So today was basically getting my marketing plan together. I have a ton of ideas for what I want to do, but they weren’t really solidified in terms of how to do them, how long they’d take, when to do them, how much they’d cost to do, etc. This assignment forced us to look all that information up, and I’m glad it did. Got lots of ideas and facts out of it. I think the biggest failing on the part of indie devs is that they don’t put much effort into marketing beyond posting on a few message boards they frequent, throwing up a website once the game is out, and just kind of crossing their fingers hoping their game is the next miracle success story. Why leave that to chance? Here’s my basic ideal marketing plan for each game released:
I figure a 3-sectioned approach is the best. Pre-release is all the fun stuff, putting up concept art, ideas, videos, etc. This builds the hype for the game so at least people will have heard of it, maybe a Behind The Scenes video will catch onto a few websites, people may dig the character art you’re putting up, etc. None of this really costs money except the press release. A person can put out a press release by themselves, but they’re probably only going to mail a couple dozen websites. There are professional services around the net for getting your press releases out to like a thousand targeted places. I’m going to be giving some of these services a go and I should be able to track their usefulness via tracking stats of where hits come from and surveys and stuff. We talked about how if something doesn’t work, quit doing it. So if I find this isn’t worth the investment, I’ll ditch it.
Editing in iMovie is so ridiculously fast and easy that I don’t see any problems throwing together some “Behind-the-scenes” stuff in a quick period of time. I could do the final trailer editing myself but if I’m keeping my deadlines super tight that I’m going to assume I don’t have the time for it. It can also be done for a lot cheaper than $300, but I’m shooting for worst-case-scenario here. I’ll be grabbing some video editing type off freelance job sites and provide them with gameplay footage and music/etc. to use. Can’t see anything going wrong there.
Release Day the obvious things are done. I find this is really the only section most people seem to do…and it’s an important one, but imagine if you have a thousand people who noticed your game’s development videos or concept art, etc. Now you’ve got those thousand people who will likely check out your game when it’s out and if they’ve been digging it they may spread word-of-mouth for you.
Post-Release I’m shooting for way down the road haha First few games won’t have this stuff, since I won’t have much money at the start and I’m not going to have any CD soundtracks or anything going on, I’m not dumb haha But a year in? Who knows? If things get to that situation then this is the Post-Release plan I’d start to follow.
Key things to take away from this:
- Marketing is NOT that expensive. Say you edit the trailer yourself because you’re not on really tight deadlines. $250 to mail your Press Release out to like 1,000 sites. If even 10 of those sites dig your game or it’s a slow news day or what-have-you, and they post it up and say 100 viewers from each of those sites checks out your game’s site. Say only half of them actually buy the game on release day. Thats 50 x 10, that’s $500 sales right there, and if you’re selling your game at 99 cents, you’ve just made basically double what you invested in the marketing. Seriously, isn’t that worth it?
- iMovie rules. Learn it. Use it. Abuse it. This is the age of video, we’re not on dial-up anymore…get your videos around the net. Show your game off. You’re proud of it, aren’t you? Show people why.
- Cafepress and other merchandise sites are free. Why would you not have this for your game? You have art in the game already. You just take that art and say “want this on a coffee mug? click this button.” Done. Granted I want to do actual cool custom art for that stuff, but like from a logical perspective this is something you should have. Maybe only one person gives a crap and wants your mug because the character you put on it reminds them of their co-worker Bob and their office will get a laugh when they see the mug left on Bob’s desk on Monday. That’s still a sale, and it cost you nothing to make that happen.
- Games can be re-marketed down the road. Hit a convention and give out little figurines and posters and stuff of your games. You can find services that will make them for relatively cheap and everyone loves free stuff. Offer these things up as part of contests for the gamers playing your games. Why not? Who doesn’t want to win some free stuff in a fun contest?
- Be logical. Don’t make toys for your first game the day it’s released. Wait and see what the fan-base is like before you decide to do something like that. Plan ahead, if you’re making a game with a lot of cool original songs, keep in mind the idea of throwing together a soundtrack for people to buy. Get your game some attention before it’s out instead of after it’s been out and sunk off the charts and it’s hard for people to find. This is all very simple obvious logic when you break it down.
That’s about it! I’m really digging the marketing stuff in this course. It’s fun because it kind of reminds me of what I used to naturally do (making QBasic games, writing pixel art tutorials, starting messageboard communities like Pixelation) in terms of promoting things, except now I’m going to be doing it consciously and with some kind of budget. It’s cool to think that in a way I’ve come full-circle haha