Indie game marketing: Next gen opportunities

With the launch of a new console generation come fresh opportunities for indie developers to take advantage of greener pastures. Now both Microsoft and Sony have their new systems out in the wild, players are beginning to see what kind of a games lineup they can expect. Off the back of Nintendo’s strong lean into indie support with the launch of the Switch, there’s no doubt the console titans will want more than the triple-A stars demonstrating what their new platforms are capable of. 

This presents some excellent opportunities for indie developers to take advantage of Microsoft and Sony’s massive marketing cycles and explore the chance to bring their games to a new audience of players. read more

Indie Game PR: Should you send your game to Steam Curators?

When it comes to indie game marketing one question we get asked frequently, particularly by newer developers, is whether or not they should send review copies of their game to Steam Curators. If you’ve ever released a game on Steam then you’ll be familiar with the deluge of requests often received around a game’s launch from the curator community.

It’s often the case that indie developers have little experience dealing with curators let alone a method to verify or quantify the value of sending them review copies. Worst still, there’s the ever-present key scammers looking to take advantage of this gap in knowledge to coerce free copies out of unwitting developers and publishers to resell on the global game key market.
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How to make PR personal when marketing on a budget

PR can often be impersonal in its very nature. It’s hard to tailor something as direct and personal when you might be reaching out to hundreds of contacts with essentially the same message. Thousands of emails are sent every day all around the world exclaiming about the latest releases and products – what’s going to make yours stand out?

It’s hard for indie developers to compete with massive triple-A titans with warehouses of people sending non-stop emails to every known journalist on Earth. Well, maybe that’s a little dramatic but you get the point, it’s a competitive endeavour. Not to mention the fact that a lot of games with bigger budgets can push out a consistent stream of high-quality marketing materials. As an indie developer, if you aren’t considering your PR approach or planning correctly you may only have one trailer and one shot at coverage. So how do you make that shot count? read more

Steam metrics: wishlists or follows?

For the past few years, there has been one metric on Steam that indie developers and marketers alike have talked about to considerable lengths, and that’s wishlist numbers. Often seen as a key signifier as to a game’s projected launch sales, wishlist numbers have increasingly been thought of as the easiest way to judge player buying intention in what is an unpredictable market.

There has been some shift on that recently though with Steam’s Discoverability update making the follow button more relevant. On the surface, following a game offers similar benefits to wishlisting which makes you wonder why Steam chooses to include both options. Furthermore, marketers seem to be offering mixed advice as to which one indie devs should be focused on increasing. In this post, we take a look at both and break down their pros and cons so you can be better informed on the shifting landscape of the Steam marketplace. read more

Do indie game awards matter?

In the crowded market of indie games, it’s understandable to strive to make your game stand out in any way you can. Beyond the obvious – having an amazing game and endless marketing budget – there are a number of other strategies out there to explore. One of the avenues many consider in their quest for exposure is indie game awards. read more

How to structure an indie influencer campaign

Over the last few years, influencers have radically changed the marketing space for video games. Although traditional gaming media is far from obsolete, the power of influencers has proven to be a dominant force in an industry that continues to grow year on year. If you’re marketing a game in 2019 it’s certainly recommended you considered the impact and implementation of influencers in your strategy.

That’s not to suggest that every game needs to be supported by an influencer marketing campaign. For some games, this approach might not be suitable. But any robust marketing plan should be taking influencer marketing into account – even to simply analyse the impact of user-generated coverage, which you might have no control over. read more

Why journalists ignore your PR emails

One of the hardest parts of indie marketing is getting your game into the hands of the right people. You might know who those people are: games journalists. But, getting in touch with them is no easy task and even when you do, getting a response might be even harder. Journalists are very busy and their inboxes are filling up every day with a never-ending tide of PR emails from indie devs asking them to look at their game. It’s hard to know how to stand out in that crowd. PR agencies take great care in building the kind of reputation that gets their emails at least opened by journalists, but even that doesn’t guarantee coverage. read more

The most important metrics for indie game marketing

Tracking the success of your indie game launch can be a complicated and daunting task. For a start, there’s not a lot of information out there as to what numbers indicate success. That’s, in part, due to the fact that a game’s success could be viewed in a variety of different ways depending on the desired outcome. In this blog post, we’re going to assume that the desired outcome is for the game to make a small profit. read more

How to Navigate Steam Sales as an Indie Dev

We’ve reached a point in the digital distribution of video games now where there is always a sale of some kind, somewhere online. These never-ending discounts have reshaped the PC market and dictate how a large majority of customers now engage with and purchase games. With this change, we’ve seen tools such as Wishlists become ever more important. Interested players might prefer to follow the titles they’re interested in and await their inevitable discount in the next sale, instead of buying them full price day one. It’s particularly important indie devs understand this digital landscape and how it functions to better take advantage of it in a period of stiff competition for visibility and success.

This article will primarily cover Steam but the sale mentality doesn’t end there. Game distribution sites such as Humble Bundle, Green Man Gaming and the variety of ‘key’ provider sites also offer games well below full price. Getting your head around these avenues to market and how to take advantage of them should be crucial to any PR plan laid out for your game. Approaching sales with the right attitude and planning could significantly increase chances of success in a market often described as oversaturated.

Sales Fatigue

The first thing you’re probably going to ask yourself is, ‘should I put my game on sale?’. It’s a good question, you wouldn’t want to potentially undercut what people are willing to pay for your game. There isn’t a lot of hard data out there to definitively answer this, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence put forward by developers through post-mortems. These suggest that sales can be a significant booster to a game’s lifetime revenue and increase visibility long after your initial release window. Sales aren’t just for the latter stages of your game’s lifespan though. It’s quite common for developers to offer discounts on launch during the first few days to help bolster sales and help you reach that all-important trending list.

Although, that might not be as easy for indies anymore with Steam’s reported algorithm changes. Still, thinking about sales from the get-go is important in today’s digital landscape, especially so if you’re launching exclusively on PC. Price your game wrong, or don’t take sales into account when you’re launching and it could have a significant impact on launch sales. So, it’s something to have a long think about. And, don’t forget, you don’t have to put your game on sale or include it in a bundle. If you feel the pricing is exactly right then stick to it, it’s never a good look to greatly undervalue your work and there have been plenty of successful games that have never been on sale.

The Rules

If you think your game could potentially benefit from taking part in the deluge of sales now part and parcel of the industry then it’s important you understand the rules, particularly on Steam as they’re quite rigid. Here is a bullet point breakdown of everything you’ll need to know.

  • If you run a discount on launch you can’t run any other discounts for two months.

That means if you’re looking to launch in the Summer it might not be worth doing a launch discount and instead opt to participate in the Steam Summer Sale, which tends to get a lot of attention from press and players alike.

  • Discounts cannot be run within two months of each other unless they are Valve organised Steam events.

For instance, you could participate in the Winter Sale and then the Lunar (New Year) Sale but you couldn’t run your own discount in December and then participate in the Lunar Sale without waiting two months.

  • You can’t discount your game for 30 days following a price increase.

This is particularly important for games leaving Early Access, as you can’t increase the price at Early Access launch and also run a launch discount.

  • You can’t discount a game by 100% and you can’t change your price once a promotion is live.

And, remember you can’t take part in a seasonal sales event within 30 days of releasing your game, so plan accordingly if that’s what you want to do.

  • Launch discounts kick in as soon as you release your game and only last for seven days. There’s also a 40% off cap on this discount, but between 10% – 15% would be considered the norm.
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    How to get influencers to play your indie game

    As we’ve discussed in previous posts, influencer marketing is becoming a powerful force in the games industry and more and more developers are considering the way their audience consumes content. Indie game sensations have been created overnight with the power big-name influencers can bring to a project, but we’re not going to be discussing those fascinatingly rare instances here. Although it’s inspiring to read about how a combination of miraculous luck and fortunate timing has made games blow up on YouTube it’s probably not going to help you market your indie game.
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