In experiment #1 I tried submitting my game to indie forums around the web. While the traffic was smaller than I expected, it was actually more beneficial in ways outside the direct promotion of the game. In place of traffic it got me pages and pages of valuable design feedback from some really smart communities, nearly all of which ended up in the game. This time I'm going to try another tactic, I'm going to try:
Experiment #2: Press Releases.
I've never sent a press release to anyone in my life. In fact until I started researching this I didn't realize indies even sent out press releases. It seemed like a strange level of self-promotion that requires a lot of talking in third person. To start with I began reading some articles that jbadams linked me too that covered the basics of talking to the press. These include:
An Indie Game Developer's Marketing Checklist - Robert DellaFave
How to talk to the video game press - Mike Rose
How to contact press - Pixel Prospectors
The article by Robert DellaFave was the first one I read and it suddenly made me realize how woefully unprepared for this I was:
- I didn't have a facebook account
- I didn't have a twitter account
- I didn't have a trailer
- I didn't have a website
- I didn't have a press release page online.
It took me about a week to get this all done, but it was an important step. Don't leave it until the last minute like I did - you have to get these up and running. If you don't think you need a press-release page, it just means your not prepared for when someone who wants to cover your game asks for a press release. If you don't think you need a twitter account, you won't be prepared for when that same guy wants to retweet a screenshot. Follow the guide by Robert DellaFave and get his list done. To help with this some tips are:
- presskit() is awesome. Download it, run it on your server and use that as your central hub for all your information. It runs on PHP so even the most bare-bones webhost should be able to run it.
- While setting up a Twitter and Facebook account seem easy, they will require header images that you might not have yet. In my case I didn't have anything the size of what they need and had to get them drawn up specially.
- When you upload a trailer to YouTube, make sure that video is 100% utterly final - Once you send that link out to people you can't change that video content without generating a new URL. I found this out the hard way by posting the trailer on twitter then realizing I had 'Loudness Equalization" turned on in windows. This meant the actual audio levels of my trailer were all messed up. OOPS.
The Press Release:
My press release will consist of 4 main sections:
- An opener saying hi
- A paragraph on the description of the game
- A few lines about the history of the game
- Links to the press-release online, a link to the game on the android store, a link to the trailer and a free copy of the game.
As I'll get into below, the actual content of the email I'll be customizing based on how well I know the site.
I have a list of about 15-20 websites I would like to contact. They fit roughly into the categories of:
Places I actually visit often and care about: 6-7 sites
I'll be writing emails that, based on the advice from Mike Rose, will be a more personal. I'm going to try and make it sound like I'm not a robot (beep-boop) and start with a little bit of info on how I know the site.
Places I sometimes visit: 2-3 sites
I know the names of a couple of the editors but nothing in particular. The emails will probably be a little less personal but not a complete copy+paste.
Places I had never heard of: 7-9 sites
These I'll be places that I will copy+paste cover letters too. They are pretty generic in their content.
And now we sit back and wait.
By making all the marketing content very easy to find and trying to make my trailer look at least halfway decent, I think I might be able to get 2-3 of the sites to report on my game. I'll run this for about a week and then post back with the results!