How To Promote your Indie Game For Free? – Game Marketing 101

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Indie game Marketing tutorials

The following videos are great tutorials that  will teach you  How To Promote your Indie Game For Free.

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Learn How to promote your indie game

if you are alone developing your game, then probably knowing how to do the marketing for your indie game is crucial. Hundreds of new games are  being released every single day, so getting the word out about your game early on and often is the only way to gain visibility and downloads.

There are a lot of tricks that can be applied and most of them starts  as soon as you have something to show, we should start promoting our indie game. Developing a marketing strategy is the key to game success.

While researching for some Interesting game marketing 101 tutorial that will give some insights on how to promote your game for free, we have found some really interesting  tutorial that covers  some of the interesting parts in a clear and basic way. The tutorial shares some free ways to market your indie game for free, get more followers and visibility for your new indie game.

 

Indie Game Marketing 101

Great Congratulations!

 

You’ve decided to release your first indie game.

 

You’ve been working hard on it for a while, and you’ve probably heard all this marketing bullshit a few times. But honestly, you didn’t know much about marketing or what it entailed. In fact, you didn’t even consider it when you set out to create your masterpiece months or years ago.

 

Then you realized that everyone was actually marketing, and it seemed like everyone was talking about marketing at gaming events and Twitter conversations or discord channels , and suddenly you felt somewhat overwhelmed.

 

With so many buzzwords and so many different game developers disagreeing on which approach is the best, it can be easy to feel left out, lost without knowing  where to start.

 

Don’t worry, fellow game developers, as not a while ago, we were on the same boat floating around in the ocean of game marketing.

 

After a couple of years of working with this field, it’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of knowledge to gather, and some of the things we talk about in this blog post need a little context as to be more easily understood by a vast majority of the community.

 

So ( We have seen that we way a lot of times SO) ,  We thought I’d put together a sort of “Indie Game Marketing 101/crash course.”

 

Don´t make to many expectations, this is just an introduction to the basics of indie game marketing, why you need to do it, what your options are, and what you can expect when you embark on this journey of never stop learning.

 

So(Again), let’s get started.

 

Table of Contents

What is marketing?

Why do I need to market my game?

How do I get started marketing my game?

What are some of the marketing activities you need to consider?

What is a good marketing strategy?

What materials should be created and shown to other people/companies?

What should we do after the game is released? How much budget do we need for marketing?

 

What is marketing?

 

Marketing is the process of “getting a product or service to market.

 

In other words, it’s about releasing something into the wild and making sure enough people are able to know about it and are interested in it so that it has a chance to succeed in a market saturated with new releases every day.

 

In a broader sense of the word, marketing an indie game is about making sure your game is discovered and can get an audience.

But in an age where there are more indie games than people on the planet, it’s also about figuring out what kind of audience will be most interested in your game? How best to reach that audience? And how to make them want to play your game?

 

These are just some of the nuances and questions that we will have to answer if we want to effectively market our game.

 

Why do you need to market your game?

 

We may be tempted to think that, if it’s good enough, people will surely find it by word of mouth….

 

The actual games market is a big and noisy place, and the game industry is full of millions  of game developers ( just unity had over 2 000 000 registered developers in 2020)  and publishers all competing for the players’ attention.

 

The simple answer to this question is that even with the very best games, there is so much noise that players have to cut through to find something new that it is very hard to notice.

 

The slightly more complicated answer to this question, especially when it comes to indie games, has to do with the marketplace where “discoverability” is sold: Steam, the App Store, Google Play, the Nintendo eShop, Epic Store, or other friendly stores like itch.io or gamejolt.com  are partly curated, partly driven by algorithms.

 

This means that some content is pushed to gamers because store the marketing team ,within the stores,  think it will sell well, and the rest of the content is automatically distributed in the store based on complex math aimed at predicting what will sell well .

 

This is simply because, with so many games to choose from, the store has the freedom to prioritize them based on what it thinks will run well from a point of view of players interest, and there so,  will maximize the revenues.

 

In either case, however, they are able to get some insights on the interest that the game can generate, by looking at people visiting the game  page and adding it to their wishlist, people picking it up enthusiastically in the media, people following the game and the game developer in the social channels, etc.

As a conclusion, the gaming market is too noisy and competitive for players to accidentally notice your game. This means that no one will know of your game’s existence, let alone talk about it, unless you invest time and energy into marketing it.

 

The good news is, that you are probably already making the marketing of game, even if you don´t know it. You have probably already though who would be players of your game, you have probably already been posting on twitter and Facebook as to measure the interest around it.

 

So, definitively,  you’re already marketing!

 

The question is then, to market my game, where do we start?

 

 

The first thing you need to understand is that marketing your game is a project by itself.

 

This is not something that you can do in part-time, in between a  meeting, or five minutes before going to bed.

 

Just like game development, executing a marketing project requires planning and an investment of time (and very often money) to make it a success.

 

The vast majority of indie games fail (approximately 90% of indies games never recover the investment) , and usually because most indie developers treat marketing as an afterthought, rather than as part of the game development project.

 

To know how to approach the marketing, we should start as soon as possible to know what actually you have to do. So, this means that we  have to start creating a marketing plan as soon as we have decided to release a commercial game (or as soon as possible if you’ve already released one).

 

First, we need to consider who will enjoy our game the most and what other games they might enjoy. We should Look at what those games do and don’t do. What works really well for them? Is there a ‘gap’ in the market for something a little different? Because if we don’t have the game our audience wants, no amount of marketing will make our game attractive for the audience and there so a success.

 

Next, we need to think about what activities we can do in the months leading up to launch.

It is very important to plan our marketing activities before the launch of the game.

This is because usually the digital store’s algorithm (which determines a game’s visibility in the store) often refers to the so-called “pre-sales metrics” to determine a game’s popularity.

 

For example, On Steam  one of the most important indicators of a game’s visibility at the time of its release is how many people have added it to their Steam wishlists before the release date.

Charts and trending lists, on the other hand, allow you to see how many people have bought or are interested in a game in a short period of time, which can mean a huge boost in the gaming market.

 

In other words, having a lot of people ready and waiting to buy our game on day one can mean the difference between success and failure.

 

Game developers are often wary of showing too much of their game in development. In reality, however, some form of pre-release marketing is essential for most games.

Other game developers, if they have the budget, will hire a marketing partner or consultant to help them plan the game marketing.

 

Of course, this is not a requirement, but if you have the budget, hiring an outside party with experience in marketing can help  us develop a more reliable and robust strategy so we  can focus on developing your game.

 

What kind of marketing activities should we consider?

 

From the early 2000s until a few years ago, the gaming press acted as  “gatekeepers” for indie developers, and a game’s success depended on how many articles and reviews it received from prominent magazines and websites.

For this reason, many indie developers are still use the terms “marketing” and “PR” (public relations or press relations) interchangeably, the latter being only a small part of the former.

 

But in 2019, there are more marketing channels and activities that are more accessible than ever before.

 

Perhaps the most accessible of all marketing activities is ubiquitous use of social media.

 

Most of us use social media, and even if you don’t, you should as it’s easy and free to open an account and start posting.

 

Social media is a great way to spread our content and get it in front of people who are interested, but it’s not a quick win and we have to be willing to invest time every day to post content, participate in relevant conversations, and grow our following.

 

Many indie games have and will benefit from having a place to cultivate a strong community before launch: After all, to increase those all-important pre-sales and day-one metrics, we need super-committed players who are excited to buy our game.

 

For example, Discord is a popular choice for building a community, but again, it takes time and effort to cultivate it, and a strong strategy to get people to join the community in the first place.

 

Mailing lists can also be a great way to reach our audience when it matters most.

 

In general, we recommend offering something great for free or meaningful involvement in the production process as an incentive to join our social channels.

 

Meanwhile, digital advertising is more accessible than ever for indie developers on a budget. Search and social giants Google and Facebook generate the majority of their revenue by collecting highly granular data on millions of users and making that data available to advertisers through intuitive tools.

 

Could we, nowadays,  create a game just for a 27-year-old woman from a small city in the middle of the US,  interested in puzzle games and online shopping?

 

In our current digitalsphere, with just a few clicks, we can target just a fraction of that population and save money in the process.

 

Showcasing our game at events like Gamescom, GDC, PAX, and EGX is a great way to reach a lot of people at once and see real world reactions.

 

However, attending and exhibiting at these events comes with an heavy price tag.

 

If we decide to have a booth, we need to make sure we a rock-solid plan to turn interested gamers into enthusiastic fans who will follow our game in the long run.

 

Sending messages to journalists, previews and review keys to critics and influencers can be a great way to not only reach a new audience, but also gain the trust of potential players.

 

What is a good marketing strategy?

 

The best marketing strategy is a series of “campaigns” (a set of activities) that run across several different channels, reach your audience multiple times with different content and activities, and continually increase engagement.

Getting on IGN with your announcement can give you a lot of visibility, but if their readers don’t follow you to the release date, it’s worth nothing. We need a good strategy to bring people along on this journey.

 

A good strategy starts with an overarching goal (e.g., “We want to sell 5,000 copies of my game “) and then works backwards.

 

We should determine what metrics indicate that we are on track to achieve those goals, called key performance indicators or “KPIs” (e.g., ” We want to sell 5,000 copies of my game.”)” (e.g., “we want to sell 5,000 copies on day one to get on Steam’s ‘trending’ list”), or even further back (e.g., “we want to have 2,000 pre-launch active Discord members, at least 50% of whom have expressed an intention to buy the game when it becomes available. ), and set intermediate or “milestone” goals (e.g., “I want to have 300 new users in Discord during GDC”).

 

After each milestone, review the actual results compared to the goal. Have we been able to achieve our goal? If yes, that’s great. If not, what was the reason? What went wrong? What could you do differently next time?

 

A good marketing strategy starts with careful planning, but it is constantly evolving, learning from experience and increasingly shaped by past results.

 

After each major marketing campaign, we need to take the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and adjust our strategy accordingly and iterate again over it.

 

What materials do we need for our marketing plan ? What do we need to show?

 

The two absolute basic requirements for any game are screenshots and a good video trailer of 1 to 1.30m.

When we say “prerequisites,” we mean that we need these two things to get our game published in major retail outlets.

 

However, these are also the two elements that people generally see as their first impression of your game. Invest time and effort here, and if audiovisual art is not your strong suit, hire a professional.

 

The difference between a slick, professionally edited trailer and a homemade iMovie job can be the difference between our audience standing up and paying attention or quitting on your game and looking for another one more interesting..

 

Branding

 

We need to be very careful with our game branding and communication plan. We should personally review all elements, like logo, screenshots, demos.

 

We have to have a website and we have to do it well.

 

There are games that have been successful with URLs that redirect directly to the store page.

 

If we’re really serious about building something like the multi-channel, multi-phase strategy mentioned above, we’ll also need assets that specifically support the single campaign. For example, a trailer is a great way to announce new features or a release date of our game.

We need to Make sure you don’t think of it as a story in itself, as in “Our indie game just released a new trailer.

 

Also, we need to  consider tailoring the use of our assets to the platform – a quick 20-second video will work better on Facebook, while a 90-second cinematic trailer to be more likely picked up by the specialized press.

 

Posters and Covers  are professionally created images that depict the characters, environments, and world of the game. While we can market a game without key art, many major game studios  have key art that offers something special that immediately conveys the appeal of the game.

 

Finally, we should seriously consider keeping an actual, reasonably polished build in the works that we are able to show to a short list of selected people. For example, there are journalists who may want to cover our game before a press release, but we want to play through it briefly first so we can guarantee quality when we submit the story to an editor. We can also involve players in the alpha or beta phase for a limited time to get feedback and collect bug reports, which can also be a great marketing opportunity based on creating a great community around the game.

 

What happens when the game is already under development?. Should we just stop/drop it?

 

In this article, we’ve focused mainly on pre-launch marketing. However, we don’t have to stop as soon as our game launches. In fact, if we do, we’ll miss many opportunities to create a “long tail” for our  game’s commercial success.

 

Working with our fans and encouraging them to spread the word is a great way to keep the momentum going after launch.

 

Submitting our game for awards is also a great way to gain additional exposure and player’s interest.

And, of course, continuing to support our game with patches and updates brings back the players who once played it and revives it.

And if we plan to release more games in the future, cultivating a community can be a great way to facilitate our next marketing campaign.

Sales and/or bundles are also a great way to get new people to try our game, but think carefully about timing. Various consumer laws around the world don’t allow us to run a sale every few weeks, and every time we discount a game, we are  setting  the expectation on the final price.

 

In general, it’s best to wait until sales are much lower before thinking about sales or bundling – usually at least five or six months after release.

 

That’s all well and good, but how much can it cost?

 

The answer to this question, has to do with our goals, first and foremost. If were a developer with a lot of free time and want to sell a few thousand bottles, we may  pay for a nice vacation somewhere with our family, but we could also learn grassroots marketing technique ourselves and not pay anyone to do the job.

 

In this case, we should think about how much time we’re going to allocate to marketing – because, those hours will add up quickly and we’ll need to set aside every day for it (especially if we are making a global simultaneous launch).

 

If our goals are more commercial in nature – for example, we need to sell at least a certain number of copies to pay the staff – then we’ll definitely need to budget for something.

 

The number we decide on will depend on a number of factors, including available investment, ongoing costs, and projected revenue for the game – but most successful indie developers seem to settle on a budget of about 35-45% of what they spend on producing the game (for that matter, many triple A publishers have a marketing budget that equals, if not exceeds, its production costs).

 

Ultimately, we will need to calculate the total cost associated with the game – if you want to sell 5,000 copies at $19.95 each, a marketing budget of $100 is not right. And if  we really believe that our game can generate $100K in sales with the right marketing, then we will have to be willing to pay for it.

 

We hope that you have found this entry interesting. We will try to expand on it as to give all our community the best information.

 

MORE RESOURCES,

 

Interesting Short Guide on Indiegame Marketing 

By Indie Game Marketer

 

The A Practical Guide to Marketing Your Indie Game

By Intel

 

The indie marketing checklist

 

 

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