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Weekly Topic Marketing And Social For Your Game

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by aliceingameland, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. aliceingameland

    aliceingameland

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    Not everyone likes this aspect of making games, but marketing and getting the word out about your project is, as I’m sure you know, very important -- at least, if you’re looking to gain some revenue from it at some point (you might not be, and that’s cool too!). We focus a lot on the actual makey bits here, but how do you create buzz for your project while you’re in development? How do you make sure your game gets in front of the audience that will care about it the most? Are you using gifs to great success over Twitter? If you have any marketing tips, social media tactics or tools that you’re using, please share!


    ---

    (To see past discussions, go to this index thread)
     
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  2. Tzan

    Tzan

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    I told my mom.
     
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  3. Not_Sure

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    I told @Tzan 's mom.
     
  4. APSchmidt

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    I didn't tell anyone yet. I suppose at some point I'll have to create a Facebook account? a Ulule account? a Twitter account? other exotic social networks accounts? and advertise on all of them?

    Anyone knows how to monetise a game when you do not own a tablet or a smartphone? Steam is out of the questoin for small games, so, where do we go when we create games that are the size of the Space Shooter we do here as a tutorial?
     
  5. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    itch.io
    kongregate.com
     
  6. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Thank you. Are these places safe?
     
  7. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Lots of people use them all the time.
     
  8. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Been working on my first indie project with a programmer colleague.
    Since this is my first (we are in charge) project - marketing and advertising is all new ground for me, so anything I say is from a complete rookie perspective.

    In my opinion out reach efforts could potentially accomplish multiple goals.
    We are preparing to reveal our game at a small local game festival - Pixelfest to gain hands on feedback from players. In addition to attending this festival we are also preparing to upload builds to several web portals, offer newsletter sign up, provide blog updates, create wip threads, feedback friday submissions, twitter tweets, and youtube teaser video to get a wide variety of feedback from multiple avenues.
    The main goal has always been to present the game to receive feedback, to gauge if we are on the right track or to consider revising if we see consensus in the feedback leaning strongly in a particular direction.

    To overcome bias or any type of group-think consensus in any one feedback avenue we have planned to get as much input as we can from as many different locations as possible, hands on in person, gamer and developer forum posts, blogs and direct to other gamers through the portals.

    Even though the main intention is to receive feedback I believe these efforts could also have unintended advertising results if the game is received well.

    And I think it is important to end every marketing/advertising topic with -- But who knows! :confused:
     
  9. aliceingameland

    aliceingameland

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    Especially when your team size is small and everyone is wearing multiple (multiple-multiples!) hats as they say then it's good to streamline efforts wherever possible. Building up an audience around your project from the early stages is great if you can do it -- the people you manage to attract early on will feel that much more engaged and invested in the outcome of your project down the line, since they will have literally watched it evolve and grow over time :) It feels hard to justify putting in that extra effort in marketing/showing off your progress when all you want to do is be heads-down developing, but I do think it pays off in the long run! Showing your game off at local gaming festivals and events is a great tactic -- you'll gain experience at showing your game, and will be able to refine the "pitch" greatly over time, as well as have access to invaluable playtesting & feedback. Obviously there's no 100% recipe for success (unless someone wants to share one here heheh), but it sounds like you've got a well-reasoned plan, and that's great!

    As a former member of games press, make sure you have a press kit readily available somewhere, and keep it up to date! (You don't want to have someone FINALLY write about your game only to find they used some years-old screenshot that looks gross -- feels bad, man!) Check this: http://dopresskit.com/ - made by indies for indies :)
     
  10. Tzan

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    Leave it to programmers to "help" by making things more complicated with a server program.

    I would think using OpenOffice to put together some text and images, then save as PDF would be easier.
    Then put the PDF on your web site on a Press page.
    Hook up Google Analytics to the PDF file if you want.
     
  11. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Thanks for the reminder Alice. Although it's on my reminder list - I had forgotten about getting that finished. Thanks for reminding me about ONE MORE thing I still have left to do! :D
    Yeah - I wear the marketing hat(s).
     
  12. Billy4184

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    One thing I think is a good idea, what I'm doing at least, is to not really start marketing until after you have a demo of some kind that is representative of the final product. I've already changed too many times stuff in the game, and I think it's important to have a lot of leeway to try things out in those early stages and potentially take a different direction. Once you have the demo done though, and it's gotten good feedback, it's kind of a milestone and a small product in itself, as well as a clear marker of something that has been signed off as having the potential for success.

    I'm kind of looking forward to getting past that point and starting a continuous twitter/website/facebook thing, and seeing my game on websites (I hope!).
     
  13. Not_Sure

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    I was kind of hoping that more people would join this conversation because this is a hat I seriously need to consider and right now I'm clueless and lost.
     
  14. Tzan

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    Look at the time difference between the top two posts.
    10 hours. I had a feeling this thread would be not well attended.

    I mostly made that post because I didn't want Alice to feel sad about an empty thread.

    I think it would be great if someone with proper experience laid out EVERYTHING you needed to know.
    Along with an actual list of places to contact to spread the word. Not just vague generalities.
    It doesn't need to be comprehensive, just an example.

    My mom is a major influencer in the 70-80 age range.
     
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  15. EternalAmbiguity

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    Well I have no experience, but it seems to me like getting in touch with actual websites with some good screenshots and a decent clip of representative gameplay is the thing to do. I couldn't tell you how well it works, but that seems like the obvious step to take.
     
  16. Teila

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    May I tell your mom about our game? :) She might like it.
     
  17. Tzan

    Tzan

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    Of course, I'll tell her to expect your telegram.
     
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  18. N1warhead

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    Honestly, the best sound advice I can give, is like the old saying goes "It's not what you know, it's who you know".. Having friends in high places can make or break something as quick as you can code a single line for a variable.

    Aside from that, sort of like the old saying, dealing with exclusivity toward a specific platform (E.G. - Xbox only, PS4 only), etc. If the game is well made and looks to the standards they'd want to show, if you deal with exclusive titles, you have more of a chance of getting your game shown at E3 from the actual console companies, etc. Exclusive titles based on statistics can either help you or hurt you in terms of sales. But this comes down to what kind of game you're making, if it's worth making it exclusive, because exclusive titles if they are the type of game the company wants to put their image on, can be used for their own marketing purposes - free marketing for you.
     
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  19. aliceingameland

    aliceingameland

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    True that. It's another reason why building and having a good social media presence is so useful. You might not have a great network to begin with but you can build up a following online -- you never know who you'll make friends with, or who's eye you might catch through someone RTing your stuff.

    I love seeing all the WIP gifs/screenshots/videos that are shared to the #madewithunity Twitter hashtag. There's also #screenshotsaturday as a popular one, and others as well. Sharing something visually eye catching or evocative of the game experience regularly to these hashtags can help get your project in front of people. Gifs work really well for this! More than just sharing though, get involved in replying to what other people have shared, give some support, cheer on some of your favorites, follow something that catches your eye -- they may follow you back, or give you some feedback in return! Over time you'll hopefully realize you've turned all these little interactions into a nice supportive base. Something to remember is that even the most well connected people, at some point, had to start from zero.


    Haha thanks! :) I do think empty threads are sad - no one likes a sad empty thread!

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to lay out EVERYTHING one needs to know about this subject, and tactics necessarily change to fit the game/situation/dev. A lot of it is getting familiar with "best practice" and what others have done before you, and then experimenting with things until you hit on something that works for you. (Obviously if you've got budget to hire a marketing/social person, that would be one way to access expertise but of course not everyone is able to do that.)

    Are there games that are similar to what you're working on that's doing well in getting the word out? Take a look at what they're doing and attempt to emulate what works. If that doesn't get you the results you're after, move your focus to another tactic, and keep trying different things. Honestly, a lot of time it may feel like spinning your wheels but after some consistent effort, you'll hopefully be able to see the results build up :) It's the type of thing where the more of a following you have, the easier it is to grow your following.

    I'm not saying I have all the expert answers here but I do have some industry experience so if anyone has specific questions I can attempt to at least point ya'll in the right direction.
     
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  20. N1warhead

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    @aliceingameland : Very true.... I will be showing my game soon, just gotta get it at least - nice looking outside of basic models I made haha.

    So many people wait until the game is nearly finished to show it off, that's one of the worst things you can possibly ever do. Well unless you're lucky, but we all know how well luck works for all of us haha. It takes a lot of work, a bunch of ups and downs, but if you stick with it, your chances are so much higher. But you can't just want to do it or feel like you have to do it, you have to genuinely love doing it, because lets face it - you aren't going to get anywhere with unresolved conflicts within your self or others.
     
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  21. dogzerx2

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    For a game with no marketing budget you need to think of your game as a community, right from the start. Won't work with any game, you have to design your game around that notion.
     
  22. Teila

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    Last October, our team attended a game developer conference in Orlando. The talks were great but my favorite speakers were a couple of women who talked about how to market our games. The mentioned the obvious, social media, 3 Tweets a day, connecting with people, etc. They also suggested that we go outside the internet and look for the niche group of people who would enjoy our game. This struck me as something I had not heard before. We were doing what we needed to do online, but the gaming community is a huge, diverse group of people and there are tons of games that appeal to most of them.

    What we needed to do is go to people who may like our game for other reasons other than it is a game. Since we are creating a game for role players, we approached a local pen and paper guild. We received a lot of great advice as well as a promise to test when we were ready. So we plan to set up a testing day, invite folks from the guild to bring their laptops and test our game.

    It is not so easy to get outside your comfort zone and approach people, especially if you don't fit the "young adult male game maker" stereotype. But so far, most people have been interested, even those who normally don't play video games.

    I guess unless you are making a niche game, that might not be important to you. I do remember that the speakers stressed that it was much easier to market a niche game than one that appeals to the already served populations. I am not sure I have found that to be true as niche markets can be difficult to find.

    While I agree that it is good to start building your community early, I also have from experience found that too early, especially for a small team or solo developer, is not always good. My goal is to keep putting out there what we have and talking about how we are moving forward. Hopefully, once people take us seriously, we will have less difficult finding that group of people who want to play our game.
     
  23. Schneider21

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    I have a really bad problem with starting to share my game way too early. I get excited about my early progress and want to talk about it and begin building a community. I feel that -- for me, at least -- this causes me to be more focused on making progress I can easily share, rather than make progress that's important for the game.

    I've made a vow to not share anything about my current project until gameplay is ~80% complete and graphics ~20%. At that point, my usual strategy of devlog, Reddit, and Twitter can begin.
     
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  24. theANMATOR2b

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    Related anecdote - I frequent a couple local comic book stores for several reasons, one of which is awesome inspirational art and another is because my son is rewarded with a pokemon pack when he does a good job.
    My son likes to collect the cards but does not play the game much. We attended a pokemon game night, and I struck up a conversation with the owner. We talked about various things and ended up talking about the gaming schedule. They host several game nights per week, table top gaming, magic night, and pokemon nights twice a week. After frequenting the store off/on while these gaming nights were held I noticed (pokemon especially) there are 20-30 kids and adults, and accompanying parents kinda just standing around and helping there kids out when needed.
    So I mentioned to the owner that I'm working on a small digital tactical puzzle type game and asked if I could bring it in one night to see if people wanted to play it when they weren't playing the other games and he said sure!
    Although I've not acted on this yet - I'm interested to see how beneficial it will be and hope to let others know if it is worth pursuing, at their local comic book store gaming nights.

    Reddit is something I don't see a lot of people mention, although I've read about instances where reddit posts could be directly linked to upticks in game sales/downloads.
    I've seen people "marketing" - posting about a game in a certain subs however - I've also read numerous instances that reddit frowns upon self promotion and marketing - so - how does reddit really work for marketing?

    I'd really like to be more involved in reddit, but either I'm totally overlooking it or reddit doesn't have a notification 'ability' similar to the forum here, for things like followed threads. Anyone have some advice on this?
     
  25. Schneider21

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    It's very subjective, and depends heavily on the sub you're posting to. I haven't done it myself, yet, really... I have subs that I created and admin for two game projects, but haven't really posted to them yet. Obviously, since I run them, I can post whatever I want there.

    But if you're posting to a different forum, you've got to be very careful to not spam or even over-promote your game. And over-promoting could be more than a single post, depending on the community. /r/gamedev seems to allow regular posts as long as they're in-progress and have some sort of value (instructional, entertaining) other than just pointing to your game's store page. /r/IndieGaming is very inconsistent with what they allow, but self-marketing seems to be frowned upon, while telling others about a cool game is okay? /r/gaming is a mess of a place that I avoid, but regardless marketing gets shut down pretty quickly. Meanwhile, /r/Unity3D and /r/Unity2D don't seem to enforce any kind of rules as far as I can see, but if your focus is on marketing to devs, you're doing it wrong. :p

    I see the value in Reddit being in subs that I manage, and as a concurrent and redundant outlet for distributing information shared through Twitter and blogs. It's just an alternate way to get in front of people's eyes. You slowly grind up those subscribers, consistently publish compelling content, and gain brand or product awareness that way. The real magic that would affect sales wouldn't come until later (when your game is released) and someone loves your game and shares a video or something on a big channel with lots of subscribers. I would say, though, that if that kind of situation is happening, chances are you're already doing other things that are helping you, and Reddit is an additional boost. Relying on it as a major source of traffic is probably not wise.
     
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  26. aliceingameland

    aliceingameland

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    I just saw this Gamasutra community blog post about the Indie Games scene in 2017 and thought people here might be interested in some of the data the author has included (note: sample size of 100 games). In particular, there is a chart at the end showing the various channels indie studios have chosen to communicate about their game.
     
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  27. Tzan

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    Thanks! That was interesting stuff.
     
  28. LMan

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    I hate to say too much regarding marketing- I have a lot of ideas about what works and why, but I haven't had enough releases to feel confident in what I have to say.

    It occurs to me that it's not enough to have a desirable product, you also need to build a community around the product(s).

    For that you need marketing content- blogs, videos, art, music. While some of it uses game content, it still has to be processed and packaged for its destination, and that's time intensive and expensive.

    What I'm not at all sure about is, how do you get people to stop watching and engage? Like you can get a bunch of views and get good exposure, but how do you get people to talk to you? How do you compel people to not just watch the video or read the blog, but to take an action and become an active community and not just a passive one?
     
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  29. theANMATOR2b

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    Fan art competitions?
     
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  30. elmar1028

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    Plot twist: @Tzan 's mom is actually a head of PR department at Google
     
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  31. Schneider21

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    I recall learning about interview techniques in school. A good interviewer asks questions that have more than yes/no answers since, after all, the point of the interview is about the conversation and not merely gathering information. Note that this is all hypothetical, since as I've mentioned, I have almost no real experience with marking games myself.

    Tactic 1: Ask a question.
    The most literal way I can think to encourage an audience to engage is to ask them questions. This may be in the form of a direct question:
    Or maybe a bit more subtle, yet even more direct:
    If it fits the tone of your team or game, you could try being a bit coy.
    Tactic 2: Invite them to your party
    People love participating in live events, apparently. I can never fit them into my schedule, personally, but it seems like a great way to engage. Until you become so popular that you can't keep up with the chat, but that's a problem I don't think any of us would mind having...

    Tactic 3: Give them content they can't help but talk about
    Even if they're not engaging you directly, people talking about your game is an active community. Maybe your crafting system is super fun, but very complex and a bit nebulous. A wiki where people try to figure out the math of the system to explain it to min-maxers is a form of engagement you should appreciate.

    People can't stop themselves from commenting on gorgeous or unique visuals, interesting stories, and things that tickle their imagination. I think it's important that, whenever you spot a conversation about your game happening, you join in on it where you can. Let them know their feedback is heard, and that will only encourage the passive observers seeing that to feel like engaging in the conversation themselves.
     
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  32. LMan

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    How about engagement on the personal level? Ideally, you want to be interacting with groups, but the absence of people can keep people away/quiet.

    If you don't have a crowd to draw crowds with, what do you do?

    Is it productive to go looking for people you think are your demographic and contacting them personally? Or is that weird?
     
  33. Schneider21

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    I would say it depends on what you mean by "personally."

    It's not at all weird to search on Twitter for certain word usage or hashtags and find people interested in a certain subject (that could be related to your game) and follow them from your game's official account. They'll get a notification that you followed them, and if your name and profile image intrigue them enough, they may view your feed to see what your game is about, and if you're lucky, follow you back. Even if that person only has 40 followers, when you're starting out, if they happen to retweet anything you post, that's 40 people you weren't reaching before.

    Should you look for forum threads about a similar game and PM people who participated in the thread promoting your game? No.

    In the real world, fan acquisition takes much more time and even money. So if I'm making a game about crafting and I find out a local smith offers a class on basic blacksmithing, maybe I take that class and try to build a bit of a relationship with the instructor. If things go well, maybe you could ask to put up a flyer for your game on their public notice board, or put a stack of handouts in their brochure rack. It shouldn't be expected that they allow this, but it could be worth taking the chance. And obviously not all games have an interest or demographic that aligns so nicely with the game's theme or content.

    Would it be appropriate to stand outside the smithing class and solicit downloads or follows from people going in and out? No.

    Honestly, I think building a crowd is the hardest part of game development. I don't think there's a secret formula that guarantees success. Sometimes you just get lucky, and creating enough good content (the game itself and its promotional material) gets you a few chance views with a big viewing, and it all takes off. But the vast majority of the time I suspect it's a slow burn that takes a long time, which is why it's so important to start early.
     
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  34. LMan

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    Well suppose your game has a facebook page, and you post updates about new features there. You get a few likes, but nobody comments.

    Is it worth reaching out to those people individually, sending them a message that said "Hey thanks for liking the post, I was wondering how you liked X feature."

    My idea is that if you can get somebody personally invested, they'll be more likely to post comments, follow more actively, tell people about it.
     
  35. Schneider21

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    I don't think that's out of line or anything. It seems -- to me, at least -- to be focusing a bit too much on the trees rather than the forest, but if you have the time and energy for it, by all means.
     
  36. Socrates

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    This is a really interesting thought. I've always thought of games where some systems were too complex to easily understand without a lot of work by other players as being a detriment to the game; if you have to keep the wiki open to play, it's too far. The idea that this could be used as an engagement system of drawing in the puzzle solvers in your audience had not occurred to me.
     
  37. Schneider21

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    I guess there's different degrees you could take this to. I agree that having to use a guide while playing is too far. And I'm not even saying that all games need to be complex enough that a wiki is necessary. More just that ANY sort of effort being made by players on behalf of the game is a community that should be embraced, and is also an opportunity to learn more about your game from the player perspective.
     
  38. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Controversy
    Controversy always/usually draws a crowd! :eek:

    I've received a couple personal/private twitter messages from a couple devs similar to this. I didn't think it was out of line.
     
  39. pcg

    pcg

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    Mentioning classic games you got inspiration on seems to get people's attention.
    I was messing about with voxels and made a prototype top down game like Gauntlet. Name dropping that in some posts got more attention than usual.

    I've seen lots of other examples of the same thing. My turn based game is inspired by from blah blah.

    Pretty screwed if you're making something totally original :)
     
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