Setting your video game up for success begins long before release day. Alongside the hours you’ve poured into its narrative development, game mechanics, and art style, you’ve considered your game’s audience and how you’ll reach them. How can you grow wishlist numbers and garner buzz across social media platforms for a digital release? For a physical release, how can you increase your first-week sales? While your game’s most rewarding marketing beats happen close to launch, there are steps you can take to grow your audience in advance.
Before committing to a plan, understand the benchmarks you’d like to reach with your game’s release. If it’s a PC launch, how many wishlists should you expect? Would you like to port it to consoles? Should you self-publish or work with a publisher? Answering these questions definitively is impossible; however, research will help guide your expectations. Find games similar to yours in size or style and observe their wishlist numbers, cross-compatibility, and social media presence. Your game may not reach Mario levels of success, but setting small goals for yourself will give you focus points to pursue alongside production.
As with most industries, networking can significantly impact your game’s sales. Journalism remains an influential subset of the video game industry, and landing a feature on these sites will prove fruitful for your download numbers. While journalist contact information is often published on the sites they write for, they maintain casual relationships on Twitter, where their interests are expressed more personally. It’s a good idea to follow journalists who cover your game’s genre; often, when notified a developer or studio has followed them, they will follow back. Getting onto the Twitter timeline of these journalists is essential for your game’s exposure and begins to build a connection with journalists interested in your work. In the future, they may cover your game on one of their sites, or your relationship may strengthen to the point of pitching your game to them personally. If you’re looking for in-person networking opportunities, attend a local gaming convention or festival. There, you’ll find developers, publishers, and journalists, all of whom attend to connect with other industry professionals.
The digital networking mentioned above is only as effective as your dedication to consistency. Posting about your game every couple of weeks–or only when there are new developments to share–lacks the momentum of a consistent social media presence. As you connect with relevant journalists and influencers, pepper your timeline with gameplay clips, development updates, character mock-ups, or story developments. As you build your social media presence, consider looking back on your development process for interesting changes or inspired moments that may have occurred. You’ll be left with ample social media content and a multi-faceted look at your game beyond the usual development updates.
Researching and setting goals, maintaining a consistent online presence, networking with other industry members, and managing your marketing content are challenging when added to the already strenuous game development task. If you find yourself without the time, consider partnering with a PR agency to ease the burden. An agency grants you access to a curated network of journalists and influencers, many of whom have strong relationships with PR agents. These teams can draft press announcements, connect with journalists, and schedule campaigns, leaving you to focus on what’s important. At Starfall, we understand that game development is unpredictable, and some months will be busier than others. We introduced several new PR packages –including a PR-Lite plan, as low as $500 per month–to maximize your time and investment.
Growing your game’s following should be a marathon, not a sprint. As you begin strategizing your marketing approach, set expectations for yourself that will keep you motivated and on target. Network with others in the industry to gain valuable exposure and insight, and remember, we’re here for your final push to publication.