Every established studio has its own secret recipe when it comes to marketing its games. Devolver Digital’s strategy is a prime example of not needing to play by the rules to be successful. But as the saying goes: it takes years to be an overnight success. And before Devolver Digital became known for its irreverent approach to publishing games, its founders gathered decades of experience elsewhere.
It’s always a good idea to think outside the box, but if you’re new to the industry, there are essentials tools and practices that you should be putting to use to get a good head start.
In a Develop:Brighton Digital 2020 talk, James Binns, CEO of advertising and games media business Network N, provided an in-depth breakdown of the tools indie developers need and when to deploy them, and why marketing should be planned even before a single line of code is written.
Things you should do before starting development
The first thing any developer needs to do is commit to learning about marketing and how to sell games. If you’re reading this article, it’s already a good start. When developing a game, it can be easy to get lost in the technical and creative aspects, but if you’re hoping to make a career out of it, you need to be interested in the other facets too.
“You have to commit to actually understanding distribution and marketing to sell more indie games”
“You should really be seeking out knowledge around games promotion and marketing,” Binns said. “It is more complex that people give it credit for. There’s a lot of great resources. I’d recommend Simon Carless‘ game discoverability [newsletter], on Substack. There’s also GameAnalytics that does create content, and you can always follow clowns like me on LinkedIn because we’re happy to share insights all the time. You have to really commit to actually understanding distribution and marketing to sell more indie games.”
You can also have a look at the resources in the GamesIndustry.biz Academy, where you’ll find an entire section dedicated to making money from video games.
- Research the market, trends and demand
This is a topic Mike Bithell touched upon last month during our GI Live: Academy event: you should carefully research the games market before making any decision on what to work on. There are several facets to that research, the first one being to look into recent successes in the industry.
“You really should be looking at what works and why,” Binns said. “You may have lots of thoughts about what you want to make, but understanding the existing trends will get you a long way quicker.”
He took the example of three games that blew up this summer: Kinetic Games’ Phasmaphobia, Mediatonic’s Fall Guys and Innersloth’s Among Us. He suggested every developer should take the time to try and understand why these games became so popular.
“These three games, they’re multiplayer, they…
Read More: The ultimate guide to selling your indie game