Let’s say that you are creating a game and you want to build anticipation among the gaming hordes. Furthermore, let’s say you’re not one of the giants, and thus your resources are limited. Regardless, you and your partners have designed this awesome game for the iPhone, and you want to generate excitement about it, which in turn will morph into paying customers, thereby allowing you to continue in your dream job of designing games. How do you go about achieving this dream?
First and foremost, creating a blog, especially one told from the point of view of the designer, is essential, as in mandatory. Not only does it get your company/product name out there, it gives people a chance to take a peek behind the curtain, and get excited about what they see. If you do in fact create a blog from the perspective of the game designer, people can follow along and see the progress, and anticipation builds as the release date gets nearer. If you can fit in a few sneak previews, screen shots, advance details, then so much the better.
Hooray! A company I never heard of is coming out with a game I know nothing about!Let’s Be Social
Put together a Facebook page dedicated to the game. This is even easier to do than a blog, and considering the strong gamer community on Facebook, you have an instant audience. Don’t forget Twitter, either. When it comes to financial outlay and time, it doesn’t get any easier than social media.Conventional Thinking
Okay, now we’re getting into a pricier realm here, but as the old adage goes, you have to spend money in order to make money. If you have an advertising budget set aside, then it’s time to start dipping into it. The thing is to not wait until after the game is released; you need to generate advance buzz. Naturally, in order to do so, you must already have a good idea what the game is about and how it’ll turn out. And you don’t even really have to go all out; get some cheap t-shirts printed up, or colorful information handouts, something that stands a good chance of sticking in gamers’ memories. Booth babes may be out of the question, but hey, there’s always a booth sock puppet. When you stop and think about it that would be pretty memorable, right?
No, not one of those that are pulled by your car. Movies generate excitement and interest by showing trailers before the main feature. You know, right before they warn you about smoking, using cell phones during the movie, and where the exits are located. It’s the same with the world of gaming. Put together a good trailer, or even multiple trailers, to show players what all the fuss is about. This idea fits neatly with the idea of blogs, since that’s where the trailers would ultimately reside. See? These things are interrelated.I’ll Alert The Media
It may seem obvious, but let’s be complete here. Fire off e-mails to periodicals, websites, trade journals, any media source that fits the gaming nice you’re going after, and introduce yourself. If you’re not a known quantity, forget targeting the mainstream media, and focus instead on the smaller outlets that specialize. And while you’re at it, generate some good word of mouth by notifying gaming bloggers. Try to cultivate a rapport with them, and let them help spread the word. But again, make sure that the blogs cover the type of game you’re developing. A blog dedicated to paper and dice gaming will be a bad choice to market your new iPhone game that features steel cage death matches between pieces of sentient produce.
If you find yourself in the position of having both an awesome new game release and a shoestring budget, consider gathering together a dedicated group of gamers that you’ve given a preview of your game and they happen to love it. This loyal army may get paid in merchandise, free copies of your game, or any other benefits you can think of, and in return they spread the word on websites, forums, at conventions, whatever. They are your evangelists. Remember that the most effective, the most trusted advertising is word of mouth!Final Thoughts
There are so many independent developers out there that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. You need to stand out, build a rep, and give the people a killer product.
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