• 09/03/15 12:59 AM
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    Marketing my latest mobile game - post mortem of the first month

    Business and Law

    DjeeGames
    So about a month ago I published my second game. Never thought I would go this far, but I guess this really makes me an indie developer, no doubt about it. My first game was released last year, just a trial to understand the development and publishing process from start to finish. I outsourced everything. Obviously it did not give tangible results, but I learned a lot, which was the point. Now with my new game Planet Lander, I really want to go all the way with marketing strategies and tools for a lone indie dev like me. Just listing all my actions from the first month can work as a to-do list, since I'm quite positive these are all necessary things to accomplish for a successful launch. Is my game successful? Can't say for now, but at least I did have some results. So read on: There are tons of great info on indie game marketing out there, but if I had to pick something that stands out, it's this 3 hour video Marketing for Indies - PR, Social Media, and Game Trailers that you can find at http://vgamemarketing.com/ Watch all of it, and check out their site, it is extremely informative. The specific marketing elements to address, pretty much all at once and as soon as possible:

    ASO

    Simplest way to explain it: App Store Optimization (ASO) is all the marketing refinements on the elements of a game (or app) related to app store listings. ASO is such an obscure and sometimes misunderstood practice that is often ignored or poorly implemented. Some even say ASO is worthless and has little or no impact in the app stores. I think it deserves some attention and time since it is fairly easy to apply with all the free information readily available. A lot of installs are the direct result of a search right in an app store. You really want everything to be in your favour when you publish a game, right? First, the name. I wanted two descriptive words. I needed "lander" since it's a particular genre and checking with the tools listed below it's not overcrowded. With some trials I ended up with "Planet Lander", simple and to the point. Some say ASO is a waste of time; still it does not take too long to gather a list of words to help your store visibility. I used basic free tools from these ASO sites to help me determine what keywords to include in my store listings and how I rank in relation to direct "competitors". I have used all of them to learn, compare results, and I revisit my game status from time to time. They all have their pros and cons, free tools and premium services, charts, scores, rates and all. I have not used their paid services yet. And of course don't stop there, search for "app store optimization" and do your homework. I'm just here to give you some of my thoughts and a list of things to check out! The main marketing elements of your game related to the app stores you will want optimize are:
    • Game name
    • Game icon
    • Game short description (on Google Play)
    • Game full description
    • Keyword list (on iTunes)
    • Ratings and reviews
    • Screenshots
    • Videos

    On-line branding

    Branding means you are building awareness for your game. With a good brand (either for a game title or a developer) come loyal gamers. You cannot control your reviews, articles, ratings or the huge volume of games already available in the app stores. However you have total control on your image or brand, so you better make it awesome! Landing Page You need an interesting page about your game that needs to sell your game to potential players; it can contain a good arrangement of screenshots, features lists and catch phrases. Most importantly, it will contain a clear call to action: download buttons for all your platforms. This will be where you want to bring your potential players by any means necessary. Press Kit Page A different type of page about your game, this one contains all the information related to your game and its development. It is destined for journalists and anyone who will need facts about your game;
    • Game stats: descriptions, release date, platforms,
    • Game info: feature lists, production history,
    • Developer info: Development team, team bios, press contacts, social links, published articles, other titles
    • Video assets
    • Screenshot assets
    • Graphic assets: game logo, game sprites, banners, developer/publisher logo
    Check out http://dopresskit.com/ , a fantastic resource made by an Indie dev for Indie devs! Even if you do not use it, (it's free) the examples are great references. Social sites for your game
    • Website for landing page and press kit page
    • Development blog
    • Youtube Channel
    • Twitter feed
    • Facebook page
    • Google+ page
    • LinkedIn page
    • Content sharing sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
    Use them all for updates and communications with your audience. This is your soapbox; use it to share your passion. Post articles, screenshots, design art, reviews, post mortems, tips and tricks, developer diaries... Engage with your followers. Make sure you are consistent. The community is hungry for insights from all its indie dev members, so share your thoughts!

    Review websites

    Simply put, you want to attract gamers to your game and/or deliver your game to gamers. A great way to do both is to have exposure on game sites, either for an article or a review. They can reach large audiences. Even better, it will catch the eyes of gamers that are specifically interested in the genre of your game. So part of your marketing process must include reaching out to games sites and journalists. But where can you find them? Compiling a list of contacts is tedious work when you start from scratch, but it is important and will help you organize your PR efforts. I Emailed over 150 websites that are mobile game friendly, to ask for a review of Planet Lander, mention its release or list the game on the site. Some replied with offers for paid reviews. A couple of posts and tweets about the game, all giving a great instant boost in downloads. I'm sending a follow-up e-mail to all the sites that did not write back since a few weeks have passed and the results are very good if you get coverage. Here are some of the best mobile game review sites compilations that I have found to start building your PR mailing list. You can go through these spreadsheets, find the sites that are best suited for your game genre and platform. Check the lists one by one to filter out the broken links and repeats.

    Youtubers

    Contacted over 75 YouTubers that *might* be interested in reviewing mobile games. It's much harder to record decent videos from handhelds screens, so very few are interested in mobile games. I got one video review (modest but friendly YouTuber), instant results; nothing else yet except a few followings on my Twitter account.

    Press releases

    Published a press release for the launch of the game. Using only 3 press sites suggested by vgamemarketing.com/, (two are free, one is only 30$ for two releases) it got me a lot of visibility and added credibility. With this I got a great interview from GameZone about the inspiration for Planet Lander, that was awesome!

    Game Dev community

    This item is last but should be the first place where you should put your energy. So many ways and place you can exchange ideas, annouce projects, display work and yes, promote your game. Reddit has many active and friendly forums to exchange. Many indie sites also have a very active community: I used to write a blog about digital effects and running a VFX studio, (that's a little bit about my past) and I got back to it with a game dev blog of all my efforts.

    Conclusion

    With all this work I got around 2,000 Android downloads and 500 iOS downloads in the first month; most of them from peaks following the actions above. All this while I was fixing bugs and ajusting the gameplay with new published versions of my game. Daily numbers are low but steady and growing each day. I'm happy to see return users every day and the feedback is good - so all I really need to do is get the game noticed. It is a lot of work, but I was prepared for it. I am still not certain of the short term results considering my lack of experience in this particular market. But every day I break new grounds, the numbers are growing slowly but surely and the feedback is good. Also I am a very stubborn entrepreneur so I will continue until I have tried everything I can. I wonder what's better when contacting journalists and game review sites: send a short, concise message (it worked with the press release to get a thorough interview on GameZone) or throw all the information at hand, links and graphics in the message and help get your word out (it worked for instant coverage and mentions on some game review sites)


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