The 7 Commandments for the Self-Marketing of Video Games

This article was first published in WiMi5.

In this post, we’d like to offer you seven tips for marketing a game. There are currently many different ways to self-publish your own games. If you don’t want to or can’t work with a well-known publisher, you can always choose to publish it yourself and try to gain an audience and visibility with your own means. These are some of the things you’ll have to do:

  1. Prepare your communication and marketing material thoroughly.

This includes creating attractive sample images and screenshots, banners, trailers, enticing demonstrative videos, press kits, press releases, websites, etc. Try to give all of this the same degree of care and passion that you did for making the game. All that communication and marketing material will be the first thing your possible users see, and you have to attract them and invite them to try your game. It’s essential that you give all your care and determination to creating attractive material. If you can’t do it, hire or collaborate with someone who can do it and make it look professional.

By the way, there’s a very useful free tool to help you do your self-marketing and prepare your own press kit, called Presskit(). And there’s another related with the last section for help you follow up on press appearance and contact management, Promoter.

  1. Use that material in all the media you can.

Once you have all that content, you should try to distribute it through all the means you can. Social media are great tools that anyone can access, but it’s a good idea to follow some basic advice, like what you find at this website.

Participate in and collaborate with virtual gamer and video gamer communities. For example, in the Reddit forums and subforums, such as IndieGaming. Try to add interesting things to these communities–don’t talk about your game and nothing else. For example, you can talk about things you learned while making the game, what mistakes you committed that you wouldn’t repeat—what’s normally called “Postmortem”. There are many communities like Gamasutra or Gamedev where you can try to promote your game.

On this page, you’ll find a ton of ideas for distributing your ideas in different media and formats.

  1. Spending money on marketing is not an option.

Despite how social media and free distribution platforms like app stores or Steam have changed things, there are other areas that haven’t been so transformed. This is the case with marketing video games. Marketing is still largely a question of budget: how much it costs to buy media and create visibility for your game to attract players. Keeping and monetizing them is another story.

Of course, most small developers don’t have even the tiniest of marketing budgets. For those of you that do have some money, remember that there are highly affordable advertising networks, with very low starting fees, and with the possibility of segmenting your target market very well. Also remember that it’s a good idea to use the network that’s appropriate for the medium in which you’re advertising your game. For example, a web game would be best served with AdWords, while a mobile game might be more effectively marketed on inMobi or AdMob, among others.

  1. Turn yourself into your own PR agency.

If you don’t have a budget to hire a public relations agency, you’ll have to do this work yourself. Generally, this means having a fluid relationship with the media that are specialized in video games so that they speak well of your game and that way your audience can find you. It doesn’t always have to be media that are specialized in video games. You can also use generalist media or media that are specialized in some area that’s related to your game. For example, if you make a surfing game, you can try to get talked about in surfing-related media.

It’s a full-time job that requires skill to be able to communicate with journalists and tell them interesting, relevant stories (because they’ll be interesting to their readers). It’s necessary for you to create your own database or a list of media you think would be interesting and which you think could be interested in your video game. You’ll have to find the way to contact the people behind each medium and know their personal and journalistic interests to judge whether they might be interested in your story or not.

When you introduce yourself to these journalists, bloggers, vloggers, tweeters, or whatever they are, try to create the most personal relationship you can with them. I don’t mean you should try to be their friend, but rather that you should respect them as a person and not dehumanize them. There are a ton of useful tips on how to address specialized press at this site.

  1. Go to and participate in video game events and market your game there.

Show your game to professionals in the sector so they can tell you how to improve it and how to make it more visible. Enter your game into any of the contests there are for Indie video games: the IGF, the IndieCade, the hóPLAY or the Indie Prize.

  1. Start marketing it as soon as you can.

Many experts advise creating expectation for a game before it’s published. Some recommend to start advertising your game as soon as you have a version of it that shows what it looks like and what the basic game mechanics of your project are. Once you’ve taken that step, it’s necessary to continue giving previews and new demos as the game development comes along. In any case, you have to keep in mind that, even though they’re not definitive, the quality, of the images, for example, that you show has to be the highest possible; think of it as the final product.

  1. Track, track and track

And last but not least, remember that it’s important to track everything. This way, you can make decisions and put your effort into one area or another. It’s important to know how players are finding your game. Another question would be how they behave and how they can be monetized. In this case, you have to measure the users’ acquisition channels, be they free or pay. There are a ton of tools and services that let you measure the user gains depending on the game’s platform. In the web game’s case, for example, you can use Google Analytics, Piwik, or MixPanel, for starters.

I hope these tips are useful to you and that they help you make your game as well known as possible. Finally, we’d like to recommend a couple of things to you: a marketing action checklist. There’s also a list of tools and resources for marketing indie video games provided by the always useful website PixelProsprector.

What do you think of these tips? Would you add anymore? Would you like to tell us your experience?

1 Comment

  1. Tommy
    10 May, 2016

    Nice article about video game industry 🙂 but read this about email marketing campaigns in video game industry 🙂 https://codeswholesale.com/blog/6-attributes-of-a-good-mailing-with-games-in-store/

    Reply

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