"If I were writing this ten years ago, I’d put more of a focus on how well you execute your ideas, but with the extreme amount of competition in the gaming industry these days, I’d put way more of an emphasis on differentiating your ideas."
- Game developer Ben Wasser, reflecting on the importance of marketing your game early in development.
What's the difference between making your game and marketing your game?
"There is no difference," opines Ooblets developer Ben Wasser in a recent post on the game's Patreon page.
The post makes for interesting reading if you're making games (or thinking about starting) because Wasser efficiently lays out a lot of good reasons for why you shouldn't consider marketing as a secondary, separate activity you do outside of game development.
"Marketing is considering what’s appealing, integrating that into your product, and demonstrating that appeal," writes Wasser, intent on explaining a comment he made last year to PC Gamer about the Ooblets team's "marketing first" approach to the project.
"Your role in making a game is that of a marketer, whether you know it or not. Your game design, aesthetic, name, and every element of your process should be designed to appeal to people, and it needs to be from day one," continues Wasser's recent Patreon post, which goes on to lay out practical examples of how devs do this in terms of game design, visual aesthetic, and game titles.
This is something Wasser and fellow Ooblets co-creator Rebecca Cordingley talked to Gamasutra about early this year, when they explained that the project was "visuals first" for marketing purposes.
"In the beginning stages of development, we'd only work on parts of the game that could be shown off visually,” Cordingley told Gamasutra. "We held off on implementing things like saving and dialogue trees until only recently because they didn't bring any real returns from a marketing perspective."
Now, Wasser has dug into the subject in much greater depth in his Patreon post. It's well worth a read, especially if -- like the Ooblets team -- you're an indie dev with no real marketing budget to speak of and some significant concerns about how/when to get people talking about your game.