Wednesday 25 July 2012

Marketing Quest Part 1

Part 1 - The Basics
Marketing Quest is an idea that I had to help me try to get my head around indie games marketing, and put into practice some of the things that I learned from reading countless articles on the subject, and from the (minimal) things that I did for my first release "Amp, Watts & Circuit". The idea being that I can outline what I think I should be doing, what other people are doing that seems to be working, and how much difference this is making to Jamo Games, which I should be able to track using Facebook likes, Twitter followers and most important of all, game sales. This isn't really a tutorial as I don't feel like I'm in a place to give very good advice yet, but this "quest" should give some good lessons over time. Apologies if I cover super basic things that you have heard before, but this is only part 1, we have a long journey ahead of us!

A wild developer appeared!
Marketing is all about getting your game in front of people. There is no use in making the greatest game of all time if no one is ever going to see it. A common misconception is that you can get a game onto a store (App Store, Desura etc), an audience is there so it will sell. I made this mistake to some extent with AWC, leaving it too late before I told people about it, not taking time to build any audience beforehand. I got some good reviews which must have helped, but the game didn't do too well, selling around 70 copies on PC. The game will be coming to mobile soon, so I can try to remedy my mistakes and follow the plan that I'll put in place here, and hopefully make a difference to my future projects and maybe yours too!

Meet-em up
With indie developers, especially smaller teams or one-man bands, it seems to be just as important that people know about you as your game. One of the great (and free!) ways to go about this is to become part of the online communities, such as the TIGForums and IndieDB. Don't make the mistake of joining when you have a game ready or about to be released, making a bunch of posts about it then leaving, its highly unlikely that this will make any difference. Become integrated in the community. I can hazard a guess that like me, you have basically no marketing budget, and personally I would be more than happy to help spread the word  about a friends game. Getting word of mouth with the right people can make a world of difference!

Equally as important as a presence online is a real life one! Get out to events and talk to people. Hopefully somewhere near you will be regular meet ups and events that you can head to to show people what you are working on. I go to the Midlands Indies group, and as some of you may already know I recently got awarded a space on a tech incubator in Birmingham called E4F (, which gives me access to a ton of great events.
Don't be afraid to show people your games, even if they aren't finished, and don't be worried that someone might try to steal your ideas. Even if people hate your game, it's' better that they hate it than not even know it exists.

Social Networks
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are hugely important, so if you don't have a Facebook page for yourself or your company then go make one! I have seen a lot of people making pages for each game, but I have mixed feelings about this practice. It should make more sense to keep everyone in one place, so for me the Jamo Games Facebook Page, not an AWC one. This way you can more easily keep people posted on project updates, and are expanding the number of eyeballs you can get onto each new project.

A development blog showing what you are working on is great, just make sure that is has a working RSS feed so people can subscribe. I'm not a blogger by nature as you can see from the sporadic previous posts, so keeping it up to date will take discipline, but stick with it, it will pay off in the end.
If the only thing that you are producing in the blog is game updates, then it might prove difficult to get people visiting often, as most people will only head that way with a prior interest in the game, giving an endless loop of people needing to know about your game to view the blog, but you want them to visit to learn about the game! I have been looking through some of the best development blogs to figure out other ways to bring people in to your site and get them looking at your awesome games.

You are a master of game design, a programming wizard! Consider passing on your knowledge to others. The most easily shared form of content for tutorials is video, so if possible create a video either to go alongside text or as the whole tutorial. I would aim for more smaller videos, around 5 minutes, rather than fewer lengthy ones. Focusing in on one thing at a time will make it much easier for users, and make sure to include vital information at the end (twitter, blog, facebook).

Game Analysis
This is one I definitely want to take up, and I have seen some great examples. Game analysis consists of making a video about whatever game (or set of games) you want to, and breaking an aspect of the game down to see what you can learn from it.

About You
As I mentioned earlier, it is just as important that people know about you as your game. To this end, make posts about your personal experiences, either during development, reflection on projects or interesting day to day things. Whatever you think people might find interest or advice in you should write about right?

I've taken this starting point to make myself a plan, that I will try my hardest to stick to. I can track what works, what doesn't and feedback in later posts about what I have learned. Hopefully, over time I should be able to refine the process and get marketing my games down to an art form, but until then the Marketing Quest will continue!

New Quest
3 Game related posts per day
3 Blog Posts Per week
1 Video every two weeks
Sync all new info (videos and blog posts) to Facebook, Twitter & IndieDB

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