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The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games

May 19, 2006 Article Start Page 1 of 2 Next
 

Introduction

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.

You 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 plan.

Contents of a Marketing Plan

These sections of a marketing plan are listed below.

  • Goals
  • Distribution
  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Website
  • Demo
  • Measurement
  • Maintenance
  • Refinement

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.

The 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.


Edoiki Concept Art

A 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
  • Portals
  • Content delivery systems
  • Publisher channels

Depending 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.

If 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.

Besides 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.


Edoiki distribution channels

Edoiki will be sold directly through Edoiki website. Besides the direct websites we'll approach Mumbo Jumbo/United Developers and Tri Synergy to discuss retail channels. There are other retail opportunities: Dreamcatcher/The Adventure Company, Cylon Interactive, Merscom, MWR connected– some of them will be considered in the future, while some of them will be ignored.

We will also contact a few publishers for a non-exclusive deals. The first ones to target are Shrapnelgames, JoWood and Matrix Games. Edoiki will omit the casual game portals, as the game is targeting a different audience.

We'll also approach Valve and discuss the distributing opportunity via Steam.



Article Start Page 1 of 2 Next

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