With thousands of new games appearing on Steam and countless more on other platforms every year, it’s not easy to get noticed among all the noise. For smaller independent game studios, this can be immensely challenging, especially if they don’t already have an established history.
That’s why having a solid pre-launch marketing strategy is crucial for generating excitement about your upcoming game. Here are five ways to build it.
#1. Get Your Players Together
If you haven’t rallied your players together far in advance of launch day, chances are your launch announcement will fall on deaf ears, no matter how good your game is. That’s why it pays to have an active and engaged community in place several months before launch.
Moreover, you need to be consistently present to answer questions and respond to all kinds of feedback. Far too many developers – including some AAA studios – make the mistake of announcing their launch way too early, and then having little further interaction with the community. All this does is leave people wondering if your game is ever going to launch.
#2. Build an Engaging Landing Page
Building a community while you’re building your game is an important step in the right direction, but it’s not the same as getting people to pay attention. That’s why developers and publishers should typically start marketing their upcoming titles two or three months before launch.
One of the most important tools in the marketing arsenal is your landing page, since this is often the first point of entry people see when they sign up for news updates or add your game to their wishlists. A strong landing page will have plenty of screenshots, gameplay videos, trailers and an irresistible description that keeps people coming back for more.
#3. Be Active on Social Media
Several months before your chosen launch day, you’ll want to open social media profiles on all the biggest networks to start building hype around your game. Even more importantly, you need to remain consistently active and ready to answer your player’s questions.
Chances are, if you’ve built enough hype around your upcoming title, people will be waiting with great enthusiasm for the latest updates. Start a regularly updated developer’s blog and share content on your social media profiles while engaging directly with future players.
#4. Consider Launching on Early Access
Being spoiled for choice, gamers can be an impatient bunch who quickly forget about an upcoming game if there’s not enough tangible evidence that it’s really going to be released. After all, there’s no shortage of video game crowdfunding campaigns and Steam Greenlight titles that seem to be forever in the works. Of course, the same can be said of Early Access titles, many of which also end up never being completed.
But by sticking to goal-driven deadlines, being consistently active in the community and giving players the opportunity to get involved in development, Early Access can be an invaluable launch strategy when executed correctly.
#5. Plan your Release Date Carefully
As the saying goes, underpromise and overdeliver.
There’s no faster way to a launch-day flop than announcing your launch too early or, even worse, releasing it before it’s finished. Both AAA studios and indie developers are equally guilty of making this mistake, and it almost invariably leads to disaster.
Consider, for example, the launch of the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 from the developers of one of the most successful titles of all time – Witcher 3. By announcing the upcoming game way back in 2012, they built enormous expectations in virtually no time. It’s now six years later... and people are starting to wonder if the game will ever be released.