Most indie developers tend to hyper-focus on making their game, and making it exactly perfect, or at least “not selling out” to make some money. Unfortunately if you actually want to continue spending hours of your time on this, and you want to make money off of your game, you must do some things that help get the word out there and get people talking about it. Here are a few tips that we have on doing so.
1) Make it Look Good
The most important thing you can do for a game is to make sure it looks and feels good to play. That doesn’t mean you need it to look like Skyrim or have the most intuitive control scheme in the world, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t leave the player with a huge headache. The graphics quality should be represented on your box art and other promotional materials for the game. You may not be the best graphic designer in the world, and you don’t have to be, but we highly suggest finding somebody to add to your team that can give you that edge.
Something indie developers often look over is the opportunity to expand the range of their IP, or piggy backing off of somebody else’s, featuring characters or the like from other developer’s games. Writing e-books or doing interesting or funny web videos that can be companion content to your game is also really valuable, it shows you care about your project and you understand that its more than just a game that was a hobby project. Remember to apply the first tip here, make these this look good, and make them high quality. Put effort into your extras and make them look professional. Be creative and try things that haven’t been done, or even look to AAA developers and see what they are doing and how you can translate that down to the indie level.
3) Blogging and Social Networking
Among other web content, these two things are some of the most important things you can do. First, blogging. When you blog you need to make sure your content is diverse. Don’t only write about your own projects. Do reviews of other indie games, try and do interviews with other developers, or write commentaries about other articles. Make it interesting to read. It might be cynical, but you must assume, to begin with, that nobody cares about you or your game. Again piggy back off of other peoples reputation, and work hard to build your own. As far as social networking goes Twitter and Facebook will be your best friends. Twitter is where you will start to build connections with other developers, reviewers, and people interested in the indie game industry itself and its a great place to build reputation and a network of people to tap into to find reviews and interviews to do. As far as Facebook goes its a great tool beyond just networking, which we will discuss later.
Now you might be going, “your team has nothing to do with marketing or getting your name out there” and maybe you’d have some valid points, but I’m here to tell you that your team has everything to do with marketing. You might be a one man team, and if that is the case you have a lot of work cut out for you, as the saying goes two heads are better than one. We strongly encourage you to build a team of people dedicated to your project. I encourage you to work on building a team. This team should be of like minded individuals with different skill sets. Find some good artists, good game programers, and good web developers. Somebody who can organize your social marketing and other promotional items, perhaps even a writer to help with your extra content, maybe even a video guy and even consider a music composer.
5) Patience and Perseverance
This might not be directly related to game development, but it shines through to everything that you do. The attitude and mindset in which your write and respond to people, and all the various writings and blogs you do will leak into your content. Stay upbeat and stay excited, and keep having fun. You will get stressed, but when you sit down to communicate or write stuff, make sure you leave all of that at the door. People want your enthusiasm and will cling to your message when you do it in an inspired mindset.
6) Track It, Test It, Improve It
There are many tools in which you can track your effectiveness and your reach. Coming up with creative ways to use Facebook’s page insights, the stats on WordPress, YouTube’s stats, or even using Google Analytics, you can track your page views and see what types of things people are responding the most to, and you can then change your tactics to capitalize on those things, but you should keep trying new ideas as well, you never know when the next one will explode. Another tool to help you decide what things to make or how to improve your content is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, if used creatively. You can use it to figure out new article topics, or how to word things to optimize your search engine results. All of these tools are free and provide you with really great information.
7) Stay Organized
This goes beyond marketing, and into project management itself. Know where resources are, track your progress well, stay in constant communication with your team so you know whats new and whats going on. Put things in a logical order, so if somebody else needs to find it or change it, they can do it without needing to be dependent on any one person for too much, its ease of mind and work flow and you will get done with your projects much faster.
That’s it. Just a few tips to consider and think about while making your games. Remember, this advice is from a first time developer, and we are sure to learn more and refine and add to this list, but the lessons we have already learned should prove to be be invaluable to any other first time developer. Please let us know what you think, if you have any comments or feedback at all, let us know, and if you find this information valuable share it with your network and team.
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