Last Edited – October 16th 2019
So you are making this kick-ass mobile game, maybe for iPhone or Android, then what?
How do you get people to play your mobile game?
You have limited funds, maybe a budget of $0.00 and you feel you can’t really compete with the big game companies who are throwing a lot of money advertising their game EVERYWHERE.
Well, in that sense, you are not wrong. It’s very hard to have your game advertised everywhere if you don’t have the budget of a big company for an ad campaign on Facebook, on Google, on the AppStore or PlayStore.
However, and very luckily for you, it’s fairly easy to get word of mouth around and get a decent amount of fans that will tell their friends about your game for you. For free!
The first step is to have a GOOD game.
And that, I think, needs to be emphasized in more details.
First thing first, 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 and/or just stock/clipart files, too many bugs or is just another clone or reskin of Flappy Bird or Crossy Road, please keep working on the game development until you have something to be proud of!
You don’t spend time and energy promoting a game that people will not be impressed with.
Plus, if game journalists have a strong negative reaction to your very first game, they will be less inclined to play or even look at any of your future projects.
It’s just human nature.
But one thing is sure, 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, screenshots, and the such should be aiming to show how exciting and satisfying your game is.
There is no mother lode of eyeballs waiting just on the other side of your game’s launch. People are not expecting you to finish the development of your game with their cold hard cash clenched in their hands, eager to throw it your way. It’s up to YOU to show them WHY your new game is awesome and you will do it with those marketing tips and tricks I have sprinkled through this article.
Your tools to promote
You will first need a website!
You don’t necessarily need a different .com domain 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 yours 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.
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.
Confused over how to make a press kit?
Worry not, it’s totally free! I recommend the excellent presskit() trmplate 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.
And if you want to know how to put interesting stuff in your press kit to promote your game, this Patreon post covers the subject nicely.
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 every day you’ll just be another nameless face in a very busy crowd.
I’m not saying to ignore them completely, just don’t put your eggs only in their baskets.
Smaller websites are usually friendlier toward indie games, so this makes them more likely to publish a piece about your game. And it is often the buzz generated by smaller websites that get the big websites attention in the first place: you know when your aunt shows you a meme on facebook 2-3 months after you’ve seen it on Reddit? Same concept: the big takes from the small.
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 a press release in PDF format: they are absolutely hellish for us to copy and paste from.
Please include any images as attachments rather than pasting them into your email body.
Also, try to not be discouraged if you don’t get a reply to every email you send. The life of a game reviewer is a bit on the crazy side. Another important point to consider is what are game journalists and influencers interesting in getting, in terms of information? Well, the indie game PR company “Big Games Machine” has done a survey and have published it for free on their website. This survey was called ‘Gaming Influencers: what really makes them tick?” and is available to download right now on their website and will help you gain very useful insights on how to make your pitch awesome to a mobile game reviewer.
We found an article on medium.com which talks a bit more about how to pick a good date for the launch of your game, but gives a lot of details about WHEN to send your press release also!
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/.
So essentially, PARTICIPATE in things on Reddit, don’t just show up to advertise your game.
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 often 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!
When using Twitter, keep the 80/20 rule in mind – 80% of the content you post, should be fun stuff (sharing screenshots, memes, discussing other people’s posts), while only 20% of your content should be promotional (asking people clearly to “download 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!!
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 Google… which owns it in the first place.
Make sure you have an awesome video that clearly showcases 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 work, or what wouldn’t work well with your own game, depending on its genre.
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 video 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 a link to your game download page 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! Think of any keywords that describe your game and make sure to use it in a sentence in your video description: do not turn into just a list of words. That’s just spam. Write for PEOPLE, not robots.
Also, comment on EVERY video you are watching, from now on.
Don’t advertise your own video in the comment. At all. Just be slightly more active within the YouTube community. This will lead many people to check out your own video, very passively!
Some popular keywords to use in the name your video on Youtube:
– How To (and then finish this sentence)
– Gameplay (name of your game here PLUS the console/platform/OS it’s available on)
– Funny …
Entice people to comment on your video.
Share your video on all your own social media channels.
Connect with YouTubers and ask them to check out your video.
Make sure the link to your YouTube video is in your press kit. A share is SO easy with a YouTube link and this will make it easy for people to share with their friends your content.
How to promote your mobile game on Instagram
Instagram is so huge and full of influencers!
It’s fairly easy for a game with nice graphics to get to use Instagram to get new followers and players for your game!
No big strategy there, just post pictures of your work in progress, your game character designs, a quick gameplay video. This is something you can do with low effort daily.
Just like Twitter, the hashtag game is strong on Instagram, try to think outside of the box! Are your currently making a roguelike platformer? Spam a bunch of fantasy related hashtags in the description! #knight, #suitofarmor, and so on.
It’s fairly easy to come up with a lot of descriptive words (and their related hashtags) to explain what is being shown in a picture. And while you wouldn’t necessarily want to invest money in a paid ad campaign with the keywords “knight”, it’s a free way to promote your game.
You may not think your player base is hanging out on Instagram, but pretty much everyone has an account nowadays. And my own mother often recommends mobile games to me just because they showed up on a related hashtag she follows. If you knew how my mother and technology are not the best of friends, you’d see the value of posting on Instagram!
To get high engagement from your Instagram followers, you could also ask their input, through Instagram Stories poll, on a feature of your game, naming a character, etc. It’s a great way to get your fans involved!
How to promote your game on LinkedIn
Think LinkedIn is not the best platform to promote a video game?
You are right! Somewhat…
Make sure to bookmark this page (heck, you need to if you want to go through all the good tips about how to promote your game!) and come back next month and we will teach you how it could be!
As of October 2019, this section is still being worked on as we test and try our own tips!
Feel free to share your own tips with me on Twitter or by email and I’ll be happy to add them here!
How to promote your game on Pinterest
This may surprise you, but Pinterest is one of the most popular social media platforms as of late and there is absolutely a way to use it to your advantage. More information coming in… yeah you know it, later. But keep reading I have more stuff you can do RIGHT NOW:
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.
If you have an upcoming mobile Android or iOS game, you can promote it at prelaunch.me and gather some interest well before launch!
You can add your game to the indieDB through this link.
An awesome site connects devs directly with Youtubers, reviewers, etc. Check it out at likemindedd.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!
No matter on what level of #gamedev you are working on, you can add yourself to the Nitchigamer’s Indies Directory.
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:
To embed a youtube video:
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! 🙂
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 using creative hashtag on Instagram
– Started contacting reviewers from the big list of youtubers, game reviewers and mobile news website.
– Posted in some gaming related subreddits
– Added your game to some self-promotion websites.
Congratulations, you are promoting your game now!
I wish you much success!
Please, let me know this article was helpful to you by sharing it on your favorite social media!