Games development can be a lonely experience. For months at a time you may find yourself locked into your immediate surroundings, like a tortoise with a Unity license. It probably goes without saying, but this can have adverse effects, not only for your game but also for your marketing. When you’re ready to launch but haven’t taken time to speak to other developers and your community, it might feel like your game that you’ve worked so hard on, becomes just another drop in the ocean.
How do you stop that? Talking to other developers, though they might at first feel like the ‘competition’, is actually a great way to promote your game and get access to valuable experience you might not have.
We all have our own take on things, our own ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and talking to other developers and learning from their experiences from working on or launching their own games can help improve your game.
So, with this in mind, here are some examples of why networking is important, not only for your game, but for its future.
Social media networking
The most prevalent kind of networking these days isn’t actually in-person; being active and visible on social media is now just as vitally important to the success of your game. That doesn’t mean that you should just follow a load of developers, like their posts and then leave at that. Social media isn’t a one way street, it’s right there in the name – social. It’s about talking. You may generate some new followers by simply following the right people, but you won’t get anything else out of it and those followers will just be numbers. You haven’t engaged with them, so why would they engage with you?
First, find developers you like. It sounds obvious, but there’s no point looking to network with developers who create games that you don’t like, so take some time to find developers out there whose interests or attitudes reflect your own. Twitter is an excellent platform for this and we would recommend dedicating some time to going through important hashtags.
#wishlistwednesday, #trailertuesday and #screenshotsaturday are great ways of finding developers who are actively promoting their games, while #indiedev is perhaps the most common among indie developers and you’ll definitely find plenty of people that way.
Once you’ve found developers you like and relate to, comment on their posts! This can be a fantastic way to get the conversation started and they’ll likely be as thrilled as you would be to see people taking an interest in their game. The majority of developers are just like you. They want to talk about games and will find your work just as interesting as you find theirs.
But when you’ve started the conversation, what next? One of the main benefits to talking with other developers is the ability to bounce ideas off one another. Feedback from an objective perspective is always valuable, and fresh eyes can make a huge difference at any point in development. You can really discover what makes your game special, and what can make it even more so when you talk about it to other people, especially developers.
It also gives you the advantage of access to someone who isn’t too close to your game, but can sympathise with any issues or problems you may be experiencing. Other developers can support you because they have been where you are. They know the types of problems you’ll be facing and especially for first-time developers or first-time indie developers this is incredibly helpful.
Not only can they help with problems, other developers can help you become more creative. Seeing and discussing their project can inspire your own, discussions on the latest titles can spark creativity and chats about your characters will make you see them in an entirely new light. Sharing ideas will benefit you both in the long run as you will provide the same kind of support and insight to your network.
It isn’t just building the game, networking helps you market your passion project too. Although you may spend the majority of your time talking via private messages of your choosing, interacting with developers publicly on social spaces like Twitter helps fans of their work notice you and yours. This is why finding synergy with other developers is so important, if their fans like their game, then the chances are they’ll enjoy yours too.
A large proportion of players will pick up your game based on the recommendations of others. This is called evangelism, where your players or friends share the game not for any money or profit, but because they believe in your cause and want to help. Networking is a great way to boost this because your new found network of developers will also share your work, as you would with theirs.
Any news you have, such as new updates, trailers, launch dates and more, this can all be shared by your new network. This opens you up to an entirely new audience and helps to spread word of your game, all without costing you anything but time.
Creating a network is hard work, it will take a lot of time to find the right people and getting past the initial ‘getting to know you’ stage can be daunting. But once you have, you’ll find a group of people who’s help will be invaluable when you are developing, marketing and selling your game.
As the saying goes, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.
If you have any questions about using networking to help your development journey, please feel free to reach out to discuss our specific recommendations for you and your game.