Ooh, in HEVN you escape from Earth.
“As first-time indie game developers, we were struggling a bit to come up with a workable marketing strategy. Lewis’s guidance helped shaped our message and priorities. We’ve been able to reach out to reviewers and game enthusiasts not possible on our own. And that feedback has been invaluable! HEVN is so much better for it.” – Mat Matthews, Miga
First-time game developers Miga had been working on HEVN for several years – but while they had gently announced it via social media, IndieDB, and via an article on the Unity blog, they had never marketed it in earnest. With the game now taking shape, and a release-ready version only six months away, they were looking for a marketing and PR partner who could help them get a foothold in the gaming media and communities. However, as a two-person team working in isolation, they also wanted to analyse the game itself – and learn more about how it would likely be perceived by the core gaming audience they were targeting.
What We Did
As few people beyond Miga’s friends and family had ever played or even seen the game before, it was important – as a basis for any marketing campaigns – that we got a sense of how the game was likely to be received. The first thing we did was commission several ‘mock previews’ from established games journalists, in which said journalists would write off-the-record editorial content for our eyes only. The journalists were presented only with a vertical slice of the game and a very brief description, and asked to produce a 700-word hands-on preview under NDA conditions.
From these previews we were able to get a better understanding of what games journalists interested in the genre thought of the game, and spotted patterns in their critiques, which allowed us to understand what people liked and disliked about the game. It additionally gave us an understanding of what our elevator pitch and descriptions should focus on, as certain features of the game were more readily apparent to journalists than others, and criticisms of the current UI led us to believe it a good idea to omit this from screenshots.
A strategy was built that allowed us to effectively ‘re-announce’ the game, since few people knew of the initial announcement. A new press pack was produced. Miga created a new teaser trailer, on which, across multiple iterations, I consulted in terms of tone, content, length and overall direction. The game was launched on Steam Greenlight and an updated demo – with some of the criticisms fixed – was sent to journalists, with an embargoed coverage date. We invited the press to write both about the announcement of the game, and their hands-on experiences of the demo.
What We Achieved
Hevn was covered by a number of leading games websites – including Rock Paper Shotgun, GameRanx and GameReactor, as well as Vandal and 3DJuegos, Spain’s biggest games publications. In total, despite no previous coverage of the game, we were able to generate content in publications with a combined monthly readership of more than 10 million.
Off the back of this coverage, Miga was invited to exhibit for free at Seattle-based gaming and technology convention GE2. Within one week of the game’s announcement, it had been Greenlit for release on Steam.
In addition to the coverage, we also received more off-the-record feedback from journalists, which allowed us to build a further strategy in terms of which parts of the game to showcase next, and in what manner.