Indie Game Marketing 101: A Love Story

Johan Toresson (@jtoresson, johan@gameport.se) Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Gameport @ Facebook 2013

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Thanks to everyone who’ve shared their thoughts on marketing, the indie scene, post-mortems and other quality stuff freely on the web. Some extra love to Studio Total, the Wolfire team, Kieron Gillen, Brian Baglow, Rami Ismail and Simon of Pixel Prospector for continuously producing new and interesting content and thoughts. Also, thanks to Gameport and Blekinge Business Incubator for giving me the time to gather data and take my time to write this.

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

What is PR/Marketing?
“Marketing is Communicating Externally” – Brian Baglow Before we start off it’d probably be worth our time to choose some definitions of words that’ll be recurring throughout the text. These definitions are not global, the only ones legit or necessarily ones that you’ll agree with. I’m basing them mostly on the way they’ve been used in the material I’m basing this article/text, so by pure laziness (and because of the fact that I’d rather put more time into how to actually sell games/do a decent bit of decent marketing) I’ve chosen to roll with them. I find them working decently enough, and rather than go all academia up in this cracker and discuss the eventual issues of certain words etymological background connotations in modern day advertising/marketing/pr I’d rather just keep it simple. So here we go. Marketing: More or less anything any action that’ll get information about your game/product out. Advertising: Physical stuff that you’ll have to pay for. Swagbags, billboards, ads and what not. Traditionally, this is what most large companies have been using. PR: Any type of social interaction where you end up discussing something that might be related to your game/brand. If you’re debating whether or not real world physics should be implanted in all platformers, telling your grandparents about your game, networking at ye olde game conference (aka drinking beers and talking to people etc) or posting an IAMA on Reddit you’re doing some kind of PR. PR is something that’s always a “long run”-thing. You’re building awareness, about yourself, your company, your game and the games you haven’t even yet thought about. Thus, PR is not in any form or case irrelevant – whether you’ve just put down your first lines of code or are finishing up the last crunch before going gold PR will always be relevant. (So do it)

And why should I care?
”Marketing is one third of your chance at success” – Joost ”Oogst” van Dongen (Awesomenauts) “This isn’t ‘Field of Dreams’, you are not Kevin Costner, if you build it they will not come.” –Edward Rumley (COO @ Chillingo (EA)) “Obscurity is a greater threat than Piracy” –Tim O’Reilly (O'Reilly Media) Fact of the matter is: If people aren’t getting the information about your game, they can’t even start to begin to not give a shit about your game, simply because no one knew what to not give a shit about in the first place. Looking at the (obvious) example in Minecraft you’ll quickly come to deduce it wasn’t just because it’s a fun concept with a decent execution – Notch has been active all over the web. Blogs, twitter and what not. Discussing obscure coding issues, debating politics and the indie scene and making sure to answer people directly when they have had questions for him. This is something he did a long time before Mojang single handedly became something like one third of the Swedish game industry in net worth. So why should you care? Frankly, if you are in this to actually make enough money to keep being in the game-making business pr/marketing won’t, can’t and mustn’t be an optional side-quest at any time. It’s one of the foundations for your future, just left of vision, development and caffeine addiction.

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

So when should I care?
”How often do you look up more information on something you never heard about before?” – Alexander Bruce (Antichamber) “Start early. Be open. Be Real. Be Noisy” – John Graham (Wolfire Games) “Another misconception about marketing is that it’s something you do around the release of your game. Not at all! In fact, you should be doing some marketing work before you write your first line of code.” - Jay Barnson (Rampant Games) One of the few (or rather the only one my google-fu turned up quickly enough for me to bother about) that has put himself in a position against showing off stuff early is Phil Fish (Fez): “With Spore, he said, everybody remembers the amazing 2005 demo, the game looked finished and everyone wanted it then, but in the intervening three years until its actual release, the hype surrounding the game took on impossible to meet expectations.” This should be read in the light of the fact that Fish showed his first build of Fez in 2008, a game that took him another five years to release (and which had gotten enormous amounts of coverage when it finally did). Generally the pros of starting to show off your work early seems to outweigh the relatively low risk that someone might catch a glimpse of the game, base their understanding of the game on that glimpse they got, hype the shit out of that glimpse until the internet hype machine has broken everyone’s expectations and then leave that crowd feeling fucked and cheated out of an amazing game (that never existed). Spore didn’t have any transparent development phase, and until it’s actual release there was quite little concrete “game” to actually go on, and not very much insight in what was actually happening over at the developers office. That’s probably also why people had a hard time understanding what had happened to the insanely hyped demo-game they played in 2005 when the actual game released in 2008 – something that made the players/press feel that the game didn’t live up to what they were expecting. As a smaller company you’ll have to make noise and get in touch with people early. The more times someone heard about you, in any context, the bigger chance that the person actually checks something you’ve done out. The more assets, interesting blog posts about your concept, discussions about games you’ve enjoyed/not enjoyed/despised but secretly loved for all the wrong reasons people come into contact with, the more the chance of someone finding something they find interesting/likeable increases. Awareness is generally a slow build-up, and thus is something that needs constant maintenance. This is something that for example Wolfire Games and Vlambeer does exceptionally well. Apart from being active bloggers and engaged in all (oh yes, all) discussions on twitter (lex Vlambeer) Wolfire games have made a comicisch thingie about their coming game Overgrowth, and Vlambeer have been making the news almost every week this year with releases of old builds for free, birthday parties, panels at conferences and what not. The comic helps set the tone for Overgrowths universe, and I found it both well written and interesting. It engages me in a game world and a game that I can’t even take part in (apart from the alphas they continually put out but you know I’m making a point here jesus don’t be so picky).

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

So what should I do? How? So many possibilities, so little that’s actually getting done.
“Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.'”- Jef I. Richards (Chair and Professor in the department of Advertising, Public Relations & Retailing at Michigan State University.) Be creative! You won’t be draping E3 in skyscrapersized posters. Let’s be clear; You’re not EA, Blizzard or any other huge concern – which is to your advantage! Use the fact that you’re not bound by three PR-assistants and one Chief Marketing Officer and a “No Fun”-Gorilla that’s breathing down your neck, telling you what not to talk about and shutting things up as soon as it might spark any interest. You’re not a multibillion concern, so don’t try to mimic their moves. Take your strong points (small team, agile etc) and create your own PR-Strategy. This is something which you have to do while developing, not when you’re done developing. Make time for marketing/PR. Make time for strategizing. Have a plan. Developing a game that won’t be played is only interesting for those who only develop for the sake of the art of games, themselves or whatnot. If you are; Fine! I hope you’ll get a fulfilling experience, and I wish that maybe sometime I might partake in it. I hope it shines. If you do this, then you’re not in need of anyone knowing anything about the game, as the creation in itself is its own reward. Those of you who also would like to enjoy a meal every other day and keep making more games in the long run: put in the hours needed for marketing. Create a document with some thoughts, outline a plan – you don’t need to write the fucking bible, but you do need to have some idea of where you’re supposedly going to go. It will pay off, and help you out in the end. To get things rolling easier, and to actually pitch in and try to be helpful in the midst of all this snarkiness (sorry), I’ll try to share some of the stuff I feel are important. Keep in mind though; This ain’t no golden autobahn which you’ll leisurely cruise with the top down until you end up in ShangriLa. This is what I think is important, based upon the knowledge I’ve gained by working with some great and creative people and all the wonderful material posted online by people with both more knowledge and hands-on expertise than me (List is in the end of the doc, read the articles/papers). In the end though, PR/Marketing is more like trying to hit on someone in a bar rather than putting together a bookcase. You can prepare for the task at hand, but even if you’ve showered before going out, dressed sharply and not gotten shitfaced it might still end up being you alone in the bar. This is basically The Game if The Game wasn’t disastrously sexist and non-functional, and without any guarantees. Also I’m not Neil Strauss, I’m just trying to hand you some heads-ups before you head out to the bar, general stuff that I think could maximize your potential for a solid base. (Not necessarily fourth or fifth or whatever).

Part 1: Get a solid base
My stance here is pretty simple: Use all available channels you can think about (and google for the rest that you might not have remembered). With that said, there’s a couple which you should be using, and which you shouldn’t opt out from using. These channels are easy to maintain, and make it easier for people to read up about your game and/or make it easier for journalists to write something about the game should they be interested in doing so. Page 5 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) A homepage that is/have Easy to navigate. If I never heard about the company/game I don’t want to be stopped in the middle of my honourable quest for more info by a homepage that’s just not designed well enough to actually show me the information. A presskit/press page that’s easy to access from the front page. A blog which is active more than once a year. This is a good place to not only show off what you’re doing, but you can also engage readers by simply discussing events/areas that interest you. A post abot why you should work towards releasing more games on Linux, why you feel that a certain model or monetizing works better than that other one or thoughts about why it’s such a good thing to work in the creative space that BBI’s Gameport offers are some stuff you could write about, but you probably already have a couple of ideas right now, don’t you? Go write. You use Google Analytics. There’s quite a few good guides online, and Cliffski (Positech Games) has a really good one which you could use as a starting point: Google Analytics for software sellers Some of those amazing moving pictures in framesthingies (aka some youtubez), concept art and screenshot from different builds.

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A twitter account that Follows interesting people that you’d wanna read more from. (Since you will be using it quite a lot, you might as well fill it with interesting stuff from the getgo, right?) Is not only for the occasional OMG THE GAME IS HERE LOOKIE-tweet. S-O-C-I-A-L-I-Z-E. Don’t be afraid to engage with people you think are interesting if you have a differing (or a similar) opinion that you think might contribute to the discussion. By actually behaving like a human (and not horse_ebooks) you’ll end up having an easier time when you’re actually promoting your stuff. By contributing interesting content (whether as thoughts in debates or assets or…you get the geist of it, right?) you are actually being part of the community discussing that certain issue. This could be the difference between a retweet from RPS (52,240 followers and rising) and the lonliest sound in the world: The sound of a tweet being eaten alive by the cyberspace moray who spends its time devouring meaningless posts on the interwebz. Is being used as if it was your regular account (it kinda is). If you don’t have a regular account, then fake it until you make it. #screenshotsaturday, #indiedev, #indiegame, just sayin (hashtags, read up on it)

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A Facebook page that’s not just a megaphone telling people that there’s a new blog post over at your site. It should do this too but your Facebook will rarely be frequented by people who are totally unaware about what you’re up to. The person liking your page usually does so because they are interested in what you’re doing, so take the opportunity to S-O-C-I-A-L-I-Z-E. (It’ll stick in the end, promise). Encourage interaction by interacting with people yourself, answer people directly and don’t talk like no corporate stiffy son. (Or just sound like you do in general, rather than someone trying to sound like what they think serious people who are doing Page 6 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) serious things on serious facebook pages sound like when they are answering the plebeian hordes.) active on other Facebook pages. Use your Facebook page like your usual account, debate and discuss news in games, politics and what not on appropriate Facebook pages you yourself enjoy. If you’re going to debate the Xbox One, then do it with your company Facebook rather than your own account, the visibility is more interesting for your company Facebook page than your own personal account. Posting images and videos. In general these get much more interaction than usual posts.

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A MoDB account which is Updated frequently (posting the stuff you post on other places) which increases the chances of being featured. It’s quite a large site with a very active and, most of the time, nice community, so go be a part of it and contribute yourself to gain some good developer points with people who are genuinely interested in games.

A YouTube account that has Has videos (Dev journals, vlogs, FAQ-answers, introductions to the team, spoken word, be creative) Has a link to the channel in the description of each video (ease of use – make sure they can find more of what you’ve got) Be active in the comment sections (Socializing!)

Reddit Good places to hang out: : r/IndieGaming, r/gamedev, r/game Something to have in mind though; you need to practice good reddiquette and not mistake the subforums for billboards. Write interesting stuff, contribute with nice content and in general take part of the community. Reddit is a beast though, so make sure to get a feel for where you’re posting your stuff. If you get a foot through the door (being regarded as a contributing redditor) it might pay back in spades later on. You’re knowledgable: Spread the knowledge! [This part could prob get it’s own chapter, but I don’t have enough knowledge of it myself to feel comfortable to delve deeper than this, so if anyone has any critique/knowledge and feel like writing some words – give me a a shout out on johan@gameport.se ] Good applications Presskit() (http://dopresskit.com/) and promoter (http://promoterapp.com) – check their websites for more info Other places you could be active on A steam group for the game/company, LinkedIn, Google+, forums, twitch.tv etc

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

Part 2: How to get in touch with Journalists
”The secret is that we actually /want/ to write about you” – Kieron Gillen (Ex-RPS) “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Stuart Henderson Britt (Advertising Consultant) “Be friends with them” – Phil Fish (FEZ) First and foremost you need to know what journalists/bloggers you want to get in touch with – something you should know now since you’re following all your favourite journalists on twitter and have been having a loose discussion about the awesomeness of Ittle Dew. At some point you’ve recommended Indie Statik to take not of Mrs. Dad VS Körv’s release on the Ouya and you’ve in general been a nice, relevant person. Now might be a good time to just tweet them and ask them nicely if they’d be interested in having a beer/try out an early build of the game. Or something like it. Aside from that you need to get a nice list of contacts. Which is what it sounds like, and does work fairly well with ye olde Excel (or any other spreadsheet app). Name, E-mail, Publication, What mediums they work with and what genres the journo usually writes about would be some of the stuff you could have included in each post. When you’ve contacted someone (and when the next contact would be) could also be a nice addition to the aforementioned. Jane Doe jdoe@doej.com ComputerGamez Mag PC Adventure/FPS

Try to get as large a list as possible, put them in different books depending on whether they’re English speaking or not English speaking as to make sure you’ll be able to contact them either on their native tongue or with a hello in their native tongue – they’re not robots and neither are you, greeting someone you’re looking to talk to in their native tongue could be a nice way of showing that. 150 journalists shouldn’t be an issue in quite a little time, and when was the last time you spoke to Gamer.NL, the largest gaming site in the Netherlands? To have a big list by the time of the release is hugely important, because when those crunches start coming on hard you’d better be focusing on polishing the game rather than spending time googling for emails/twitter handles to people you’ve never talked to before. And to have talked to the people you’re e-mailing is key, people who you later on could send a warm e-mail to. Hot/Cold e-mails Cold e-mails is the first e-mail you’ll be sending out. Lines, hooks and some concrete info about the game/concept with some pictures, video and a question whether the journo/blogger would like to see more. You thought about this journo because you know that the journo in question wrote about game X which you yourself were inspired by when you started to create your concept. You hope that the journo will have a splendid day, and that the journo will keep up features like feature Y which the journo wrote last month/year, because you found it interesting. If you’re getting a response; Good. You now have something of a warmer e-mail. Warm e-mails are the kind of e-mails you send people who at least know a bit about you, and who are interested in knowing more about you/what you have to say. It’s not always easy to get there, so don’t get put down if someone doesn’t get back to you in the next five minutes. Follow it up the next time you have something to show, or get back in a week or three and ask kindly if the other mail went through Page 8 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) the spam filter and whether or not the journo has had the time to check it yet. Don’t be a doorknocking vacuum salesman though, you’re trying to connect with a real person and create a relation between you, not make sure that they have the bestest vacuumer for a dust free and happy life foreverandeverTM. Be there, but don’t be an annoying nuisance. Another way to gain warmer contacts is to attend conferences, or the bars close to conferences. Who would’ve known that journalists sometimes also drink beer? (See Wolfire Games presentation when it comes to conferences: You’re not on vacation – you’re away networking. So network.) When you’re in touch (or getting in touch) with journalists you’ll also start to notice that the state of your homepage is getting more and more important. If it’s filled with high quality content (videos, pictures, concept art, information about the game, some blog posts) you might go from a quick 50 word notice to more of a 800 word feature about the gameDevs that are, in the face of mortal peril, death in the family and programming out of a shed outside of Chernobyl, working on a game/game concept about X. Make it easy for journalists to both find you and to write about you. Press releases With presskit() and promoter you’ll have quite a solid ground to start off with, but just for the sake of it we’ll scurry through some quick generalizations about press releases: Short e-mails. Concise information. Don’t tell them the game is unique: Show them/explain why. Have news value and good copy. If the journo could copy paste some of that good copy then the journo will copy paste that good journo. Usually. (Sorry journos) Images + Video = Good stuff

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Be personal. It’s not a job interview, and you’re not a spambot.

Part 3: Getting in touch with fans and alternate channels
Figur 1: Slide from Pixelprospector.com Journalists aren’t the only people who have an interest in games and are able to reach a huge amount of potential fans. There are a lot of other ways to get equally good coverage. The hype, for lack of a better word, of your game will in the end be the sum of “coverage from press + coverage of word of mouth”. Word of mouth will increase chances of you getting media coverage, and media coverage will increase your word of mouth – so work both ends!

Here’s some places you could try to reach out to/use that aren’t traditional journalists: Youtube TotalBiscuit (1,106,885), Two Best Friends Play (316,484) Pewdiepie (13,257,074). Try to get in touch with some youtubers and throw your game at them. They needn’t be the biggest of the bunch – but try everyone that you feel could like your game. Try them via youtube. Or twitter. Or e-mail. Or social gatherings. It could be worth your time. (Don’t sit outside their houses waiting though, that’s just creepy) Hint: Indiestatik is active on the tubes, and indie friendly! Contests Enter all the contests you can find. Usually they automagically garner press coverage from some outlets, and they’ll put you in contact with other indies, journalists and fans if you work it. If you actually do win something then hey! Good stuff right there!
Figur 2 Youtube Search for Let's Plays of a obscure hipster game

Hint: Read the rules (all of them). Submitting to contests with sketchy rules about distribution rules or just submitting Page 10 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) something without the essential logo in the essential place in the essential intro-video that got you disqualified in the end just sucks. Game jams Participate in them! Host your own! Good for creativity, for increasing your social circles and for drinking beer with new people who are also into making games. Might also be a good way to get a quick break from the daily nitty-gritty of the game you’re working on, and let you focus on a completely different concept for 48-72 hours. This might be a pause in development, but it’s not a pause in your networking! (S-O-C-I-A-L-I-Z-E! It’ll stick, soon. ) Hint: Can’t afford to go? There’s probably some web based jam going on somewhere. Be an active and content creating part of the indie sphere in general Indies tend to help out other (nice) indies by spreading news or interesting blog posts in their own channels. By being active, creating content and help other indies out by spreading their stuff in your channels you’ll be finding yourself engaged with a group of creative and active people. And usually it’s quid pro quo. Hint: Help each other out. If someone is working on something that you find interesting, tell people about it, why you think it’s cool or how it influenced a recent design choice you’ve made when developing your own game.

Guerilla Marketing: What in the world just happened
”when the public can’t tell what’s advertising and what’s not” – Gavin Lucas Guerilla Marketing is a strategy that, in general, is defined by a high impact-low cost formula. It’s based on taking on marketing in a creative and unconventional way, which fits well with the budget of an indie developer. Main ingredients here are time, fantasy and energy – not cash. Many good guerilla campaigns gain lots of attention because of the simple fact that they’re really good at using ordinary objects and putting them in an unusual context. Ikea did this with their book shelves at Bondi Beach, Studio Total placed an Opera in the blogosphere and while they were at it killed a high school student (google their black ascot campaign) and Acclaim did it when they announced that they’d offer families of the newly deceased cash in exchange for putting up ads on the newly deceased’s headstones to promote Shadow Man 2 (something that they just as quickly announced was a joke, but not until the news hit the press like a wrecking ball and garnered an awful lot of attention). As a game developer you can try to show the essence of the game in a unusual context, or just take a stand/hold a position which will be bringing attention to you by the automagical ways of the web. When Jonathan Blow released Braid to PC the price was $5 more than what you’d pay for Braid on XBLA. This obviously made half of the PC-using part of the intenet to go into full batshit rage mode. On forums, in the press and in the comments of articles regarding Braid unt so weiter there was a constant whine about what a rude prick of a price point Braid were set at and how awfully mean it Page 11 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) was. 5 days later Blow returned with a “oh, oh well. I’ll fix that then” and lowered the price. In the wake of the almighty price reduction there was a wave of redemption where press and comments where all down with Blow, this nice and generous and humble and wonderful man who listened to us plebeians in our time of strife and need. In essence it was “Bad press -> change -> redemption and love + good press”. Whether or not this was a planned move from Blow or not I can’t say, but the reaction on his choices were essentially the same as the ones Acclaim got. Other good examples of interesting marketing here could be the weird Dustball commercials for PSP, Metal Gear Solid 3’s Japanese commercial (where an office worker drinks beer and swim around in a crocodile suit) or Pandemic and their Mercenaries teasers (“Oh no you didn’t”, “Blow it up again”). One of the best examples of how to present your game in an unusual context is Visceral/EA’s campaign “Your Mom Hates Dead Space”. Here you’re treated not only to the basics (game sequences showing off the DSgoreviolence formula) but also mothers and their reactions to the game. This is still the basic stuff we talked about earlier (Mothers being the unusual object, violent horror game showed for a focus group the ordinary context) and the execution was good enough to make these trailers go viral. All the videos in this series have over 100 00 viewings, and the Behind the Scenes-video has garnered almost a million views (990 120). Low cost – high impact. Some people decided to go the other way though, and Epic was one of them. When they released Gears of War 2 they decided to contrast their universe of death, war and ungodly large chainsawgunny-gunz by making Gary Jules cover of Mad World their trailer-soundtrack. The basic principles remain the same – a video game commercial showing war, death and large guns being the ordinary context, with a sad, minimalistic song being the unusual object. Low cost – High impact. Keep in mind though that this was back in 2006, so when you’re reading this it might seem like something everyone is doing (and have been doing for a long time). Visceral did the same thing again with their Dante’s Inferno trailer (although with “Ain’t No Sunshine” instead of “Mad World”), but when the GoW2 trailer hit the internets this was considered kinda groundbreaking as there was extremely few trailers that even decided to move away from the noisy techno wubwub explosions Page 12 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) motherfucker-soundtrack and actually went for a more somber, emotional angle. Especially in the “dudebro violence and masculinity shown by wielding chainsaw imbued phallic objects and pointing them at things that need to be dead now”-genre. If you’re looking for inspiration for some brainstorming around guerilla marketing I’d recommend checking out Studio Total and their campaigns “Burning for Equality”, “Room for Art” and the aforementioned “Black Ascot”, as well as Saatch and Saatchi Stockholm and their Ariel campaign (which indeed did cost a tidy sum, but hey – dat attention). We also have Tool and their video “Take this lollipop” BBDO Toronto with more or less everything they’ve released since Skittles Touch and Portuguese Torke (Nowadays Torke+CC) who did the blood urinary/fake murder campaigns before the premiere of Dexter Season 2.

Part 4: Practical tips and tricks
“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.” – Jay Baer (Social Media Strategist) “More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging – in short, more word of mouth” – Gary Vaynerchuk (The thank you economy) “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” - Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) So you got a homepage, a blog, a twitter and a facebook page for your company. You’re posting good content, showing off both your team and your game and have written a good post about how to solve some of the issues you’ve come upon when working in Maya/max and also elaborated on why you’re working on a linux port even if the market seem small in relation to the others. Still you’re below a hundred likes and have very little active users on your facebook. Even fewer people active in the comments on your blog. You’re starting to ponder exactly what brand of bullshit this is, and why the fuck you’ve put down hours of work on this. First a little reminder. “This isn’t ‘Field of Dreams’, you are not Kevin Costner, if you build it they will not come.” –Edward Rumley (COO @ Chillingo (EA))

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Just producing content isn’t good enough. You won’t automagically get a larger audience. There’s no guarantees that people will find your blog even if they’re inputting the exact problem you’ve written about in the google machine. It takes time. Most of the time it takes a long time. This is one of the main reasons you’ve got to start doing this in due time (read: early). By cementing your presence online, becoming an appreciated source of information on Reddit and continuously writing high quality content posts on your blog people will start to show – but to speed up that process there are a few tricks that might work. It ain’t a guarantee for sudden viral success, but it beats enjoying the feel of your chair while hoping someone might share your latest photo and get someone else to look at it who also feels like sharing and that person also just happens to have Kieron Gillen or Robert Florence in amongst their friends. Hoping that things will work out and/or believing that just creating content will be good enough is not good enough. So to get that facebook page up to speed I’ll present an easy flow chart on how to widen your audience. Something that might be good to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t look at other indies as “competition” in any classical sense of the word. You’re not Pepsi. 2D Boy isn’t your Coca Cola. Rather, look at yourself as a small store in a larger town – recommend the stores you prefer to do your shopping in yourself and maintain good relationships with the other store owners and they might just do the same for you. That way you both gain customers, larger possibilities to do what you want and you’re helping to further the indie scene in general. Be an asset, not an asshat. Ask your friends to share your stuff and like everything that’s written/posted on your page. (That includes you yourself as well.) This sounds incredibly basic, but lots of people tend to drop some stuff on their FBpage and then… well… Go for a coffee I guess? By sharing your stuff and likeing what’s written on your company page you increase the reach of your posts to the friends who have yet to like your FBpage (what kinda friends do you have really?) and by simply asking a couple of friends to share/comment/like what’s being written you create incitement for others to take part of the conversation or sharing the picture. As Zuckerberg said – it’s a well known fact that something a friend recommends will be more credible than any awesomely cool billboard ad in the world. Personal recommendation < Anonymous commercial ad. Page 14 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Everybody obviously won’t sign up for your personal word of mouth street team, but if you yourselves are active and engaged in what’s being written and personally explain what it’d mean for you and your company if your friends do like/comment/share what you’re posting then your reach and your fans will increase. In time. If you’re posting interesting stuff that is – you’re not a billboard ad, and neither is your FBpage. #screenshotsaturday Hashtags on twitter can be/are incredibly useful for reaching a larger group of people (#indiedev #indiegame !) and every Saturday quite the few developers tweet one/a few screenshots of where they are in their development phase. It could be concept art, in game shots, pictures from a brainstorming session unt so weiter – the whole point is to create a narrative that people can follow to see a game grow and become the final product. #screenshotsaturday simply collects pictures with that hashtag and presents them on a page. Basic stuff, but it has been noted by indie static, indiegames.com and reddit and it keeps on growing on both the developer and audience side of things. Grow your list of contacts Or address book, mailing list or what have you. An excel book/maxbulk mailer document with email addresses, twitter handles, games/genres the journalist likes, what platforms said journalist operates on and in what publications the journalist appears in is key to quickly be able to reach out to relevant journalists with information when needed. We talked about this a bit earlier, remember? To fill your books with email addresses you seldom need more than basic knowledge of the google fu. Most journalists have either a) an email address tied to the site they’re writing for, b) a home page with their email or c) a twitter where you could just ask them for their email (in a non-socially awkward way). If they’re totally of the grid you could start by checking the paper publications they appear in and call the office and ask for an address, or you’d just have to go with the basic news/tips@gamingsite.com which usually is found somewhere on said publications site. The best way to get an address is obviously while sharing a beer and having a talk after a conference, but lacking that then scouring the web is the way to go. This is really something you should start with immediately when you start working on your concept, and it really never ends. Fifteen minutes on the bus, an hour on the train, half an hour before you hit the sack. By constantly getting new contact info and updating your books you make sure that you don’t need to find the first 30 relevant journalists/bloggers in the middle of your last crunch before going golden, and you don’t need to ponder on how to get in touch with the 150 largest non-english speaking sites – everything is already in the books. Being an early bird here is the difference between sitting down with 20 cold email addresses to people who never heard from you and having a nice relation with 30 journalists/bloggers/let’s play-tubers that you’ve already talked about your game with, and who have shown interest in getting their hands on any playable build you might put out. SEO – Search Engine Optimization Work in progress [I currently don’t know enough to write anything of decent substance. In the future there’ll be a section about this here though. Maybe a chapter. Who knows. Page 15 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) If you do know, and want to add your knowledge to the paper, feel free to contact me @ johan@gameport.se ] Reddit and the reddiquette Work in progress [If you do have substantial information, and want to add your knowledge to the paper, feel free to contact me @ johan@gameport.se ]

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Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

Sources/Good Reads
Gamasutra - Features - Building Buzz for Indie Games The Big List Of Indie Game Marketing « PixelProspector – the indie goldmine presskit() - spend time making games, not press marketing - Where to promote your indie game? - Game Development Stack Exchange An Indie Game Developer’s Marketing Checklist (Including Portable Formats) | Gamedevtuts+ Marketing Your Indie Game: The Single Most Important Thing That No One Knows How to Do | Gamedevtuts+ GDC Vault - Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers Indie Game Girl | Indie Game Developer Free Marketing Resource Promoter – Track press about your games and apps. Automagically. Games Marketer | Video Games Marketing, Promotion and Monetisation Gamasutra: Mike Rose's Blog - The Idiot's Guide to Marketing Your Indie Game Indie Game PR On A Shoestring | WE MAKE THE COPS LOOK DUMB Develop 2012: Brian Baglow on how indies can master the art of marketing | news | Develop Brighton | PocketGamer.biz IndieGames.com - The Weblog Ask IndieGames: How Do I Get You Guys To Pay Attention To My Press Release? Press tips for iOS game and app devs | Revert to Saved: A blog about design, gaming and technology Indie Games Summit: 2D Boy/Polytron’s top 10 ways to market your indie game – Offworld “Building Awareness Is A Huge Step”: Indie Game Marketing Advice From Phil Hassey | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads Gamasutra - Features - The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games Games Press: The resource for games journalists GDC Austin: Wolfire's PR Tips - Wolfire Games Blog 100% Marketing Success Tips For Indie Games | WE MAKE THE COPS LOOK DUMB Gamasutra: Howard Tsao's Blog - Indie Game Contests - To Enter Or Not To Enter Promoter – Track press about your games and apps. Automagically. Tales of the Rampant Coyote: 10 Quick-and-Dirty Indie Game Marketing Tips, Part I Page 17 of 18

Indies Game Marketing 101: A Love Story Johan Toresson, Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator) Lost Garden: Bursty Indie Sales Cycles Google Analytics for Software Sellers Zero Budget Indie Marketing Guide | devmag.org.za Gamasutra - News - GDC: Wolfire's Guide To Indie PR How we handle our social networks | MoaCube Kieron Gillen's Workblog » How To Use And Abuse The Gaming Press And How The Gaming Press Wants To Use and Abuse You. RunJumpDev - Ben Kuchera - November 2011 - YouTube Eight things all indie developers should do when they talk to the press | Hookshot Inc. How To Contact Press (And Increase Chances To Get Press Coverage) « PixelProspector – the indie goldmine GDC Vault - Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers

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