So you’re and indie developer?
At some point you will have asked yourself how to market your indie game? How do you get people to know about, download and play your game? Well in that case, you’re going to need a marketing strategy that informs, excites and leads the paying public to take notice and at the point of release, hand over their money to play it.
How do you go about creating an effective indie game market strategy when you don’t have AAA levels of money to throw at the problem? Honestly, it can be done, but how?
With 20 + years of product development, PR and marketing experience within similar consumer focused industries, I’ve pulled together our Top 5 hints and suggestions for how to market your indie game with a few bonus ideas thrown into the mix for good measure. Cup of tea at the ready? Excellent. Let’s get cracking, shall we?
Top 5 Tips on How to Market your Indie Game
- Put a gif showing in-game footage nice and early in your email pitch.
Nothing grabs our attention more when opening emails than seeing an animated little snapshot of your game. This seems so obvious to us and yet on reflection, fewer that 1 in every 20 such pitch emails we receive each week do this.
Gifs are so easy to make and visually tell us so much more than we’re likely to get from wading through 500 words of dryly written text. Seriously. Do this. Please.
2. Keep your email pitch as brief as possible.
The people you are emailing will be busy. They will have a busy inbox and while thereally, really busy people might have help to set aside message they might want to look over, most people won’t have that particular luxury. As could be said of many things, quality beats quantity. Keep your pitch email to between 125–150 word so it can be read in roughly a minute. If you can sell your game in fewer words, well done you! Also, see number 1 above.
Seriously though, the number of messages we receive that read like a university dissertation is way too high. If you want to grab the reader’s attention, keep it short, brief and punchy.
3. While indie game PR and Marketing people are usually awesome, they are not wizards.
With some genuine exceptions, if your game and promotional material looks rough and shoddy, your conversion rates are going to be low.
Skilled PR folks can get your game in front of influencers and media outlets. This they can do. If you’ve given them crappy tools with which to showcase your vision (a terrible trailer, low resolution screenshots etc), you’re not going to achieve much in the way of cut through.
4. Need some help? Ask for it.
The indie game workplace, from an outsider looking in, seems a friendly and helpful place. People within the scene have for the most part a genuine desire to see others succeed.
Unlike other industries, it’s relatively easy to gain access to a surprising number of veteran heavy hitters so if you have a question ask away with at the time of writing, Twitter being the easiest and most popular method with which to find someone to help point you in the right direction.
5. Can’t afford a booth at a tradeshow? Go anyway and network, network network.
So not perhaps to the same extent as Devolver Digital’s antics at E3, we’ve used this approach at various telecoms, engineering and music events since the early 00’s. Pick a show, buy a pass for the shop floor, any after parties and away you go.
If you’ve done your homework, you can arrange to meet people at the event or offsite, whatever works best. Sure, some might find doing this under the radar type of stuff difficult but hey, there’s for introversion and others to simply get out there and be seen.
– You don’t have a trailer? Make One. If you can afford it, consider having someone, a specialist, to do this for you.
– Put a call to action at the end of everything. At the end of your trailer, put a call to action to Wishlist the game now on Steam. Show the link. Use imagery of this customer journey from the URL to the Steam Page to the physical act of clicking on the that button. Same goes for your press release(s) and anything else you put out in relation to the game.
– Be active on all social media and keep them connected in style and tone. As we mentioned above, being a wallflower isn’t going to help, you need to be out there and visible. That said, see point 3 above.
– Consider writing a blog about the game’s development and its journey from concept to launch. People find this stuff interesting and by doing so, you can help grow a community of fans and promotors — free PR!!
– Get yourself a homepage and a Steam page up and running as soon as you can. See the bonus tip above.
– Don’t be an arse or you can forget about getting much joy from point 4 above. This industry is small. People remember.
– Influencers. Target those who clearly enjoy playing your type of game. Personalize correspondence although while doing so, please stick to point 2 above. Avoid Payola. Or don’t. That’s your choice.
– If your strategy goes really, really well, remember No Man’s Sky. You don’t want that type of fall out in your life.
Well there we go. That’s my brain dump on indie game marketing all done and dusted. Hopefully there’s a few pointers in here that might be useful to a few people. As time passes I’ll look to update and add to this list. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to get in touch.
With that, many thanks for reading and happy marketing!