Indie game marketing has been a passion of mine for sometime and in the past I’ve looked at the reasons why indie studios need to take marketing seriously. This time I want to look at some of the mistakes indie studios and teams make when they try to promote their games.
Here is a look at the five marketing mistakes indie studios make when promoting their games.
5. Being Too Dependent on Social Media
Too many teams I’ve met have made the mistake of making social media almost their only marketing plan. It’s an incredible error in judgment to think that a simple Facebook or Instagram page is all that is needed to promote a game. At worst – they will set up a page and post content once a week that fails to engage fans.
Making a social media page is free and easy, hence everyone does it. You (or someone on the team) should work to grow and nurture the fan base by staying active online. Share stories of the games development, post updates or awesome facts, and get to know the audience. However; social media should be part of the marketing strategy and not the marketing strategy.
4. Not Establishing a Solid Presence
As discussed in the last entry, social media is a great way of reaching out to your fans but it should not be the only way. Indie teams need to get out and promote their work among other developers and gamers. The best way to go about this is to have a presence at game dev mixers, play test events, meet ups and conventions.
In the Bay Area alone, there are numerous meet ups and mixers that allow game developers to meet and share their work. PlayCrafting SFO and the San Francisco Game Pitch host numerous events that allow indie studios to showcase their work and receive feedback from other professionals. The GameDev Drink Up is a golden opportunity for indie developers to get feedback from those working in the industry.
The Bay Area is also home to the Game Developers Conference (GDC), one of the largest gathering of video game industry professionals in the world. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase ones work to other developers and the media just to get some feed back or get your name out to the public.
3. Trying to be Edgy / Controversial
Any time there has been a new medium, the best way for it to get any attention has been to be either edgy or controversial. Video games are no exception as the 90’s and early 2000’s saw titles like Grand Theft Auto III, Mortal Kombat, and Doom freakout the moralists. Times have changed and today Doom is hailed in high regards for what it did for the industry while Rockstar Games is now known for creating immersive worlds and thought provoking stories.
So when a studio comes along and tries to be edgy, it’s seen less as an attempt to push the envelop and more of a cry for attention. Nobody is going to be impress with a “massacre simulator”. These titles are less innovative and are more of a “troll game”. They mostly lack any sense of quality while the marketing plan is based on simply being offensive. Sure one could release such a title but they have lost the respect of the industry and won’t get far with their career.
Also, not a lot of people are going to drop $30 to buy a game just to own the “SJW Libs“.
2. Promoting at the Wrong Event
Back in May 2018, I got the chance to demo an AR fantasy adventure during a convention. The development team had set up a demo and was present to showcase their work while trying to get some consumer feedback. An excellent market plan with one minor flaw, they were doing this at an industry expo instead of a fan convention.
Conventions are the best place to promote your game but attending the wrong one will not generate a return on investment. One will need to do their research to see which events will have the greatest presence of their target audience. For example, if you want to promote a horror game then go to Creature-Con (or a horror themed convention).
Thankfully there are plenty of fan conventions in the Bay Area and Los Angeles area. Both these communities will have at least 3 fan conventions a month, giving indie studios a verity of events to choose.
1. Not Having a Marketing Plan
Every other mistake pales in comparison to doing absolutely noting regarding your marketing plan. Indie developers are on a tight budget which means they are hesitant to invest in marketing. The truth is all businesses are a major risks but they have the potential to grow if they have a stellar marketing plan.
Not having a marketing plan of any kind is always a guaranteed path to failure. Your team may be creating the greatest game ever but it won’t get anyone’s attention if you’re not promoting it. There are a lot of indie games on the market now and putting your hopes into luck (or going viral) is a stupid plan.
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