With the global video games industry expected to be worth over a staggering $90 billion by 2020, there has never been a more exciting time to get into game development. Despite the rapidly growing diversity of developers - from one-man studios to vast, 200-plus-strong teams - all developers have a few things in common.
With that said, here are five things that every video game developer must do:
1. Start a Website
Your website will be the focal point of your promotional efforts and the hub for your online community. It’s also an essential part of any successful launch, since many people will go there to watch trailers, read news updates and more.
What’s more, having a website is simply a matter of professionalism. With the ubiquity of simple web design platforms, there’s really no excuse to not have one. Be sure to include a complete description of your game, its system requirements, news and updates as well as plenty of videos and screenshots.
2. Release Trailers
For many people, their first impression of a video game comes from viewing a trailer... so make that critical introduction count! A trailer serves not just to entertain your audience, but to make sure they understand what your game’s all about.
Be sure to include a mix of real gameplay footage, since no one will be happy if they feel they’ve been misled. That said, it’s important to keep your trailer short. Most should be under a minute long, although very large games may need longer trailers to truly capture their scope, atmosphere and gameplay.
3. Keep a Development Blog
Audiences are increasingly demanding an inside look at the development of their favorite video games. This is especially true of small indie studios, which tend to be the product of equal measure passion and business.
A development blog helps increase your exposure in search engines while forming an important part of your community. Blogs are the perfect platform for sharing news updates like patch announcements or showcasing community-created content for your game.
4. Build a Community
There’s no better way to lead and inspire than to build a community around your game. Community-building isn’t just about bringing your fans together, though – it’s also about learning and developing along with your audience.
By being active in the community around your game, you’ll learn more about what your players want and better identify important trends in the industry. Gaming communities take many different forms, including on-site forums, in-game social features and Steam discussion boards. In most cases, you’ll want to consider all three.
Love it or hate it, social media and forums is where almost everyone is these days, and must therefore be an important part of your marketing and community-building strategy. Every developer should make use of a branded forum and the major social media platforms. However, you have to remember that most third-party social media sites don't give you access to your full community. In many cases, you have to pay if you want to get a bigger reach.
Each platform has its own place in your marketing. For example, your branded forum can serve as a community hub and deal with customer support while your Twitter profile serves as the source for brief updates on things like patch notes. And don’t forget Discord; last year they began allowing developers to create official channels for chatting and server-hosting.