Four things every indie developer needs to do to market their games
In the 1980s, it was Atari and Nintendo who dominated the video game market. During the 1990s we experienced (at least those of us who grew up during this era) the console wars; 16 bit battling between the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, the handheld Game Boy vs the Game Gear. These were great times to live in, with some truly amazing and lasting games produced during the fight for dominance.
The wars died down enough for a new player to enter the fray: the Sony Playstation. Developers flocked to this new console and swept through the competition quickly. By the end of the 20th Century, Sega had conceded the contest and exited the console market, switching over to strictly game development (the same as Atari had in the mid-90s).
The gaming world has since entered the 21st Century. Sony and Microsoft dominate the console market with Nintendo comfortably in 3rd. Consoles are far more sophisticated than they were back in the day. They can play games from a disc, download games online, and even play games developed by independent developers.
In fact, we are in the age of the indie developer. Anybody can produce a game thanks to the open availability of development tools like Gamemaker Studio and Unreal Engine. While games from established companies are more focused on monopolizing on certain trends, indie developers are bringing creativity back; they are going back to the roots of video games.
With that said, it can be hard for an indie developer to get their product out into the gaming community. To help with that, here are compiled some essential marketing must-dos that indie developers must do to gain exposure.
Indie developers ABSOLUTELY need to present their product on social media. Indie gaming relies on a community of gamers, and the best way to reach the community is through social media. Friends of the game designers will more than likely be involved in gaming communities, both the designers and their friends can begin discussing the game.
This early marketing method will generate interest in the public by expanding out from friends to the communities on the various social media platforms. It could also generate some revenue in the form of donations. Indie developers, until they gain a reputation, put their own time into the projects, typically working a full-time job. Donations can help pay for equipment or allow a designer to switch their work positions and focus on the game full time.
A game or company website should be developed and used as the central hub for all information concerning the game. Some of this information can be shared on the social media, but links leading back to an awesome-looking website are crucial. Post screenshots, character concept art, pixel sheets, production updates; anything that can add to build excitement for the project should go on the website.
The website is also the centralized destination for any SEO efforts that are performed. Indie developers struggle to get their work seen by gamers, and social media will take them only so far. They will also have to get their work picked up by search engines.
Gamers are always looking for new, great games. The websites and blogs devoted to indie games are numerous; take advantage of them. Indie developers should contribute to these sites, writing posts on general gaming topics or specific subjects, and include links back to their website.
This will help Bing and Google find the website during online searches. The more links a developer can get out there (on different sites or blog posts, not the same one), the likelihood of being discovered by indie gamers increases.
Along with official updates on the game’s website, and the SEO contributing to other sites, indie developers should maintain their own blog. As mentioned above, this could be discussions on any gaming topic that they can think of.
Reviewing other indie games not only helps their fellow developers get noticed, but it also establishes the posting company’s credibility. People, in general, are going to be more trusting of someone who is providing constructive criticism, not just tearing down the competition.
Different members of the development team should get involved with the company’s blog. Each has a voice and would like to discuss something with the public. Allowing each team member to put their thoughts out on the Internet will also establish trust with gamers.
They will see the passion the development team has, not just for the game they are creating, but the industry in general. By building trust with gamers, they are building confidence that the game will be completed (indie games do have a high ratio of stalled and abandoned projects, unfortunately).
Have any tips you think we should include? Let us know down below.
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