Author Topic: Let's talk exposure  (Read 5466 times)

ArenMook

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Let's talk exposure
« on: May 08, 2013, 06:05:23 PM »
First, a random fact. This forum receives over 2000 unique daily visitors on weekdays and 1000 per day on weekends. Most of them are developers. And so I have a question for you, developers. When it's time to market your indie game, who do you turn to? Whom do you trust?

Since I released Starlink I've had quite a few shady-looking individuals and companies get in touch with me claiming that they can greatly increase the app's exposure... for a price. Now, call me naive, but I am of the mindset that news sites should write about games because they are good, not because they've been paid to. Yes, I know that's not how most of them work, but I really don't want to be the guy who forks out thousands of dollars to some shady company I've never heard of for services that they may or may not be able to provide.

So, any recommendations?

kevork

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2013, 06:51:09 PM »
First, thanks for setting up this forum & giving out some interesting facts about the forum's usage.

On the issue of trust, there really isn't any reason to trust an unsolicited email.  As it costs almost nothing to produce, the sender is likely sending it to as many people as possible, which also means it likely doesn't have any value for you.  Additionally, if their products were so successful, they likely would have chosen a better method of marketing to you.  This is especially ironic given they are trying to sell you their marketing services, and you already are not impressed by their ability to market their own product.  In short, I don't trust these vendors, and subsequently have no experience with their products.

As far as who do I turn to, this really depends on your product.  The first suggestion is that you imply this process starts when it is time to market your indie game.  I think this is indicative of the biggest mistake I've made, and the biggest mistake I've seen others make.  The time to start marketing your indie game is the time you start making your indie game.  Start off small and cheap (blog posts, facebook posts, twitter posts, industry talks, etc).  When it is time to launch your game, you can then pursue paid advertising options, but these options vary wildly depending on your audience, your purchase price (or lifetime customer value), and your platform.  Paid advertising and paid user acquisition can be extremely difficult to compete on for indie games, as even the medium sized app publishers are now spending six figures on marketing/UA budgets.

ArenMook

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 07:46:06 AM »
Very true. Unsolicited generally means untrustworthy to me.

I don't disagree with starting marketing early, but I've had mixed results with that. With Windward I did just that -- started marketing early, and a few indie news sites wrote about the game back when it was a pretty crappy prototype. I spent a few months after that making it not suck (or suck less, depending how you look at it), and the amount of content increased tenfold. Unfortunately all my attempts at getting in touch with said news sites and get them to write about the game again were completely in vain. It seems they were only interested in writing about (a) completely new stuff, or (b) very successful stuff that will get them readers.

With Starlink I went the exact opposite. Didn't even announce the game until it was pretty much done. And I still haven't gotten in touch with any news sites even though I've released it already. For the time being it's a curious experiment on "doing no external marketing".

Antares88

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 12:34:13 PM »
Why not looking for a publishing deal ?

They can cover the market costs in exchange of revenue share.

Otherwise, another interesting way may be this: http://indieviddy.com/about

kevork

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2013, 03:02:36 PM »
it was a pretty crappy prototype

I think the big takeaway from here is that you may want to wait a bit longer before you allow people to actually play the game. My guess is if instead of allowing people to play the prototype, you instead showed them selected screens from the prototype, you would have had more success. Even game press know surprisingly little about the development process.  Patrick Klepak of Giant Bomb mentioned that last year's MolyJam was the first time he'd ever really seen a game be made (I couldn't find the exact quote).

Like Antares88, I would also suggest looking at a publishing deal.  On that lines, the general rule of thumb for marketing spends is about the same as the development costs.

SketchWork

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2013, 05:32:33 PM »
Talking of Starlink, how it is doing considering your non-existent approach to marketing it this time round?

ArenMook

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2013, 12:31:43 AM »
About as I expected. It's averaging something like $50 a day in profit. Nothing to write home about, but considering that the marketing for the game was pretty much entirely done by pirates by this point, I think that it's pretty cool. :)

http://www.tasharen.com/forum/index.php?topic=4204.0

Tim Holmes

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2013, 06:31:11 AM »
Its really a interesting forum and i want to say thanks to you... I am agree with this what the guys have posted.( I think the big takeaway from here is that you may want to wait a bit longer before you allow people to actually play the game. My guess is if instead of allowing people to play the prototype, you instead showed them selected screens from the prototype, you would have had more success. Even game press know surprisingly little about the development process.)

Zapgun

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 08:44:33 AM »
Really interesting topic, so thanks for starting it.

The point about marketing early with screenshots and teasers is a good one, and this should be about building anticipation for your game and letting the media/players discuss the possibilities of what it could be. I know the expert advice out there is 'marking as soon as you start development', but I've always felt that might be a bit too early for anything other then a very general announcement along the lines of 'our new game about X is now in the works'. 'Real' marketing should start within a few months of release in my opinion, so its fresh in everyone's mind come release day.

Like you, I'm leery of external marketers, and I think what's been said so far about it is correct.

Word of mouth, community building, and similar guerrilla marketing techniques are what I consider to be the key elements in a successful indie marketing campaign, so anything along the lines of a forum/Facebook/YouTube/Twitter presence, where people can discuss, talk to developers, make suggestions, etc, should start about the same time (3 months prior to release), followed pretty closely with some beta-testing from key community players.

All of that said, I am rather naive about this topic, so take my advice with a grain of salt. :)

- Zapgun

Majicpanda

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 11:18:58 PM »
I'm relying on 100% word of mouth for our first game and hoping that we have a big enough gaming community that it spreads around to get it kick started.  Aside from that I'm a fond believer that a good product needs advertising.. look what happened to Apple when they were starting out, not near enough advertising and they fell behind.

I just posted in your forums as example... any chance you get to expose yourself to a population of people like minded is a good bet, but I'm not going to waste any resources on using agencies ESPECIALLY if they approach me.

We have a gaming community of about 350 people and hopefully that multiplies outward like some sort of reverse pyramid :)

OhiraKyou

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 11:32:14 AM »
Cliff Harris suggests marketing via gamerelease.net.

JumpCore

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Re: Let's talk exposure
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2013, 07:40:53 PM »
We are just in the process of prepping a Kickstarter campaign for our game, and have recently launched a website and social sites for the game and are starting to fill those up with lots of screenshots and info on the ongoing development.

Right now, hardly anybody knows about the game, however, and we need to change that - so this topic has been much on my mind. Even though our game is not your average zombie game, and the visuals are starting to look pretty good, and it's even getting fun to play at this point - all of that is for naught if we can't manage to get the word out. A community of 350 gamers sounds pretty sweet to me right now! :-)

gamerelease.net looks interesting, though a bit pricey. Certainly their press list is way bigger than ours, and ours is not willingly subscribed to either! :-/ Anyone know anyone who knows anyone who has direct experience with that service, or others like it?

I think that, for many indies these days, the struggle for exposure is the greatest challenge - even after having overcome the huge hurdles to making a fun game. It scares me silly that I could make a cool, fun, interesting game - only to have it get lost in the Sea of Indie. But such is the games space these days - we game geeks have to try and overcome our shyness and tackle PR.

So posting here is part of my shyness recovery program.  ;-)

     ->Cameron