With the indie game market pretty darn saturated these days, it’s very hard to stand out. You’ll need to have something that differentiates you from the crowd. Here are a few quick tips.
Firstly, tell an interesting story. With many AAA games coming out, gaming magazines and websites simply do not have the time to cover all indies, so if you want to stand out, the best way of actually doing that is to make an interesting story about your game which is short but comprehensive. You need to show why they should cover your game, and what features set your game apart from the myriad of me-too indie games already out there in the market. Remember, no journalist wants to cover yet another clone, or some kind of student project. Tell something interesting about the development process, the team involved, or just something that isn’t simply, “I made an indie game, please check it out.”
Get in contact with the right people. There are way too many gaming sites, so if you want the proper media coverage, you need to access the right sources to do that. Each gaming website tends to focus on different genres nowadays, so try to find the one that caters to the genre of your game and send it there, as this will increase the chances for your game to receive coverage. For example, if you’re making a retro shmup for PC, don’t accidentally send a bulk email to a website that mainly covers RPGs.
Remember, when it comes to the press release, keep it short and concise. You love the game you created and can talk hours about it, but let’s face it, if you want to have the best outcome, you need to say more in less time. Bring out the exciting stuff first and spark interest with the help of your game’s stellar features, as this would help you get the results you seek. When it comes to the pitch, don’t bore journalists with an overly long history of your game world. Instead, focus on emphasizing key selling points that they might be interested in. The last thing a journalist wants to read is three paragraphs of backstory about the lore in your game.
Launch at the right time. Some months are more filled with AAA game launches, so you need to see what big games are appearing in that period of time and avoid them, instead try to reach out to journalists during a time period that makes sense. Journalists usually will want to keep up with the latest releases, and so your tiny indie release has much more chance of slipping under the radar. Also, If you want coverage, then ensure that the journalists actually have a way to cover your game. A good way of doing that is to provide a key for your game. If your outreach email doesn’t contain a way to download the game, chances are, it’s going right into the bin. It also helps to be ultra responsive. Press people might have questions for you about your game, so make sure that you respond to their questions promptly. This will help get your press coverage faster, even if it might catch you at a bad time. No one likes waiting too long to get a reply back. If you find yourself too swamped with emails, a short email back will suffice.
Of course, at the core of it all, you just have to make a great game, because in the end this is all that matters. A good game will have a much better shot at press coverage and recognition, so it’s crucial to ensure the quality of your game is top notch. Try not to cut corners, and instead devote at least a good three to six months minimum to polish it before releasing into the wild.
Important Takeaways: Tell an interesting story when reaching out to press, or whenever talking about your game in general. Get in touch with the right people, and double down on your game’s niche. Actively seek out communities that will actively play your game instead of simply promoting the game to other game developers on social media. Launch at the right time (ask other game developers about their experiences) and most importantly, make your game’s vertical slice as polished as possible. Remember that first impressions are everything it comes to indie games — don’t rush anything.