If you ignored marketing all through the development process, don’t despair. All of the same philosophies and strategies apply when you attempt to promote your indie game post-dev. It may actually be easier to get followers now on social media since you have high quality, polished art to share regularly. The only increased struggles you’re facing are the condensed timeline and an inability to show social proof.
The condensed timeline struggle
It feels like you need to get 1000’s of game downloads this very moment or you’re a failure. Of course, that’s unrealistic, even for top tier indie games. But you’ve worked hard on your game for months, or even years, and need the world to see it. More than that, you need to actually make some money to justify all your hard work.
The pressure of the condensed timeline is artificial. If you’ve gone this long without the reassurance of an audience, then a few more weeks while you find your footing in the marketing world really shouldn’t be that much of a burden. If you’re absolutely destitute, try to grab some part-time freelancing gigs while you build up your audience.
The social proof struggle
If you start marketing from the beginning of your game’s development, then it’s okay that your social media accounts have 5-10 followers. People aren’t expecting an unreleased game with programmer art to have a huge following. However, with a launch-ready or released game, people may suspect that your game is bad since no one else is following you. The same issue exists with customer reviews on your release platform.
The solution is to blindly plow ahead. Each follower and review you get is another push over this speed bump. It may cause things to be slower when you start, but some people won’t notice or won’t care. The important thing is not to give up if it seems like you’re not getting traction.
A Game Promotion Strategy That Works
When you promote your indie game, don’t look at the entire picture. Yes, you want a million downloads, we all do. But that’s not an actionable step. You need to break down your promotion and advertising into actionable goals. Since you’re not an experienced marketer, these actionable goals need to feel achievable or you’ll slump right back into inaction.
Remember, marketing isn’t hard – it’s just a different way of thinking. As a developer, you desire an absolute path with predictable results…but that’s just not how it works. In marketing, you do things and see how well they work. Then you iterate on the successful things until you achieve your objective. You can’t let the failures block your ability to see the minor successes.
So, onto the stupid simple strategy to promote your indie game
Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten where I heard this strategy. But it was definitely from one of the “rah, rah, entrepreneurship is awesome” types several years ago. If you recognize it, please let me know so I can link to the original!
Find 1 player for your game
I know it’s a laughable objective, just bear with me here. You haven’t done marketing, so you truly have 0 players for game at the moment. 1 player is significantly more players than 0, so there’s value in this action. So, consider what you could do to get 1 player.
Some easy solutions:
- Email a link of your game to a colleague
- Message a good friend on Facebook
- Call your mother
Did you do it? PICK ONE AND GO DO IT; IT’S EASY.
Now, find 10 players for your game
A little less easy, perhaps. But now you have momentum. You already have 1 player! Consider how you could get 10 more players. You could do whatever you did in step 1 ten more times – unless you called your mother, I guess. 🙂 Or you can come up with an easier solution. No answer is wrong as long as it has potential to work.
Some easy solutions:
- Post your game on your personal facebook account
- Share your game on a ridiculously tiny gaming subreddit
- Post a link on an off-topic forum where you regularly participate
Did you do it? Seriously, go do it. If you can’t do this, how will anyone ever play the game you worked so hard on?
Great! Now, find 100 players for your game
You knew this was coming. It’s harder to solve than 10 players, isn’t it? There’s no reason to panic, just consider possible solutions and try them. At this stage, you may have to try multiple things…that’s okay. The goal is to get you thinking about who your audience is and how to get in front of them. So this time, consider who exactly will want to play your game. Who, other than your mother, responded well to your game from the first two steps? Find more of those people!
Some possible solutions:
- Post on a forum related to the topic/genre of your game
- Share in a community about a similar game
- Reach out to a super-niche blogger and see if they’ll post about your game
Did it work? If not, try something else. When you finally achieve it, consider that you were just successful at marketing with no knowledge of marketing.
Now, find 1000 players for your game
Consider the specific type of person that would like to play your game. Brainstorm where that type of person hangs out online and then try to get your game in front of them. Keep doing that until you’ve exhausted every possible option…then consider another type of person that might like your game and repeat the process.
When you’ve achieved that, try to think of a place to promote your indie game where you might score 10,000 players. It will be a hard task and an uphill battle, but you’ll be able to show proof to that platform that your game is “good” and “successful” because of the social proof of already having 1,111+ players.
That’s marketing. It’s not hard…it’s just different. You don’t have to be good at it; you just have to be persistent in the face of apparent failure.
Listen, I know you read through this without actually doing anything. That’s fine, but you need to take action to successfully promote your indie game. If you’re still in the dev cycle, you can still follow the process above, but look for followers on social media instead of players. Re-marketing to those followers when you launch is a lot easier than fresh players.