Over the past few years, those in game development are facing some pretty tough competition. As more game companies start to branch out and create their own products, it seems as if the video game marketplace is saturated with new content being pumped out every single second. So what does this mean? Well, for one, it means that mediocre games are going to have a lot harder time standing out in the eyes of gamers, as there are just too many other options for games to play. And secondly, even if you have made a great game, marketing that game and growing your user base is becoming (and will become) more difficult as time passes. Luckily, there are a number of growing platforms that all game developers need to be aware of to properly market their games and spread their word via social transmission. Now, we can?EUR(TM)t tell you how to fix your game if it?EUR(TM)s broken/mediocre. That?EUR(TM)s up to your feedback to let you know. However, we can tell you about how to make use of those growing platforms we mentioned to kick start your sales and spread your word. This post, in particular, is going to focus on a platform that we feel has the most potential for your marketing efforts: Twitch.tv. If you haven?EUR(TM)t heard of Twitch before, we?EUR(TM)ll give you a short rundown: It?EUR(TM)s a site where millions of people go to watch other people play games. In other words, if you have a target audience in mind for your game, Twitch is the place to find that audience. Over the past few years, Twitch has grown to be a massive platform, even being acquired by Amazon. So massive, that over 241 billion minutes were streamed to the platform in 2015 alone. Now, If you?EUR(TM)ve dabbled a bit into new age marketing, I?EUR(TM)m sure you?EUR(TM)ve heard all about the wonders of influencer marketing for your brand. However, you might not have realized that the greatest influencer marketing platform for game developers has been right in front of you this whole time. So in this post, I?EUR(TM)m going to shout off some reasons of why we think that Twitch should be a strong focus in the minds of every game developer looking to promote their game. Let?EUR(TM)s get right into it: The connection between streamer and? viewer. On Twitch, the connection between the viewer and the streamer can allow a targeted ad to perform with much greater results than if you were to target cold players. Reason being, people are more willing to listen to someone that they have a relationship with. Picture this scenario in your head: Imagine you?EUR(TM)re walking down the street in the middle of the day, when suddenly someone comes up from nowhere and taps you on the back. You turn around, face this unknown person, and ask, ?EURoeHey, what do you want??EUR? The unknown individual responds with, ?EURoeYou should really try this new game, World of Warcraft! It?EUR(TM)s an awesome MMO experience with intense leveling and tons of depth. Give it a try!?EUR? Confused, you stare blankly at the individual as they run off after spouting a quick promo for their favorite game. Now, later in that same day, you?EUR(TM)re hanging out with some friends playing a card game or watching TV. During a break, your friend asks, ?EURoeHey, have you played World of Warcraft? It?EUR(TM)s a really awesome game. You should try it, we can even play together sometime if you?EUR(TM)d like.?EUR? Think for a moment; if both of those people were representatives for World of Warcraft, which individual suggestion would you take more to heart? Chances are, you?EUR(TM)re going to listen to your friend. Why? Because you trust them since you?EUR(TM)ve known them for a long time. You see, on Twitch, when a viewer has been a fan of a streamer for a long time, the connection between the two is very similar to the connection between two friends. With the ability to chat directly with one another, talk about your favorite games, and more, there isn?EUR(TM)t much of a difference. However, with a blind advertisement on a website (even if it?EUR(TM)s in a community directed towards gamers), the experience will feel much like the first encounter with the unknown individual. Don?EUR(TM)t be that unknown individual. You can even try a platform like? PowerSpike? to easily get in contact with a ton of popular streamers to get you started. Advanced social transmission. When talking about games, there isn?EUR(TM)t a better place to spread the word about a new game than Twitch. If we think about the fundamentals of what makes products or services catch on, there is one big reason that can be contributed to the success of a game or product: Social transmission. If people have the ability to talk about your game and share it with others that they know, the rate at which your game will spread will be infinitely greater than if they did not. When every single user on Twitch can see a streamer that is playing your game, the chances of users socially transmitting your message goes through the roof. Furthermore, with the ability to talk and chat with others directly about the game their favorite streamer is playing in the Twitch chat, that will only reinforce the decisions of some players to try your game. Think about it this way: In a regular social setting, you might have the opportunity to suggest a product or game to your group of friends. This group might range anywhere from 3?EUR"10 people. However, on Twitch, this group of friends can range up to? 40,000 at once, or even more. Feedback gathering through Twitch? chat. When you first release a new game, you probably don?EUR(TM)t have many users who are actively playing your release. And when you don?EUR(TM)t have many users, it can be hard to extract feedback from those users. You may get a few steam reviews here and there, but it?EUR(TM)s not much information that you can use to improve your game or change it based on what your players want. However, with your game being broadcast to Twitch, you can directly observe the opinions of thousands of people in real time as their favorite streamer plays your game. On Twitch, voicing opinions for most users is a thoughtless action. If they like something in the game or think something is really cool, you?EUR(TM)re going to see a flood of ?EURoePogChamps?EUR? in the chatroom. However, if users don?EUR(TM)t like something about a game or feel that a certain aspect is ridiculous, you?EUR(TM)re going to hear about it. Not only can you collect the mass opinions of your target audience through the Twitch chat, but you also can gather feedback from the streamer themselves. A lot of the time, while a streamer is playing a game, they?EUR(TM)re going to give bits of information on whether they?EUR(TM)re enjoying the game that they?EUR(TM)re playing. And even if they don?EUR(TM)t give that information, you always can observe the reaction of the streamer while playing certain parts of your game. Ability to target micro influencers. In business, and in game development, there?EUR(TM)s a good chance that your target user base or player base is not going to be the entirety of the PC audience or console audience. Unfortunately, we just can?EUR(TM)t get lucky enough to have everyone want to play our game. But don?EUR(TM)t fret! On Twitch, there are countless communities that are centered around any game genre that you can think of. For instance, if you?EUR(TM)ve created a game centered on pixel art and dungeon crawling, you have the ability to work with streamers who play Binding of Isaac or Rogue Legacy. Furthermore, within these niche communities, the audience tends to be much more engaged and interested in games similar to the ones that they love playing and watching themselves. Therefore, targeting this audience is a lot more effective than simply listing your game under the ?EURoeIndie?EUR? section on Steam or somewhere similar. Traditional ads just aren?EUR(TM)t as? good. Now, throughout this entire post, you might have been thinking to yourself, ?EURoeWhy don?EUR(TM)t I just use traditional advertisements? It?EUR(TM)s probably cheaper anyway.?EUR? You may have even tried posting advertisements on other sites centered towards gamers. While in some cases these ads can perform well for specific target audiences, there?EUR(TM)s one thing you need to understand when working with gamers in particular: This type of audience isn?EUR(TM)t going to be affected by traditional ads. Most gamers nowadays range in the 12?EUR"30 year old range. A large majority of that audience is considered to be ?EURoemillennial?EUR?. When you think about a millennial audience and advertisements, the two just do not mix. Think about it this way: If you?EUR(TM)re watching your favorite TV show or game on Twitch, and you?EUR(TM)re hit with an advertisement, which option are you more likely to perform? a) Sit and watch the entire ad b) Open your phone and browse social media until the ad is over, or just exit the page all together We would go as far to say that 90?EUR"95% of everyone in your target audience is going to go for option B. According to Daniel Newman of Forbes, ?EURoeMillennials communicate with each other far more than any advertising campaign can. When trying to figure out whether something is worth buying, millennials will go to their friends and social networks to see what people? think. They use this collective filter to sort out research and other word-of-mouth style information when making decisions.?EUR? (https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/04/28/research-shows-millennials-dont-respond-to-ads/#b3631bc5dcb2) Furthermore, the target audience that you?EUR(TM)re working with is most likely quite experienced on the internet, and knows their way around the block. What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, a great majority of users who are on the internet for long periods of time have AdBlock. If you?EUR(TM)re not familiar with AdBlock, it?EUR(TM)s a plugin that makes all of those traditional ads you?EUR(TM)ve spent money on disappear. Ad Block is especially prevalent on Twitch today. A large majority of users even boast about having the option to skip when a Twitch partner runs ads, simply because installing AdBlock is so easy and effortless. However, when working with influencers, you don?EUR(TM)t have to worry about whether your ad is being blocked or paid attention to. If the streamer is playing your game, that?EUR(TM)s what the viewers are there to watch. And that?EUR(TM)s all for now! A quick note before we go: This is far from the only advantages of using influencer marketing to promote your game. In fact, it?EUR(TM)s one of the most blogged about topics that you can find in the marketing niche online. To save some space, we didn?EUR(TM)t throw in any of the basic reasons that influencer marketing is a great tool to leverage. If you?EUR(TM)d like, check out some of these posts to find out why others are such a fan: ?EUR~Love It Or Hate It: Influencer Marketing Works?EUR(TM)? https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/06/23/love-it-or-hate-it-influencer-marketing-works/#3336223a150b ?EUR~Why Influencer Marketing Will Explode In 2017?EUR(TM)? https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/12/27/why-influencer-marketing-will-explode-in-2017/#7406742220a9 ?EUR~11 Essential Stats for Influencer Marketing?EUR(TM) https://www.ion.co/11-essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2016
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When you need to share a pre-release version of a game with a showcase, reviewer, alpha-testers, etc, what do you do? I know Steam and VivePort offer some closed alpha-release options. I've seen a service mentioned called "Pre-flight" on the MIVS FAQ (http://super-archive.magfest.org/mivsfaq) but I can't seem to find it. What other options are there and how well have they worked in your experience?
We are a mobile game development startup and we published our 1st game a few days back and used admob in our games. After publishing the game we have not done any marketing and got only 15 installs so far and only earned around $0.10 USD through that game in admob. However admob terminated our adsense account saying that we did some Invalid Activity and the account can not be reinstated. We are very sure that none of our team members clicked on ads or played the game with the live ads. So I have a theory that some user clicked on our ads multiple times and our account was flagged due to that. We tried to communicate with admob team but we got automated replies.
Now we are thinking of adding another ad network like mopub,chartboost,unityads,etc to our 1st game and the other 2 games which we will be launching in 1-2 weeks. Now the question i have is how can we prevent our account from getting suspended from them, also can we get a account manager from them who can handle our request and listen to our side of argument if something like this happens in future. Our plan is to launch around more games in 2018 and a lot more in 2019 but we are now in a delima which ad network to use.
By Aaron Marsden
There are a lot of blog posts online teaching indie developers “how to write proper press releases for their new games,” and they all provide different (and sometimes conflicting) information. It’s confusing.
So, for the past week, I’ve spent my afternoons taking notes on all the useful information within each one, reaching out to established game developers to get their advice on how to write killer game press releases, and talking with PR pros in both game development and outside marketing environments to gather the absolute best information possible on the subject.
This post combines all my findings.
By the end, you’ll never have to read another “how to write a press release” post again. Sound good?
Let’s start with the basics:
What is a press release?
A press release is a 1-to-2-page piece of writing that announces new and exciting projects you’ve been working on.
The purpose of the release is to inform journalists and media sources about your news so they can (hopefully) publish stories about your work. They’re usually written in the third person — in other words, they’re written as if a journalist is writing about your game when in reality it’s just your writing.
Press releases are usually distributed through distribution tools or PR firms — but as an indie developer, they’re mainly used to help journalists solidify a story about your news when you pitch them over email. We’ll talk more pitching writers later, but for now, understand this:
Getting press is a great way to drive traffic to your new projects and can save you thousands of dollars in advertising costs if done right, so press releases are important!
When should you publish press releases?
Press releases are typically published when you announce:
A new game Game-changing new features or technology Events Partnerships (or other business-related news, like investments or grants (thanks Unreal)) New research Awards Or a resolution to a crisis (which hopefully isn’t your case) …and that’s it for the basics. Now let’s cover the steps for writing your release.
Step 1: Find your angle
Here’s a brutal truth:
No one pays attention to news that isn’t new or interesting. This is especially true for journalists. So without an interesting “story angle” you can take when announcing your news, no one’s going to pay attention to yours either.
Gabby DaRienzo, creator of A Mortician’s Tale and co-founder of Laundry Bear, said it best:
How do you find that “unique selling point,” you ask?
Lewis Denby, creator of the indie dev PR firm Game If You Are (this firm is great for indie devs — check it out!), recommends observing your original motivations for creating your game:
A great example of a USP (unique selling point) comes from Numinous Games, creator of Galaxies of Hope, who developed their game to help neuroendocrine tumor patients understand their diagnoses:
Taken from an Apple App Store article written about Wahmann’s game.
The combination of Numinous Game’s inspiration for creating the game (to help neuroendocrine tumor patients) along with their unique selling point (a game that teaches people about neuroendocrine tumors) makes for a killer story any games journalists would be happy to cover. THAT’s your goal.
* * *
After you’ve found your angle, it’s time to start the boring s**t.
Step 2: Write your headline and subheadline.
A good headline serves two purposes:
It shows the reader what’s being announced immediately, clearly, and concisely… …and it entices the reader to read the subheadline or first paragraph. A simple formula to follow when writing headlines is “[x] does [y],” like in the following releases:
SkyBox Labs Brings Bedrock Version of Minecraft to Nintendo Switch Slitherine is nominated as Economic Disruptor of the Year Keywords Studios acquires Snowed In Studios Bandai Namco Amusement Lab Inc. established for VR arcade development Aaron Marsden writes captivating article about indie game press releases (in his humble opinion) Don’t bury any information here, but don’t make it too boring either. No one wants to read a press release titled “Game Studio releases New Game.” Strike a balance between conciseness and charm and your headline will do just fine.
Tip: Great headlines are always written under 18 words.
The purpose of your subheadline is to expand on the headline if it’s not enough to fully capture your reader’s attention. It serves as an extra “attention grabber” that boosts your readers into the heart of your release.
In Numinous Games’ case, the headline and subheadline of their press release could look something like:
Headline: “Numinous Games releases Galaxies of Hope for Neuroendocrine Cancer Sufferers”
Subheadline: “Game aims to help NET patients understand and cope with their diagnoses”
I’d read it.
Step 3: Write the first paragraph
The first paragraph is the most important part of your press release. Although the headline/subheadline captures your reader’s attention, the first paragraph is what locks them into the piece and keeps them there for the rest of the way.
Your first paragraph should answer the all-important “5 W’s”: who, what, when, where, and why.
Who’s the press release about? (This will be your company) What’s happening? (This will be your announcement) When will it happen? (The date of your announcement) Where is it happening? (ex. What platforms is your game releasing on, where is your event occurring, etc.) Why is it important? Coschedule, a marketing application, provides this useful template in their blog post for writing effective first paragraphs:
[WHO: COMPANY] today announced it will [WHAT] at [WHERE] on [WHEN]. The [EVENT/ANNOUNCEMENT] will provide [BENEFIT] for [AUDIENCE].
Here’s a great example from E-Home Entertainment, the developer of a new game, Gene Rain:
Ignore the grammatical errors in the second sentence for now.
I’ll say it again: be sure you’re providing the most important information up-front. No burying.
(also, stay away from cliches — everyone has “the best game” or “the most exciting gameplay.”)
Step 4: The second paragraph
The purpose of the second paragraph is to elaborate more on your game and why it’s important to you and to your players. A great way to do this is with a personal quote.
As an indie dev, personal quotes allow you to dive deeper into your USP— what compelled you to create your game in the first place? What problem does it solve and how do you hope it helps your players? That’s the information your quote should contain.
In the App Store article I referenced earlier, Amy Green of Numinous Games provides a great quote where she talks about the game’s purpose of sharing stories from other tumor patients:
Notice how Amy’s quote fits perfectly into the context of her game’s story — this is exactly how you should format yours. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for journalists to write stories about you, and allowing them to grab a relevant quote straight from your press release without an interview is a great way to do that.
Note: In your actual press release, your quote should be a bit longer than Amy’s and should be written in third person. I don’t have the original press release for their game, but if I were to guess, the quote was written something like: “Our goal with Galaxies of Hope was not only to share Maryann’s personal story with NET, but also to help other patients,” said Amy Green of Numinous Games. “It meant so much to tell our own story through this medium that we started thinking about how we could share the stories of others.”
Step 5: The third paragraph
(Don’t worry, we’re almost done.)
The third paragraph completes your story. This is usually where you’ll write about the nitty-gritty details of your game:
When writing your third paragraph, ask yourself: “What’s interesting about my game from a player’s perspective? What makes it enjoyable? What could I say to get potential players excited?”
That’s what you should describe here.
I really love Magicka’s third (and fourth) paragraphs in their press release for their PvP mode. Notice how they’ve divulged just enough information to excite their players on the new mode:
(Their tone is killer, too.)
Step 6 (Optional): Key, bulleted features
If your game has some interesting features that wouldn’t fit into your above paragraphs but still deserve a spot in the press, a common practice is to list them near the bottom of your release.
Here’s another example from Magicka:
Just be sure not to go overboard — only include things you think your players (or journalists) would find value from.
Step 7 (Optional): Technical details.
If your game is resource-heavy, it’s a good idea to throw your system requirements here.
Step 8: Call to action
By now, your potential players have read your release and are pumped to jump into your game.
Now they just need to know where to play it.
A CTA (call to action) is a short action statement at the bottom of your release that drives traffic to your Steam page or website. Think of it as the “final push” your readers need to take action on your announcement.
The key here is to make your CTA actionable. A simple link to your page or a “click here to buy” isn’t enough — you must make it enticing. If you were releasing a VR war game, for instance, you could write something like:
Tip: If your Steam store page is super long, consider using a bit.ly link to shorten it up.
Step 9: Link to your press kit.
If you aren’t already aware, a press kit is:
Press kits make it super easy for journalists to grab videos and gifs of your game to use in their articles.
I highly suggest checking out the Mortician’s Tale kit on Laundry Bear’s website if you’re making your kit for the first time. It has pretty much everything an effective kit needs, so feel free to copy its base elements.
(Thanks again Gabby!)
Step 10: Contact information.
If a journalist were to reach out to you for more information, where would you send them? It’s usually formatted like so:
Name Company Name Phone Number Email This information can go both at the top of the page, as well as near the bottom like on this release (we’ll format this in a second).
Step 11: Add the final touches
Almost done. Now you just need to add some extra information to make your press release an actual press release:
A “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” tag with the date of your release. This will go to the right of your contact information.
City, state, and location information. This will go directly before your first paragraph.
An image, video, or gif showing off your game. This can go directly above or after your headline and subheadline.
And BOOM — you‘re done!
At the end of the process, your release should look something like this:
Although Magicka’s release is really good, there are a few things I’d change about it:
There’s no “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” This may confuse journalists. There’s no quote from the developers. This makes it feel impersonal. Their CTA is pretty bad (“Find out more here”). …but other than that, it’s a great reference point you can use when writing your own release.
When should you post your release?
Sometimes the timing of your release is as simple as “whenever your game is ready.” But other times, especially in Tim Ruswick’s case, putting thought into the timing of your release can be crucial to its success:
Keep this in mind with context to your game.
Where should you send your release?
Most companies simply post their press releases on their website, announce it on social media, put it through a PR distributor like PRNewswire, and wait for journalists to pick it up. But that won’t work for indie devs.
When you’re starting out you don’t have enough of a media presence to simply post your press release, and on a tight budget, paying big bucks for PR tools isn’t viable. That means you’ll have to manually send your release to journalists.
So before you post your press release, go on some of the popular gaming news sites like Kotaku, Polygon, or PC Gamer and gather a list of journalists (and their emails) who’ve written about games similar to yours. Then, once you’re ready to release, send them an email with a pitch for your story.
I just made that process sound way more simple than it actually is, so I recommend using this guide for reaching out to journalists.
* * *
By now, you should have enough information to write effective press releases without having to read another “how to write a press release” post.
But here’s the thing:
Getting press is only one way to market your game, and by no means is it the end-all-be-all. Continuing your marketing efforts is crucial to your success.
That’s why I put together a complete guide on how you can promote your game with Twitch influencers — it covers everything from finding the right influencers, to reaching out, to setting up deals, to verifying content, and much more. You can read that here.
Note: This post was originally posted on the author's Medium blog, and is reproduced here with kind permission. Aaron recommends PowerSpike's Game Marketing Advice Newsletter, sent every Monday.
[Wayback Machine Archive]
I am a few weeks into making my first "real" game and want to take it somewhat seriously. It'll be a single player top-down dungeon crawler RPG for PC. At what stage should I start marketing?
From observation, sales benefit from building a customer base during development, but starting too early can cause customers to lose interest and showing unfinished assets/ideas can mar reputation. I also have that irrational fear someone's going to steal my ideas if I share them, but I'll get over it. When should you start putting your concept/aesthetic, code snippets, mechanics, gameplay footage, etc out there? Do you share in relation to when your content is presentable or your release schedule?
As for where I'm at ~ I am still building the skeleton of my game, so there's lots of features but no substance or levels yet. The art is 100% placeholder. My concept is fleshed out, and I could give an elevator pitch for it. I'm beginning concept art, so I'll also have some aesthetic ready to share soon. I've been keeping a day-by-day journal of my activities and ideas, so I'll have plenty of content to rework into a developer's diary and marketing whenever it's okay to show people. It's probably early, but I want to start planning.
Any perspectives are welcome! I'm mostly looking to learn from others' experience.
I'm currently working on a POC along with a prototype for my Digital Multimedia Development course. We're talking about crowdsourcing this week, which leaves me with a few questions. How would you sell your idea for a game? I'm sure there are plenty of ways to go about it, but just in a general, step by step fashion, how would you do it? And are there any advantages to crowdsourcing your idea? Crowdsourcing is a pretty new concept for me.