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 indiegames, 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 independent 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 and try to define a top level indie game marketing guide.
Contents: Indie Game Marketing
What is an indie game?
An indiegame 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 publishing outlet. 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. Independent 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 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 publishing label.
Why do indie games fail? Two possible pitfalls
So why do indiegames fail, and how can you avoid them? Are there some marketing strategies that could be useful? Here are two of the most common indie game marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
Not looking a video game creation 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, publishing outlets 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 production is a slow process. If you expect your first videogame 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 game 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 creation process
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 misunderstandings in relation to marketing in videogames, 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 videogame, 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 promote your game
- Understand the size of the videogame 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 game teams.
- 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 indiegames, 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 independent 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 indiegame 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 a 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 independent game takes almost as long as creating the game itself. To help you understand the key priorities in marketing an indiegame, 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 indiegame 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 like 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 definition, we can see that there are iterative tasks that start before the game is actually being developed, and that continue while the game is being bought by your potential players.
So that means that you can define your marketing planification in different elements that will help you define the different activities and control their effectiveness 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 planning 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 videogame studio, and it may be quite different from other games or other companies.
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 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 indiegame 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.
The videogames ecosystem is vast and intricate, with independent gamestudios, publishing companies, 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 many resources that trying to get through the waves of their marketing is almost impossible. In the same way, most of the games being released every year fall 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 want to play them.
Nonetheless, 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 indie videogame 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 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 an indiegamedev 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 discomfort 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.
3. Make the game that players actually want to play, not the game that you want to make!
Once your have analyzed the niche and its people, start to think on the game game based on their interests not in the game that you want to do. If you don´t know how to do that, try to contact some of them and try to find out what they would like to see in a game that they could like.
As you progress through the development you may need to create focus groups to validate the ideas being developed as to make sure that they follow the overall concept fit for your niche.
One of the biggest hurdles with creative tasks, is that usually, it is very difficult to split what we like from what we need to do. And in games it is very dangerous, because the line that divides those two realities if very thin, and the production process usually long, which increase the chances of breaking.
4. Understand the game you are trying to make and for who
Once you have done your market research and made your game, you need to be clear about what kind of game you are making. I know many game studios who think they know what they are making, but don’t know the market around the type of game they are making.
To be clear, you need to answer the following questions
- What are the most popular and biggest games in your game genre?
- What are the next three best-selling games in your game genre?
- Which games in your genre have failed and why?
- What is the unique feature of your game that makes it different from all the games listed above (we usually call this a hook)?
- What is it about the genre that genre superfans would expect?
- To answer all this, you need to play all these games for research (see, you can play games for work!) You have to talk to the indie dev who created the games in your genre. You need to talk to the real fans of the genre.
- Knowing what your fans like, what they don’t like, and what makes your game stand out is very, very important when you start tweeting about your game.
5. Think about how you would describe your game
At this point, you’ve identified what the targeted digital stores users are looking for, what the competition is like, and what makes your game unique.
Next, you need to tell them what genre your game is in and how it differs from other games. This may seem obvious, but it can be very difficult. Many developers are so obsessed with their own games that they forget that other people don’t know what they know.
For example, we’ve seen developers who claim to be making a space fighting game, but all their screenshots, descriptions and tweets sound like an planet exploration simulator. You have to use the right words to make sure genre fans know it’s a game you’re making: if you’re making an FPS, you need to show an image with a big gun in the middle of the screen. If you’re making a visual novel, you need to show dialogue choices and cute characters.
Test your message on a stranger playing a game. Show them your marketing material and ask them, “What games do you remember? and ask them, “What games do you remember?
Are the games they mention similar to yours? If their answers are vague or incorrect, then there is a problem with the game description.
On Steam, you also need to tag your games. If you tag your game in the wrong genre, Steam will not be able to show your game to the right people. Even if your tagging is correct, if your game screen capture and descriptions are not of the correct game type, potential fans will ignore you because your game doesn’t look like their preferred game type.
During Game Development
6. Make an epic trailer
Think about the last time you saw an eye-catching trailer and how excited you were about the official release of your product, movie or game. Your trailer is your best chance to make a first impression of your game, and it’s an asset you absolutely must make a success of.
It is the only asset that combines exciting music, beautiful visuals and animation, and a clear call to action. If you can create an epic trailer and highlight all of this in less than two minutes, you’ve succeeded in your first marketing task in sparking interest in your game and creating a buzz. Here is a checklist we recommend
- Write and plan the story of your trailer before creating it.
- Create the trailer first, using free and easy-to-use tools.
- Emphasize gameplay and preview the main events of the game.
- Don’t forget the audio!
- Don’t rush the production of your trailer, take your time
- Above all, create a trailer that you would like to see. An example we love: Forgotten Fields*, released in April 2021 and available on PC, Mac and Linux, is about an unsuccessful journey of the author back to his childhood home before being sold.
There are great things about this trailer: the interesting story, the appealing graphics, the soothing audio used, and the clear explanations of gameplay. From the trailer alone, it looks like a fun game to play after a hard day’s work.
7. Create a nice press marketing pack
Every indie gamedev will have their own ideas about what to use for marketing and press assets. Keeping in mind that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars marketing your videogame, there are two very important assets that you should prioritize: trailers and screenshots.
A nice screenshot will draw more attention to your social media posts. Take as many high-resolution screenshots as you can, and take more. You will probably only use five to ten photos, but if you have a good database of photos, you will be spoiled for choice.
Make sure that each of these photos tells a different story, but not the whole story. At each stage of the marketing process, you want to make sure that you capture the interest of your audience. The resolution of your photos should be such that they can be used in social media, magazines and online articles.
Last, but certainly not least, you will need a high-resolution copy of your videogame’s logo. This logo should be featured on all of your social channels, so make sure it reflects individuality.
Here’s what’s in the press kit to help Turnip Boy commit tax evasion*.
- A dedicated Dropbox account to host your files
- An ‘Art’ folder containing high-resolution images of all characters
- A ‘Logo’ folder with high-resolution game logo files
- Screenshots folder with high-resolution screenshots of the videogame’s highlights
- A page with game details, including the release date, the team, and a brief synopsis of the game.
- In addition to having a great game title and website, the ‘Presskit’ call-to-action is at the top of the list. Clicking on the link will take you to a dedicated Dropbox with folders for logos, screenshots and art. To make it as easy as possible for the press to find these assets, and to avoid confusion and unnecessary questions, make sure you clearly label the folders and files.
Once you have all the resources you need to market your independent game, you can respond to requests from journalists, streamers and other key stakeholders who want to know more. One thing to remember is that your external messaging needs to be as consistent as your social channels. You don’t want to confuse people when your game has just become so popular.
Don´t forget to Optimise your landing page to be mobile-friendly.
If you have a mobile device, there’s a good chance you’ve downloaded some social media apps. Social media is no longer just a niche, and in 2021 there is no escaping its power. In addition to placing social buttons on your landing pages, we recommend creating dedicated social media channels to provide a connected user experience.
Remember that each social platform has its own vibe and audience. As mentioned above, it is important to support Twitch and YouTube during the development phase. However, this is just the beginning. These channels also need to be used in the marketing phase. Here is some insider information about each social media channel.
Twitter: According to this social platform, there were over 2 billion tweets about games throughout 2020. This represents a 75% increase over the previous year, and a nearly 50% increase in the number of unique authors. This commitment is a step in the right direction, but Twitter is not the channel to use for marketing your game. It is a channel to capture/grab people’s attention.
Use Twitter to get the attention of publishers, streamers, reporters and other interested parties. Take also attention to influencer marketing, as it could also help you leverage the reach of your game.
Twitch streamers are also a very good fit to increase your videogame discoverability as most of younger audiences are very active in the platform.
Once you have identified the people active in your indie gaming circles (for example, a blogger or youtuber who enjoy the same genre of games), make sure you nurture these relationships. It’s also important to take note of relevant hashtags and use them as often as possible.
Instagram This visual channel is a great way to get a “behind the scenes” look at how your videogame is run.
Instagram is also a great channel for sharing trailers, highlighting game updates and posting event appearances – just like Twitter, make sure you use relevant hashtags.
Hashtags are very important because they will amplify your reach over your actual number of followers and increase your chances of getting some attention by the people or companies you could be interested
Some Hashtags important are : #screenshotsaturday, #wishlistwednesday , #pitchya, #madewithunity, #epicfriday, etc…
9. Build and continuously optimize you marketing funnel
If you’re on on a digital game store, you will have probably the concept of wishlist and you will need to get as many as possible before release – your game page needs to be up and running at least 6 months before your game is released. The reason why wishlists are so important air that they are essentially a reservoir of potential power. When a game is released, the store will notify to everyone who has signed up for your wishlist, telling them that “this game has been released”.
These messages usually converts at a very high rate, so the more they go, the more people will buy the game on the first day.
Very few people see a game and buy it right away. It’s like going on a blind date and getting married on the same day. That simply doesn’t happen. After buyers have heard about your game, you need to update them regularly on your progress so that they gradually fall in love with your game. And after they’ve heard it a few times, hopefully they’ll be excited enough to buy your game on day one.
This process of gradually getting people to like your game is called the “funnel”. It is a strategic set of marketing channels that are put in place to guide someone to eventually buy your game.
A typical funnel might look something like this A fan sees your game posted on reddit, is interested in it, goes to your Steam page and adds it to their wish list. Then, a few weeks later, you post an update that you have created a discord, and they get a notification and join your discord. They will then be notified that you will host a beta on your Discord server. They sign up. And they play. And they like it. And when your game is released, they buy it on day one.
Note that this funnel is related to Social media Platforms / Media / Influencers > Game on Digital Store Page > Wishlist > Buy.
To do this part, you need to be very clear so that no matter where someone discovers your game, they know what to do next.
if you’re posting on Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, you need to have a Landing Page built in the Digital Stores where your game will be made available.
Then, if it goes viral on Twitter, you can put a link saying “Wishlist my game on XXX Store”. And on the game store, we can put a link to a Discord or mailing list so that very interested people can join.
There’s nothing stopping you from improving your marketing resources – your game’s page, your Twitter account, your reddit posts, your website with its landing page.
If you’re new to marketing, you might look at a successful indie and think that everything they publish will quickly become well-known and constantly go viral.
The fact is that marketing consists of trying dozens of things and only one of them will actually produce results. It’s just that the dozens of failures are the ones you don’t see because they are the ones with low discoverability. Marketing is about trying and experimenting with different messages. We rarely know why one headline was better than another. We just need to think scientifically, formulate hypotheses, test them, and readjust our experiments based on what we learn. Most marketing campaigns fail. We just need to get back up and try, try, try, try.
We have to repeatedly remake your game landing page until the game reaches the end of its life. It’s normal. All great indiedevs do it.
What do I need to know before I start?
Remember that other games studios are not your target market. Whatever game you are making, there are people (99%) who are passionate about that type of game. If you find that audience and market directly to them, you will be much more successful than if you advertise to everyone else. The mistake that many devs make is that they assume that other studios are their target market. Sure, many play games. You may get envolved in cross-promotions but this will not happen casually you will have to look specifically and talk directly with other devs about this point.
10. Networking with platform holders and other developers
Most of your wish list and visibility will not come from you tweeting about your game alone. The most popular games are actually obtained through partnerships with large companies and popular websites.
For example, to get into E3 or any other popular event, you usually need to know someone behind the scenes. I’ve also seen games where the developer is first with the organizers and there was a last minute slot available, so they got a prime spot at the festival.
You need a wide network of people who can talk to you about opportunities and introduce you to people who can help you.
If you want to appear on platforms like Steam, Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo, then you need to get in touch with development partner teams on those platforms.
We can’t stress this enough. Most of your exposure will come from partnering with people who have a larger audience than you and having them embrace you to share your game. But before they can do that, they need to know that you are a good person.
In fact, the main reason most big publishing labels are successful is because they have a great history in the industry. They know everyone who works on every console and in every store. They know the editors and media people at the big websites. They are friends with the agents of the popular streamers. They just have connections in the industry. Knowing someone on the inside” is the number one advantage a publisher can give you.
Here are some tips for networking
- Join your local IGDA chapter’s development group or development tools community (e.g. Unity Developers).
- Write a post on the Gamasutra blog about a problem you’ve solved (big names in the industry read it all the time and often reach out to you).
- Introduce yourself to developers who have recently released or are currently working on a game in the same genre. They are not your competition. They will, in fact, help you make connections with people who have helped them.
- Use LinkedIn to look up the content teams of major development companies.
In most cases, Steam’s algorithm doesn’t really provide visibility based on the number of wishlists. But don’t confuse this: it’s not really the wishlist that Steam is analyzing; what Steam cares about is the gross dollars it brings in over a short period of time. The more wish lists you have, the more people are likely to convert and the more money you will make. A wish list is a fuse. Sales are blasts, and Steam’s algorithm only cares about the size of your blast.
We can’t stress this enough. Most of your exposure will come from partnering with people who have a larger audience than you and having them embrace you to share your game. But before they can do that, they need to know that you are a good person.
In fact, the main reason most big publishers are successful is because they have a great history in the industry. They know everyone who works on every console and in every store. They know the editors and journalists at the big websites. They are friends with the agents of the popular streamers. They just have connections in the industry. Knowing someone on the inside” is the number one advantage a publisher can give you.
But how many wish lists do I need? It depends on the size of your game. At launch, wishlist conversions are about 10% to 20% in the first week. If you want to get on the better side of Steam’s algorithm, I wouldn’t launch a game without 10,000 wishlists, Steam will kind of bury games with less than that, since they won’t make enough money at launch.
How can I get a wishlist? The most effective ways are as follows
- Attend festivals like Steam Next Fest, Pax Online, Wholesome Direct, and Gamescom. A full list of these festivals can be found here on Akupara Games.
- Make a viral post on Reddit. It’s harder, but will attract thousands of wish lists. Here’s an example.
- Get a popular twitcher to cover it.
- Get your article published on a website
- Make a viral post on imgur
- Tweet about your game (seriously, tweeting about your game is actually not very effective for getting wishlsits)
Marketing a game is actually a very cyclical process. Most of the advices in this list needs to be repeated many times throughout the indie videogame production process. The message of your game needs to be adjusted according to people’s reactions. The best track games, adjust, track and adjust. No one, not even marketers, gets it right the first time.
12. Time to Market: Launch and market your videogame
Releasing your indie game at the right time is important for indie game marketing. Consider the competitive market and when players are most likely to be interested in the genre that your game fits into. Give your game time for marketing efforts to build hype and attract as many people as possible at launch. Plan your release date strategically to give your indie game the best chance at success.
This is the moment when you actually your game become available for purchase. People can now pay for your game.
We are often asked what Steam Early Access is. It’s important to know.
Why is the launch so important?
It’s an excuse to get a lot of press. Streaming, press and even the media are more likely to respond and cover your release if you mention it.
Steam also gives you extra visibility during the launch.
So use it to your advantage.
Get in touch with all the people who covered it, liked it, reviewed it, added it to their wish list, or put it on their mailing list. Let them know your game is coming out and waiting.
13. Prepare for the next game
Many indie devs only market their current game and don’t think about the next one. But it’s important to keep building your audience and marketing efforts over time, not just for a single game launch. Think about cross-promoting your games and maintaining communication with players. Make them excited for your next game while you’re still promoting the current one.
If your launch was mediocre and your updates and discounts didn’t have a significant impact on your bottom line, it’s time to move on to your next project. No matter how much interest you had in your first videogame, you start to reach an opportunity cost where your efforts on your current game take away from the potential of your next project.
If your first game doesn’t sell, don’t give up. To do well in this industry, you need to build a reputation and a backlog of games. Unfortunately, most developers leave the industry after releasing a game. You’ve come so far, you’ve learned so much, and your second, third and tenth games should be much easier. This GDC talk featured a slide called Put your Name On Your Game, which says that most studios close after just one release.
When you create a Steam page for your second (or third, or nth) game, cross-promote with everyone who liked, bought, wishlisted, reviewed, or commented on your game.
Building a studio with a successful game is a lot like building a snowman. You start with a small pinch of snow and roll and roll, slowly at first, but later it becomes a big giant snowball.
Reaching out to streamers and content creators is one of the most effective indie game marketing strategies. Getting your game covered on Twitch or YouTube exposes it to huge built-in audiences. Make sure to have review copies ready and tailor your outreach to streamers who play games like yours. Personalized pitches tend to get better results than mass emails.
Get Your Game on Steam
For many indie devs, getting their game on Steam is a major goal. But simply having your game on Steam won’t promote it for you. You need a marketing plan to drive players to your Steam page and convert them into buyers. Use Steam’s marketing tools like discounts and banners, communicate with your audience on forums and social media, and run ads if your budget allows.
Every indie game needs a complete marketing plan, starting from well before launch. Map out your marketing strategies across social media, influencers, ads, events, and more. Build buzz over time and ramp up when you get close to launch. Outline your marketing journey in detail so you can execute it methodically. Don’t expect your indie game to market itself.
Know Your Audience
The key to effective indie game marketing is understanding your target audience. Study similar games and where those fans spend time online. Tailor your messaging and visuals to appeal to that audience. Reach them through the marketing channels where they are already engaged. The more targeted your marketing, the better chance it has of resonating.
Succeeding with indie game marketing requires learning from others’ successes and failures. Research case studies of top indie games and how they were marketed. Talk to fellow devs about what’s worked for them. Adapt proven strategies to the unique needs of your game. Follow best practices from across the indie space for the greatest chance of standing out.
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FAQ INDIEGAME MARKETING
Q: What is indie game marketing?
A: Indie videogame marketing refers to the process of promoting and marketing an independent game to reach a wider audience and increase its visibility and potential sales.
Q: How to start market your game?
A: To start market your game, you can begin by creating a marketing plan, identifying your target audience, and building marketing assets such as game trailers, screenshots, and descriptions.
Q: What are some common indie game marketing mistakes to avoid?
A: Some common mistakes to avoid include not starting early enough, not having a solid marketing strategy, and not properly promoting your game to reach as many potential players as possible.
Q: How important is market research for game marketing?
A: Market research is crucial as it helps you understand your target audience, identify competitors, and make informed decisions about your marketing plan and tactics.
Q: What is the role of influencers to market your indie game?
A: Influencers can play a significant role in videogame marketing by showcasing your game to their followers, generating buzz, and potentially driving more players to your game.
Q: Should I approach a game publisher for marketing my video game?
A: Approaching a game publisher can be beneficial for indiegame marketing as they have resources, expertise, and existing relationships in the gaming industry that can help promote and market your game effectively.
Q: What are some effective game marketing campain and strategies?
A: Some effective marketing strategy include building a community around your game, utilizing social media platforms, partnering with influencers and streamers, and implementing a targeted marketing campaign.
Q: Is it important to have marketing assets for promoting my indie game?
A: Yes, having marketing assets such as game trailers, screenshots, and descriptions is crucial for effectively promoting your indie game and capturing the interest of potential players.
Q: How can I build a community around my indie game?
A: You can build a community around your indie game by engaging with players on social media, hosting live streams or developer updates, offering exclusive content or rewards to fans, and encouraging community participation and feedback.
Q: What is the best time to start marketing my indie game?
A: It is best to start marketing your indie game as early as possible, even during the game’s development stage. This allows you to generate buzz, build anticipation, and gather valuable feedback from potential players before the game is launched.