Devs! Market Your Indie Game!
Being an indie game developer can sometimes seem like a dream come true. Everyday, you get to create a product in one of the most creative, beloved, and interactive mediums in modern history. However, it can be easy to forget that being an indie game developer means that you are the owner of a business. Every business that wants to stay a float must learn how to get sales. Today, you will learn how to market your indie game.
Why Marketing Your Indie Game Is So Important
As we have already mentioned, being an indie game developer can seem like a dream come true. It can seem like such a dream that the majority of developers and studios forget to market their indie game! How so? They get caught up in the development, of course. Deep down, every indie game developer knows that they should tell people about their game at some point. But, too often they do this too late. Instead of making a post on Facebook, they polish an art asset. Instead of working on the game’s YouTube trailer, they implement new AI in C++. None of this is necessarily bad for the game, but it is bad for the developer’s business.
Furthermore, we must learn to treat game development as a business. Believe us, we know first hand how hard it is to stop working on your masterpiece of a game. But we also know that game development is still a business at the end of the day; therefore, we must learn to treat it as such.
So, How Do You Actually Market Your Indie Game?
Great question! Since you read the title of this article, we are assuming you have an idea of where we are taking this. The best way to is to grow an audience. Building a fan-base from the ground up is easier said than done (just like anything else in life). With that being said, we are living in an age where there are more tools than ever that make a marketer’s life easier. We would like to talk about some of those tools below.
Having A Website
A website is the foundation of your marketing efforts online. Having a website for any business is a requirement. This is especially true for game developers. It is the place that you want everyone to go to when they need to learn any sort of information about your game studio or your game. Every website should have a basic homepage, about section, and contact section. Websites made for game studios specifically should always have a little extra though.
Moreover, a game studio website could contain a section for dev-blogs, where the developers can write about their journey during the development of their current project. If writing isn’t your thing, you could create a section that shows videos of what your team is doing on the current project. Another good idea is to add a forum section to a website where your loyal fans can talk and discuss your game studio and the current project being worked on. You could even offer a discount on your game if a user were to sign up for your newsletter. There is no set formula for a game studio’s website. But the site that you have built should always be focused on the community.
Likewise, even big triple A (AAA) studios such as Gearbox Software have websites that are geared towards their community. Their current upcoming game, Borderlands 3, has a website where the community is encouraged to participate in numerous different activities. The more you participate, the more points you get. After a user has so many points, they can redeem them for a desktop wallpaper, in-game rewards for Borderlands 1 or 2, or even claim an in-game reward for Borderlands 3 when it is released.
To finish up, your game studio website needs to be focused on the community. Whether that is by simply writing about your development journey, or creating a custom rewards system where players can get in-game items. No matter what your website has, your audience will love it if you take the time to focus on them and provide real value.
Growing Social Media
Social media is another aspect of digital marketing that cannot be ignored for any game developer, big or small. The good part is that growing social media for game developers is much easier than other companies out there. Creating games is the byproduct of one’s education and passion. Playing games is the outcome of one’s hobby; therefore, it is easier to promote a product that is the center of an audience’s favorite hobby.
Additionally, the number one thing to keep in mind about growing social media and an audience for your game is consistency. Without consistency, you are much more likely to properly market your indie game. For example, if we were to write a blog post once a month, it would take literal years for us to give any sort of credibility about our writing skills. However, if we wrote twelve blog posts a month, we will be able to show our writing credibility much quicker.
Similarly, these same principles apply to social media. Instead of posting once every three months, you could start off slow and post two times a month. Then, once you get more comfortable at posting valuable content, you could start posting three times a month. After a while, you will have no problem posting every other day and/or every day.
With that being said, there are always techniques and strategies you can use to help grow your audience on social media quicker. To start off, always post valuable content for your audience. This can be anything from a simple update, to an animated GIF, to a new game trailer. One tip we can give about posting is to always schedule your posts. For example, CloudMedia likes to use a tool called Hootsuite to easily schedule our posts out in advance. In addition, we like to study when the best time to post on any given platform is. Another useful tip to do is to research when the best time to post on your preferred social network is. These numbers vary over time, so we aren’t going to give a time right now. Here is a Google search for the best posting times on social media.
When you research about the platform(s) of your choice and become consistent about growing your presence, it is going to be hard to fail. The number one mistake that we see many developers make is the mistake of not starting. Do not make the same mistake that thousands of other have made. Start growing your social media now.
Possibly one of the most overlooked tasks by indie developers, creating a storefront early on is crucial to marketing your indie game. If you are wanting to release a game on Steam, it would be a very wise idea to create a Steam page as soon as possible. Most developers we talk to at least know this. But the mistake they make is putting up a Steam page in 10 minutes.
Furthermore, your game’s storefront acts as a “gateway” to your audience. A Steam page, Itch.io page, Xbox store page, Playstation store page, etc., are the last things your audience sees before they make a purchase of your masterpiece. If that is the case, why would you only take 10 minutes to create it?!
Likewise, you want to take your time creating the page for all of your storefronts. You want to be sure to include the best screenshots, videos, and text copy that you can humanly create. It is a gut-wrenching feeling to witness a loss of a player because your storefront had unpolished screenshots, no trailer, bad copy, etc. Always make sure you research what other successful indie developers are doing on their store pages, and try to copy that.
Additionally, many storefronts have a “wish list” option for users. If your storefront page is up for a long time before you release the game, you will have given your audience a very long time to add it to their wish list. Once your game gets released, not only will you remind them to purchase on your website, on social media, through email newsletters, etc., but the storefronts themselves will remind your audience to purchase your game! Remember: every storefront wants to make money too. If you can grow the wish list fof your game, that storefront will have no problem at all reminding your audience to purchase your game!
TLDR; Market Your Indie Game Checklist
1. Build A Website
Having a website for both your studio and your game is essential! It is the “HQ” that you can use to send people to. With a website, you can start a blog and post updates, create a rewards system for people who use your site, grow an email list, and so much more. The ultimate goal of your website is to create a place where your audience can regularly come back to in exchange for some sort of value.
2. Grow Your Social Media Presence
Along with a website, you must have a presence on social media! You do not want to create a profile on ten different social networks at once, but it is very wise to at least have an account on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Through social media, you can easily share information and interact with your growing audience.
3. Polish Your Storefront
The game’s storefront is the last thing a potential customer sees before purchasing your masterpiece of a game; therefore, it must look amazing! Do not spend 10 minutes creating your game’s storefront page. Instead, spend a week creating it. Along with that, the sooner you can setup your storefront, the better. It would be optimal to promote your game’s store page before release so you can get your game wish listed. When your game is wish listed and officially gets released, not only will you let your audience know, so will the storefront of your choosing.
This is the most important tip we can give. You can ignore everything we have said and just figure everything out on your own. That wouldn’t be wise, but you could.
The one thing you must have is consistency. If you are not consistent about marketing your indie game, you will fail. That is a guarantee. With that being said, if you hit the pavement and make yourself promote your game and grow an audience, you will see success.
5. Grow An Audience!
This is what all of this article leads up to! Growing a loyal audience is essential to successfully releasing your game and getting some sales for all of your hard work. When you combine a polished website, correct social media usage, a polished storefront, and consistency, you will find that it will be hard to fail.
Marketing your indie game is not an easy process. It is a lot of work that has a lot of different angles. However, if you take all of our advice and put it to real use, you will have a much greater chance at success. We have been involved in the marketing industry for quite a while, so we are able to tell you what works and what doesn’t.
If you need assistance marketing your game or simply have a question about marketing your indie game, feel free to reach out to CloudMedia! We won’t bite 😉