Today, game developers have a window on more audience insight than ever before, thanks to digital downloads and real-time user ratings on the internet. Add to this an abundance of readily available performance marketing tools, and game developers can quickly and easily obtain clear strategies to effectively market to any target audience.
Once this insight is captured, successful game marketing usually involves well-planned PR activities and expensive user acquisition campaigns. Unfortunately, however, these options are often quite costly, and are therefore not suitable for every developer - especially not indie developers.
But not all hope is lost. There are three simple strategies indie game developers can adopt to effectively market their games:
- Community Building
- Community Promotion
- Sales and Bundles
Let’s talk about them.
Community Building - Build it and they will come
Have you shied away from the idea of building a community because it seems too difficult? Perhaps you believe it’s not worth the time you’d have to put into it? Think again.
Many developers have single-handedly won the hearts of thousands just by posting a single GIF or video on communities like Reddit.
You just can’t afford to ignore the importance of building a community or using an already established community to market your game.
But to do that, you must understand your users and where they spend most of their time online.
Odds are, if your game is not a big strategy or F2P, the power of an active, vibrant community will be essential to create the buzz you need - even as you collect free and fast feedback via game updates.
But how do you build your community in the first place? Your best bet is to promote your game to bigger, similar and equally relevant communities, social media and influencers.
Community Promotion - Cast a wider net
Not all communities are exclusive. Some serve countless games and their fans. The millions of active users on platforms like Steam Communities are a perfect example of this. Wouldn’t you love to reach these gamers ‘en masse’ to tell them about your awesome new indie game?
Steam Community managers want to help you do just that. But first, you must find out who your ideal gamers are. As soon as you’re in the Early Access or Steam launch cycles, start looking for communities that seem like the right fit .
Most community moderators are on the lookout for new games their users might like, and are ready to accept your review or quick promotion request. But you need to make it worth their while. Grant free access via coupons or redeem codes - they love this - and your indie game will get even more exposure.
Steam Curators are another great source for promotion, since they already have thousands of followers. But why limit yourself to Steam? Steam is just one out of hundreds of gamer communities customized for specific genres or interests. The bottom line is - contact anyone and everyone that can help you develop your audience through their own, and before you know it, you’ll be watching your game’s community bloom.
Sales and Bundles - Stay in for the long haul
Many indie game developers go through both steps above, but still land flat on their faces. Why? Because they put all their effort into pre-launch promotions, and pay little attention to their post-launch marketing strategies. This is a big mistake. If a developer wants to make a tangible profit, marketing should continue - and even intensify - after launch.
Consider the effectiveness of Humble Bundle’s endless bundles happening all over the web. Insanely successful sites like Steam, GOG, and G2A understand just how important ongoing marketing strategies are, and aggressively tap into the power of festivities and promo packages to generate sales all throughout the year.
But how to promote? While reducing the unit price of your game may seem more effective than giving it away at extremely cheap bundles, both can boost overall sales if planned right. For example, if you do decide to bundle, do it more than just once per quarter. This will increase your overall sales exposure, putting your game in front of more users whose subsequent recommendation, shares and engagement on social media hold the potential to greatly expand your future sales.
So if you’re an indie game developer looking for success, stop thinking like a developer and put on your marketer hat. While it’s important to carry out proper analysis to improve gameplay and promotions, what matters most is identifying, building and enlarging your audience throughout the lifespan of your game. Consider these three simple tactics in advance, and plan your indie game marketing strategy during the early stages of development. Soon, you’ll create the excitement and fluid communication necessary for your growing community.