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An experiment in game promotion: Part #1

Posted by boolean, 19 October 2013 · 1,748 views

Preamble.

I finally got around to releasing my first game, Stupid Human Castles! It took a good number of evenings after work, skipped social events, rubbish dinners and a deal with the devil that is Java, but it's done! It's complete!

Unfortunately, programming the damn game was the easy part.

Next comes the harrowing task of actually getting people to look at my game. Being someone who knows about as much as marketing as the mating habits of furniture, I'm completely out of my comfort zone. I've tried reading some articles, I've read some guides, but for all practicality I have no freaking idea what the best way to market a game is.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to start this series of blog posts called "An experiment in game promotion". Each post I'll be experimenting with a different promotional method and then, after a week or so I'll post the results. I'll be describing my plans on how to promote my game before I have a crack at it, and then do a post-mortem on how successful it was. For example, forum posting, Facebook ads, emailing websites with press releases etc.

I'm hoping that by using my game as a bit of a lab rat I can figure out what techniques actually had a positive result. In the end if we are lucky this will benefit everyone! Posted Image

Experiment #1: Forum posts.

One of the easiest, and probably the first ways, a lot of people try to promote their game are forum posts. They are easy to do, don't take much time and given the right circumstances can be extremely positive. Posting on forums though is made slightly trickier by the fact that a lot of them have a zero-post policy - people posting their games with no posts tend to be looked down upon as spammers. Without having given anything back to the community first, it can often come across as a bit self serving.

With that in mind, I'm going to post my game on a bunch of forums with zero posts.

Ok to be fair not all the forums I'll be posting on will be zero-post accounts. It's actually quite hard to find ones that don't make you to post for a week or so before promoting your game, which is fair enough. Below is a short list of the forums I'll be posting on, but over the week I'll increase this as I hunt down more forums.

gamedev.net Posted Image
libGDX forums
TIGSource
reddit.com/r/indieGaming
indiedb.com
javagaming.org
indiegamer.com
...
I'm going to run these for about a week and then I'll see what the results are. Some different techniques I'll be trying are:

1) Descriptive forum thread titles - Does having a title like 'A new spin on an old game' beside the name make much difference?
2) A stand alone title
3) One screenshot - Is one screenshot enough to pique intrest?
4) Multiple screenshots - Do too many screenshots kill the curiosity?
5) Including [Released][Android] style tags. I'm curious if pointing out it's an android game has a good or bad effect.
6) Call to action style headlines - "Spectragate releases first android app!"

Hopefully giving these a bit of a spin results in some interesting data next week.

For science!




You can try posting on multiple forums, but you will probably have the best chances here, since you have a presence known. I mean, I know you or your member name and I have been off and on the forums for years.

Sounds great Nigel, congratulations on finishing your game, and looking forward to seeing your results with different advertising models!

 

Gave the game a very quick try in the browser, and it seems fun, I'll have to give the Android version a go.

 

 

Funny that I should come across a post from you just now after remembering your old comic and sharing it to our Facebook just a short time ago. :)

 

 

Good luck with the advertising! :)

Oh, when (or if) you try contacting press you might read some of the tips in this guide. :)

@Shane C - GDnet definitely seems like it should be the first port of call. Apart from the announcements forum I'm not sure how else to advertise it to GDnet. I figure my forum signature is the best bet right now.

 

@jbadams: Cheers mate, that's cool you found it fun :D

 

Thanks for the link - that's probably going to come in real handy when I attempt to send off press releases in the name of science (whether it ends in flames and misery at the end we'll see).

Heads up: On mac java doesn't work in chrome (and currently is disabled in safari), and the page fails silently (and there is no way to get help or contact you). In firefox it took almost 2 minutes before java started, so I actually thought there was nothing but a link to play store... In other words: feedback from the get go that things are loading (and nice error messages when things go wrong).

 

You may want to test things out in an unused, basic install of a few systems. For windows use a vm from http://www.modern.ie/en-us/virtualization-tools

 

Game is fun, though!

 

PS! "A new spin on an old game" is not really saying anything. "Tetris with Monsters!" on the other hand, says it all!

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