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How effective is paid advertising for an arcade PC (Win / Mac) game?

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Hi Everyone,
 
I've posted this on another forum already, but I'd like to get some opinions from you guys here as well
 
Just like I believe many indies with a game at a relatively early stage of development, I'm experiencing all the pleasures and ordeals of trying to get as much exposure as possible. Being present at events, social media (best traction thus far!), forums, indiedbs, reddits - you name it. As I'm working towards a first polished demo - press releases and contacting twitchers, youtubers, bloggers, websites and press crop up on the horizon. And let's not forget trying some IGF, Indiecade and the likes. There's loads of info and advice of various kind about all mentioned above all over the Internet.
 
There's one thing I'm quite curious about though, and I'd love to hear from more experienced colleagues here who got their games published on Steam / GOG. That is, did you use any paid advertising to boost sales of your game? Did it work and where did you advertise? Adwords / Bing Ads? Reddit ads? BuyAds? Other?
 
Also, any success stories with some experimental / guerilla marketing? Anyone ran through city centre naked shouting his / her game's title to increase sales?   :wink:  :D
 
Thanks,
 
Luke

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There are all kinds of differences in advertising.  

There are product releases like the annual sports franchises that spend many millions every year, and it is quite worth it to them.

 

There are products where people invest thousands of dollars. There are some where people invest hundreds, or tens, or single digit dollars on advertising.

 

 

Every product needs to know its customers, the target market.  Then they need to figure out how to reach the target market.  Every game is different, and every target market is different.  My game for young children will have a radically different marketing target than another person's game targeting young men, which will be different from a game targeting young women, and so on.

 

Even games with similar target demographics will have different needs.  Even though all of them target similar ages and lifestyles, Tiger Woods Golf marketing includes golfing magazines and web sites, FIFA hits different sports venues, Madden hits still others.

 

 

 

 

There's one thing I'm quite curious about though, and I'd love to hear from more experienced colleagues here who got their games published on Steam / GOG. That is, did you use any paid advertising to boost sales of your game? Did it work and where did you advertise? Adwords / Bing Ads? Reddit ads? BuyAds? Other?

 

If your only advertising is word-of-mouth and you never engage in paid advertising, the game is going to do worse than if you just bought powerball tickets twice a week rather than paying for your computer.

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Sure, I'm most interested to hear from people who dealt with ads for a Win / Mac PC arcade-style shmup - anyone? 

 

That said, it'd be interesting to hear from developers of any kind of games who used paid advertising after the game has been released - was it worth it to you? To what extent etc? Did you primarily rely on the hype / press / exposure you've built prior to your game's release? Or were paid ads a vital contributor to your sales figures?

 

And let's not forget any guerilla marketing success / fail stories ;)

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Well, word on the streets is that paid advertising for Indie titles is not very effective. At least for the Indie Marketing budget (which often end up being "I spent all my lunch money for the year, 500$!!!! on paid advertisement... yet I have seen zero conversions. Sad".

 

If you cannot spend BIG on ads, it seems you should rather keep the money or spend it on something else. Like keeping you afloat while YOU YOURSELF do some marketing online.

- Run a well planned and well executed and long in advance (3+ months) prepared Kickstarter with a finished (or almost finished game) solely to test the market and build a community.

- Get into Steam Greenlight and work your ass off to make your Greenlight campaign shine.

- Get to cons and drum up interest for your games. Heard that generally these don't have a BIG impact on a broader community, but apparently if you find fans there they can end up being VERY loyal fans as they were able to meet the person behind it and stick a face to a game.

- Be active with a blog and vids and all that. Works best I reckon when you already have found a community to keep them engaged and interested.

 

 

In general, I have seen people saying that your number one goal as Indie is building a community. That takes time, so start early (when your game is still in development)...

And of course, paid ads will not help you much with building that community. How many times did you see an ad for an unknown game on a random page and though "Hey, I have no clue what this is about (is it a game?), that graphics shown has nothing to do with the game most probably (because fake art for game ads has become the norm), and I am on this page to do something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.... but lets click on this game ad just for kicks"?

 

Now, might be that I am an outlier and most of the population still clicks on ads like ADS children with a nervous spasm in their click-finger. I doubt it though. Lets face it, most people have become very good at ignoring ads poping up on pages... lets call it the brain ad-blocker.

Ads nowadays, unless they remind people something has come out that they have waited for anyway, mainly work in implanting brand recognition and slogans into our brains by repetition.

So that when we see the newest CoD title pop up in our search for a new FPS on Steam, we go all "Oh I know that one... where did I see it again? Well, must be a famous game then"... which our monkey brain often translates to Famous=Must be Good! Why else would it be famous if it wasn't good?

 

Of course, this kind of mind manipulation only works with LOTS of repetition. Which means $$$ spent for ads. See where I am going here?

 

 

Anyway. Paid ads or not, the main takeaway point for most marketing postmortems was "Start - early"... running a marketing push for a released game can still help. But you will never get that release spike back, unless your game is an outlier (seems to happen. The long and spiky tail, so to speak).

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