Video Game Marketing Roadmap [2020]

Ok here’s the situation: You are working on a game, or you’ve been
hired to do marketing for a game. The game is launching in a year or so. You don’t have a AAA budget. What do you do? What’s in your marketing toolkit? What are some of your go-to marketing strategies
and tactics? In this video we’ll go over some tried & tested
marketing tips & tricks for launching an indie game. We are Ask Gamedev and this is the Game Marketing
Road Map – Part 1 Welcome back! We make videos on how to elevate your game
development and inspire others. If after watching this video you want to continue
the gamedev conversation, check the video description for a link to our Discord server. Ok welcome to day 1 of your new job or venture. The game is still in its infancy, and you
are in charge of marketing. Let’s go over marketing tips throughout
each phase of the process of making video games: The first phase of video game creation is
pre-production.

It’s a common misconception that marketing
starts once the game is ready or close to shipping – marketing actually takes place
right at the start. A game wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t)
advance from pre-pro if some sort of market research hasn’t been done. Marketing should partner with creative to
inform them on the market opportunity and the expectation of the consumer around depth
and feature set. Target platform, release window, and follow-up
DLC/updates can all be researched in this prepro stage. How big is the market for your title? How many people would potentially play your
game? While this number would be impossible to calculate
to the number, there are still ways to at least get a ballpark number.

The first way to narrow this number down is
find your install base size. If your game is for a particular console like
Xbox One, Nintendo Switch or PS4, the install numbers for these consoles are readily available. The easiest way to find this is to Google
it. If your game is on say, PC, the amount of
active users on certain platforms, like Steam, is also readily available.

Steam shares their stats on a dedicated stats
page. Now you have your absolute max. Obviously, not every person on a particular
console or platform will buy your game, so you have to narrow it down even more. The best way to do this is to find sales data
for similar titles. There are a number of ways to do this:
Use a tool like Steamspy. Steamspy provides estimates of the number
of owners and active users for games on Steam. Or
Search for the data in press releases or blog posts. As you’ve seen from our previous videos,
there are many devs in the industry who are transparent about their development costs
and/or sales figures. When looking at comparables don’t just look
at the hits, or games that have been dominating for years. Pay attention to games that have released
within 1-2 years, and don’t ignore poor selling titles either. At the end of this exercise, once you’ve
gathered enough data on comparable titles, you’ll want to be able to confidently estimate
reasonable numbers for the upper and lower sales potential of your game.

The research on comparable titles should also
provide you with what the typical sale price for your type of game is. With these numbers, you will be able to estimate
how many units you will need to sell to break even given your anticipated dev spend. When calculating this though, don’t forget
to consider units sold at a discounted price. Also consider user expectations around play
time. If you want to charge 39.99, you might not
have a deep enough game and you will have to invest more dev spend Knowing all of the above during pre-pro is
essential to helping inform future development and marketing decisions for the game. Next up, production. Once the game is greenlit, it moves over to
production. This is when the actual game gets made. During the production phase there are a number
of things you could be doing to help get your game ready for launch.

Let’s go over a few of them: 1. Focus Testing You’re not a designer, nor an engineer,
so as the marketer, what can you do to make sure the game is the best product that it
can be, and help influence development? The answer to that is, testing. Run playtests, both internal and external. Your goal here is to help identify areas of
frustration and delight, and create recommendations for the design team. Here are few tips for running playtests:
Have a plan going in. Work with the design team to identify exactly
what you’re looking for when playtesting, and create a list of questions together. When it comes time to interview playtesters,
never ask leading or loaded questions.

You want to avoid any sort of influence no
matter how unintentional it may be. And
Report back in a way that’s actionable. It can be tempting to send over an information
dump and pages and pages of notes back to the design team, but when reporting back ask
yourself “what did we learn from this round of playtests? How can I convey this back to the team as
concisely as possible? And what realistic recommendations can I make
for iteration?” 2. Platform Knowledge At this stage you want to start learning everything
you can about your platform. Every platform, whether it’s a distribution
platform like Steam, or a first-party platform like Nintendo eShop, will have its own unique
promotional opportunities.

You’ll want to find out what each one is. Opportunities are available in a number of
different ways – here are a few: Self-serve opportunities. Some platforms have marketing tools built-in. For example, Steam has tools like Visibility
Rounds and Curator Connect that work on a self-serve basis. For more Steam tips, check out this video
we created on Steam marketing. Marketing opportunities. Platforms like to promote upcoming games. Look for programs to participate in. Some examples:
Xbox has a whole ID@Xbox program where they help indie devs in a number of ways. They can promote your game with a post on
Xbox.com, show your game on their dedicated ID@Xbox youtube channel, talk about your game
on their Mixer stream, or even provide booth spaces at their ID@Xbox showcases. Nintendo also does a lot to help promote indies
on their platforms. They have the Indie World initiative, the
Nintendo Power podcast, and even host a number of indie game trailers on their official YouTube
channel. And lastly, probably the most important: Storefront
opportunities. It’s common for platforms to have curation
& promotions features right on their store pages.

Find out what these opportunities are, and
talk to your platform partners about how you can potentially get features for your game. 3. Build Partnerships & Relationships You should also start building partnerships
and relationships while the game is in production. What opportunities are out there? Here are just a few:
Your Platform. As we highlighted in the last section, there
are so many great marketing opportunities that come from your partner alone. One thing that will really help you in learning
about these opportunities, or gaining access to these, is building a strong relationship
with someone at your platform. In terms of finding them – it’s different
for every platform: sometimes a rep will reach out, sometimes you’ll have to ask, and sometimes
you’ll have to do some old-fashioned networking. Your Engine. Engines love to showcase games that are being
worked on. You might have a chance to get featured on
their website, their video reels, or even their booth at future game shows.

Let your engine know what you’re working
on, and share your progress with them. The press and influencers. Now is also a good time to start building
relationships with the press. Look for journalists and influencers that
cover the types of games that you work on, and start learning about them and their content. Try to form a genuine connection early, so
that by the time it’s time for your game to be announced, it feels less like a cold
call when you reach out to them. Other devs. We say it all the time – the indie gamedev
community is amazing. Start going to indie dev meetups and build
relationships with other devs. Not only is it motivational and encouraging
to surround yourself with other devs doing the same thing, but you could also help one
another promote your games down the line.

A lot of developers have mailing lists and
social audiences that they can use to cross promote in return for similar efforts on your
part. At some point during production (and it’s
different for every studio and every game) you have to announce your game. This is when you tell the world what you’re
working on, usually with a press release, a website, some beautiful assets, and a trailer.

Here are some tips for this stage: 1. Build your community Now that the world knows about your game,
you’ll want to start building a community and collecting information right away. Here are three things that will help:
A mailing list. You’ll want the email address of anyone
interested in your game. There are a number of great mailing list services
out there. One we recommend is MailChimp. A Discord Server. Create a space for your community to chat
about your game and get hyped together. You can also use your Discord as a place to
coordinate playtests with external testers. An optimized landing page. When people see your trailer, or read your
press release, where will they be pointed to if they’re interested in learning more? Usually it’s to a landing page. Make sure your landing page directs your potential
new fans to wishlist your game, to join your mailing list, and to join your discord server. 2. Make Great Content Keep the content flowing through to launch.

This is to sustain interest from your current
community but also help towards building an even larger one. Some types of content include:
Game Assets. This includes screenshots, gifs, game clips,
and feature videos. A devlog. Share some behind the scenes development with
your community in a devlog. You can include concept art, prototype images,
and share your process. Interesting original content. What other types of content can you make that’s
original, will target your market, build an audience, and is interesting? Well we covered some of those content ideas
in our video Indie Game Marketing with Zero Budget! Marketing Tips. Click the card to check it out Ok so at this point in development, the game
is still in production, but let’s see what you’ve done:
You’ve done some market research that will help inform future decisions.

You’ve done (and continue to do) extensive
playtesting, making the game as good as it can be. You know the ins and outs of your platform,
and know every marketing opportunity available. You’ve built relationships with your platform,
your engine, the press, and other game developers. You’ve started building a community. And you’ve kept your community engaged with
great content. You should be getting closer to launch now,
and are well positioned for it! In our next video in this series, we’ll
go over marketing tips for your game’s pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. Thanks for watching! For more Ask Gamedev check out this video
on Marketing Mistakes, or this playlist on Game Marketing.

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