat already started to answer the question the previous paragraph, let’s start to refine a little bit more the topic before getting into more details.

A game hook is something new, something that makes your game unique. It’s something that makes your game stand out in a crowded board game market.
In marketing, this is called the unique selling proposition. Hooks are therefore used as a key element in marketing your game.
The goal is to get people interested in the game and get them to try it out. And we want to get that message across as quickly as possible.

In an elevator pitch, the hook is used to explain what’s special about your game. After all, a hook is an interesting difference between you and your competitors.
We will get into some more examples below, but let’s get one example quickly out of the way: The unique idea of Jonathan Blow’s game Braid is a very good example of a hook:

A game where you can rewind the game to try different approaches to overcome the game challenges.

What is a Game Hook – Jonathan Blow’s rewind mechanic


This is the kind of idea that sticks in the mind and triggers player’s interest.

Can you get away with something like this? Is it really possible to rewind game player?

Why does the game need a hook?


To make it stand out from the rest, to make people interested and compel them to buy the game.
No matter how good a game is, it cannot succeed if no one plays it. Therefore, games need something to promote them. This can be one of many things. It can be unique game mechanics, an original theme, or a novel presentation.

The most important thing is that the designer makes sure there is something in the game that makes the player stop and learn more. I look at many games every week, but only a few make it to the next stage where I take more time to get more information about them.

These games have a strong hook that suits my taste. The hook may not work for everyone, but it should work for the target audience.

Press and media to cover your game


If you want people to remember, talk and write about your game, you also need a hook.
If that hook is something that makes your game unique and can easily be presented in a few lines of text, an image or a short trailer, all the better.


A good hook is an element of the game that players, press and retailers will instantly recognize without much explanation.
Put yourself in the shoes of a game critic or journalist. Your goal is to capture the attention of your audience and generate many clicks and visitors.

To achieve this, it makes sense to offer provocative and prominent topics. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an exciting topic or an innovative business model. Sometimes it is enough to be something completely different.

Take, for example, the case of “exploding kittens.” The marketing message for this game is: A card game for people who like kittens, explosions, and laser beams. Normally these things don’t go together, but somehow the idea of exploding kittens resonates with people.


It keeps people coming back.


The hook is not only important to sell the game. It’s also important to get customers to become regular customers.

For many games, this can be broken down into two aspects: Progression and personalization. For me, these are the most important motivators to keep playing a game.
And these motivating elements are often part of a good hook.


How to create a hook for advertising to get people interested in your game.


One important point should be made clear up front. The hook is most important in the sales phase of the game, but it is not enough to solve the problem just then. Already during development, you need to think about how to make the game special. How to make it stand out.

1. Define your target audience


As mentioned earlier, the hook is only as good as the target audience. Therefore, it is very important that you first have an idea of the target audience you want to address in your game. The goal should be to combine the hook, the target and the target audience as closely as possible. If this expression makes sense. Give an example.

2. Identify the hook area


To find great hooks for a game, you have to be good at evaluating hooks. A good way to do this is to study the hooks from other successful games. That will allow you to get used to successful hooks and how they are defined/integrated within the boundaries of the game. Below is a list of areas where other games have provided excellent hooks.

New perspectives on theme and setting.

Darkest Dungeon looks at dungeon games from a different angle.

  • The design explores what it’s really like to spend all day in a terrifying dungeon, and how this affects the protagonist’s mental state.
  • The uniqueness of this hook comes from the game’s setting, but is also supported by the very good art, the narrator’s voice, and the soundtrack.


Special components of the game.

  • Minecraft merchandising ( Swords, Cubes, etc)
  • Figure and miniatures

New Mechanic

Angry Birds

  • board games,
  • comics,
  • Motion pictures
  • serie tvs,
  • and other games.


New Technology

  • Blockchain ( Exploding Kittens)
  • Promotion of new production methods ( Esports – Clash Of clans)

New distribution models

Pokemon

  • Boosting games from other consoles generations
  • Storylines developed in many expansions
  • card games
  • augmented reality Pokemon Go.

Overall Features

  • Art and Design. The box art, logo and cover image of a crowdfunding campaign are very important for the first impression; the Name of the game.
  • Narrative & IP, IP can be helpful. Some people are encouraged to buy just because it says Star Wars, Marvel or Lord of the Rings on the product. This is a tactic used by Fantasy Flight Games with great success.

3. Make it clear and digestible

The key to a good hook is that it’s simple and easily understood. A hook has to grab a person’s attention and to do that it has to have a clear and digestible message. As they say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Remember that your hook doesn’t have to explain much. Its role is not to educate but to tease. Its job is to make the potential player interested in learning more.

When describing your hook think about the experience it will create for your players

Again the Braid’s example of the game replay mechanic.

4. Check if you can create more than one hook:

Coming again to the Braid’s example, there is a second hook associated with the game that was the incredible look and feel based on classic paintings and that made the game some thing impressive to look at, as it was really very beautiful and poetic game.

What is a Game Hook - Jonathan Blow's painting visuales in Braid
What is a Game Hook – Jonathan Blow’s painting visuales in Braid

5. Be fast

Sometimes it is enough to be the first one in a certain genre that goes to market.

What are some tactics to hook users once they played your game


Progress:


People who feel they have made some progress toward a certain goal are more committed to achieving that goal.
⇒ The theory of fun – the Flow of Fun

What is a Game Hook – The flow of fun

Loss Aversion:


As human beings, we strive to avoid pain. If you somehow manage to transport this kind of progress and customization across multiple sessions, it can also create another feeling. The feeling of losing something when you would stop playing the game. All the things you’ve achieved so far.

That is called loss aversion. A very powerful emotion. Because people really don’t want to lose something they invested a lot of time and effort in.

Envy:


Envy is an emotion which occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession
Game Example: Some player skins that will appeal to all players with low skillset.

Scarcity:


Not all items are created equal! Create unique items and make sure that players understand the different rarity levels.


Example: Crowdfundings Campaigns, Random items that appears on a very low probability.

Some references

Some references that you can use to know more about game hooks.

Clark Tank DEEP DIVE | How to Make Video Game Hooks: Part 1.

What is a Game Hook – Clark Tank DEEP DIVE | How to Make Video Game Hooks: Part 1

Chapters: 0:00 Setup 0:30 Introduction 0:52 Breakdown 1:18 Definition of a Hook 1:49 Component Parts 2:59 Example of a Hooky Game 3:32 How to Know What is Desirable 5:17 Two Types of Hooks 7:23 Choosing Which Game to Make 7:53 Evaluating Player Testing 9:05 Closing Remarks

Clark Tank DEEP DIVE | How to Make Video Game Hooks: Part 2

What is a Game Hook – Clark Tank DEEP DIVE | How to Make Video Game Hooks: Part 2

Chapters: 0:00 Introduction 0:19 Breakdown 0:39 How to Use a Hook 2:18 Hooks and Anchors 2:49 Anchor Example 4:20 How to Generate Hooky Game Ideas 4:38 Mashups 6:48 Evaluating Genre Overlap 7:49 Genre Twisting 9:05 Closing Remarks

Finding you game’s “hook” and more marketing tips

Not visible from here, you have to go to youtube.

What is a Game Hook – Finding you game’s “hook” and more marketing tips

51 Game Design Tips! 

What is a Game Hook – 51 Game Design Tips! 

Conclusion

The hook isn’t specifically a bit of text or an advertising claim, it’s just the special thing about your game that people remember.

black and white dartboard

Keys to indie game success: how to choose the right design

What do successful indie games have in common and how can developers choose a more successful design? In this article we will discuss some of the Keys to indie game success that any indie game developer can try as an overall strategy.

Keys to indie game success

The difficulty of getting visibility

In this industry, it’s hard to succeed without learning from others. But who should you learn from? We believe that the smartest thing to do is to learn from successful developers. Successful developers are less likely to attribute their success to luck every time they develop a new game. Only a small percentage of indie games break even. So what are the odds that developers like Jamie Cheng, Edmund McMillen, and Cliff Harris have multiple successful games? The likelihood of this being the case is probably low. There must be something other than luck involved here. So maybe it is these people (and many others) that you should research and listen to.

Keys to indie game success - Indie game developer
Keys to indie game success – Indie game developer- Photo by Darlene Alderson on Pexels.com

Just because someone has been successful many times doesn’t mean they know why. There may be something hidden in the person’s game process that is affecting their game. Study their game and look for patterns, but always take anything written, including this article, with a grain of salt. Regardless of who the author is.

When Good is just not enough.


The methods used by many beginners generally lead to a “good game.” It is common to look at a successful “Game X”, see all the possible mistakes, and decide to “Game X, but BETTER!” or “Game X, but IN SPACE!”. Some are also try the ideas arithemetics, if “Game X” is great and “Game Y” is fantastic, then if I do “Game X + Y” then the game will double in fun and attraction. This a dangerous approach where most of the game developers we know have somewhat fallen into. Don’t fall yourself into it.

To increase your chances of success, you need to make your game stand out. But how? Here’s how I go about developing a game.

  • Assess the quantity and quality of the game’s “hooks.”
  • Evaluate the marketability of similar games.
  • Consider how to describe and promote the game.

Each of these elements is explained below in the next sections.

Keys to indie game success - Game Player
Keys to indie game success – Game Player – Photo by Matilda Wormwood on Pexels.com

Game Hooks

Any game needs a hook – you want people to remember your game, talk about your game, write about your game, etc. For this to happen, you need to think of particular aspects of your game that can catch the attention of the player.

What is a gaming hook?

There isn´t a single definition but rather a group of different possibilities that have been used by game developers:

  • A hook is something new, something that makes your game unique.
  • It’s something that makes your game stand out in a crowded board game market.
  • In marketing, this is called the unique selling proposition.
  • Hooks are therefore used as a key element in marketing your game.
  • The goal is to get people interested in the game and get them to try it out.
  • And we want to get that message across as quickly as possible.
  • With an elevator pitch, the hook is used to explain what is special about your game.
  • After all, the hook is the interesting difference between you and your competitors.

In games, the hooks are often effective before the game is played. Hangers are interesting information that makes you want to try the game or talk about it.

For example, the game “Crypt of the Necrodancer” was able to become a hook due to the term “roguelike rhythm game” as it sounds so unlikely or crazy that it immediately grabbed people’s attention; A lot of people thought , “A roguelike that’s a rhythm game?” What an interesting Idea, I should try it!”
The game has other different set of game hooks, like:

  • The excellent music composition by a well-known composer. It has a soundtrack. Star power is the hook.
  • The graphics are pixelated, yet unique. Skeletons dancing and wiggling their hips are often commented on.
  • At conventions you have another hook – you can a lot of people trying to dance the game characters moves.


The more hooks you have and the more attractive each hook is, the more likely you are to catch player’s interest. It is therefore advisable to wait for a design that stands out on as many axes as possible. Ideally, every aspect of the project should be unique and attractive in some way. Gameplay, graphics, audio, name, story, development team, everything.

So the question that you should be trying to answer for your own game should be, What’s your hook like?

To answer it, you need to review all the different elements in your game and try to answer the question “how strong is this hook?” The more you will do this exercise the better you will become in defining the correct hooks for your game. If your game is still far from allowing this exercise then, you can practice by analyzing the hook of a newly launched game’s and following the subsequent sales results to check if your instincts were correct, and you’ll get a feel for it.

Market Analysis

When game developers hears or reads the word market or marketing, they usually become very stressed out. But, no need to panic. Market analysis doesn’t have to be a nightmare! It’s all about playing games in the genre you like and think about who will probably playing them and for what reasons.

Keys to indie game success - Marketing
Keys to indie game success – Marketing Analytics – Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Here is a simple checklist that we will apply in our games and maximize your Keys to indie game success:

  1. Find 10-20 games that you think are most similar to your game. Even though it’s hard to find similar games, you can look at the “most similar” games. Play them all, examine their hooks, and look at their sales results. Importantly, include games that don’t sell well. Try to get a feel for these games and come up with an explanation for why each game sold or didn’t sell. If you don’t have confidence in explaining why your game was a success or why it wasn’t, then you don’t have confidence in your game’s potential. If so, you may need to practice analyzing your hooks.
  2. Look at the size and composition of the market. Are there enough fans for these types of games to generate the sales numbers needed to survive? Are the top-selling games generating sufficient revenue? If not, you could be in trouble, or you could get lucky and be the first to popularize the genre or discover a new one – that’s how mega-hits are created, but don’t count on that happening to you.
  3. Analyze the kind of competition you would be up against. Sure, the MOBA market is huge, but do you really want to take users away from LoL or DOTA? To beat the giants, you would have to offer a very good gaming experience, one that you would be willing to abandon your friends who play LoL or DOTA for. Do you think it is within your reach? In contrast, there are many genres of indie games where individual games are played for 5-20 hours and then players move on. If you can provide a unique new experience in a genre they like, maybe that player will move on to your next game.

Entering the monogamous gambling market can be dangerous. It’s much safer to court monogamous players who love numerous games. So be wise in the taking the decision about the type of game you will be trying to make.

Keys to indie game success - Sales Perfomance
Keys to indie game success – Sales Performance – Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Calculating Sales performances

When analyzing a game’s sales performance (via SteamSpy, for example), don’t simply multiply the number of owners by the game’s price to estimate total sales.

If a game has been on sale for some time, there is always a significant discount somewhere, and it may even be offered in a somekind of bundle that will distort the sales volume. Do your homework, Google and sites like steamdb.info can tell you how much a game has bee discounted and if it was included in bundles.

Take these factors into consideration when creating your offer.

If the market is big and there are a lot of players, you may be able to make a profit even if the hook is weak.

Promotion

Most game developers hate game promotion!” And most of them will say: “I want to make games, not sell them.” But if game design and advertising were compatible, the difficulty would be greatly reduced.

If you have a game with a hook, you have to think about how to communicate to your players that hook in the trailer or in the digital store text. If the game’s hook is not conveyed well in either of them, then you are basically only relying on people to play the game, experience the hook, and spread the word about the game through their own enthusiasm and delegating that capacity to your players. If they are unable to experience the game’s hook then the game won’t spread and you find yourself facing a failure.

The industry’s biggest hits certainly spread by word of mouth because they are probably coming from very well know indies, or because they a very powerful ( and invisible) marketing campaign, but for the real game developer, it’s unwise to base your promotional strategy on indie hits virality.

The importance of festivals, awards, and the press is often downplayed by developers these days. I disagree. Sure, the awards and reviews themselves aren’t an important factor in sales, but many people need to hear about your game from a variety of sources before they watch a trailer or buy your game. Quotes from praise and reviews are also very useful to use on store pages and trailers. They can give viewers the impression that the game will be well received. If the movie has all those awards and great reviews, I might as well watch the whole trailer. And you can show a great hook while making the viewer feel good.

Game Trailers

Speaking of trailers: After the main game itself, trailers are the most important tool. Don’t put off planning your trailer until the last minute. Trailers are important and should be given enough time and attention. Don’t let the trailer become an afterthought after you’ve struggled to get to launch.

When you release your game on Steam or consoles, your trailer will be the first thing people see. If you do a poor job of communicating how great your game is, it will hurt your sales. If your trailer doesn’t communicate, it doesn’t matter how great your game is. Here are a few things you can do when planning for a good trailer.

  • Start early. When you’re creating a design for your game, think about what kind of trailer it could be. If you can’t think of an effective way to express the hook of that design in a trailer, it may not be the right design.
  • Keep it short We see a lot of indie trailers that are longer than two minutes. They should show the most exciting and thrilling parts of the game as quickly as possible and then stop. Preferably less than a minute. If the excitement wears off, people may stop watching. You don’t have to show them all the features of the game. You don’t have to show them all the features of the game! Show them some great things and then stop to make them want to know more.
  • Take Action People don’t want to see your company logo. They want to learn about the game. If you want to include your logo, IMO you should do it last.
  • It’s wise to show quotes from reviews and praise at the beginning, so viewers know they should pay attention to this trailer. But even then, keep it to a few seconds. The worst trailers are those that bore the viewer and make them stop watching.
  • Also, think carefully about the music. In general, players want to be energized, not put to sleep. (Unless you have a clever plan with slow music).
  • Be creative. As a game developer, you must be a creative person, right? Use that creativity to design a unique pendant with your own hang tag.
  • Hire a professional. Trailers are important to sell your game, so it makes sense to hire someone who can really make your trailer shine.

The value of ideas

They say game ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s true, most ideas are a dime a dozen, but what if you had a design that

  • Has a great hook.
  • Has marketability.
  • Is easy to promote.
  • Is something you’re excited about; and
  • You have the skills and resources to create it.


If you do, you’ll have something that might have some potential. Always remember, the hardest part is not only developing the game but also getting it right. Being a talented game developer is certainly a prerequisite for success, but it’s not enough.

The general rule of thumb, says that 80% of the game development process is set in the 20% of the game production process. Off course, coming up with a design idea that meets all of the criteria is difficult but we you have to be able to make it excellent. Because if not, the other other rule of thumb is that 99% of the time you will fail. In the indie world, the technical barriers have been disappearing and more and more games are being released every day, which makes it no longer a technical competition, but rather a creative competition.

Some general recommendations


Be honest with yourself when evaluating your hooks and comparing them to other games’ designs – is your core concept as appealing as Shovel Knight, Braid, Darkest Dungeon’s, or as brilliant as Hyper Light Drifter? Is there art, music, and atmosphere there?

Games like these are a good benchmark and can help you put your own designs in perspective. Of course, you don’t have to be as good or better than these games, but if your own designs resemble them, it would be wise to return to the starting point.

It is very important to analyze the viability of an idea before starting to develop a game. To some people, this method may seem tactless or lead to a “soulless” game.

But this method doesn’t mean that you will be making games that you don’t want to make. But rather make games that you will like to make and that will be profitable. The key to indie game success is blending your passion on making games with making sure that the games will be attractive and discoverable by players. If you are able to blend both perspectives, then you will be able to be in top 1% of successful game developers and leverage your capacity to make great games for years to come. If not, then you will be probably ending up in the great cementerry of indie game developers.

This is only a view and it doesn’t mean that it is 100% correct, there are many people in the world who create 100% of what they love without worrying about profitability and marketability, and they deserve all the respect.

But, if you want to rule out from the equation the luck factor, then you shouldn’t start developing games until you are sure that the design meets all the above discussed criterias.

Developing a game takes a lot of energy, time and money. If you choose the wrong idea, a lot of these critical resources will be wasted and will get you probably dead as a game developer.It is far less costly to wait another month while you search for new ideas and inspiration that will match your passion and your reason as to make sure that you have the most possibilities to have a great and profitable game..

indie game marketing

Indie game marketing : How to market your indiegame with 13 advices for success

With over 700 games released every day, the real challenge is not how to make a game, but how to get it to players. In this article we’ll look on Indie game marketing, and How to market your indiegame with 17 advices that will hopely lead you to success.

Also, According to VG Insights*, over 50% of indie games on Steam have never made more than $4,000, but the top 1% have made over $7 million.

If you are working on other platforms (such as consoles), you will probably face the same numbers that are apparently running against you and your objectives of making a successful game.

It’s been an uphill battle for indie games, but over the past five years, freelance studios and developers have taken advantage of advances to create console bestsellers that rival games produced by the big studios. This should be an inspiration to developers looking to make an indie game this year, but how do you know if you’re ready to release that game?

Around 85% to 90% of indie games fail to recover the investment made in creating the game. There are a lot of reasons why these numbers are here, and in this article we are going to see some of them.

What is an indie game?

An indie game is a video game created by an individual or small development team that does not have the financial or technical backing of a major game publisher. The term was coined in very early 2000s, and in the 2010s, it has become a common way for indie developers to refer to their own video games. Indie games are often made available for download through PC-based digital distribution platforms such as Valve Corporation’s Steam, but also through other means such as through online marketplaces and indie game stores.

The term “indie games” can be used for any video game that is made by a developer who does not have the backing of a major publisher.

Why do indie games fail? Two possible pitfalls

So why do indie games fail, and how can you avoid them? Are there some indie game marketing strategies that could be useful? Here are two of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Not looking a game development as a business

Companies don’t make games “for fun” or “to play their dream game.” They may be having fun or making their dream game, but their goal is to make money. If you want to make money as an indie developer, you need to approach it like a business. Here, from my experience, are some of the basic steps you need to take to be successful.

  • Draw up a business plan. Before you start, before you invest anything other than time and research, make sure you have a proper plan. Importantly, don’t do it half-heartedly.
  • A business doesn’t make money from its products. It makes money from selling the product. It is important to invest in the right business relationships. Go to industry unions and hold meetings and make calls. Learn how to talk to other business people and how to get contracts. Go to conventions and don’t attend any part of the convention – spend all your time in satellite meetup groups and fish for customers, publishers and potential contacts.
  • Spend a lot of time in public relations. Even a crappy game will sell with the right PR, and even a great game will not sell without PR.
  • Make sure your product (and plan to make more than one product) and costs (employees, office space, overhead) don’t exceed your initial money before you try to make a profit. Game development is a slow process. If you expect your first game or contract to take three months, make sure you have at least six months of funding in case it fails. Better yet, have enough for a year or two.
  • Your first product is unlikely to be a big success, and the same goes for your second and third. Statistically speaking and as an example, the break-even point in the mobile sector is about 10 games: companies that have made more than 10 games have consistently made more than $30,000 per game in the app store. By comparison, the average revenue for the first game is about $200, and the average for all games is about $1,000 per game. In other words, it is better to get used to it than to learn from it.

In short, if you want to make money as an indie developer, you need to think about how to run a profitable business, not just about turning your big game into the next blockbuster or to be the next Kojima. The same happens in other industries – you may be a great chef but your restaurant won’t be successful, you may be a great reader but your small bookstore won’t make money.

Not taking seriously the marketing part of game development.


Before you start your game, you are probably wondering how much you can spend on marketing your indie game. First of all, there is no “right” amount and success is not tied to a specific budget. A high budget does not guarantee success, and a low budget does not guarantee failure.

A successful marketing strategy starts with a thorough analysis of current trends and, more importantly, the people behind them. Specifically, we consider what your potential competitors are doing and what your potential customers are looking for. If you know your game genre or niche, be sure to analyze what the current niche leaders are offering and how the biggest titles in that genre are performing. This information will be invaluable when fine-tuning your game to meet the needs of your users.

There are a lot of misunderstanding in relation to marketing in video games, being the first and most common, that you would need to have your game fully finished before starting to think about marketing. This was probably true 15 years ago before the rise of indie games, but now, you don’t need a finished product to think about your promotional strategy. Moreover, you need a plan that constantly reflects the current state of the industry.

The number one mistake from studios around the world, is being a couple of months away from the game launch, and not having yet started their promotional campaign. No matter what you have heard on the Internet, there is no last-minute miracle solution to not having done correctly your marketing. Promoting any product, especially a video game, is not something that can be dispatched in a weekend. On the contrary, most of the games you like were marketed for months before you first heard about them. Bringing a new title to market is a painstaking process that can take six months to a year or more. When you factor in the time it takes to build a community, you can see why you should have started already.

The goal of the marketing is to understand if your game is unique enough to stand out. preferably before you start dedicating resources to it , and have some appeal the game audience.

Speaking of audiences, this first step cannot be completed without explaining the structure of the consumer market. We are usually grouped as ‘gamers’, but the group of people who can buy your game can be divided into multiple categories. We will cover this in more detail in the first two points of our advices and in the point related with creating communities and social media.

Indie mobile game marketing will be probably the same as for any other indie, with the difference of some specific different tools like for example ASO ( application search optimization).

13 things you need to do to market your game.

  • Understand the size of the game industry and the games ecosystem
  • Niche down and understand the players in it.
  • Make a game that players want to play.
  • Understand the game you are making
  • How to describe your game
  • Make an epic trailer
  • Build a marketing funnel
  • Network with platform owners and other developers
  • Optimize your funnel
  • Using festivals, press, streamers, and social media to get your wish list
  • Launching your game
  • Game updates and discounts
  • Prepare your next game

Getting ready to launch your indie game


In the early days of indie games, you could get away with very little marketing strategy. The idea of having a unique game outside of those developed by the big studios was exciting and fresh; in 2021, the same excitement that gamers have for indie games has evolved and matured a bit. They’re no longer “new”, but they can still be exciting.

One thing to keep in mind is that the timing of your indie game marketing may be different from your competitors. Don’t feel pressured to market your game earlier than you think is appropriate. There is no “right” time to market an indie game, it is more important to conduct market research, test your game, optimise all touch points and create compelling assets for your trailer, press kit, social media channels and app shop.

Marketing an indie game takes almost as long as creating the game itself. To help you understand the key priorities in marketing an indie game, we’ve included advice on what to prioritise, who to engage with and the impact these two steps can have on your game.

Preparing your indie game marketing before starting development

0. Have a plan a tools to control its progress

The first thing you need is to define a plan for your marketing activities, what would lime time frame, what will be resources ( people and materials), when will you start And most importantly, you need a way to track your progress and make sure that each step is being executed as intended.

But how do you actually plan a marketing campaign? This is big question, where the daunting of its size make post indies abort, or look for the advices of other people that will probably know more about it.

But, it is really not that difficult to do, if you have a clear understanding of the purpose of a marketing plan: Before and while developing your game, understand which people likes to play your type of game and how can you make them get aware of your game as to have enough of them buy it and recover your effort. In reality the activity will also continue after you have delivered the game to your players, but it will basically be the prolongation of the same activities that you will be doing while developing it.

By the definition, we can see, that there are iterative tasks that starts before the game is actually being developed, and that continues while the game is being bought by your potential players.

So that means that you can define your marketing plan in different elements that will help you define the different activities and control they effectiviness and results.

  • Stage – What is the current stage of development. As new features are added and the game becomes more sophisticated, you can tweak your content accordingly. Concept, Preproduction, Alpha, Beta, Release Candidate, Gold Master/Launch.
  • Audience/community – Define your audience, and what is the level of awareness of the game. Are they reading about the game, are they sharing material about the game, are they engaging with your studio to know, is there fan art, etc… Is your audience definition the right one, is it changing? Are you testing your game with focus groups to check the expectations of potential players?
  • Media/Influencers – Sometimes the two sections are merged into one, showing what you are planning with media and influencers. Do you have a big ad planned or a set date to start sending out keys? Maybe you are planning a series of sponsored posts or rounds of influencers. These all need to be listed here.
  • Platforms/Digital Stores – This is another community-related item, but it includes what you plan to publish on the various distribution platforms where you publish your game: are you working on a blog or a big community newsletter for Steam or another store? Be sure to track your progress here.
  • Promotional Activities – What festivals are conventions are you attending, what awards are you applying your game, what are the results.


As said previously, The content of the marketing plan is iterative and should be continuously revisited. However, think of it as a list of possible ingredients for success that you should make yours, and hot as a rigid recipe. It will probably contain items and procedures that are appropriate for your game and your game studio, and it may be quite different from other games or other game studios.


Is a plan 100% success guarantee?


A plan and its timeline is less about its structure than about what it prompts you to do, which will determine your ability to run a successful campaign. By writing down, in advance, your steps and the scope of your activities, you are training yourself to think ahead and imagine the path to your final goal.

If you use this method successfully, you can minimize risk and ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page.

By sharing the marketing timeline with with your team, you will ensure that all content is prepared and no one is left out of the loop, reducing delays and potential obstacles to the campaign being implemented. Finally, a proper timeline detailing your marketing plan is the minimum requirement to start reaching out to the press and influencers and other stakeholders in the communication process, which will allow you allow to estimate the required effort for the activities, and if it is something that you can do, or for which you will be needing external help hiring for example an indie game marketing company.

1. Understand the size of the game industry and the games ecosystem

The games market has been growing at a rapid pace and reached $175.8 billion in 2021, according to research firm Newzoo.

Indie Game marketing - Global Games Market to Generate $175.8 Billion in 2021; Despite a Slight  Decline, the Market Is on Track to Surpass $200 Billion in 2023 | Newzoo
Indie Game Marketing – Global Games Market to Generate $175.8 Billion in 2021 via Newzoo

The games ecosystem is vast and intricate, with developers, publishers, platforms, retailers, and consumers all having a role to play. Understanding the size and complexity of the games industry is critical for anyone looking to enter the market or invest in it.

Some of the games being released every year are so big and with so much resources that trying to get through the waves of their marketing is almost impossible. In the sameway, most of the games being released every year falls largely in the same know and successful genres, as First Person Shooters, Racing games, Third Person Action games, etc… Because they are associated with great results and because most of players wants to play them.

None the less, the number of players and their demography have been drastically changing over the recent years, which means that there are players for just about any genre of game, and probably some of them have a very low number of games available.

One tool that can help understand this reality is by using the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) a strategic tool that allows you to analyze how you are ranking against your market.

SWOT analysis is used by all companies, including game development, to self-assess their current position as a company and to understand the likelihood of achieving certain goals. A SWOT chart is usually presented in the form of a matrix, which is able to hint on what the company is good at, what it is not good at, what it can capitalize on, and what it can fail at.

Let’s look at each block independently.

  • Strengths: As you can imagine, strengths include things that your people are simply good at. Whether it’s the unique style of your art department, the skills of your coders, the expertise of your QA team, or the great PR contacts that you’ve collected over the years, this part of the matrix contains everything you can use to achieve your goals. But there is more to it than that. In order to get a complete picture of the company, the strengths section should also include any unique resources at your disposal and any past events that the community might view as positive. So if you’ve already accomplished something as a studio, it’s a good idea to include it here.
  • Weaknesses: As the saying says, the weak points section should contain details of things that your game studio typically have problems with. For example, are you known for falling behind in certain parts of the development process like quality or innovation, or project management? Is your online presence almost non-existent? These are all very important points to consider before starting a new project. Along with your studio weaknesses, project-specific weaknesses should also be included in this category. For example, if you are trying to make the next successful RPG game, but your artists have never modeled 3D Characters before, you may want to highlight the problem and invest in solving it.
  • Opportunities: Far from the discomfort of understanding your limitations, the ‘Opportunities’ section covers any external environment that supports your efforts. There are an infinite number of opportunities that a game development studio can receive, at least if you know how to look for them, so we will not give any examples here. Before we continue, however, let’s remember that this and the next part of the SWOT matrix are dedicated to external influences. For internal influences, you can group them under the categories of ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’.
  • Threats: Finally, as the last stage in the strategic process, threats are exactly the name hints at. competitors, dangerous situations posed by weaknesses, changes in trends – these are the variables you should keep in mind before moving on to the production stage. Threats, due to their unpredictable nature (or not), are usually the most difficult element to assess in a SWOT analysis. There is no magic formula for correctly assessing threats, but you should try to be as objective and honest as possible. And remember, it is better to be prepared for what will not happen than to be caught unprepared for what will happen.


2. Niche down and understand the players in it.

People will find you, it’s your responsibility. When you are just starting out in the game, you are like a sailboat in the middle of the ocean. Nobody knows you are there and nobody knows how to find you. They don’t even know that they should find you. Your responsibility, within the boundaries of marketing, is to make sure that people know you exist, which if you are proud of your game, being your evangelist should not feel disconfortul for you.

Start to think of new possible genre of games, or games that could be associated with other type of players interest, like for example, people that like to see grass grow, or people that like to play tomato throwing wars, or puzzles of siamese cats.

This will be a niche market. That you can use to try to leverage your efforts of making games for.

As defined in the wikipedia, A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that it is intended to target. It is also a small market segment. Sometimes, a product or service can be entirely designed to satisfy a niche market.

The more narrow you will think of the interest of the player, the best possibilities you will have to find a type of games that some people are looking for, but no one is making games for it.

You can use tools like google trends, or google suggestion to try to find those possible niches.

Once you have found something, try to think on what are the interests of the people playing those games, what they are are like, what are their hobbies, where they usually look for information, what they would like to see in game that matches their interest, etc… This is important to match exactly the content that you will be making to fit their needs.