As we left off in the last business and marketing blog, for most indie developers, marketing is the most distasteful part of trying to make and sell a game.  Unfortunately, even if it’s distasteful, it’s something that needs to be done in order to make a game successful.

A team could make the greatest game in the world, but if no one knows about it, it’s not going to succeed.

With marketing, there are a number of ways to increase a games visibility, all with varying degrees of effectiveness:

  1. Digital Advertising:  There are a lot of opportunities to advertise a game online, including via Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media sites.  Digital advertising can get very expensive, very quickly, and it’s one of the biggest challenges facing indie studios.For the next blog on the subject, we’ll be diving into digital advertising in greater depth, and showing what “adspend” looks like.
  2. PNA:  This is the classic marketing strategy that a lot of people think of when it comes to marketing, and it’s shorthand for “Prints and Ads”.This generally encompasses any of the “hard” materials that are used to spread awareness for a game, like flyers, business cards, banner stands, giveaways and other promo items that may be given away at trade shows, gaming stores, gamejams, etc.

    If I’m being honest, PNA is a super weird one, because it’s not particularly effective, and it’s expensive, but is often seen as necessary when showing the game to potential fans as it adds legitimacy to the studio.

  3. Word of Mouth:  The classic “best form of advertising”, word of mouth is when you’ve generated enough interest and buzz around the game that fans start telling other fans about it.The best thing about word of mouth for indie developers is that it’s free, but it can be difficult to generate without a lot of boots on the ground work to spread awareness of the game.
  4. Viral Marketing:  This is basically word of mouth amped up.  There is no recipe for virality (despite what 1,000,000 digital marketing agencies will tell you).  Viral marketing happens when you post something that resonates with people through some kind of strong emotional response (think about the last meme you laughed or cried at).For many, it’s kind of the holy grail of indie marketing, because it generates a huge amount of interest really quickly.

Now that the boring, background information on what marketing looks like for indie game developers is done, let’s get down to the fun part and set the stage for the next blog.

Marketing is like the dirty little secret of game development, and no one ever really wants to pull back the curtain and talk about it.

When we started Plateau Games, our goal was to work on games that we were excited to work on, and go about it in a way that we wanted to.  Years of working at different studios says that the conventional wisdom is that you don’t talk about marketing your game, but we disagree with that.

So, here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to start small here (we are an indie studio, afterall), but we’re going to assign a $1000 marketing budget to Blightmare, and we’re going to show fans and other devs where every penny goes.

We’ll dive into the different types of advertising mentioned above, break down how all the information is tracked on the different advertisers, and give everyone a look under the hood of the game marketing machine.

To add a twist of interest and intrigue, we’re going to be asking those that are following to help dictate where the spend goes, and how we approach it.

This should be fun.  Let’s get to work!


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