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How to Gain Market from Big Game Publishers: Build Around Someone Else’s Product
by Javier Cabrera on 10/17/12 06:45:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

After launching your iOS game or app the most common problem (besides you ran out of cash to pay the bills) is people don’t finding your amazing software. You built this beautiful game everyone around you loves, but the world doesn’t knows it exists. Big game publishers have to only email about a new project and that’s it. But you? You’re on your own.

The problem is this: the amount of games on the market is higher than the amount of places someone with low budget can market a game. If you place an Ad on ign.com,rockpapershotgun.com or kotaku.com chances are you covered a big part of the mainstream media, since the rest of the sites will be picking up the news about your title.

But how do a small team of independent game developers get similar results without selling a kidney?

Read on and find out a good strategy to build your market around big game publishers!

Like us, you’re a small fish in the game industry. You can’t afford an entire page ad on IGN without losing your house or robbing a bank. In fact, you should be looking for a new job tomorrow just to pay the unpaid bills that last game left you with before they become a fire hazard.

Well, BAP (big ass publishers) spend millions (and even zillions) of green papers doing market research and focus groups to know exactly where to market their games. I say we take advantage of their resources. They know where the action is, then let’s get down that party and make some nice first impressions.

For example: let’s say Activision, like you, is making a Limbo-like game. Let’s say they are also working on an online campaign by sending sites like kotaku or ign press releases and just a couple of pics. Maybe even a short teaser. A community is being built around their game. They want to know more about it! Maybe even try similar games!

There you go. You now know a place where a bunch of players who happen to love the kind of game you’re making (or did) will gather to talk about the genre.

Chances are, Activision used the big bucks to push these players into checking their game before that. Maybe they did a big expo at PAX. Maybe at e3. Maybe they sent emails to everyone on their player-base with a “read more over kotaku” and linked the site.

You just found the honeypot. Activision’s Marketing department is now working for you.

The game is afoot! Get me a tie, quick!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. No. I’m not talking about spam here. Spam is going to Activision’s party screaming about your game into everyone’s faces. It’s not only rude, but stupid and chances are someone will slap your teeth down your throat.

But what if you show up, just like everyone else, and become the best version of yourself? Be elegant. Be charming. Be fucking Dean Martin. Sing a karaoke song. Dance Tango with the woman everyone is looking. Be polite and above all, be interesting to talk to.

 How to Gain Market from Big Game Publishers: Build Around Someone Elses Product

Remember. Be Dean Martin. The Dino. But don’t spam. Dont’ scream. Be polite and talk about ANYTHING else BUT your game. You can mention you’re a game developer, yes. But that’s as far as you can go. If someone asks, answer, but never give some jerk the opportunity to have you labeled as a spammer.

You’re still The Dino? Okay, put down that martini and follow me. I’m going to teach you how.

Most sites let you link your website with your nickname. That’s how. Forget you’re marketing a game and jump right inside the discussions about their game, have some fun. If your comments are interesting enough, people will notice you and they MAY click your nicknameto find out who’s that smart gal/guy saying all those smart things.

Slim chances you say? Wrong. Big chances. Specially if you don’t try to market your game like an asshole and just enjoy the community, become a part of it, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy the party.

Every post one of these big game publisher gets about their(your) game, is another party you can assist to.

Same with twitter. Hashtags are powerful sources of marketing for the independent game developer and it turns out people is also talking about that Activision game that totally looks like yours over twitter. Another party, hey!

Again, be charming. Don’t market your game, just get into the discussion and your guns ready for when someone clicks your screen name. Polish your twitter account too. Stop talking about your cat and talk more about your own game (without the #limbo-like hashtag of course) so when they see who that charming guy/gal is, they find more about what you are doing.

This may sound simplistic, but it is a great way to know cool people and possible, to market your game.

Now let’s say you’ve been participating with the hashtag “#limbo-like” for two weeks now. You began to follow and participate in conversations with some of these players outside the hashtag too, just plain old twitter.

Suddenly, one of them twitted your game because he happened to click your screen name and found a link to your website, saw your game and loved it. He’s too impressed to resist. Your game is great. The tweet is out.

Boom, you made not just one sale, but possible a hundred more. If the guy turns to be a community leader, then some magazines are following him and there you go, you may even had your game on a news blog this week.

It can sound stupid for padawans, but marketers have been used this technique for years. Build your marketing around big publisher’s audience without spamming or being rude. Just have fun, they already did the worst part of the job.

You are an indie developer, your weakness can be also your strength. No money? Hey, Activision has lots. They must have 4 floors just for their marketing division. I bet they did a pretty amazing job at finding players for their upcoming shooter.

Working on a shooter too? See what they have. Analyze their efforts and if you can, plant some eggs (no spam) and wait for them to hatch open. Then it’s just a matter of time for you to also get some attention.

Be the Dino.


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Comments


Ian Morrison
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That's a really interesting approach. Do you have any personal experience with it that you'd be willing to share? Do you know of any other sources I could go to for more information on it?

Javier Cabrera
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Ian,

Glad you find it interesting! Before doing games, I was a web designer.

Like any web designer out there, I used to go every single day to TechCrunch and other tech-related news. I didn't knew it back then, but those places where the number 1 gathering spot for startups, and startups always need staff.

I really liked to hang over those sites and wasn't trying anything funny, just being friendly and leaving comments. It worked REALLY good, 100% of the time.

A lot of people contacted me since I knew what I was talking about and ended up with a bunch of clients.

I'm doing the same for my game (look my profile) and it has worked really well so far, specially over twitter. Facebook... well, I haven't had the time yet since it only pull comments to your wall from people you subscribe. Twitter and the hashtag feature make things easier.

Takes work (a lot) but you end up having results 100% of the time.


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