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  • 20 Student Game Marketing Tips

    [09.06.18]
    - Logan Williams
  • Tons of new games are released everyday on all major platforms. In 2018 and beyond, competition and over saturation is a reality. Understanding how to effectively promote your game to players who will best enjoy it is something we all need to become familiar with.

    In no particular order, the below tips are aimed at industry newbies and veterans. With almost 4 years of experience working exclusively with indie studios, we've learned many things over the years and hopefully the below tips are helpful to anyone that reads this.

    • Steam Isn't The Only Store in Town

    While Steam is the most popular digital distribution platform in the world, it doesn't mean it's the only platform you should sell your game on. In fact, I would recommend only linking to the platform that gives you the most revenue per sale when promoting your game. For example, the Humble Widget (not to be confused with the Humble Store) gives developers a 95/5 revenue split. This means you earn 95% of net sales when your average distribution platform (including Steam) would give you only 70%.

    Years ago, the 70/30 revenue split had value as there was less competition on the platform and more exposure being given to you via the platform. With that being said, Steam has recently lowered the barrier to entry for new developers to sell games on their platform to $100, which has resulted in more games being released at a higher frequency than ever before. While the number of peak concurrent users on Steam has grown from 14.21 million in January 2017 to 18.5 million in January 2018, the platform doesn't scale visibility for each game (unless you sell very well during your launch period).

    Also, many years ago, there was weight behind the statement "our game is coming to Steam on X date". Now, this statement holds zero weight (other than your actual release date). Launching on Steam is as easy as ever, which means it doesn't mean anything to the media. With that being the case, I recommend when promoting your game and attempting to earn coverage from media that you link to something like your website (with the Humble widget) or itch.io to earn more revenue per sale.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't launch your game on Steam. I think it's still smart to announce that your game is coming to Steam (and if it's launching on other platforms, you can list them as well), I'm just saying it makes business sense to only link to the store that gives you the most per sale. With over saturation being a reality, I think this tactic is a requirement in making the most out of your launch.

    • You Can Still Reach Your Goals by Attending Industry Events Without Paying For a Booth

    Attending major industry events is a great opportunity if you can afford it, but don't feel like you have to pay for a booth to make your time at the event worth it. If your goal is to show off your game to potential consumers, you can still attend events outside of major industry events and just bring your laptop and load your game up (we noticed this happening this year at GDC parties). It's a great way to save on costs and still gets you in front of potential players.

    If your goal is to network, just paying for the expo pass can be good enough to get you to where you need to be. In fact, with services like Meet to Match, you can schedule meetings at events with attendees off-site and skip the expo pass all together. However, I recommend getting an expo pass at the minimum as it's exciting to explore and can be inspiring.

    Basically, if you have a tight budget, there are ways to achieve your goals without having to spend much (if anything).

    • Height is a Premium

    If you do end up with a booth at an event like PAX, a quick tip is that height is a premium. With so much foot traffic, you want fans, community members and potential players to be able to spot your game as far away as possible. Also, don't hesitate to get creative. For example, if you have a pillar or wall near your booth, you might be able to use a projector to draw attention to the area. There are also low-cost options to draw attention to your booth (Ex: cheap Christmas lights to wrap around your monitors/booth).

    • Don't Use Giveaways to Build an Email List

    If you're trying to build a pure list of potential players, it's best to not include a giveaway as an incentive. It's pretty obvious, but giving away a TV at an expo and requiring participants to sign up to your email list is a quick way to build a weak list. An old fashion sign-up sheet is still an excellent way to build a good list of people who are genuinely interested in your game.

    • Build a Community

    If you aren't already doing so, you need to start building a community for your game. With so much competition and less opportunities for visibility, building a community is one of the last things you can actually control. For example, when approaching media with news beats, once you hit send, it's up to the person you contacted to do the rest. When you reach out to a streamer and give them a Steam key to your game, it's then up to them to download your game, play it and possibly stream it.

    These are things that you can't 100% control, but community is one of the last things that you can control. You can engage with your community, they can communicate with you and together, you can build an awesome framework that pays off when it's time to launch your game or your next major update.

    We prefer to use Discord as it's growing in popularity and it's very easy to use and setup. However, the takeaway here is to build a community. You can do this wherever you feel comfortable.

    If you want a couple examples of some great Discord communities, I would recommend checking out Descenders and Iratus.

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