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Indie Game Marketing: Staying on target with your audience

Most industry professionals will tell you the first thing you need to establish when starting out with a new game, or even just an idea for a new game, is who your target audience are and how you’ll reach them. Now, indie game marketing differs from conventional marketing somewhat in this endeavour. Whilst triple-A has the luxury of their audience often seeking them out you can’t expect that level of attention as an indie. You will have to go out and find your target audience if you want to expose them to your game. Only once you have an idea of who your target audience is and where they are can you start to implement any kind of effective marketing plan.  
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Indie game marketing: the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them

Last year, I wrote about the most common indie game PR mistakes, and how to avoid falling into those traps. More than ever, those tips remain true: it’s vital to have a clear proposition, allow enough time to prove your value to the media, and ensure everything you present is on-message and slickly produced. But good indie game marketing covers more than just PR, and we often see studios follow the rules when it comes to their public relations, yet fail to capitalise on this success due to having a less-than-robust overall marketing strategy. read more

When not to release your indie game

You might think that the right time to release a game is when it’s finished, but things aren’t quite that straight forward, especially when it comes to indie games. Launching a game in an unsuitable release window can ruin any chances it has of success resulting in disappointing sales and the inevitable fade into obscurity. The bigger picture can be hard to see if you’re not familiar with marketing, but understanding the industries regular release rhythm can be invaluable. It could just give a game the edge it needs to gain exposure and interest on launch. Let’s take a look at the most important things to remember when releasing an indie game. read more

How indie game marketing can benefit from open production

Recently, many games studios have thrown out old ways of making and marketing their games, and have embraced a bold, disruptive new approach: open production. But what is it? And is it right for you?

What is open production?

Traditionally, video games are made behind closed doors. Teams of designers and developers work away in secret, with information drip-fed to the public by PR and marketing teams, often building up to big reveals and impactful campaigns as the game heads towards launch.

Open production rejects this approach. Instead, it advocates an open-door policy, a fly-on-the-wall approach to developing your game, in order to make potential players more invested in the project. The idea is that honesty engenders trust — so showing your working as you build your game gives people a belief in your team and a sense of connection with you as developers. read more

Thinking outside the box: Guerilla marketing & indie games

There’s a good chance you’ve heard the term guerrilla marketing before – as it’s often thrown around when discussing particularly unusual PR campaigns that use unique or novel techniques. In truth, guerilla marketing takes on many forms, but generally, the term is used to describe the unconventional use of marketing techniques to advertise a product with little to no budget.

It’s a very imaginative process with practitioners utilising high energy, impactful methods to grab the audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression on their prospective customers. The potential this has for indie game marketing as an untapped and cost-effective strategy is unparalleled. The advantage this offers could make the difference between a game standing out in a crowded market or disappearing among the flood of unrelenting releases. Guerilla marketing is about as indie as it gets – small, bespoke and uniquely designed. It’s a match made in heaven. read more

How indie games can get the best marketing exposure at expos

Gamescom’s just wrapped up in Cologne, PAX heads to Seattle this weekend, and EGX and the Paris Games Week hit Birmingham and, uh, Paris respectively next month.

It’s that time of year where thousands of indie developers around the world head to expos to showcase their latest creation. But with booths at many such events costing thousands, if not tens of thousands, how can indies get the best bang for their buck?

Here are our five top tips – for getting the most out of your marketing, and more besides. read more

How to turn a social media following into a meaningful community

Social media has brought the eyes and ears of the world to our doorsteps. At the click of a button, you can potentially reach millions of people sharing your thoughts, feelings and messages. The potential opportunities this has presented for creatives, such as indie game developers, is vast. In addition to the usual press coverage and marketing approach, game developers can now bolster their efforts by engaging with their fans and building communities around their games. This offers invaluable insight into how your audience thinks and feels as well as further exposing your game to potential fans. The difficulty, of course, is finding a strategy that works for smaller endeavours that allows you to transition an engaged audience into paying customers. read more

The importance of starting early

Once upon a time, releasing an indie game was enough to get people’s attention — especially if your game was on Steam, the holy grail for the indie developer looking to gain visibility with a large audience. There was a time when a Steam release would guarantee you millions of eyes on your game, and drive sales without you having to do anything. That fabled time now has a name: 2013.

It is not 2013 any more.

And as such, we hear from many developers who are about to release a game, and who know that they need to do some marketing to be in with a chance of success. The problem is, it takes time to construct a scenario where success is likely, or even possible. Developers who begin thinking about marketing just weeks before their release are shooting themselves in the foot, and instead engendering a situation in which their hard work is destined to fail. read more

Why you don’t want to run a Kickstarter campaign

The launch of Kickstarter changed the crowdfunding landscape, offering a more reliable way for creatives to bring their projects to market. It was a natural fit for the indie development community which has found huge success on the platform over the years. Granted, crowdfunding isn’t the powerhouse it once was, but for an entity that’s funded over 10,000 games since its inception there’s still opportunities to succeed, or so you would think. The reality of crowdfunding your game is often at odds with indie developers’ expectations that Kickstarter is an easy and free path to making the game of your dreams. Unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. read more

Come say hi at the Develop Conference

Jon and I will both be at the Develop Conference in Brighton next week, where we hope to meet a bunch of lovely indie developers and natter away about marketing and PR until the seagulls come home.

I’ll also be doing a talk on the Wednesday morning. It’s free to attend! You’ll need to sign up for an Expo Pass (at the indie-friendly price of zero pounds) in order to gain entry.

The talk is about how to earn your place in the video games media, with a focus on the word ‘earn’. This isn’t about how to write a press release or how to email a journalist, but rather, about how to prove that you’re worth paying attention to, and provide value to the journalists and influencers you’re out to impress. read more