“Just make great content and they will come to you.” We have all heard this at times. Either it was said to us, or to someone else. Unfortunately, it’s wrong. Great content is no longer all it takes to get noticed in this ever-growing online world. If you don’t take any steps to market your game and tell people about it, it will quickly be blown away in the wind with nobody left to remember it. That is why today I will be going over some of the most important do’s and don’ts when marketing your HTML5 game.
Lots of people consider marketing to be one of the last steps in publishing a game. This is wrong. It is never too early to start telling people about it. Throughout the development of your game, there are important steps and things to do during each stage in order to reach the maximum amount of people and build up a strong fanbase. Here are the most important steps to take during each stage of your game.
The Idea Stage
This is the stage where you just came up with a great idea. What should you do? It’s best to not start advertising your game as you have nothing to show yet. At this stage, make a plan for the game, come up with a list of required features (also known as a minimum viable product) and a list of nice, but not required features. Tell your friends and family about the idea. See what they think and then revise as necessary. Next, take it to different game development forums, groups, and chats to see what they think of it. Then do some further revising.
This has the effect of letting the people you know learn about the game, and they might tell other people about this great idea that a friend of theirs had. You build up expectations among those you associate with. Not only does this let people know that there will be a game, but it also has the added benefit of people asking you how it is going. This can be crucial in keeping motivation throughout the later stages of development.
- Talk about your idea with friends and family members
- Make a development and marketing plan for the project
- Share your idea on forums, groups, and online chats
- revise as necessary
The Coding Stage
The coding phase is also known as the development stage. You just started actually building your game. This is where you work on programming your game, making assets, and generally creating the core experience for your players. During this stage, it’s best to start talking about your game on social media. Create a Facebook page, maybe make a twitter account for the game.
Post regular updates on your various social media accounts, at least once a day. You don’t have to publish a whole new version, or upload a bunch of new artwork for your game every day. It can be as simple as telling people what you are working on, what you just finished, and what you are starting next.
Be sure to post some concept art every now and then, or maybe the latest textures, sprites, characters, or models. This gives people an insight to the quality they can expect from the game and what kind of experience they might have. While more is usually better, try not to flood your audience with it as you still need to focus on creating your game. Try to keep a few images and such in reserve in case anything comes up and you are unable to show your audience some of your latest creations.
If the game you are making is large enough, you might consider giving them somewhere to talk about your game. Consider setting up a forum or a Facebook group so they can talk about your game and its latest updates. People will be much more likely to follow your game and look forward to it if they know they are not alone.
- Post updates on social media at least once a day
- Post concept and other artwork semi-regularly
- Keep images and content in reserve in case of an emergency
- Give followers a place to discuss your game
- Keep all content and content mediums you publish tidy and high quality
In this stage you have a few playable demos, but you still have lots of work to do before you publish. You might have filler assets, and broken features. This is when you might start up some testing sites for your more enthusiastic followers. Remember, your game is far from done and still requires lots of testing and tweaking before it is ready to be published. Keep up with the regular updates from the previous stage, but add in more community-based updates while you are at it. (1-week sense alpha, 500 followers, etc)
Make your community seem alive and thriving. People won’t join a forum that only has 3 users, gets your friends and family to join if you need to. Everything you post should have a link to the game page or the game website. Keep people going there by posting new content regularly. Consider starting a blog about the game to tell people more about the latest versions and features.
- Start exclusive public testing
- Continue regular updates
- Add community-based updates
- Make community seem alive
- Have link to game in all your posts
- Start a blog
Most of your early testing is done. You no longer have any filler assets and the only thing left to code is bugs-lots of them. Open up the game testing to more people, possibly make it public. Contact publishers, game reviewers and other game developers, no matter how big and popular they might seem. Even if they are not interested, ask for a quote you can use in your marketing. Tell everyone you can think of, include all the game forums, subreddits, and Facebook groups.
At this point, you might consider purchasing ad space on Facebook, twitter, or some game forums. Ensure you limit your demographics to target your target audience. Don’t purchase ad space if the money can be put to better use elsewhere. If you did your social media marketing properly then a lot of the time there is little to no need for ad space. There is no need to purchase ad space for smaller games such as arcade and mobile time fillers.
- Open to public testing
- Contact publishers, game reviewers, other game developers, and anyone who might be remotely interested
- Ask for quotes and recommendations
- Consider advertising for larger games
Contact everyone previously mentioned and tell them about the launch, even if they did not respond before. Let people know what might be on your radar for the future of the game. Remember to continue cultivating your community and telling people about your game. If the game flops over the first few months, don’t waste time trying to revive it, move on and learn from the experience. If the game is successful, try to keep a steady stream of bug fixes and small updates flowing.
- Contact everyone remotely associated with your game.
- Continue cultivating the community
- Don’t waste time reviving it if it flops
- Keep up with bug fixes and small updates
Extra: Contacting Publishers
First, make the email personalized. Don’t just come up with a generic email and send it to all the publishers you can. Try to find the name of either the CEO of the company or whoever is in charge of new content and publishing. Address the email to them personally they they will be much more likely to answer.
Keep the email short. They are busy people and will not read through a long story all about the game. A good rule of thumb is no longer than 500 words in length. Throw them an elevator pitch, a link to try the game, and a bulleted list of all the features they might be interested in. (ie. languages, supported devices, average game length, and what type of license it is available for) Include a link where they might find out more about the game and see what some of the players are saying.
Provide a price, but be sure that it is not the lowest you are willing to go. You might consider implying that they are getting a special deal on the game or something else enticing so they are more willing to take a look at the game.
- Keep it short and to the point
- Make the email personalized, send to a specific person if possible
- Provide a solid price
- Include an important features list (ie. languages, supported devices, average game length, and what type of license it is available for)
Be sure to share this post on social media to help out other devs like yourself. Tell us in the comments section some of your experiences with marketing your games!