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
- Where to promote your indie game Table of Contents
- What are indie games?
- Why can indie games fail? Three pitfalls to avoid
- 1: Indie game and development forums
- 2: Social media platforms and groups
- 3: Discord Servers
- 4: ProductHunt.
- 5: – Reddit Communities
- 6: Game review sites
- 7: Alternative digital stores for more exposure
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
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.
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.
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:
- TIG Forums: https://forums.tigsource.com/ – Much of the activity comes from Dev Logs. I highly recommend checking them out.
- Indie Gamer Forums: http://forums.indiegamer.com/ – Mixed bag. Lots of questions, not a lot of response. ○
- Devmaster forums – http://forum.devmaster.net/ – Something I used to visit but now is filled with games people release. Discussions are almost non-existent.
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 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
- Our Own group
- Indie Game Developers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IndieGameDevs/ – One of the bigger dev groups on FB. They’re incredibly active. A little spammy, disguised under needing help. But it’s not bad. They also have a slack channel that you can join.
- Game Development: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gamedevelopmentx/ – Another big dev group. Lots of resources sharing. A little bit of spamming.
- Indie Dev Marketing & PR: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IndieDevMarketingPR – Focused on the marketing side and organized by IndieWolverine’s founder Logan Williams. Lots of professionals jump into to answer specific marketing/pr questions. Highly recommended to join.
- Indie Game Chat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IndieGameChat/ – The sister group of Indie Game Developers… practically the same group IMO.
- Indie Game Developers – GameMarketeers – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1549224718628969 – Mostly devs spamming their game. But they also return to reply to comments, which is nice.
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.
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.
- Game Informer
- Alpha Beta Gamer | Indie
- Indie Retro News
- Indie Gamer Chick
- Indie Game Dev
- The Indie Game Website
- IGM: All About Gaming Trends
- Indie Game Buzz
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.
Other Digital Store options.
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!