By Joseph Perez
Hi! Ever since I was a kid I was always fascinated by games, I believe we all were and still are. There was a certain mystique while playing a game, something that helped us all in someway. I'll never forget playing the original super Mario bros and then going to super Mario 64 and wanting to collect all the stars just to see Yoshi! This is something I want to replicate, I want to make a game that people will enjoy. I know absolutely nothing about game design and I don't want to come off as ignorant when I say I want to make a large open world game. I understand it may be an insane amount of work, possibly unrealistic/impossible for a small team. But that's what I want to know, if anyone could be real with me and tell me the realistic amount of time, people, and money I would need to make a large open world game. I understand that it being my first game is unrealistic but that's my end goal and I just want to know the specifics of it. I greatly appreciate anyone who gives any tips or information. I'm grateful that such a community exists.
By Jesse "Chime" Collins
Welcome to the fourth entry to Indie Marketing For N00bs. This week, we’re going to talk about some things that most developers fail to really follow through on: Marketing Plans. These are both fundamental additions to any successful game on the market. We’re going to take the time here to really explain the importance of these tools, what they’re used for, and how to create them yourself.
PLAN? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ PLAN!
You’ve designed a game. Go you. What is the first thing most developers do before they make the game, though? They create a game design document, which entails the plan for what’s going into the game, how it’ll be implemented, and something that can be followed through or be utilized by a publisher that wants to take your game under their wing. In theory, you already know how to do exactly this, so why aren’t you designating time to do the same thing for other aspects of the process?
A marketing plan is your personal guideline to what needs to be done early on, as well as in post-development when it comes to marketing, public relations, social media, and community management. It’s big, generally. But, it helps developers know when they need to make a post or a blog, or when they need to make an announcement due to hitting a target. This includes when you should do “Dev Diaries” or how often you should tweet. Make a plan and stick to it.
I Love It When A Marketing Plan Comes Together!
Everyone has a different method for their own versions of a marketing plan. Some people do a simple outline with key points and some people go above and beyond for a true precision strike outward (For instance: My plans tend to be between 9 and 11 pages, including a title page).
I mentioned earlier that the plan can be for a publisher. If you ever plan to get picked up by a publisher (even the indie publishers), they want you to be as impactful as you can be autonomously. It’s less work and hassle for them if you come equipped with your own knowledge and tactics.
But, maybe I don’t want a publisher. Why do I need a plan? Making a plan for yourself keeps you on a strict regimen to get your game out there. Will it ensure a 100% success story? Of course not. But, it will ensure that you are following my rule from previous entries to this series: “Every eye possible”.
Know Your Audience And They Will Know You
A plan should include two major sections, split into explanations for each one: Information and Marketing Tools.
In the Information section, include a quick description of your game, maybe one or two paragraphs. This is to guide anyone other than yourself that may read this document. If you have any current statistics or analytics about your game or company, include a section for them. Set your goal here, as well. Make an attainable goal based on similar games on market. Knowing what you’re up against and adjusting your expectations to adhere to logic is a perfect way to set yourself up for a win.
Additionally, do some research and figure out your demographic. Come up with a range of people that you believe your game is targeting. Include:
Age range Is your game more mature themed? Would it appeal more to a nostalgic retro audience? Is it cartoony and kid-friendly? These aspects matter. Gender(s) With women taking to the industry in recent years, more women are likely to play your game. Take this into account here. Languages For instance, if you game is only in English and you have no plans to localize the game to Chinese, China might not be your demographic. Systems Is your game only on PC? Probably shouldn’t focus on console gamers too much then and vice versa. Is your game mobile? Why are you contacting people that only play PC games? Know your audience and it’ll help with future endeavors and needs.
List Out All The Tools You’ll Use
Marketing Tools should include Social Media, Video platforms, Game’s Website, Community Presence, Press, Paid Advertisements, and Software and Services you plan to use. This section is a lot bigger than the other, but it’s where the majority of the plan is laid out.
What social media are you going to use? List them out here. We’ve discussed social media in a prior lesson, so add in any that are going to be linked to this game, no matter how small. Think of this as your reminder to post on Google+ or Instagram. How often will you be posting to each platform? Do you plan to tweet daily? Are you hitting other platforms often? Make sure to include even game developer specific platforms here as well. Any presence needs to be noted and should have a guide for how you handle each one.
Do you plan to make videos for your game? Have you made a trailer? Will you be streaming the game during development or post-development for people to see progress or features? Make sure to include if you’re using YouTube, Twitch, or any other video platforms. How will you post these videos and how often? Will you be live for most of it on Twitch and then upload it to YouTube after? What’s the plan?
Most indie developers don’t utilize their own website for promotion, but it’s a powerful tool to have a simple domain to send potential eyes to. This looks great on business cards, promotional materials, or any shout outs you make need. Some people even go a step further and implement a dev blog into their site. This can tie to the videos, as well, showing off aspects of the game that may not have been apparent. Dev Diaries, which can be shown on your site, are one of the easiest ways to keep community involvement during the creation of your game.
Utilization of the forum structure is always a good way to keep community involvement, in both the traditional sense and the more modern takes. Reddit is ridiculously popular to show off progress and several sub-Reddits (specific sections dedicated to particular topics) are designed specifically for indie developers. Additionally, the use of Discord could be considered a “modern take” to the forum structure. Taking on an old-school IRC style mixed with vocal capabilities like Teamspeak or Ventrillo, Discord is designed for gamers and widely utilized as a community tool for the game industry.
Media Shower: Wishing Among The Stars
As we’ve discussed in an earlier lesson, the press and media are your friends. List out your plan to contact them and how you plan to keep them notified in your plan. This includes a guideline of when you plan to write press releases to get out to the media and press sites. Figure out what kinds of streamers and “Let’s Players” you want to try to contact and set a target.
Include a full plan for a customized “press kit” in your marketing plan. I’m going to be setting “press kits” aside as its own lesson at a later date, but expect a much more substantial detailing of what should be in a standard press kit.
Software, Services, and Ads
As with any other game-related step out there, tools can and should be used when marketing. This can be a number of things, from minor social media tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, all the way to full analytics reporting programs like Google analytics. A popular free tool to use is Google Alerts, which can set keywords and have Google email you when something comes up in the search engine. If you intend to have people play the game in Let’s Plays, websites like Gamesight can be very helpful in tracking your game. After the game has been published, it’s important to try to get your game on such aggregates as Metacritic, not for any other reason than Twitch and other websites pull from that site for their content.
This section should also include any paid advertising you, your publisher (if applicable), or third party will intend to use. Be concise. Since this uses real money, you can utilize the demographics designed in the first section of the marketing plan to focus the impressions and clicks. Ads can be Google, Facebook, Twitter, or a number of other platforms.
Understand the difference between sponsored advertisements and "like" purchasing, though. It's the difference between having real eyes see your product and having some company in a click farm boost your numbers in a fake way. Fake followers and "bots"can completely mess up any intended reporting and realistic charts. You'll never know if you're actually doing good.
Don’t forget to think out of the box, though. Marketing is only limited to your own mind. Be creative and sometimes it will pay off. Some people get a proper Wikipedia article put up for their game. If you intend to make a commercial, YouTube and Twitter can be tapped for a video-based ad. Heading to small events in your area can help get more eyes. Just make sure you have it all in your Plan.
I need a get a quote very soon to a mid level game company for a single screen design. A multi-layered 2D reward screen in Photoshop. Size is 5200 x 2048pixels . Game will be ad free and sold as an iOS and Android app. Thanks for any help or advice. Have about an hour to send them one.
There is a newly founded initiative started in Sweden called Spelkollektivet. It is an international game developer collective which aims to provide a creative place for game developers to live and work at while they are struggling with their initial titles, to make the finances last. We offer cheap living (from 490 euro per month), that includes a private bedroom, desk in a shared office, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, outdoor pool, virtual reality equipment, cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner, and consumables such as toilet paper, laundry detergent and shower gel.
Typically, people stay for 3 to 12 months at a time and we currently have people from Canada, United States, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Bulgaria.
We hope this initiative will help game developer working alone, or smaller teams working from different places in the world, to find a home which enables them to pursue their dreams.
For more information, check out our website and our Facebook page.
I watched some business videos on YouTube, and learned a really good tip. Mc Donalds is a role model for business ideas. One phrase made Mc Donalds so much richer: Would you like fries with that? Imagine how many extra millions they made by adding fries to every order.
We all want to sell games right? How many people have sold 1,000,000? Imagine if you had of tacked on another sale. Another $2 sale would have netted you another $2,000,000 dollars, just for asking one simple question.
When you sell your game online consider offering a bonus to every sale. An in-game perk, a mini-game, a mod, a folder with all pre-game sketches. It really doesn't matter. Just remember to put a checkbox beside it, and let the customer decide.
Hope this helps.
If anyone else has business advice, I'd love to hear it.
PS: There should be a business tips forum in the business section.