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

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

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

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

How to get the most out of your PR and marketing partner

If you’ve decided to work with a PR or marketing company or individual, you might be unsure as to the best way to work together. Some people talk about their desire to “outsource” their marketing to an external partner. But I’m not sure “outsourcing” is the most helpful way of looking at the relationship that exists behind a successful promotional campaign.

Where others might talk about “outsourcing” or call themselves a marketing “supplier”, we like to talk about “collaborations” — because at the heart of any great promotional relationship is a desire to work together to make great things happen. So if you decide to work with someone on your PR or marketing, here are five tips for making that magic happen. read more

The selling-in process: How we pitch games to the media

One of the questions people sometimes ask us is: how exactly does PR work? How do we go from this conversation, to our games appearing in the press? What do you do to make that happen?

Some people imagine that we send out press releases and journalists pick their favourites to write about. Others assume we have a certain ‘sway’ with the media, or that we can ‘call in favours’ to get coverage. Others still wonder if an exchange of money is involved. In fact, the truth is a little more complex. So I figured: why not give you folks a walkthrough? read more

Kotaku is not the answer: Strategic thinking for indie game PR

Jon and I are on a call with a developer. It’s an initial call about the possibility of working together. They’re informal discussions, these initial calls: they help us to get a sense of whether we might be a good fit for the game, whether our ambitions align, and what sort of promotional work might be the best for their project.

One of the questions I like to ask in these calls is: “What does success mean to you?” Often people seem a bit nonplussed by this question, like, isn’t it obvious what success means? But almost every developer has a different answer. read more

Dissecting indie game PR emails – what works, and what doesn’t?

I haven’t worked as a journalist or editor for a long time now, meaning I’ve often wondered what other people are sending out as PR materials. Typically, as a PR, you don’t end up on many competitors’ press lists (although inexplicably I’ve been receiving press releases from one music PR firm pretty much every week, despite telling them multiple times that the last time I wrote about music was 12 years ago).

However, in January we launched The Indie Game Website. While I’m not directly involved in the running of that site, and almost never check the PR inbox myself, I thought I’d have a sneaky peek at what other indie developers are sending out in the hope of coverage. And what I found there was really interesting. read more

Game If You Are partners with Mistaken Visions to launch The Piano this Spring

I’m delighted to be able to announce today that Game If You Are has forged an exciting new partnership with Berlin-based indie studio Mistaken Visions to bring their noir horror adventure The Piano to Steam this Spring.

While the bulk of the work we do is in for-hire PR consultation, we occasionally spot a project or meet a developer that we believe could benefit from a more holistic partnership. In this case, we first started working with creator Jonathan Stemmildt around 18 months ago, helping Mistaken Visions to start spreading the word about their game. But as time went on, and as the game began to take shape, we really started to see how much potential the project had. So we spoke to Jonathan to see if we could help out and, I’m very pleased to say, Jonathan said we could indeed. read more

The big indie game PR FAQ

If it’s your first time working with a PR or marketing company, you might be unsure what to expect. Bringing in external consultants can be a little intimidating, even.

We noticed a lot of our clients, especially those for whom this is their first time bringing in outside help for PR and marketing, ask a lot of the same questions. So, we thought we’d answer the most common ones here on our blog.

Q. What happens when we start working together?

A. Different agencies and consultancies have different on-boarding processes. Ours is simple. We begin with a kick-off meeting, where we discuss your aims and ambitions, and any limitations you might have (such as budget or time). We take lots of notes, then we go away and do some research – into your target audience, your competitors, and the media we think might be helpful – before coming back to you with a proposed plan of attack. Once you’re happy with everything, we lock down the dates, prepare the assets we’ll need, and we’re ready to get started! read more