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Marketing A Long-Long Browser Game Marketing Post Here.

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Hi guys and girls, 

This gonna be quite a long post, cause I'll try to tell you about what I have done so far, and than ask my questions. So prepare to read quite a bit. 

So, who am I? 

I'm Sam, I used to work as environmental designer in a strategy game, than I also was doing technical support and community management, and now I'm doing marketing for a web-version of a popular MMORTS title - Battle for the Galaxy, game looks like this, on a gif below:

tlLQv8.gif
 

Finding a thousand of websites

So when I started. It was 1st of August 2016. I was told that the game performs very well on Android, with solid amount of users and purchases, and there are chances it will also become popular on the web. So we decided to find all those websites, who publish games, like Armorgames, Kongregate, Addictinggames and many more - that was our marketing plan - to find all those sites and publish our game for a revenue share.

I have found manually over a 1000 of websites, publishing web-games (mostly European, American and Russian, while it's a lot harder with Asian sites). Some websites require API integration, others agree to use our own solution. Which consists of xsolla payments system, facebook login and our tracking tool. (If interested you can check it here: https://amt-games.com/partners)

So by today, we have 50 partners - gaming website owners, who publish our game on a revenue share basis. But the fact 950 other sites actually didn't join affiliate system makes me sad. 

Btw, affiliate system brought us a total of 1400000 DAU for the period, while 550000 out of them were new users. 

Different problems you meet when searching for web-publsher

So, then I realized, not everyone wants to make money with our "super exceptional" game, and will decline my proposal due to various reason, like: 

  • Only CPA promotion
  • Only cross-platform html5 games
  • Only girls games

Those who actually can and want to publish cannot bring enough users to the game, or otherwise - users they bring are too young and cannot make purchases in our game.

And some other publishers just simply don't have an email address/contact form on their site, mailbox is full, they didn't receive a mail, as it might get lost in spam and other reasons.

And of course there were those publishers who actually bring paying users to the game, and this is wonderful. 

Working with existing partners

By the time I realized I cannot make it with quantity of sites, I had to think of making it with quality. So I started working deeper with partners, preparing different promotional materials, sending patch notes, asking for extra home-page promotion every now and then just to get a little higher amount of users. 

Generally this works good, and people tend to return if they quit a while ago, and new users come as well.

We have done some other improvements for user experience, like in-client support form, links to facebook community/forum, regular response to public comments, media support covering upcoming patch changes. 

For partners on the other hand - we did some improvements to affiliate system, to ease the process for accountants on gathering weekly/monthly data. 

All these moves gave us both support from web-users and partners, so we had some higher amounts of users, when we would without them.

Social Networks for the win

Most paying users are in social networks, so APIs from facebook is one of the best moves you can do for a web-version of your game. However, in this topic, I wanted to talk about what can be improved, not what's good enough, so let's move to the next one. 

My questions, finally

So, for now I feel like I'm stuck, I cannot find any more quality web-publishers, APIs from the upcoming already added to Confluence and Jira, and I don't have any budget for CPA or any other paid promotion. All I have is a revenue share program. 

Can you give me an advice, how do I force remaining 950 sites to publish our game (I tried finding linkedin contacts, sent multiple emails), maybe anyone can refer me? Would be really great. My email is marketing@amt-games.com or you can read about affiliate via the link I posted above.

What would you generally advice to do, along with the publishing on websites? What can bring traffic to the game, without CPA. Youtube channels, forums, is it effective, and if so, can you give a step by step guide or refer me as well.

Thanks, and sorry for typos, I didn't proofread this text!

 

Edited by Sam@AMT Games

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      On the 2nd of November 2017 we launched a Kickstarter campaign for our game Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor, which aimed to raise $20,000. By the campaign’s end, 3000 backers had supported us with a total of $74,478. All the PR and marketing was handled by our indie developer team of four people with a very low marketing budget. Our team decided to go for a funding goal we were sure we could reach and extend the game’s content through stretch goals. The main goal of the campaign was to raise awareness for the game and raise funds for the alpha version.
       
      Part 1 - Before Launch
      Is what we believed when we launched our first Kickstarter campaign in 2016. For this first campaign, we had built up a very dedicated group of people before the Kickstarter’s launch. Nimbatus also had a bit of a following before the campaign launched:
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      ~ 1300 followers on Twitter
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      ~ 3500 followers on Steam
      However, there had been little interaction between players and us previous to the campaign's launch. This made us unsure whether or not the Nimbatus Kickstarter would reach its funding goal.
      A few weeks prior to launch, we started to look for potential ways to promote Nimbatus during the Kickstarter. We found our answer in social news sites. Reddit, Imgur and 9gag all proved to be great places to talk about Nimbatus. More about this in Part 3 - During the campaign.
      As with our previous campaign, the reward structure and trailer were the most time-consuming aspects of the page setup. We realised early that Nimbatus looks A LOT better in motion and therefore decided that we should show all features in action with animated GIFs.
      Two examples:

       

      In order to support the campaigns storytelling, “we built a ship, now we need a crew!”, we named all reward tiers after open positions on the ship.


       
      We were especially interested how the “Navigator” tier would do. This $95 tier would give backers free digital copies of ALL games our company EVER creates.

       
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      - About 10 of the 100 Youtubers we contacted manually ended up creating a video/stream during the Kickstarter. Including some big ones with 1 million+ subscribers.
      - Over 150 videos resulted from the Keymailer outreach. Absolutely worth the investment!

      Another very helpful tool to find Youtubers/Streamers is Twitter. Before, but also during the campaign we sent out tweets , stating that we are looking for Youtubers/Streamers who want to feature Nimbatus. We also encouraged people to tag potentially interested content creators in the comments. This brought in a lot of interested people and resulted in a couple dozen videos. We also used Twitter to follow up when people where not responding via email, which proved to be very effective.
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      Part 2: Kickstarter Launch

      We launched our Kickstarter campaign on a Thursday evening (UTC + 1) which is midday in the US. In order to celebrate the launch, we did a short livestream on Facebook. We had previously opened an event page and invited all our Facebook friends to it. Only a few people were watching and we were a bit stressed out.

      In order to help us spread the word we challenged our supporters with community goals. We promised that if all these goals were reached, each backer above $14 would receive an extra copy of Nimbatus. With most of the goals reached after the first week, we realized that we should have made the challenge a bit harder.
      The first few days went better than expected. We announced the Kickstarter on Imgur, Reddit, 9gag, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, in some forums, via our Newsletter and on our Steam page. If you plan to release your game on Steam later on, we’d highly recommend that you set up your Steam page before the Kickstarter launches. Some people might not be interested in backing the game but will go ahead and wishlist it instead.
       
      Part 3: During The Campaign

      We tried to keep the campaign’s momentum going. This worked our mostly thanks to the demo we had released.
      In order to download the Nimbatus demo, people needed to head over to our website and enter their email address. Within a few minutes, they received an automated email, including a download link for the demo. We used Mailchimp for this process.

       
      We also added a big pop up in the demo to inform players about the Kickstarter.

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      We continued to frequently post on Imgur, Twitter, 9Gag and Facebook. Simultaneously, people streamed Nimbatus on Twitch and released videos on Youtube. This lead to a lot of demo downloads and therefore growth of our newsletter. A few hundred subs came in every day. Only about 10% of the people unsubscribed from the newsletter after downloading the demo.
      Whenever we updated the demo or reached significant milestones in the campaign, such as being halfway to our goal, we sent out a newsletter. We also opened a Discord channel, which turned out a be a great way to stay in touch with our players.
      We were quite surprised to see a decent opening and link click rate. Especially if you compare this to our “normal” newsletter, which includes mostly people we personally met at events. Our normal newsletter took over two years to build up and includes about 4000 subs. With the Nimbatus demo, we gathered 50’000 subs within just 4 weeks and without travelling to any conferences.
       


      (please note that around 2500 people subscribed to the normal newsletter during the Kickstarter)
      On the 7th day of the campaign we asked a friend if she would give us a shoutout on Reddit. She agreed and posted it in r/gaming. We will never forget what happened next. The post absolutely took off! In less than an hour, the post had reached the frontpage and continued to climb fast. It soon reached the top spot of all things on Reddit. Our team danced around in the office. Lots of people backed, a total of over $5000 came in from this post and we reached our funding goal 30 minutes after hitting the front page.

       
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      A few minutes before the Kickstarter campaign was over we cleaned up our campaign page and added links to our Steam page and website. Note that Kickstarter pages cannot be edited after the campaign ends!
      The campaign ended on a Tuesday evening (UTC + 1) and raised a total of $75’000, which is 369% of the original funding goal. After finishing up our “Thank you” image and sending it to our backers it was time to rest.

       
      Part 5: Conclusion
      We are very happy with the campaign’s results. It was unexpected to highly surpass our funding goal, even though we didn’t have an engaged community when the campaign started. Thanks to the demo we were able to develop a community for Nimbatus on the go. The demo also allowed us to be less “promoty” when posting on social news sites. This way, interested people could get the demo and discover the Kickstarter from there instead of us having to ask for support directly when posting. This, combined with the ever growing newsletter, turned into a great campaign dynamic. We plan to use this approach again for future campaigns.
       
      Growth
      300 ------------------> 430 Facebook likes
      1300 -----------------> 2120 Twitter followers
      1000 -----------------> 50’000 Newsletter signups
      3500 -----------------> 10’000 Followers on Steam
      0 ---------------------> 320 Readers of subreddit
      0 ---------------------> 468 People on Discord
      0 ---------------------> 300 Members in our forum
       
      More data
      23% of our backers came directly from Kickstarter.
      76% of our backers came from external sites.
      For our previous campaign it was 36/64.
      The average pledge amount of our backers was $26.
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      Main sources of backers
      Link inside demo / Newsletter 22’000 Kickstarter 17’000 Youtube 15’000 Google 3000 Reddit 2500 Twitter 2000 Facebook 2000  
      TLDR:
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      We hope this insight helps you plan your future Kickstarter campaign. We believe you can do it and we wish you all the best.
       
      About the author:
      Philomena Schwab is a game designer from Zurich, Switzerland. She co-founded Stray Fawn Studio together with Micha Stettler. The indie game studio recently released its first game, Niche - a genetics survival game and is now developing its second game Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor. Philomena wrote her master thesis about community building for indie game developers and founded the nature gamedev collective Playful Oasis. As a chair member of the Swiss Game Developers association she helps her local game industry grow.
      https://www.nimbatus.ch/
      https://strayfawnstudio.com/
      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/strayfawnstudio/nimbatus-the-space-drone-constructor
       
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