Indie Game Marketing - How to Do it Right?
You’ve made it! Your first video game is coming together, and it’s about time to announce it! But how to get to the audience in such a huge market? How to develop a marketing strategy? How to prepare a trailer? Where to advertise our game?
In this article, you will learn:
What is an indie game?
"Indie games" is a colloquial term for independent games, i.e., games created by small teams for little money. Although it sounds like a disadvantage, such games are much more diverse and unconventional than most high-budget productions. It's nothing strange - when large sums of money are involved, hardly anyone is inclined to make risky business decisions. Indie games, in turn, are created mainly by enthusiasts, often in their spare time after another job, who primarily want to implement their own ideas. However, this does not mean that they do not want to earn money from their creation, and it is also important that their game gains publicity.
Marketing strategy for indie games
The gaming market is full of various productions, so reaching the audience is not that easy. Many major developers work with publishing houses or marketing agencies to get them to promote the game. However, not everyone can afford it, and in the case of small productions, huge campaigns are simply unprofitable.
Before we start marketing, we need to consider what actions will be appropriate for our game. To do this, we need to establish:
Thanks to this, we will better understand which elements of the game should be showcased in trailers and other promotional materials. It will also influence the selection of promotion channels - each target group and sales platform has its own nuances and methods of communication with the public. Also, remember to prepare a press kit - studio logos, game logos, and a few graphics that can be used by the reviewers.
How to make an indie game trailer?
It is best to prepare promotional materials even if we are not even half of the game finished. Thanks to this, we will slowly build awareness of its existence among players! First of all, find out about the platform's requirements on which you intend to sell your game. Each store has its own guidelines for screenshots, descriptions, trailers, banners, and more that should be relatively easy to find. In case of any problems, do not hesitate to contact the service staff - they are there to answer your questions. The materials on the store's website can be used anywhere else - on YouTube, gaming events, and the like.
What should we consider when preparing promotional materials?
Where to promote an indie game?
When people find out about a game from industry news, the first thing they do is look for it on Steam, GOG, App Store, or any other digital game store. They can find all the details there - when the game will be released, how much it will cost, or what the gameplay looks like in screenshots and trailers. They can also ask questions in the discussion forum and finally - wishlist the game. The latter is the most important for us - the number of people who added the game to the wish list is a vital indicator of interest, which allows us to estimate the expected sales. So take care of the preparation of the game page in the store for a certain period before the premiere and take care of good positioning optimization. Also, remember that stores organize many themed events and promotions for indie games, which allow you to increase the game's visibility.
Social media are your best friends. This is where you can generate interest outside of game stores absolutely for free! If you've managed to establish a target audience for your game, think about which platforms they use and what thematic groups they focus on.
Remember: there are many groups devoted to specific game genres, productions created on particular game engines, or associating independent developers. On almost every social media platform, you'll find plenty of places to get famous without spending a single buck!
The newsletter is another, next to the Discord server, excellent communication with the fans most interested in the game. Unlike social media, where the message must be as long as a few sentences for anyone to spend time reading it, emails allow much more freedom to choose the content. Don't limit yourself only to marketing information or news - let your imagination run wild and send short stories or trivia from the universe of your game! It's necessary to send out emails regularly to stay engaged, but not too often to not become spam. An optimal newsletter should be sent approximately once a week.
What to watch out for when promoting an indie game?
When marketing, especially our first game, you should be aware of certain situations that may help or harm us.
Some of these situations are:
Self-marketing can be cheap and straightforward, but it takes a lot of time and energy. It is easy to focus too much on the marketing itself, which significantly delays the game's production we advertise, and that may lead us to crunch. Ultimately, it's something that just needs to be felt and balanced. Develop your own strategy, adapt it to your game and get ready for the big premiere!