From The Time Of Publication And Conferences: The 5 Rules Of Marketing Indie Games

Edition DTF translated the speech of the employee of PR-Agency ICO Partners Thomas Reisenegger. Many inexperienced indie developers do not pay enough attention to promotion — the basis of popularity of any game. In his speech at GDC 2016 Thomas Reisenegger (Thomas Reisenegger), staff, consulting and PR Agency ICO Partners, dismantled a minimal set of principles that everyone should know who is going to promote video games.

Perhaps all of you here have ever released games. When I release the game to the world, it reminds me of this: My project is one of the small stars in the vast cosmos, which is very difficult to attract the attention of the press, streamers, and help players.

And its not just my feeling — look at the numbers. One only 2015 on Steam came about 3050 of games, its eight games a day. Even crazier things in the mobile market.

And this data without Google Play. In 2015, the App Store was filed approximately 164 thousand applications for the placement games, there are 450 tickets per day. Many competitors will be at your games. Of course, some of them strange clones of already existing projects, others are very different from your projects genre or theme, but they are still many and they all require attention.

I think there are two way to succeed in such conditions. Both are fairly simple — at least technically. First.

You belong to a number of people so cool that your projects do not need PR. Even if you wont talk about the game, its exactly the somebody will open and it will be an event. Or you can crack about it on every corner and this does not become less successful. The second path will go 99% of developers.

You need to not only make a great game, but all to tell about it. Just release a good game nowadays is not enough. Today we will examine five conditions that must be respected, look at the five main mistakes that are best avoided, and try to predict the top five trends of the future.

Rule number one. Positioning. Sounds simple, and many believe that no problem can handle it. In my opinion, at this stage almost all wrong. Correct positioning pays dividends, and if incorrect, all further efforts will go in vain.

So you need to develop one key message and one key art. This is the basis of the presentation of the game, its main idea, the image that should emerge in the mind when you hear her name. I imagine going to dinner with mom or friends.

They are not interested in video games, but asking what Im working on. Then I have a very short period of time, from three to ten seconds to tell me what my game is. And if you say something like “Well, its a roguelike with random generation of levels and cool chiptune soundtrack”, my mother immediately lose all interest and drive into a telephone. But if you say. “This is a simulator of a goat” or “Im making a game about space, where ships are the size of the Titanic”, it will be interesting.

They can understand and conceive of what youre talking about. Not sold the game, and the story — not only the players but also the press. The attention of journalists also need to draw fast, because they are simply flooded with releases.

There are conflicting opinions. Having dealt with the positioning, you can then give it to recycle. We have all been there.

For example, you issued a press release, and then I saw it was read by the people that they are noticed. Why not adjust the positioning under the expectations of players. Of course, no need to change it every five minutes, but in the beginning it can be very helpful. Here are examples of games that were difficult to position, however their PR specialists did well.

This War of Mine is an absolute nightmare for PR man. Her description brings boredom, there is no main character, the word War in the title is associated with the Call of Duty series. Some inconvenience and disadvantages.

They came up with an elegant solution, adding the slogan “the war affects not only soldiers” (In war, not everyone is a soldier). Should see him, in the consciousness there is a clear way of anti-war game about civilians trying to survive in a city beset by civil war. This line, which probably was plagarizing, made the most of positioning.

In a similar way approached the problem of marketing the game Axiom Verge. Look at the title and art — nothing is clear. But if youve heard of her, you know that this “modern Metroid”. Visual style — a clear reference to the legendary series, and the title is addressed to the hardcore audience. They understand that their target audience — fans of Metroid, so I coped with the task.

But the essence of the game SUPERHOT to explain in a few words is quite difficult, but they did. Look at the slogan. “FPS where time moves only when you move” (An FPS game where time moves when you move). The man immediately understand what the game is.

The second point — the right to create news hooks. Each game has a limited Arsenal of PR ammunition, and you need very well to use them. There is a mandatory “shots”.

The announcement of the game, the first screenshots of the first trailer, the start of the beta either sending preview copies, the announcement of the release date, the announcement of the release and the corresponding trailer. About this you can speak to the press. But depending on the coolness and influence your game, these key points can be implemented in different ways. If you Valve and release Half-Life 3, people will go crazy just from the announcement.

But from the first screenshot and the first trailer — even more so. Sign seen in the lobby of Valve's building today If you are an indie developer and release its not bad, but average runner for mobile devices — after the announcement everyone will spit on him. Like after the first screenshot, trailer and so on.

But if you use these points in a comprehensive manner — at the same time to produce the announcement, and the screenshots and trailer — the likelihood that you will notice will increase. However, at the same time, you will spend the first three bullets out of his cage.

This is the art of PR. Know when and how to take advantage of a limited number of techniques so that it is not in vain. To achieve results in this field in two ways. Either hire an expert, or he himself become. To become an expert, you need to follow the gaming media, analyze their publications and think about how to get their attention.

An important role plays not only the content of the press release, but also the communication time. In ICO, we analyzed thousands of gaming sites from around the world and made a schedule of posting content. As you can see, the most out in June, most likely due to E3. So if you are a indie developer, this time it is better not to use as Christmas period.

Wise to be felt, when not expected the big announcements. The same applies to the days of the week. None of the journalists dont like to work on the weekend, so on these days we have less materials. Monday is also not a good day, like Friday.

If you have the opportunity to choose, it is better to content about your game out in the period between Tuesday and Wednesday. Of course, there is no guarantee, but the probability of success is higher. Now about the time of day. Always choose the working hours (from 9:00 to 16:00) and consider the time zone (for US the ideal time is 06:00 PST for EU — 14:00 GMT).

Do not forget about the holidays — there were times when the big games are poorly covered due to the fact that all journalists had a rest. Their PR team didnt care enough to check holiday dates in the US and Europe. While what I said about journalists, and now a few words about the help and streamers. They do not get paid for the articles and your professionally written press releases they are not interested; they need games that are fun to play.

Your emails should consist of concise descriptions of the amount of remuneration and the links to the trailer. It is also worth remembering that even a large project they will cover only once. So you need to decide whether you want to warm up the hype before release, or share the game with the streamers after him, so that people who saw the broadcast could immediately buy it. And dont forget to pre-shoot gameplay of the game to understand how it will look.

Unfortunately, all this does not apply to mobile games, they are not very interesting to help. Beware of scams. If you receive a letter from the [email protected] to believe it to the sender should not. To check such letters are easy — tubery and streamers usually leave email address for business proposals in the descriptions of the channels.

The trailer is the most important. If Im an indie developer, and Ive got the money only on one thing, I will definitely put them in the trailer. Why. To begin with — because email headers “Opening trailer” or “Reveal trailer” I read more often — anyone wondering what this game is.

You cant spend their “moment of glory” for nothing. All your two – or three-minute video should be most likely associated with the scheme positioning. You should be effectively distributed to an audience that is the key message. It can be crafted plot, visual style, addictive gameplay, the main thing is not to chase everything, and concentrate on one thing.

Because we are the generation of YouTube and Snapchat, the trailer should intrigue the user in the first 15 seconds. If this is your first project, it is not necessary to put in the beginning of the video the name of the Studio. For this reason, the trailer is better to do a short (maximum fifteen minutes).

Give a couple of examples. Again This War of Mine. From the game does not look particularly exciting, but in the first trailer for the PR team made a bet on atmosphere and not lost.

In the trailer we see the ruins of a town in Eastern Europe where the dramatic music fleeing soldiers, and the camera slowly approaching a bombed-out houses where are hiding shocked civilians. Appears familiar slogan. The atmosphere created. If people like the atmosphere, they will want to learn more about the game, even if the gameplay seems to them boring.

But if you just show the gameplay, they quickly close the tab with the trailer, because I did not understand. The creators of the debut trailer SUPERHOT chose a different path. There the rate is not made on the atmosphere in the first seconds of the video the VoiceOver says “SUPERHOT”. People intrigued.

They briefly explained the basic gameplay mechanics, which really catches your attention. In the end the viewer is bombarded by quotations from publications in the press, confirming that she not only looks beautiful, but it is still fun to play. Now about “partisan” marketing, cheap and exotic tactics. This may sound difficult, but one need only look at one example to understand the concept.

On the day of release of Burnout 2, the publisher has promised to pay all fines for speeding in the UK, so theoretically anyone could happily break the law, that would inevitably lead to chaos in the spirit of the game. Of course, the journalists appreciated this reception, and all publications wrote about it. Of course, the police issued a statement in reply, which was another infopovod to the press.

Those who promoted the game, knew that everything goes exactly according to this scenario. Think about it. They wrote one press release with a promise to offset the penalties, and then a second saying that, alas, to make it not work. In the end they did not pay a penny, but wrote about them all, twice. Brilliant.

So why bother to use “guerrilla” marketing. First, it is an additional PR. And it does not consume our marketing “ammunition”, elements of the guerrilla promotion only need to come up with. It is difficult, but worth the effort.

It often happens that they affect different target groups, writes about them conventional press, not just gaming. In the end, they are simply cheap. Of course, “guerrilla” marketing is fraught with risk for the developer, as often flirts with taboo subjects, are not always legal and can lead to negative press coverage.

Examples of “guerrilla” marketing of video games. A great example of guerrilla marketing to promote the game Crawl its creators added Gabe Newell as a boss. Looks like fun, great idea, so I wrote about it a. Even Gabe himself wrote to the press an email in which he approved the course developers and said they did not mind their presence in their game — get additional infopovod.

Now lets see how this has affected the coverage of the games in the European media. The game was announced in August, but then was released in early access had some terse announcements, a couple of reviews, a total of about twenty materials. And then Gabe came and blew up the information space.

About the game came about hundreds of materials that, in comparison with the August result was just madness. And, of course, affected sales. The first line under the face Gabe refers to the announcement of his presence in the game, and the second — the moment when the real Gabe Newell gave consent to use his image. As you can see, there are two small peak sales comparable updates I needed just to do one boss.

When I first heard about Batman Arkham, I decided that is unlikely to want to play it. But if you read it about twenty times, the desire is certainly there. The presence in the headlines is an art in itself.

By the way, this large peak created streamer. The second example is a video game developed us. It first came out on iOS, later on Android. At the same time we understand that because of piracy we dont earn a lot of money on the second platform.

So for Android we made two versions of the game. Normal and pirated. Pirate version players quickly faced boss, who said. “Yeah, we know you spiritel our game”.

To defeat him was impossible, and the game essentially ended. And we distributed this version on the file, where is usually found pirated content. We had fun and our idea written all major publications, including giants like Forbes, which rarely write about mobile games.

The left column shows the total number of materials about our game, appearing after the announcement, trailers, interviews with developers. There are reviews. Right — only the reaction to our trick with a pirate version. But we just published a cropped version of the game and issued a press release.

As for the sales, then the next chart marked by blue sales on iOS, green for Android. Access to the second platform a little spurred sales on iOS, but to see increased sales on Android after the release of the pirated version. As a result, the sales on iOS and Android equal, that is a rarity.

And last but not the least — meeting and event. You can talk about them for a long time. They are perfect for Dating, recruiting employees, finding inspiration and feedback. Sometimes they are well covered in the press, but from the point of view of PR, only a few can be really useful.

This chart shows what writing conferences in the media, and how often. However, it is not E3, because if its point on the chart, the rest simply disappear from sight — except, perhaps, GamesCom. Besides, independent developers and small studios it is almost impossible to get to E3. As you can see, the most frequently mentioned GamesCom, Tokyo Games Show, and GDC.

Everything after us is not that interesting. This does not mean that it is necessary to attend only these three conferences, but indie developers are just not worth it to break on every event, especially if they have nothing to show. The biggest mistake is to do too much, but its too late. Yes, to make a game difficult, it takes a lot of time and money, but it is unreasonable to spend two or three years to develop, and then not allocate a couple of months on the PR.

And it happens often. The fact that you are indie, no longer attracts attention. It used to work before. Say you are an independent developer of some of the basement, and everyone is looking at you.

Now this trick does not work. Another big mistake — poor technical design of the trailer, which tells how much you have shaders, but not the key message, positioning the game.

Many indie developers do not want to repeat. Nothing. If the announcement of your game, wrote a little, announce it again — sometimes it works. After all, if about the announcement of the game is not written, it does not exist, so it makes sense to try again.

Fifty-announcements annoying, but two or three — why not. Another great prevention curtailed, “technical” trailer, where you list how many of the shaders in the game, but there is no mention of the key messages, positioning game. In this way we promoted 2Dark.

First was the opening teaser. A couple of thousand hits, some materials in the media, but nothing special. So we redesigned its source in the debut trailer mounted professionals. Added a little plot and was sent back to the press.

The result — more 40 thousand views and 60 publications. However, many journalists felt that we just announced it, although it was the second movie. And finally, dont go through PR. Yes, it is tempting to go and show your game to everyone you meet the journalist, but usually it doesnt work.

Much more efficient to find sites which usually write about similar games, and find out what editors love them. To read the materials, listen to podcasts, in a word, to get acquainted with meaningful website better. If you choose the right angle of attack, you can even get on Kotaku or Polygon. Yes, sending out a good press release 50 thousand people — its a good backup plan, but efficiently light your game will be few, therefore it is better to practice a personal approach.

In the future, high-quality compact information will focus even more than now. Games will be more, but publications — no, so marketing “ammunition” you will need to spend more efficiently.

Visual content will become even more significant due to the YouTube, Snapchat, Twitch, and so on. Reduced the time during which the viewer will decide whether your product it attention. It is becoming more animated gifs. PR and marketing are synonymous.

The reasons are many — streamers and tubery stronger commercialized, and publishers die out and buying each other. Will decrease the importance of platform selection. Previously, if you were on Steam, it means that youre already successful by default, and your game is good. Now everything is different.

The release on consoles still means something, but not for long. And last. Use social networking wisely. Remember SUPERTHOT and the ending.

Or game Alphabear, word puzzle. At the end of each level the player shows the templates for proposals, the empty spaces which are filled with words he created during the passage of this level. Sometimes it doesnt make sense, and sometimes what you see in the picture above. People like it, they share such things in social networks.

And not for reward, but just. If you want to write the material for the rubric “the Market” tell us about the development of your game or in case of its growth to send the material on [email protected]

Leave a Reply