GameDev Protips: How to Market Your First Few Indie Game Creations

It’s hard enough for a new developer to finish their game in the first place. Due to inexperience and lack of proper judgment, things often just don’t go as planned. Even if you’ve managed to get past that hurdle, marketing your first game is a difficult task in and of itself! Here are a few tips to help mitigate that problem and make your first game into a success. Before you start marketing anything at all, and preferably before you’ve finished development, you have to understand what makes your game stand out from the competition. No, having “awesome graphics” or “stellar level design” don’t count. Knowing this can help you direct development to emphasize those critical differences and will make it much easier to reach out to people. People are much less likely to pass by an innovative title than another uninspired clone. You can use these unique aspects to strengthen your marketing and overall make the entire process easier to handle. Sure, you can make clones all you want if all you’re trying to do is learn, but strive to be truly innovative in some way if you’re interested upping your game and make potentially commercially-viable games.

Once you understand where your marketing strength lies, you need to plan out what you’re going to do to market your game. Assuming you have a minimal budget, there are lots of ways to get your game into the spotlight. You should create a short trailer with basic video editing software and a website at the very least. These two things can be spread easily and will demonstrate your game to all that are interested. Next, you should be contacting any gaming news websites or game “players” of sorts. Gaming news websites will eventually get to your game if they’re having a slow news day, guaranteeing some attention, and if you manage to get a let’s player or game reviewer to shine the spotlight on your game, a significant amount of their followers will flock towards the game to check it out. Finally, although this might be scary for some, you should find a small indie game competition and enter your game into it. Even if you aren’t a winner, the attention your game will get is invaluable.

It can help to build up hype before your game releases for maximum marketing efficiency. Whether you do this through Reddit AMAs, talking on podcasts, releasing new trailers and screenshots, or something else, the hype train is often contagious and will help your game burst in attention. Now that you’ve got the basics under control, you may choose to find a publisher, marketing partner, or distributor for your game. Not only will using a popular distributor build attention for your game on their own, but they often make it easier for you to do your job, since they can take care of everything non-development related. It doesn’t really matter what you go for, but what matters most is simply getting the game onto as many distribution platforms as possible, and combining that with as large a following on social media as you can muster.

It’s not actually all that hard to get a publisher to pick up your game. Just reach out. For the most part, it’s a mutually beneficial process so there will be little opposition. If you plan on getting put onto a major distribution platform, such as Steam, however, make sure you really succeed in your initial marketing efforts so you can get past any community choice barriers that may be present. For example, if you’re trying to get your game Greenlit before Valve officially shuts it down, it’s important to really go ham on your marketing efforts, even prior to launching your game. Yes, going ham is a thing. If nobody votes for your game because they don’t know it exists, you obviously won’t be utilizing that platform. Finally, once your game is actually out there and is being sold, make sure that you listen to feedback and support your game. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and if people recognize you as a developer that’s willing to listen to the community to make their game the best that it can be, they’ll be much more likely to recommend your games to friends based on your presence as developer alone. As a result, supporting your game is not only for improving the quality of your game, but as a marketing opportunity also.

Important Takeaways: Even after you’ve managed to develop your game, you still have to make sure it actually gets sold. To do this, you have to effectively market your game. There are a few different ways to do this, but the most common ways include spreading trailers and your website around, getting a gaming news website or gaming personality to shine the spotlight on your game, and receiving recognition from participation in an indie game competition. Building hype prior to launch is a good way to carry your momentum directly into sales. It’s important to know what your game does well, however, if you want to effectively market it; make sure you’re pointing out what makes it different from the competition or it’ll just be labeled as a lazy clone and ignored.

Once you’ve effectively marketed the game on launch, you should find as many distribution platforms as possible for your game to be placed on. You should get your game onto every platform that you can for maximum exposure. It’s not all that difficult to find a publisher or distributor, since selling your game is a mutually beneficial act for both you and the distributor. You have the content, they have the traffic and connections. Lastly, make sure you continue to support your game in the future. Being recognized as a developer who really cares will lead to your games being spread by word of mouth much more often.