The Ideal Structure For Your Indie Game Website
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
(This was originally published on the Indie Wolverine blog)
I’ve seen it time and time again. Indie game sites hosted on Tumblr blogs or on a Facebook page. Hopefully after reading this, we can get together and stop this travesty!
Before I begin, I want to start by saying this post is completely my opinion and yours may be different. I want to help inform all of you, so you can make educated decisions for yourself.
Let’s start by going over some things I recommend that you don’t do:
Don’t host your studio and/or video game website on a free hosting platform like Tumblr, Blogger, Medium etc.
Free-hosted blogging platforms are great for certain people. There are compelling reasons to use them and a recent video by Moz goes over many of the pros and cons. You can check this video out here: https://moz.com/blog/use-hosted-blog-platforms-seo-content-distribution
However, free hosted blog platforms list your website as a sub-domain. This means that any inbound links you earn from press like IGN, Gamespot, RPS and more, benefit the hosting platforms domain (Tumblr, Blogger etc.). Basically, they benefit from your hard work.
Don’t use your Facebook page as your website
This should really go without saying, but please, don’t just use your Facebook page as your hub for all of your information. I understand that it’s free and quick to setup. However, platforms like Wordpress have gotten so easy to use and they don’t cost much to setup and use (even if you decide to purchase a premium theme).
Don’t use your studio website as a giant advertisement for your current game
This can be debated. However, I highly recommend that you don’t use your studio site as a billboard for your current game. You definitely should have your game on your studio website. However, I shouldn’t confuse your studio with your current game. There have been many times where I have been to an indie studio’s website and completely forgotten it was a website for a studio until I looked at the domain. I will get into this more shortly.
Your Game is Special
Your game is special. Heck, in my eyes, you’re special and you’re working on a new piece of art that is going to blow my freaking mind, right? Right?!!
Well, let’s slow down a bit. Even if your current game is on the cusp of being nothing short of greatness, you might want to continue making games in the future, right? If not, I guess your goal is to become the Macarena of indie games. If that’s not your goal, you have to look towards the future and not the now or past. With that being said, you need to set yourself up for the future.
What I mean by this, is that you should create your own studio website. This website is the foundation of everything that you do. It’s the place people will go in the future and be like “oh shit, I didn’t know these guys made that game!!” or “oh man, this team is working on game x?!! I’m so stoked. Preorder complete.”
Some of you may be thinking “well, I already have a studio website and a website for my game, so suck it Trebek!” Well, not so fast! You’re working on an industry breaking game right? We need to walk the line and include them on the same domain.
Wait, didn’t I just say don’t include your game on your studio website? Wrong. In my opinion the best setup for your studio and your game is on the same domain. However, they need to work together nicely. People need to know what studio is creating their favorite games and they also need to know where they can find more information on their favorite games. Our job is to offer both of those things without asking potential players to jump around the web for the information they need.
Below are some perfect examples of what I’m talking about:
Telltale Games is widely known by players around the world for being that studio that creates amazing story driven masterpieces for various games. Telltale also does a masterful job of including all of their games on one single domain. If I was the 1 person on the planet that didn’t know about the games they make, well all I have to do is go to their website and boom! Now I know.
Also, notice how each game on the same domain has it’s own design. When you create pages on your studio domain for your game(s), you don’t need to keep the same design. In fact, I recommend that you don’t keep the same design. Your studio is unique and so is your game, let’s make that apparent.
Unknown Worlds also does an excellent job at this. Honestly, before I checked out the Unknown Worlds website, I had no idea that the team that’s currently working on Subnautica also worked on the Natural Selection games! That’s really interesting and more importantly, that has added to their studios credibility in my mind. I haven’t purchased Subnautica, but now I’m one step closer to converting.
Also, notice how the design for each game’s landing page is completely different. Once again, this is a great example of how you’re not tied to a single design when keeping all of your games on a single domain.
Playdead games also include all of their games on the same domain. If you didn’t know the same team that created Limbo is now working on Inside, then now you do.
Are there any other benefits to having all my games on the same domain?
For starters, there are some serious SEO benefits. Any inbound links you get from press along your journey as an excellent indie studio will benefit not only your games page(s), but they will also benefit your studio’s domain. Yay! You earned that shit; you deserve to reap the rewards from it.
Also, as we noticed from the websites above, you’re building credibility as a studio. You’re also making it that much easier for your fans to find all the information they want on the same domain. No jumping across the Googles for the information they want.
Lastly, if you do have multiple games that are similar, there’s no better way to sell a few more copies by providing fans of your current games information on games that are similar to the games they like and are created by the same studio.
That sounds great, is there anything else I should know?
Sure. One way to maximize the benefit of having your video game(s) website on the same domain as your studio, is to optimize the conversion rate of your game(s) landing page by creating an excellent design that funnels users to an action that you want them to take. Indie Game Girl has an excellent post covering this topic. You can see an image from her post below:
BTW if you haven’t already checked out IndieGameGirl.com, please do yourself a favor and get on it.
Landing Page Design & Optimization Resources
- Landing Page Design adn How to Use it to Sell Your Indie Game
- The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization
- Landing Page Optimization Guide - Just a note, there will be a couple conversion popups during this guide. Personally not a fan and that’s why I’m letting you know. However, there is only a couple and it only takes a second to click the pretty X
All right, hopefully you now have all the knowledge and resources to get out there any create the best studio website ever. Let the world know that you’re not a one-hit wonder and are here to stay! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below.