Marketing a game isn’t simple. There are many moving parts in a successful marketing campaign, and a lot of tasks you don’t want to forget to do. It’s why publishers have marketing teams, usually consisting of at least a handful of people whose job it is purely to track and execute these tasks at the exact time they need doing.
But as an indie developer, you don’t have a marketing team to assemble, Avengers-style, when it’s time to start promoting your game. So, how do you make the most of what you do have, and ensure your game gets the best marketing support? You follow this checklist, of course!
Marketing becomes infinitely easier when you’re able to break each task down into its subsequent part and know exactly when to start thinking about it. In this blog post, we’re going to drill down to the necessary steps you should be taking when marketing your game, and we’ll give you an idea of the kind of timeline you should be considering.
Build a social media following
In order to build up any kind of early momentum and have people invested in your game, they must be invested in you first.
Start becoming more active on social media, especially Twitter, and engage with other developers, join in on conversations and just generally make sure that you’re visible
Even though you don’t have much to show off at this point, you’re ensuring that more people will take notice when you do.
Research your audience
Who will be playing your game? What kind of person are you targeting and what are their interests? Figuring these things out before you even start development will help you better tailor your game and the marketing to your chosen audience.
Build a landing page
Ensure that when you’re ready to begin talking about your game, you have a place to send interested parties. A simple landing webpage that contains all of the key information is all you need, and you can build it out further with more assets, footage and information as it becomes available.
Start a mailing list
Social media is a great place to share development updates, but social media posts are so transient, you can never be sure that all of your followers are guaranteed to see everything you put out there. Starting a mailing list ensures that when you have information to share, it lands directly in the inbox of every single person who wants to hear about it.
It’s very easy during the development process to become your own echo chamber. Make sure that you are routinely soliciting feedback from, well, anyone you can, really. This will help identify the areas of the game that players enjoy the most, which you can then emphasize in your marketing.
Announce your game
Don’t wait until development is over to announce your game. Announcing early enough allows you to begin to build a following for your game while you work on it, which gives you a larger pool of people to push towards your mailing list and communicate your important updates to.
Build a community
As above, the sooner you begin building a community around the game, the larger the pool of potential players you’ll have to communicate updates to and solicit feedback from while you develop your game. One of the best platforms for this is Discord. As it’s a closed community, some players feel more confident about sharing work in progress.
Players love to see a game grow from conception to completion, so make sure to capture and share content from your game throughout development via social media.
Prepare your assets
You’re going to want to make sure that you have access to all of the assets that members of the press could ever conceivably need when they write about your game.
Prepare a large selection of up to ten high-quality screenshots, as well as a downloadable version of your trailer and one which is hosted somewhere like YouTube, which can be embedded in articles about your game.
Secure review codes
Obtain keys for your game, and do it early. Whenever you start talking to press, influencers or content creators, you might want to give them access to your game – so you’ll want keys in your back pocket, ready to go. Start the process of generating codes from your game’s platform nice and early, because these can take a while to receive.
Announce your release date
Make sure to announce your release date well in advance of the actual day, but not so far away that potential players could forget about the game before the launch. Typically, we would recommend announcing 1-2 months before launch.
Send out a press release
A press release will communicate every relevant detail about your game for each relevant marketing beat, in this case announcing your release date. The function of a press release is to make it easy for members of the press to write about your game. Feel free to refer to our blog post for our advice on how to construct the perfect press release.
Once your press release is written, put together a long list of press emails at relevant outlets, and reach out to these addresses with your press release. Most websites should have a generic press email address visible for this type of outreach.
Send pitches to press/influencers/content creators
While press releases typically are sent to generic press addresses at an outlet, a pitch is a personalised message to a specific press contact or influencer who you think would be particularly interested in your game.
As above, create a list of email addresses, but this time for people who have shown an interest in games with a similar style, genre or gameplay as yours.
Send out tailored emails to each, introducing your game, explaining why they might be interested, and letting them know about your announcement.
Send out press release and pitches
As above, on launch day, create a press release announcing the release of your game. Additionally, send out personalised pitches to relevant press, alongside review copies of your game.
Tell your community
At this point, you should have built up a community of players who are excited to get their hands on your game! Make sure to let them know, via social media, messages on Discord, and emails to your mailing list.
Follow up with press/content creators/influencers
After launch, make sure to catch up with anyone who could have missed your launch outreach. The games press and content creators are busy people and with so many incoming emails per day, it’s not always guaranteed that they’ll spot your outreach the first time around. Following up ensures that you have a second chance to be noticed.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of marketing tasks to consider when promoting your game, but they are by far the most essential.