can-be

How to use correctly Singletons in Unity

Even if you are new to Unity, you will probably already heard about a mysterious entity in c# and Unity called Singleton. What You will probably not know is that there are both advantages and disadvantages to singletons in Unity and how to use correctly.

We already somewhat covered singletons but for the flax engine, as in one of our first tutorials, we implemented Singletons in the Flax as to show its similarities with Unity.

Introduction

There are plenty of opinions about it, some say that singletons are useful, but should never be used.

Some says, that you should use them, but that they are very difficult to manage and can increase the complexity of your code and how to debug it as it grows in size.

Singletons in UNity
Singletons in Unity – Unity Game Engine – Source Wikipeda

But, if you are trying to finish a game, singletons can be a useful and easy way to connect scripts without going nuts with linking references between the scripts in your project folder..

And it’s not just beginners, there are many Unity developers who like to use singletons, including ourselves.

So what is a singleton?

Is it helpful or harmful? Is it easy or is difficult and complex’

And can you use it in your project? Or should you avoid it at all costs?

The answer is not blowing in the wind my friend, and it is neither yes or no, it is, It depends…

In general, many of the problems that can arise when using singletons are not actually caused by the singletons themselves, but by the way they are coded and used in your project.

Some singleton implementation methods can be problematic, but what problems you end having will depend on your project and its fundamental design.

Singletons in Unity
Singletons in Unity – Coding

The reason for this is that in many cases, the consequences of using singletons only become apparent when the project grows or when you decide to make some changes its structure.

Unfortunately, this means that the risks of using singletons can be unclear at the beginning of the implementation process and only start to show its face later along the game development.

In this tutorial ( and video) we will try to show you the different ways you can use singletons to simplify game development, as well as the possibles risks you could be facing, so you can make the right decision about whether or not to use singletons in your game.

What is a singleton in Unity?


In general, a singleton in Unity is a class that exists in a scene and is only globally accessible once.

The idea is that any other script can access the singleton and connect objects to important parts of the game, such as the player or other game systems.

It’s also useful for connecting unrelated objects or scripts to global systems like the audio manager.

So how does it work?

Unity singletons are regular classes that can be added to objects in the game.

Singletons differ, however, in that the class contains a public static reference to an instance of its own type.

It looks like this.

public class MyClass : MonoBehaviour 
{
    public static MyClass instance;
}


Static references provide global access to the singleton, so this means that any script can access the singleton by its class name without having to refer to that variable first.

MyClass.instance;


This means that other scripts in the game can easily access the public methods and variables of the Singleton class.

However, since any script can access them, it is generally a good idea to protect instance variables with properties. This simply means that they can be read by other scripts, but can only be set within their own class.

public class MyClass : MonoBehaviour 
{
     public static MyClass instance;
     public static MyClass MyInstance
     { 
         get´{
           if(instance == null)
              instance=this;
          return instance;
          }
      }
}


A reference to a script is static and the same for every instance of the class, but the instance it points to is not static. This means that the reference points to only one instance of the script, but there may be multiple instances of the singleton in the scene.

It is therefore important to check that the static reference matches the instance of the script and that there is only one instance of the singleton.

These are the two basic requirements for Singletons.

A globally accessible class, but with only one instance.

But why create a singleton and what can a singleton do?

Why use singletons?


Singletons are very useful because they allow parts of the game to be more easily connected.

Singletons can be used, for example, to make the player’s position visible to the enemy or the player’s values visible to the user interface.

For example, like this.

float healthValue = MyClass.MyInstance.Health;


You can also call a sound effect function from anywhere in your game.

For example, like this.

MyClass.MyInstance.PlaySound(SoundFx); 

If a variable or function exists on the singleton and is publicly accessible, other scripts can use it without having to set up a reference to it first by passing a reference to it.

This just makes it easier to link the different parts of the game together.

But, as said earlier, the same way it can help you linking different classes to be used throughout your game, Singletons can also cause problems.

Using a singleton to solve one problem can lead to other problems later. So you need to be aware of what can happen when you use a singleton in your project.

So what is the worst thing that could happen to you and to your game?

What could go wrong with singletons?


In general, singular projects can be difficult to manage as they grow in size.

This can make it difficult to make changes or additions to the project, which in turn makes testing difficult.

If you are planning to use a singleton, you may have heard these objections.

What exactly are the problems with using a singleton?

The biggest risk of singletons lies in what makes them useful in the first place: global access.

For example, allowing all scripts to access a Game Manager singleton can be very useful.

How is this a problem?

Let’s take an example, you want to implement an audio manager to be used consistently across your game.

Trying to manually connect all objects that want to play sound to an audio manager script is usually undesirable, complex and heavy for the coder.

Likewise, trying to find an audio manager in a scene every time a new object is created that needs an audio manager can be very bad for performance and the functions that searches for objects in the memory are very demanding on CPU and memory accesses and will penalize you heavlly in a drop of the frame rate…

In this case creating a Singletons for the audio managers could be useful

Let’s say you create an Audio Manager singleton with a Play Sound Effect function.

It looks like this.

public void PlaySound(AudioClip clip)
{
audioSource.PlayOneShot(clip).
}

Now, if you want to play a sound, just call the audio manager and pass it the sound effect.

For example like this.

public AudioClip soundEffect;
void Start()
{
     MyClass.MyInstance.PlaySound(SoundFx).
}


Simple and convenient…

But are there any problems with this method?

If affirmative, how a simple piece of code can lead to problems?

The problem with using singletons like this is that you have to change the way sound effects are triggered.

For example, if you start with this method, you can add sound effect triggers as needed and call sound effect functions from different scripts.

Depending on the size of your game, you may find yourself calling scripts in dozens or hundreds of different places, all in exactly the same way.

When you add sounds to your game, you may find that some sounds are louder than others and some sounds are more repetitive.

So you might consider adjusting the volume when a sound is triggered so that clips can play at different levels, or adding more variation to the sound when it’s triggered so that it doesn’t repeat, which will mean making some modifications to the functions in the Singleton, by adding also a couple of extra parameters to manage the sound volume and other sounds characteristics..

But, the problem is that all those functions, which are simple to code, are now spread all your code across the game, so you will have to find all of them and make the changes on by one to adjust the new parameters that you have included

It would probably be difficult to do this now, since all the sound triggers in the game are connected directly to the audio manager, which just passes the audio clip reference and calls the function as is.

This means that you have to modify all the scripts that call the audio manager to change the current behavior of the manager.

This is a very important tasks, especially if your game is quite large..

How could we avoid this complexity? Welll, by using instead Event Triggers.

Modular event triggers in Unity


When using singletons, it is easy to specify certain functions early on, making it difficult to change them later.

Events, however, are by design a convenient way to change the response to an event in the game without changing the trigger.

For example, you can create a simple event system and trigger a sound effect event for any object, but the response to that event (what sound is played, how it is handled, etc.) is done in the audio manager and can easily be changed without changing the trigger changes.

This is possible with singletons, but events are more forgiving if you want to change something later because the trigger can easily be removed from the response.

It’s not easy to create a singleton and then change its behavior, but that’s not necessarily a big problem.

For example, it is difficult, but not impossible, to change the function of a sound effect after the fact.

However, it makes sense to treat all public functions and variables that are accessible to other objects through a singleton as immutable.

By including the functions you think you need early, you minimize the risk of having to change those functions later.

Audio managers may be suitable for singletons because of their global access and presence in the scene.

In short, the main benefits of using singletons are consistent with the problems of the task.

But.

Just because a singleton seems like a good solution to a problem doesn’t mean it is.

And as before, how you use the singleton now will affect how the game develops later.

This is especially true when using single players.

Singleton player objects


A common use of singletons is to communicate certain characteristics of the player to other scripts in the game, such as the player’s position and current fitness.

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Almost every object in the game will respond in some way to the player’s actions, so it seems like a good idea to give these objects easy access to the player and his scripts.

But what problems arise from using Singleton specifically in the player game object?

In general, deciding whether or not to use a player object singleton is similar to deciding whether or not to use a static variable.

Static variables (essentially global variables) are generally fine if you intend to have only one variable of that type in your game.

Singletons have similar weaknesses.

Scripts that need to refer to singletons refer to them directly, so each script is essentially closely tied to the player.

This means that it can be very difficult or impossible to add a second player later, depending on how tightly integrated the player’s singleton is with the scripts that need to access it.

In general, using singletons to manage single objects such as players is riskier than using singletons to manage the game system.

Also, using singletons in this way can lead to serious problems if it is not clear what kind of game you want to make or what features you want to add in the future, even if it is not a problem now.

What is the right way to use singletons in Unity?


There is no single right way to use a singleton, but the problems that can be caused by its use usually depend on the project and what you plan to do with it.

This is because the risk of using a singleton is more related to the way it is used and less to the singleton itself.

For example, if you use a singleton for a player object and have the option of adding more players later, you’re likely to run into big problems.

Also, global access to the file storage system could cause problems if two scripts try to save the game at the same time.

Also, if you create a singleton before you know what you want to do, it may be difficult to update it if you change something later.

But.

There will be cases where it makes a lot of sense to use a singleton.

Especially when it can make the difference between releasing a game and not.

Many people advise you to avoid singletons, and there are certainly good reasons not to use them, but if you understand the risks and use them carefully, they can be a very useful tool to help you manage your game more easily.

We have reached the end of this tutorial and it’s your turn, now to work and try it by yourself, as this is the best way to learn.
Also, we would like to hear your opinion as to keep improving our set of tutorials on youtube and in our blog.

Do you use singletons in your games?

Or does it make your project more difficult?

How to break into game development

How to break into game development: 12 ways to let you into the games industry.

How to break into game development. 12 proven ways to break into the games industry.

A very interesting question, we are usually asked a lot as a game development hub, If the door of the industry won’t open, how do you get your foot in?

How to break into game development: Getting your foot in the games Industry

Does the games industry seem like a walled garden with no way to get in? All you need is to be able to put your foot in the door. But how do you open it in the first place?

It is possible to enter the world of game development. All you need is a solid strategy that will help you leverage the right skills to get through.

However, it is time to stop looking for the ‘right way’, as there isn’t one. There is more than one ‘right way’ that can be used by different people with different skill set. There are many different ways to get your first job in a game studio. To find the best strategy, you need to understand how today’s professional game developers got their start.

Here are ten strategies you can use to get your first job in a game studio, along with examples of professional developers who have done it. It worked for them, and it should work for you too.

How to break into game development

i. Post your work ( demos, art, game designs, animations, etc) on focused discussion boards

Aspiring game developers can spend a lot of time lurking on message boards, soaking up as much knowledge as they can. But you know who else reads these forums? They are professional game developers.

So it’s a great way to get your work seen by game studios, helps you build industry connections, and can lead to job offers.

Stop watching other gamedev works and start posting. Interacting with other forum participants. Many of them are professional game developers looking to hire new people. You may even get your first job in the gaming world.

person using macbook
How to break into game development – Discussion boards – Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

ii. Start a game blog / youtube channel about the things that you feel you would like to work in the games industry

Sometimes game developers wants people very specialized on specific topics, and finding them is not always easy, and eventually could be hard to find.

If you start a game blog or an youtube channel about a specific topic in game development that you are passionate about, and the quality of what you are doing is unique, then this could eventually put you in front of their eyes.

In the past, some bloggers and youtubers were hired by game developers or game technology companies.

Be very specific and focused, but because a broader approach about everything in game development will not be enough to grab their attention.

iii. get a traditional college degree

Job offers from various game studios often state that a bachelor’s degree is required, but do not specify what the bachelor’s degree is. In many cases, it doesn’t have to be a games-related degree, as long as you have developed skills that can be applied to game development.

If you are skeptical, check out the various degrees available to get a job in game design. The educational requirements for game designers are as diverse as the game designers themselves.

iv. Get a job outside game development in a game studio

It takes a variety of jobs to run a successful game studio, many of which are not directly related to game creation. Even if you’ve never made a game, it’s possible to apply for jobs at a game studio in roles unrelated to development, such as information technology, tool development, or other support staff.

Smaller game studios have fewer support staff, so look to the larger studios and game publishers for this strategy. The larger the studio, the more support positions you can target.

v. Do an internship in a game studio

If you have skills that can be applied to game development, such as programming, art or sound design, you may be able to get a job in a game studio, even if you’ve never actually made a game. Not all studios have ‘official’ game development internship programs, but most are open to the idea of part-time, temporary or cheap (or free) workers who could help you complete your game.

Want to work in games, game studios are always looking to find people with lower fees/rates. so try to contact a game studio near your home place and find out if they are looking to find interns.

vi. Find open videogames projects.

Now a days, there are plenty of collective of people that have joined forces to create a videogame. They are usually not formalized as a company, and there can be geography dispersed. They will probably do a lot of social noise as to promote their games.

Try to find this type of projects and try to participate in it, because this will give you part of the experience that you will need to land a future job.

vii. Get a college degree related to video games

A couple of years ago, there wasn’t educational programs in the field of game development, now a days, there plenty of Universities that have integrated game design and game development offers, that are focused not only in the formal aspects of the knowledge but also in providing the students with a sound practical experience by developing multiple projects over the course of the programs.

A degree is starting to be asked by companies when looking for junior profiles as a way to filter possible candidates.

So this will probably be more efficient for younger aspirants than older ones.

viii. Get a traditional college degree

Job offers from various game studios often state that a bachelor’s degree is required, but do not specify what the bachelor’s degree is. In many cases, it doesn’t have to be a games-related degree, as long as you have developed skills that can be applied to game development.

If you are skeptical, check out the various degrees available to get a job in game design.

The educational requirements for game designers are as diverse as the game designers themselves.

How to break into game development
How to break into game development – University education – Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

ix. Working in a game studio as a freelance or external collaboration.

A successful game studio requires a variety of jobs, many of which are not directly related to game creation. Even if you’ve never made a game, it’s possible to apply for jobs at a game studio in non-development roles, such as information technology, tool development, and other support staff.

Smaller game studios have fewer support staff, so look to the larger studios and game publishers for this strategy. The larger the studio, the more support positions you can target.

Sites like Upwork of fiverr could be a good option to start landing some gigs in the game development space that will help you building your experience.

How to break into game development
How to break into game development – Freelancing – Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Pexels.com

x. Participate in as many Game Jams as possible

There are plenty of stories of people doing cool stuff in game jams and getting job offers or even starting companies , we have ourselves met a couple of people that were able to do so. The main advantage of Game Jams for this, is that they can also be considered as some kind of focus group where you are testing a part of your game idea, and check how people will react to it..

If you attend an arrested game, you will build your portfolio, develop the skills to work with a team under pressure, meet new people, and expand your professional network.

If you like game jams, they are worth checking out.

How to break into game development
How to break into game development – – Game Jams – Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

xi. Make and publish as many as games as possible.

Working for a game studio is a bit of a stretch: …… If so, you can make your own game app to boost popular multiplayer games.

Making a game requires transversal skills from Art, to design, programming, animation, storytelling, so getting all those elements to work correctly the one with the others will be difficult. So if you are able to practice in advance and start working with multiple people or teams to create and publish games, you will be able to get all the soft skills that you need to create games and especially great games. The more games you will be producing, the more practice you will get, and the more polished games you will be able to produce, which in turn will give you more experience and more track record to show to companies that you could be interested in working with.

How to break into game development
How to break into game development – Publish your games / Apps – Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

xii. Setup your own games company

Associated with some of the previous advices, if you are leveraging a lot in building up skills to develop your games, if you are actually developing and publishing them, then, why not trying to make a living out of it? It doesn’t have to be a full job, but some thing that will take a part of your day or night. The concepto of Moonlighting developer, is from people that works in a regular job by day, and then by night under the light of the moon, transforms into a game developer, fighting to get an opportunity of being able to fully dedicate to game development.

How to break into game development
How to break into game development – Moonlighting – Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

xii. Be persistent and don’t give up

Like much other things in life, growing your skills and getting a job in the gaming industry is not easy, quite the opposite, getting in the games industry is complex. Many studios will require a previous experience before letting anyone in, but if you are not able to work, how are you supposed to get that experience? At times, you may feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, or you may feel discouraged. We’ve all been there, but don´t quite, and keep focused in creating your high quality portfolio and gaining experience through all the possible paths that you could do, and that we have seen in the previous steps.

What do you think about these advices? Miss anyone? Why don’t you share your ideas in the comments section of this article. For more contents, check out our blog.

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.

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make or

Using the Marketing Funnel to Design a Trailer Campaign

One of the biggest hurdles that game developers have now a days, is how to make their game visibles in the ocean of other games that are competing for the attention of the same players. Being able to call for that very limited span of attention is very complex, and to be able to reach that objective trailers are on of the best tool that a game developer have.

 

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make In order to know who to target your game trailers to, you need to learn about the sales funnel.

There are a lot of articles, videos, and talks about how to make a good game trailer, but the problem is there are also a lot of TYPES of game trailers… each of which serve a different purpose and audience. Because the question isn’t: “What is the best type of game trailer?”

The question is: “What are the best TYPES of game trailers?” To answer this question, you need to understand that different people will react to different things. There is a very interesting TED’s talk Malcolm Gladwell’s talk about spaghetti sauces which using the analogy of spaghetti sauces, there is no one-size fits all spaghetti sauce for everyone in the world, because we all have different tastes and needs. Some people like Italian seasoning, some like thin and runny, and others like extra chunky.

The same goes for game trailers.

Most of the adviced geared toward making trailers are for people, who will only ever make one or two trailers for their game, but when you have the time or budget to make more trailers and videos, you need to know some basic marketing concepts to help guide you to the right design choices.

Namely, the sales funnel. It has other names like the purchase funnel, conversion funnel, marketing funnel, customer funnel, but they’re all the same concept. The funnel that is used as a reference into the article is the one by Chris Zukowski from HowToMarketaGame.com.

how to make a games trailer
How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make – The Sales Funnel

The Sales Funnel

The funnel describes the journey potential customers go through… from first learning about a game all the way to their decision to purchase or not.

The visual is a funnel because every step of the way… there are fewer and fewer people engaged with the game or even paying attention. It’s more like a series of sieves if anything, but that doesn’t sound as catchy. Calling this a funnel is much more for the visual rather than referencing the actual real-life object, because of course if you pour something into a real funnel, all of the contents put into the top will come out the bottom.

Every potential customer starts at the top of the funnel; this is where they become aware of a game via a trailer, news article, social media post, animated GIF, YouTube video, streamer, almost anything which shows or talks about the game.

this is where they become aware of a game via a trailer, 
news article, social media post,

If their interest is piqued, they move onto CONSIDERING whether or not they should devote more attention by: following a social media account, joining a Discord, wishlisting the game on a store page etc.

A step further, they might decide to read articles, watch videos, and maybe even play a demo.

After that they either become a buying customer, or not. And after that, they either play it and don’t really like it, or they might even become fans of the game and the people who made it! The key to making trailers targeted towards the right audience is to understand and serve the needs of the people at the phases of the funnel:

  • Are they just learning about the product?
  • Are they already following you?
  • Are they following, but need more information?
  • Are they a new customer?
  • Are they already a fan?

Knowing your audience

Knowing who your audience is will help you give them what they want. Let’s dive into each step of the funnel, and what tends to work best to serve the people at those stages.

Step 1 is: Awareness

This is the stage where you’re working off of nothing. No one knows who you are, they might not even be familiar with the genre of game you’re making.

This is where you need to make a trailer which shows how unique the game is, make the message simple to digest, and make the trailer itself as broadly appealing as possible; your goal is to gather as big an audience as you can. As we go through the stages of the funnel, a good way to think about it is that the first trailers give the broad but shallow view, and each one which follows dives a bit deeper. AAA games frequently make their announcements via cinematic trailers. This is because well directed, animated, edited, scored and sound designed trailers with beautiful visuals are very entertaining.

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make – Drake Hollow Announce Trailer

Since most AAA games feature mechanics which are easily understood at a glance, they can afford to be more cinematic, and worry less about conveying unique gameplay ideas (not to say that they don’t ever do this!) I think the best cinematic trailers illustrate gameplay ideas while also looking good. A good example is this trailer for Drake Hollow by Molasses Flood. Cinematic or animated trailers are very expensive to produce whether it’s time or money or both, so a trailer made via the game engine is what most people will make. Announce trailers of that style need to present the clearest and simplest gameplay idea… so it’s very easy to describe and share.

Another good example is the announce trailer for Snow Runner. If you can get a share, follow or wishlist from your announce trailer, you’ve successfully brought some people further into your funnel!

How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make – Snow Runner Announce Trailer

Step 2 is: Consideration

Now that people are aware of the game, they’re going to need something more from the next trailer to help them consider whether or not they really want to purchase the game. This means diving into some specifics which were only hinted at in the announce trailer.

Depending on the type of game, that means making either a story trailer or gameplay trailer.

This part of the funnel is one where you’re likely to lose a lot of people (and that’s ok!) People who were intrigued by the vague but exciting pitch of the announce trailer might not hang on when they realize the gameplay doesn’t fall into their preferred genre.

Or maybe the story didn’t go in the direction they thought it would. For example, the announce trailer for Supergiant Games’ third game Pyre generated a lot of hype, and the trailer is really good with amazing art, music, animation and sound effects. The problem is that if the value proposition is not very clear, when people finally discovers the game is really about people might fell out of the funnel at that stage.

Some developers, to face this, might be tempted to mitigate loss of people in your funnel by remaining more vague with details, but if your trailers are too same-y and vague then you risk frustrating or boring the people who want more information. It’s important to continue to play to your unique hooks, and strengths.

Some games present well enough in hype trailers like Spelunky 2, while others might be just unfamiliar enough in concept that they require more explicit explanation like Creature in the Well or Tactical Breach Wizards. Story trailers need to go a little bit deeper into what happens in the game in order to serve people at this phase. If a story trailer still feels like it only presents a world and an idea, then it’s likely to be unsatisfying.

For example, the announce trailer for Firewatch presented the idea of a fire lookout in a situation where something went wrong. For the second trailer, we wanted people to know there’s a mystery, and that events will be actively unfolding during the course of the game.

This was to differentiate it from other first person games which focused on uncovering past events.

Firewatch’s E3 trailer introduced the idea of some missing girls, a cut communications wire, and a mysterious person invading your lookout tower.

how to make a good trailer - Firewatch
 

DELILAH: Wait, you’re already there? DELILAH: You’re not in your tower?

DELILAH: Wait, you’re already there?

DELILAH: You’re not in your tower?

HENRY: No, I’m not. DELILAH: Then who is?

This part of the funnel is about informing and hyping people up. Holding attention is probably the most difficult thing to do, because people get impatient without new content; you need to strike a balance between satisfying the audience, while not spoiling anything about the game.

Evaluation of Actions

Next step in the funnel is: Evaluation This is the final step before the purchase. If someone is still paying attention at this point they… either need even MORE detail to help them evaluate the game, or they’re along for the ride, and just want to get excited.

People with lingering questions might be well served by making Gameplay Overview or 101 trailers. Again, Snow Runner had a very good array of gameplay videos, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution had its 101 trailer explaining the different play styles you can employ. This is also a good time to make trailers for things peripheral to the gameplay trailers.

This is also a good time to make trailers for things peripheral to the gameplay trailers...
How to Know What Kind of Game Trailer to Make – Funnel Example

Like behind-the-scenes looks at the game and its design choices.

For example, take a look at these videos which lead up to the release date of The Last of Us Part II. You can see each video is longer form and more in-depth than what you get from a typical hype trailer, and discusses more granular things about the game. These videos scratch the same itch I had as a kid when… I was so excited for the game I just purchased that I read the manual as my mom drove me home before she inevitably stopped at the grocery store first.

The last thing to hopefully get people to purchase is the launch trailer which either sums up everything covered so far, or does something big and flashy like an animated trailer or live-action trailer.

How to turn audience into customers

Second to last stage of this funnel is: Customer If you still have people in the funnel who are ready to purchase, congratulations!

There are still trailers you can make to serve the people at this part of the funnel. If the game has additional content or features coming, then you’re going to be making update trailers and DLC trailers. These should be specifically focused on existing customers, and it’s one of the few times when calling out features and quantity of content really works in game trailers.

You might also make celebratory trailers which appeal to people’s confirmation bias; people like seeing opinions they already agree with, and they like feeling good about a purchase they made. This is one purpose accolades trailers can fulfill, even if they’re mainly intended for people who haven’t purchased yet. Last stage of the funnel is: “True Fan” If you’re ever fortunate enough to have a “True fan…” (someone who will buy anything you make sight unseen).

Congrats again! “True fans” will appreciate just about anything you make, but something which feels specifically for them to show your appreciation is a nice gesture.

For example, this anniversary cinematic trailer for Stellaris feels very much like a tribute to the game and the community. You can see in the comments a large number of fans who really enjoyed it!

The term “True fan,” is used as a reference to the audience that is really interested in the game and that will actually be considering buying your game. because I think in the game industry, there’s a lot of talk about people who are and are not “True fans” and there’s a lot of gatekeeping, which is really gross and unnecessary. So the term “True fan” to describe your fans, but it’s just a term that is used in a lot of marketing speak.

.Just to describe people who will buy basically anything that someone puts out, regardless of anything else. So that’s why I use the air quotes. And don’t gatekeep the game industry by saying: “This person’s less of a fan… I’m more of a fan and therefore this person should not exist.”

That sort of thing. Moving on. When you understand the marketing funnel, you’re better equipped to make trailers for your game, because you understand the needs of the people at the different stages of the funnel. It’s a lens which allows you to see and interpret feedback.

For example, People who dislike cinematic trailers for AAA games have that attitude because they quickly move past the Awareness part of the funnel… and immediately crave mid-funnel gameplay content which they can use to consider and evaluate. It is usually better to leave them a little unsatisfied at first because since they’re so ready, they’ll be there when you’re prepared to show more. You need to design the marketing campaign, and pace it in a way which best matches your game, and gives the audience the information they need depending on where they are in the funnel.

Helping customers taking the buying decision

Another way to think of the funnel is: each bit of information is there… to HELP the person decide whether they want to invest more of their time.

For example, not everyone wants to watch a 10 min trailer as their first intro to a game. They might want a 60 sec teaser, which convinces them to watch a 2 min trailer, which convinces them to watch a 5 minute overview, and then maybe they’ll watch dev stream or read blog post. It’s a chain of deeper investments which we hope ends with them… spending their money and time playing the game. Some games can get people to go from teaser trailer to purchase, and that’s great for them, but most people will need more warming up to be sure they want to buy a game. Build awareness with your announce trailer.

Make story or gameplay trailers to help people consider your game. Make detailed overview or dev commentary videos to help people further evaluate the game. Sum it all up with a launch trailer, and get them excited to make the purchase. Show some love and appreciation to your true fans.

The Youtube video

Video TimeStamps

00:00 – Intro

00:12 – There are many types of trailers

01:02 – The Sales Funnel

02:07 – Stages of the funnel

02:53 – How to use the funnel

03:20 – Awareness

04:57 – Consideration

07:44 – Evaluation

09:01 – Customer

09:43 – True Fan

10:13 – The term “True Fan” is kind of gross

10:52 – Concluding thoughts on the funnel

12:13 – Lesson recap

Video by

comment-avatar
14.7K subscribers