|Posted by Jason on January 30, 2018 at 5:35 AM|
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Video games are usually an all-or-nothing venture. Many of the bigger video games companies, like Microsoft, Electronic Arts (EA), and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) have a long history of making money from games. But you don't necessarily have to create the latest in a franchise for your video game to make money, and you don't have to be part of a huge corporation to have a successful launch. Indie developers can see success with their games, to, especially if they can make use of affordable video game advertising agencies.
One of the things about indie game developers is that while they may be great at developing a challenging, yet user-friendly game or an exciting storyline, they aren't very good at marketing. If you've had difficulty marketing your indie game, you may be doing it wrong. The strengths of your game can easily sell themselves, but if no one is aware of your product, or your timing is off, then you may need help from someone who knows how to market your game. Woodstock Production company has had success with smaller game developers, helping place their games alongside the big guys. They are an affordable marketing company that can help you successfully launch your game.
There are a few things that successful indie games, no matter which genre, have in common. The first is that developers have to treat their game development as more than a hobby. Although games are getting much easier to make from home now, this also means that the market is getting very crowded, and chances of getting a "hit" may be slim. In addition to competition from the larger console and PC developers, even Facebook is getting in on the action with mobile gaming. So indie gamers need to be very aware that without proper marketing of their game, the chances of it flopping can be high. It's disappointing for many game developers when they pour their heart and soul into their hobby only to see a few dozen downloads. But the reality is that video games are a crowded market, and you'll have to stand out. Once game developers realize that they have to market their game to get it in front of the right audience, then they can find success. Even as far back as the 1990s, something like 92 percent of all games published lost money. They made less in sales than they cost to develop. Today the percentage could be even higher than 92 percent.
Finding a loyal niche is one of the best pieces of advice to indie game developers. For many, this means moving away from zombies or fast cars, and into a different kind of action game or creating a unique world-building game. Be very aware of the different styles of games out there, and which types of games in each genre enjoy the most success. Even if you develop a hit game, there may be a chance that no one will see it. The supply of games, even good games, far outstrips the demand in all categories. Marketing your game and positioning it to get talked about, reviewed, and downloaded even by those who are curious as to what all the fuss is about is the only way for an indie video game developer to make their game profitable. Most game developers spend more time on the game, and not enough time figuring out how to market it effectively.
Game developers now have to be a writer, artist, and producer, plus be a developer, tester, and marketing team all at the same time. That's a lot of hats to wear, and if you can't do them all well, maybe it's time to hire some help. Unless you're going into game development with all these skills, which most people aren't, then you'll need to outsource some of the marketing and advertising to a professional. There were over 5000 new games released on Steam last year, an average of about 15 new games a day. That's a lot of competition if you can't make your game stand out. If you are just trying to clone or slightly improve someone else's idea, then your game is likely to get lost in the shuffle. The competition for mobile games and apps is even stiffer. Last year, the Apple store offered 396,094 gaming apps. The Google Play store has a similar number of offerings, although many developers code their games to work on both Andriod and IOS platforms.
You can make money off your video game, though. In order to do so, you'll need a high number of installs, download, or purchases. This is where having a professional who knows how to market your game comes in handy. Then you'll need a good game that keeps users remaining in gameplay for a long period of time. They don't necessarily have to have multi-hour gaming sessions, just a long period of interest in the game. There is a small subset of players that are willing to pay in order to increase their status in the game or gain access to upgrades and extras. These can come as in-app purchases, or paid downloads, or purchasable expansion packs, whichever suits your game design best. Many indie gamers are convinced that they have an exciting game. They should also consider developing these upgrades alongside the regular game so that when the game launches, they'll have it ready.
So if you know you have a tight game that offers a unique quest or situation to set you apart, and the ability to make more money off the game with upgrades and add-ons, then the thing that many indie game developers seem to be lacking is getting their game sold. This is entirely marketing – you can have a viral campaign, a large launch, or even start a buzz through word-of-mouth. One of the best ways to encourage word-of-mouth advertising is to have a social competitive aspect of your game. Players enjoy playing against their friends, and this will add a layer of engagement depth that can set your game apart. Whether you've got a shooter, questing, racing or even world-building game, when you encourage gamers to use the social aspect of the game, you allow the users to do some of the promoting for you. They'll tell their friends, post on social media, and even help encourage people they know to buy your game so that they have friends to play with.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you're creating your game is to keep track of your costs. If you're making the game as a hobby or sideline and aren't overly concerned with profits it's not as important, but for those who have development teams working alongside them, knowing if you're profitable and keeping track of hours worked and expenses incurred is essential. Don't forget to add your own labor to your costs! Many independent game developers fail to achieve profit because they aren't looking at the game as a business. That includes utilizing an affordable video game advertising agency.
Choosing how to launch your game should be one of the most important marketing choices you can make. Launch too close to the school year starting, and you may fail to capture the attention of some of your market. Launch too close to Christmas, or not close enough, and you may miss out on those purchasing your game as a gift, or using the gifted money to purchase your game. A good marketing firm can help you optimize your launch date to catch as much attention of your target market as possible.
With such a large amount of games already on the market, and with dozens more being added to various platforms each month, the most important thing for anyone launching their game into the market is to create interest, through a 'buzz" or through attention-getting marketing. Unfortunately, most indie game developers skip this step or think that they can market their own game, but this usually isn't very successful. If you launch your game without any marketing, the chance of making money off it is virtually zero. If you've launched it with some marketing, but those efforts aren't targeted or aren't crafted by a professional, you could lose money and still not have your game out in front of the right people.
There are a few ways that developers even on a tight budget can give their game launch a boost. First, help your marketers create a buzz before your game is released. Many times, the trailer for a game will help sell the game when it launches and gives fans a taste of what they can expect. As soon as you have a preview that illustrates the look of your game and the fundamentals of playing it, work with your marketer to create an exciting trailer. This can include small screenshot videos, advance reviews, and a quick blurb about the goals of the game and the gameplay experience.
Once you've launched a trailer, have a link to where potential players can see the progress of your game. If you're 75 percent finished with the game, then excited fans will eagerly watch for updates. Consider having an "update schedule" every week or every two weeks, until the heralded launch date. You can also create excitement by having fans enter to win a free copy of the game, or enter to become a beta tester. These kinds of offerings create excitement to play before the game is even done, and give your game an anticipation factor.
Although you'll want to start creating a buzz as soon as possible, wait to release video and screenshots until after you've completed the artwork and animation phases. You definitely don't want unpolished mock-ups hanging around, as that won't entice players. Also, make sure that you've previewed the demo before you release it. If something looks off on the video or screenshots, it's almost like you're warning buyers to stay away. Enlist the help of an affordable video game advertising agency to help you get your pre-launch media out there. They can help you determine how much video to release, and where to place your trailers to gain the most traction.
If you don't already have a website for your game, or a page for it within your current website, this is something you need. Your marketing team can help you develop one that promotes your game, and is easily navigable. Your website should contain an overview of your game, including a trailer and screenshots. The home page and landing page should be filled with exciting shots of the game, and teasers of the fun that players will have once the game releases.
You'll also need a social media presence, specifically one dedicated exclusively to your game. You can, of course, promote your game on your own social media, but consider making a Twitter or Instagram account solely for your game. Fans can follow this account, and watch as you post developments. It's easy for fans to help you gain interest, too, by retweeting or sharing your game's social media posts. Part of your social media page and website can also be your development blog. If you don't have time to keep up with it, the marketing company you hire can help you, by writing content based on the development information you give them. This is important if you're trying to create interest in advance of your launch, as it gives fans information, and keeps their anticipation on edge. Keep it personal, so that fans can feel a connection with you, the developer, but don't update with every single little bug. Decide milestones that are worth reading about, and update at those points. Consider what you would like to have information about if you were interested in a new game, and go from there.
Twitter can be the best social media site to help you gain interest in your game. If you don't have the time to tweet about your game, or aren't sure what to say, a marketing company can even help write and publish your tweets. A savvy internet marketer knows when to tweet, who to follow, and when to push popular media outlets and game-friendly sites to preview your game, or cross-promote it. Promoting your game on Twitter should happen organically, instead of being "in your face" obvious – no one likes a beggar. Begin by following game magazine sites, reviewers, and other press that you think would have an interest in your game. If someone retweets your game information, make sure to acknowledge it. Make connections to fans through social media, and make your tweets interesting and personal.
Your marketer can also help you with relevant hashtags to promote your game development tweets. They can determine which accounts are best for you to follow, and when to post your screenshots and game updates. For instance, #screenshotsaturday and #gamedev are popular tags. Using better hashtags will gain you visibility to those that may not notice you otherwise.
Marketing your indie game to achieve profit isn't necessarily a DIY venture. With a saturated game market, many developers see only a handful of downloads. The important things to keep in mind when developing your game is to focus on quality, but not spend so much time on every tiny detail. Time is money, and if you're taking too long agonizing over everything, even if you aren't getting a salary, your game won't be very profitable. Instead, focus on giving good experience for the players. Once your game is ready for sale, you should have a buzz from the pre-release trailers. Hire a marketing team with experience working with indie gamers – the approach for an independent developer will be different from the approach a large company such as EA or Microsoft would be.
When you're ready to make your indie game a success, contact us at Woodstock Production. We have the knowledge and expertise needed to help indie game developers get their product launched successfully. With targeted marketing and savvy promotion, we can help you increase your sales and become a profitable game developer.