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How to promote your own game

“If you gave me six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening my axe,” Abraham Lincoln

So you are making this kick-ass mobile game, may be for iPhone or Android, then what? How do you get people to play your game? You have limited funds, may be a budget of $ 0 and you feel you can’t really compete with the big game companies.

Well, in that sense, you are not wrong.

It’s hard to have your game advertised everywhere if you don’t have the budget for an ad campaign.

However, it’s easy to get word of mouth to get big enough for your game to have a decent amount of fans that will tell their friends about their game for you.

The first step is to have a GOOD game. And that, I think, needs to be emphasized.

A game needs to be very satisfying to play. The end user should want to play it over and over again and get enjoyment from it.

If your game has stolen graphics clipart files, too many bugs or is just another copy of Flappy Bird or Crossy Road, keep working on the game development until you have something to be proud of.

You don’t want to contact everyone about a game that people will hate: that’s just a waste of your time and effort! And if game journalists have a strong negative reaction to your first game, they will be less inclined to play or even look at your next projects. It’s just human nature.

It doesn’t matter at what stage of the development you currently are, you need to be thinking about promotion well before your game is published!

All media created for the game, trailer, screen shots, and the such should be aiming to show how exciting and satisfying your game is.

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Your tools to promote

You will first need a website.

You don’t necessary need a different .com for each game you are making (even if that DOES help a lot), but you at least need a teaser page on your own game developer website, ideally as a sub-site.

Why? It makes it easier for people to find it if they google it by name, and game reviewers will need somewhere to fetch your presskit.

While a personalized .com for your game is not mandatory, although very useful, a dedicated page on Facebook as well as a dedicated Twitter account for that new game of your are absolutely needed. It’s free to create, it gives your game more exposure, it gives gamers, fans, youtubers & reviewers a place to interact with you.

Confused over how to make a presskit? Worry not, it’s totally free! I recommend the excellent presskit() by @tha_rami. It will show you everything you need to do to create an awesome presskit that will give the game reviewers what they need to write about your game.

You will need something to show on that website. How about some images of your game first? Make them awesome with the help of this article: How to make awesome gifs to promote your game.

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Sending your press release

You have your website, your twitter, your Facebook page and your presskit up and ready? Time to send press releases to game review sites! How to reach them? See this awesome document that lists websites, subreddits and Youtubers! (I’m on there so you know it’s a good list!).

Now a bit of caveat about doing this: don’t ignore the smaller websites. Do not go only for the big ones; they get so much press releases everyday you’ll just be another face in the crowd. I’m not saying to ignore them completely, just don’t put your eggs only in their baskets. Smaller websites are usually friendly toward indie games and are more likely to publish a piece about your game.

You can send press releases and assets to gamespress.com

A couple of tips before you do: Word docs or plain text files are best, or simply include your text in your email body. Please DON’T send press releases as PDFs: they’re hellish for us to copy and paste from. Please include any images as attachments rather than pasting them into your email body.

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How to Promote Your Game on Reddit

The Internet can be a big and scary place, but never as much as Reddit where approval is everything. Is your post a downvote away from falling into total oblivion, or an upvote away from hitting the sweet frontpage?

Before your post on Reddit you’d do well to read this excellent article about how to use Reddit successfully. You don’t want to anger the Reddit Mob, do you?

Here is a short list of subreddits that will be relevant to you during your mobile game promotion:

  • Participating in /r/gamedev weekly threads and posting your links!
  • Promoting your app in /r/playmygame if it’s released or in beta.
  • Give /r/indiegames/ a try also.
  • If your paid app is now on sale/free/you’re giving away a few promo codes, promote it in /r/AppHookup/ (Consider using CodeHookup to share iTunes codes!)
  • Post in /r/iosgaming when you have a released game.
  • This subreddit runs a Weekly Self Promotion Thread where all are welcome: /r/indiegaming/.




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How to Promote Your Game on Twitter

Twitter can be such an overwhelming space, with so many tweets coming and going at a mile a minute. However, it can also help you connect with your players, current or future, in a very personal way. It’s also a bit less intrusive than Facebook.

Some good ways to promote your game on Twitter is keeping current with the popular game development related hashtags! They tend to follow the days of the week:

  • #MusicMonday – share your game music with this hashtag
  • #MondayFunday – show you and/or staff having fun at work
  • #indiedevhour – Connects with fellow indie game developers every Wednesday at 2 pm (EST)
  • #ThrowBackThursday or #TBT – share those old photos of your game in early development, or an older game you published
  • #FollowFriday or #FF – use it to throw a shout out to other people worth following, it’s great for making connections!
  • #screenshotsaturday – showcase a screenshot of your game. I’d suggest making a gif!

It’s usually in bad taste to use a daily hashtag on the wrong day, so be wary of this! Some other good hashtags to connect with other game developers would be: #gamedev, #indiegamedev & #indiedev.

When using Twitter, keep the the 80/20 rule in mind – 80% of the content you post, should be fun stuff (sharing screenshots, discussing other people’s posts), while only 20% of your content should talk actively about “downloading your game”. You don’t want to come across as a SPAM machine yelling PLAY MY COOL GAME every hour of the day!

And for the love of cheese, no auto-responders to new followers!!

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How to Promote Your Game on YouTube

Can’t really ignore the most popular video sharing website while doing promotion for your game! YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day and it’s the 2nd most popular search engine, right after the famous Google.

Make sure you have an awesome video that clearly showcase your game. Definitely take an hour out of your day and watch plenty of indie game trailer videos, see what your competition is doing. See what would word, or what wouldn’t work well with your own game. Unless you are a well known studio, avoid putting your logo for 5 seconds at the beginning of your video: people’s attention spawn is SHORT on YouTube so give the people what they want. Action. Drama. Flair!

Your videos description is absolutely crucial and will be your best friend in making your game popular. YouTube can’t listen to your videos, so they rely on your text description to determine your video’s content. Put your link at the very top of the description. If it’s too low in your video description, people won’t see it and thus won’t click on it.

Also, comment on ALL the videos your watch, from now on. Don’t advertise your own video, but be active within the YouTube community. This will lead many people to check out your own video!

Popular keywords to use to name your video:
– How To
– Gameplay
– Funny

Entice people to comment on your video. Share your video on all your social media channels. Connect with YouTubers and ask them to check out your video. Make sure the video is in your presskit.

List of iOS friendly YouTubers

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How to get Backlinks to promote your game

You also want to promote your game on indie friendly websites! Essentially, the more websites you have out there linking back to your website, the better!

Backlinks are any link that points to your website. Backlinks, inbound links and incoming links are all the same.

You can add your game to the indieDB through this link.
Use also indievideogames.com
A new comer in the domain is Gamebrew.io and you can submit your game here.
An awesome site connects devs directly with Youtubers, reviewers, etc. Check it out at gamxin.com.
Don’t forget our friends across the pond at indiegamelaunchpad.co.uk.
And you can join the groups Indie Game Promo or Game Dev Show And Test on Facebook and promote your game.
You’ve heard of IMDB, now we have IGDB.com!

And finally, the Touch Arcade Forums can be a hit or miss for iOS games. Some tips for their forums:
To display the app store information in a post: [appinfo=all]Put_iTunes_URL_Here[/appinfo]
To embed a youtube video: [hdyoutube]insert_characters_at_end_of_youtube_URL_here[/hdyoutube]
If you want to see how someone has written a post try hitting the QUOTE button as if replying to it and you’ll see the codes they used in their message!

That last one was especially neat, I think! 🙂




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Summary

Now if we recap, you have:
– Your Game ready for launch, or launched already.
– Your website and presskit/press release
– Created a Twitter account and a Facebook page for your game
– Started contacting reviewers from the big list of youtubers, game reviewers and mobile news website.
– Posted in some gaming related subreddits & started tweeting
– Added your game to some self-promotion websites.

Congratulations, you are promoting your game now! I wish you much success!

 

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