Hey, Twitter, my game is out there, look how cool it is! No? Nobody?
Why I have a few little followers? I tweeted this cool gif, but nothing happens!
Yeah, that happens, all the time…it is the harsh truth I’ve learnt the hard way after many years as an indie dev
I released my first indie title last year, and I did a lot of things wrong marketing-wise….
Hard to accept but it’s never late to amend your mistakes.
No matter how good and amazing your game is if no one knows about it.
Side note: My background is not marketing, I run my own studio Cubenary, a two-people indie studio, and my role always has been and will be a game programmer! (This is my true passion)
Take anything from this article with a pinch of salt; everything I know is based on my own experience.
Let’s begin with this article talking about my first released game, Fantasy Little Jobs; a VR game where you run a shop in a fantasy medieval era and you can play different crafting areas such as brew potions, quest making, shield customization and even an archery minigame (my favourite).
This game was developed in Unreal 4 in 2 years; we changed the core gameplay several times, and that causes us unnecessaries delays.
We settle with this arcade-style were you, as a player has to sort as many customers orders as possible in a limited time.
It’s fun, in around 30 minutes you play all of the stations and enjoy different “jobs.”
The game didn’t sell much, I believe VR is a complex market and not everyone is willing to expend an immense amount of money on a headset + a really good pc.
What we did for Fantasy LIttle Jobs
One month before the launch of the game, we completed a list of streamers who could be interested in playing the game.
We created a spreadsheet (fantastic tool, you should try it) with the names and email of those streamers and dump there as many as we could.
The way we did, it was finding those streamers on twitch and Youtube and check what type of games they usually play.
We needed people who play a variety of casual games and VR, of course!
We created a personalized email, with a brief description, a few screenshots and one of my favourite gifs, the curious dispenser of milk?
We also sent a Steam Key with no embargo (a strange word that means, use the key whenever you want)
Out 30 emails, we received around six answers, and we were happy when we found those people playing the game and with a positive review!
We prepared a few tweets, with gameplay about the game, and I posted them on Screen Shot Saturday, again this was a month in advance.
On the day of the launch, we prepared a special post for some subreddits such as r/unrealengine, r/sSteamVR, r/virtualreality telling our journey with the game and announcing the launch.
One of the posts got a lot of upvotes!
I know, Reddit can be very scary, but the trick is (I think):
- Follow the rules
- Promote your game/project but take a personal angle, but not much
- Engage with the community, comment on other posts
- Share other things related to game dev
The last thing we did was to write an article on Indiedb about the launch.
All of this sounds good, maybe enough? Wrong! The game didn’t sell as we expected.
Why? I don’t know it could be not enough marketing, not many people are interested in the game, or could be that we didn’t have a community waiting for the game.
In our minds, we were hoping people would find the game out 1000 new games that come out every day on Steam…. Yes, this sounds about right…
I forgot to mention, we posted on twitter those cool gifs, but we didn’t ask for wishlist the game until three days earlier!
What were we thinking??? I don’t even know!
Fast forward almost one year, Fantasy Little Jobs is there on Steam, we haven’t forgotten about the game, we put the game on sales when we can, and that boosts the sales.
It gives a bit of money every month plus we or I have learnt a lot since then.
A new game, a new strategy
Let’s move on to our approach for the new game Witchery Academy
Every time I see the title of the game makes me smile, we have been working on this game for five months or longer than that, at least the concept of the game.
We officially started in March, and produced the first gif and a not well crafted first pitch to start generating awareness:
What we have here is, a first selectable character, on the potion class and can you spot the cat?
Result: Lots of views, new followers, comments and retweets. People seemed to like the idea, the art, the character and the pitch in general.
It was great. I have to say!
This is the first thing we changed for this game; we shared the progress of the game right at the beginning of the development.
We waited until we had a cute gif, to make more impact, that’s true.
Since that tweet, we posted four more, testing different angles of the game to test what resonates with people.
I am aiming to post more often, but the game is in early dev state and generating in-game art for twitter is not easy.
I focus all my efforts on twitter, is the platform I feel more comfortable.
I’ve learnt that it’s better to focus on one single platform and optimize for that one than shout out everywhere(FB, Insta, Imgur.…)
We post in Reddit quite often but only sub credits that are indie promotion welcome, or when I feel we have something that people might like.
I try to be active and keep commenting or sharing things.
A few exciting things I’ve tried in twitter and I highly recommend you to check actively.
The twitter account @CanYouPetTheDog is a fun account where the owner shares pets that you can pet in games.
It’s exclusive for dogs, but there are casual Fridays, where the account shares other animals.
I DM the account asking for a slot, and bang! Next Friday we had one of my favourites gif of the game: You can pet your feline spirit companion!!
This is an exceptional feature of the game; you are wizard learning about magic and other endeavours; you are not alone on your adventures, your cat companion follows you around, and it asks for pets!
As you can see, a lot of engagement, new followers, new likes, and in the end, lots of eyes in the game.
I can’t thank enough this account!
The other exciting new event on twitter is #PitchYaGame.
#PitchYaGame is an event that runs every last Tuesday of the month, the idea is simple, on that day you can use the hashtag, use a gif, image, video and talk about your game.
We participated in the first round with the first tweet I posted and that generic elevator pitch; I know it was very early, and the elevator pitch needed work, but I did it!
Result? Lots of eyes, engagements, new followers.
The second round that has passed has been even better; there were more people involved, more publishers looking on the pitches and many more developers participating.
Check more info about #PitchYaGame here: https://pitchyagame.com/
Special mention to one of most beloved indie supporters: IndieGameLover
She often retweets indie games that caught her eyes, or supports devs who are running a Kickstarter campaign and recently she has started a podcast!
She’s retweeting and liking our post several times, and that also helps.
Some of the hashtags I often use:
#ScreenshotSaturday: It’s another event that happens on Saturdays, but there are too many people on this one, and your game might be buried soon.
#indiedevhour: Interesting hashtag specifically for Wednesdays from 7:00 pm (UK ) more focus on devs.
I’ve been talking a lot about Twitter, and how wonderful it is, but the downside of Twitter is… you are shouting something on the air hoping someone listens and decide to follow you around forever.
Twitter is not very good with building an audience, but, I’ve discovered there is a way, Discord!
This is the other different thing we’ve been testing, we now run our discord server, and this is how we are trying to build our community and have a fan base for the game.
This is not easy, we use twitter to ask people to join our server, and what we want is to build a healthy, wholesome community where people can hang out, chat about random things and sometimes about Witchery Academy (why not?)
I love when people join and share their creations or their pets!
I also enjoy sharing random funny things that I find on the internet, and I especially enjoy talking about games, comics and programming as it’s my true passion.
Going back to marketing, how Discord has helped me to not only grow my fan base but with marketing?
Well, there are a few fantastic discord servers that I decide to join and chat with people:
- Indie World Order: Server dedicated indie games, devs are welcome, and the server has tons of channels for different topics.
- IndieGameLover runs this server, and she is always very helpful and does a fantastic job
- PitchyaGame Server: This is the server was born after the first round of PitchYaGame, and it is beneficial to meet other people and test your pitch before the event. This server has proliferated!
- Games Marketing Essential: This server is terrific. It’s dedicated to marketers out there, not only experienced people but people like me.
The server has tons of channels for every little topic you can think of and I always happy to ask a question; there is always someone willing to help, is fantastic. You can sign up here
- Wholesome Games: another fantastic server. This one is more dedicated to wholesome games. It’s the perfect server to find other devs friends who are working on wholesome games and even gamers that are interested on this type of games.
There is a dedicated channel which automatically posts a tweet of a wholesome project.
Discord and Twitter have been my tools for this new game, next go for Reddit and sometimes Facebook and Instagram helps.
The Discord community is growing little by little, and that’s good.
But the work doesn’t stop there, there a few things I want to start doing and testing.
I’ve seen a lot of talks, read many articles and spoken with people on the same path as me and I keep hearing the same thing, create a mail list with Mail Chimp for example.
That’s is prepared, but we haven’t announced, we are working to create a proper landing page for Witchery Academy for easy sign up on the newsletter.
We also have plans on how to encourage people to sign up (it’s a secret!)
And finally, we are compiling a list of streamers interested in this new life sim game and a press list to start sending press releases to different sites. For this, we are preparing a press kit in igdb