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The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games
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The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games


May 19, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2
 

3. Product – Have Something to Sell

Offer a high-quality product that people want to purchase. If the conversion rate is very low, then it might suggest that your product simply doesn't offer enough quality. Ask what players and other developers think about your product and refine the product until you start hearing that the only problem with your game is that “it's too addictive”. Remember: the low conversion rate doesn't necessarily indicate a bad product. Ask people: if you hear comments that say that your product is fine but the website or the demo are poor, then forget polishing the product and move on to the next step in the marketing plan.

Make sure your product offering is in sync with your distribution strategy. If you are aiming for the portals, make sure your game appeals the portals and their players. If you are using retailers to get hardcore gamers to play your game, you need to design your product for the retail store customers.

4. Promotion – Make People Aware of Your Game

The next step in the marketing plan is to choose how to get people information about your product. You need to make people aware of your game and either guide them to your website for more information, or to get them to download the game through various sources. How you make the offer depends on the market segments your company has targeted. There are different types of players, games and needs. “Casual gamers” have different playing habits than “hardcore gamers”. 6-year old kids play differently compared to 15- or 30-year old players. Females and males have different needs and wants for games. In Japan , they favor different kinds of games than in Germany . It's your job to define the market segments, and decide which segment (or segments) you choose to target your marketing.

There are several ways to segment the consumer market. The four common marketing segmentation variable types are: geographic (most likely world region or country, but also cities), demographic (age, gender, education, religion, occupation, income, family size), psychographic (social class, lifestyle, personality) and behavioral (casual to heavy user, attitude towards service, loyalty towards company, awareness stage, attitude towards product, genre, favorite games). Also the technical aspects (speed of Internet connection, age of computer) could be included in the segmentation.

After you have chosen the segments, you position your marketing message. Positioning is arranging your whole market offering in a way that it distinguishes your product. If you position yourself as offering the lowest price for young strategy gamers then the market message is much different than if you try to get offer high-quality, non-violent games for very religious players.

After you have selected your target segments, you need to reach those audiences in different ways. Here's a list of promotion efforts you might want to consider: major download sites, advertising, press releases, PAD services, magazine reviews, website reviews, news sites, other major websites, blogs, contests, nominations, affiliates, articles, forums, conferences, banner ads, text link ads, link exchanges and newsletters. There are also very creative options such as advertising banner in your own car back window or leaving demo CDs in busses - so use your imagination.

Depending on your distribution channel options, the promotion could be totally handled by the parties you are dealing with. If you sign a publishing deal, then you can expect the publisher to take care of the promotion.


Edoiki promotion efforts

Edoiki aims to please board gamers and non-casual gamers, players that are addicted to the online multiplayer game experience, and look for games where they can challenge their friends. These gamers don't necessarily have a favorite genre, their main goals is to play with friends – as long as the game is good. They are over 20 and mostly male. Their income level is more than $10,000 yearly and they can spend $20 or $30 easily for entertainment now and then. Our players own a high-speed internet connection (256 KB or better) or at least a fast IDSN connection. Our players have at least basic understanding of the English language, they are interested in Japanese/Chinese mythology and know something about Eastern cultures.

Edoiki will use several promotion methods: Google Adwords targeted directly to board games, banner ads on multiplayer and similar online sites, multiplayer gaming forums, press releases, newsletter announcements, major review sites, article writing, community forums, PromoSoft PAD service, blogs, entering the Independent Games Festival.

 

5. The Website – Get Players to Download Your Game Demo

The indie game marketing plan lists what you will do for your website. Your website's main purpose is to get people to download the demo of your game. That means your plan should include the steps you will take to enhance the website's marketing capabilities. If your site gets visitors that visit only the first page and leave without downloading, then you need to refine your website. The other reason for your website to exist is to get people to purchase your game. Make sure user can access to purchase page within one or two mouse clicks.


Edoiki website

Edoiki website will use a virtual private server to handle traffic and make sure the system is online every hour of day. The website will present screenshots, player forums, contact information, company information and present clear and easily distinguishable download and purchase buttons. The website won't use Javascript or font that would make it hard to use the site. The headline of the site will be tested and the game requirements, features and any other game-related hints & tips will be listed. The site graphics will be polished by the game artist.

The website traffic will be estimated and website specific goals (the rate of downloads) will be refined to meet the download goals after initial number of downloads are received.

 

6. The Demo – Get Players To Purchase Your Game

Your game demo has only one single goal: to close the deal, to get the player to purchase the game. It's very important to have a good demo version of your game that fills its purpose. If the conversion rate – the rate of people who purchase the game after testing it – is low, then you might need to adjust your demo. Concentrate on following issues:

  • Demo feature limitations: does the demo have limited features (like less units, levels, powers etc.) compared to the full version? Are you sure you are telling the player what he will get if he buys? Add nag screens to both beginning and the end of the demo. Use those screens to explain the limitations and benefits of purchasing the game.
  • Demo time limitations: time limitation combined with feature limitations can be advantageous: offer 15 demo launches or 60 minutes of gameplay, or a 30-day period. Or try something in between.
  • Guide the player to make the purchase: is it easy (within one or two mouse clicks) for player to purchase your game or enter to your game's purchase page? If not, adjust the demo.
7. Measurement – Be Aware of What's Going On

The only way to make sure you are flying in the right direction is to constantly check where you are heading: be sure to measure impacts of different modifications. If you decide to change the price, promotion or demo, be sure to measure the effects. Conduct an A/B split test for your game price: try both a $20 and a $30 price to see which one works better. Offer a money back guarantee and measure how it impacts sales. Do you get more sales with different demo limitations? Test it. Do the sales increase if you offer a better tutorial in game? Does it help to have nag screens in the beginning and in the end of the demo?

Be aware of where you are flying.

8. Maintenance – Make Sure The Passengers Are Happy

Your marketing plan involves maintenance: how are you going to deal with the customers and build such a relationship with your current customers that they come back and purchase from you again. Customer support could include FAQ lists, support databases, and automated emails. Your marketing plan should describe how you will maintain the relationship with your customers. Will you use support forums or outsource your customer support? Will you use customer relationship management (CRM) tools? Will there be an online chat available for those who purchase? Will you use blogs or newsletters to inform the players about your product updates?

Your marketing plan will tell you how you will deal with the relationship: it will tell you whether you let your publisher or portals handle customer support, or use all or some of the methods discussed earlier.

9. Refinement – Adjust Your Flight Plan

The last step in the marketing plan is to refine the plan. Go to step 1 and adjust your goals. If you think your conversion rate is dropping to .5% feel free to double the goal for download number. As you double your download number goal you know that you need to focus on more promotion rather than optimizing the demo, website or product. On the other hand, if you choose to refine the conversion rate, then you know that you should focus on the quality of your game, demo or website rather than promotion.

Conclusions

The indie game marketing plan describes the goals derived from a company's strategic objectives. The main idea for the marketing plan is to describe the goals, decide the actions necessary to reach those goals, measure and eventually refine the plan as the production progresses.

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Article Start Previous Page 2 of 2

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