A marketing plan might sound something awfully hard to do for a game developer, but to briefly put it: the marketing plan is your flightplan on how to get your game to your players.
The contents of a marketing plan can be divided into several sections.
A strategic plan or the company's business plan will describe the
company's strategic objectives. The marketing plan will focus on those
major objectives, and how to reach those goals.
don't have to have tens of pages long marketing plan that you will
never use. It's much better to have a short plan that you use. Use your
computer's desktop wallpaper or a one page printed plan where you put
the marketing plan: goals, actions and notes. Then use and refine the
Contents of a Marketing Plan
These sections of a marketing plan are listed below.
1. Goals – Make Sure You Know Where You Are Heading
Goals define where you are going.
In an indie marketing plan, you can start by choosing the goal for the
desired income. Then, you continue by adding the goals for sales,
downloads, conversion rate, and the price for your product. Let's
assume your goal is to make $50.000. The pricing of a game may depend
on several variables. You might look at what others are using and
settle for $19.95. Or you might try a bargain price and go with $9.95.
Some people have used $29.95. Depending on your game, the company's
profile, target market, you might price your game differently. It's
worth noting that you might want to adjust the price later.
Maybe you realize that $9.95 is too low and go with $15.95 and still
get the same number of sales. But for starters, let's assume you use
$19.95 as the price of your game.
eCommerce provider gets about 10% of each sale, so the actual profit
for you per game would be about $18. To make $50.000 you would need
about 2800 sales. If you assume that one out of hundred players
purchase your game, then game's conversion rate would be 1.0%. The rule
of thumb could be that very targeted games receive higher conversion
rates, up to 2%, 3% or even 5% while more generic games, or games with
severe competition may receive a .1% - .5% conversion rate. That means
about 1-5 sales per 1000 downloads. Let's assume you try to get your
game's quality to such a level that you receive a 1.0% conversion rate.
Now as you do some math you can see that to reach 2800 sales you would
need 280.000 downloads for your game.
goal wouldn't be a goal without an exact date. Have an exact date for
the goal. Split the goal in smaller divisions: months, quarters or
years – or something that suits you best.
Example marketing plan goals for Edoiki game
The goals for Edoiki are:
- Direct Sales goal: $50.000 (after eCommerce provider expenses)
- Other Sales goal: $50.000 (after publisher/distributor expenses)
- Total Sales: $100.000
Exact direct sales details:
- Initial price: $19.95
- Conversion rate goal: 1.0%
- Downloads goal: 280.000
- Units goal: 2.800
- Deadline: By the end of 2007
The quarterly download & sales goals for direct distribution:
- Q3-Q4/2006 – 600 units, 60.000 downloads
- Q1-Q2/2007 – 1100 units, 110.000 downloads
- Q3-Q4/2007 – 1100 units, 110.000 downloads
2. Distribution - Select the Right Channels For Your Game
There are several options for distributing your game. Indie and casual games tend to follow these main distribution channels:
- Direct website store
- Retail stores
- Content delivery systems
- Publisher channels
on your company's strategy, your marketing plan might use more than one
distribution methods. An easy choice for direct selling would be to set
up a website and concentrate on optimizing your website.
you have a casual game, you might consider casual game portals.
Different portals have different requirements for games. Here are some
of the most common portals: Big Fish Games, EA's Pogo, Gamehouse, GameXtazy, GameZone, Playfirst, Real Arcade, Shockwave, Trygames, Yahoo Games.
Include the portals you want to target in your marketing plan and check
the top 10 bestsellers from each portal. After you have gone through
the list, you have a better understanding on what kind of games portals
want and how you can improve your product to meet their guidelines.
Indies typically sell through portals or through their own website, but
retail stores can be a valuable choice to consider. It is possible to
contact retailers directly but in some cases, it can be very difficult
or practically impossible. However, you can make it so that it's easy
for them to contact you. Set up your company website in such way that
distributors can easily get touch with you. Arrange the distribution
options by country or by some other region. If you want to contact some
publishers, then go on and make a deal. There are publishers that can
deal with the retail stores.
retail stores and portals, there's always the publisher opportunity.
There are many indie game publishers that can get a deal for you: some
of the popular ones are Garage Games, Indiepath and PopCap.
All these companies provide different terms, and your marketing plan
can change depending on the deals you make. If you commit yourself to
creating an exclusive deal with some of the publishers, then you might
not be allowed to sell the game through your website, thus making
direct selling options unavailable. Besides pure publishers, there are
also content delivery systems available. Valve's Steam is perhaps the
biggest example and could be appealing to indies.
Your marketing plan should tell you which channels you are going to use, and which ones you'll ignore.