Marketing for Indie Game Designers: How to Ensure Your Work Gets the Attention It Deserves

Even the most entertaining and challenging game is a bust if nobody plays it. The internet gives customers access to thousands of video games spanning dozens of genres and age ranges. To get noticed, indie developers have to ferociously market their game through conventional and creative tactics. While there is no perfect solution for marketing success, there are a few basic tips that every game designer should use.

Build Your Game’s Reputation Before Launch

Anticipation can be an amazing marketing force, especially if the game delivers as promised. Designers should start building awareness of their game months before their planned launch date. In some cases, getting a small group of dedicated players to serve as alpha and beta testers is a great way to accelerate mechanics development and bug fixing.

Connect with Media Influencers

The video gaming industry has grown to enormous proportions in recent decades, so it’s no surprise that there are many media outlets that cater specifically to this user base. Game developers should keep in touch with the community by reading blogs, forums and industry news so they can identify potential marketing outlets. Connecting with even a few high-profile bloggers can provide a huge public relations boost.

Consider Third-Party Distribution

Third-party distribution is not an easy decision for any developers, whether they are indie or established. There are a lot of options for distribution platforms, so designers have to do their research to figure out the best one for their game. Some gaming portals are designed specifically for indie or casual games, so it can be a great way to connect directly with the target consumer base.

Create an Engaging Website

Every game designer who is serious about marketing their game needs a website where people can learn more about the game and the development team. These sites don’t need to be incredibly complex or detailed, but they should be entertaining, engaging, and represent the spirit of the game. Game site builder tools can simplify the process of creating and maintaining the site while leaving plenty of creative options for users. 

It’s tempting to brush off marketing as a secondary priority or something that will resolve itself, but this can be a disastrous attitude for indie developers. Engaging in public relations outreach may be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and confusing, but taking the time to communicate and connect with users is a necessary step in getting the attention the game deserves.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Self-Employed Game Designers: A Reality?

Game development is a lucrative business that attracts a huge range of consumers. Triple A titles like the Call of Duty series can pull in millions of dollars without much innovation at all.

Game developers – the people behind the keyboards creating these interactive blockbusters – are in huge demand. With the big developers already full of talent, however, many may be looking to develop their own products. Whilst the methods to creating a home business are well established, the question is what do modern game designers need and is it possible to be successful?

The Foundations

For most people, becoming a game designer isn’t much more than having a passion for video games (or even just creating worlds), a creative edge and dedication. Game development was once the pastime of those with creative or computer skills with little professional recognition. However, many colleges offer games design courses nowadays to provide bespoke qualifications to those looking to get into the industry.

Having the correct equipment to match your ambitions is crucial, too. Higher end titles will require a powerful computer to complete rendering tasks. The less graphically intensive ones, less so.

Success Stories

Self-employed game developers often resort to the indie – independent – games market to get their products out there. Platforms, such as Steam, allow users to upload their games and offer them to a rating system, whereby enough positive feedback will get the game onto the fully paid store. These indie games are often lauded for combining creative storytelling with friendly and accessible interfaces.

Independent games can be a huge success story. One of the most popular video games in the world, Undertale, is an indie game, and has sold 1.2 million copies.

Modifications

Games like Undertale, Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress have become incredibly popular and made their owners a lot of money. A huge part of their success has been providing the people who have purchased the game with a lot of power to modify and craft their own games from these source products, often whilst collaborating with carefully nurtured communities.

The Future

Big companies have had their heads turned by the advent of self-employed developers and indie gamers and are now trying to muscle their way in. Microsoft paid $2.5bn to acquire Minecraft and its parent company, MoJang. For the developer him or herself, the big institutions of the video industry and becoming involved in development scheme. Sony SM are nurturing developers on a no obligation basis, for example, offering skills to those promising enough.

Game development is a big business with a huge pull for programmers and creative minds everywhere. With the opportunities offered by the internet such as online publishing, would-be developers need not turn to the big publishers for their break. Self-employed game design is today.