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The Hellish World Of Self Promotion

12-08-2011, 06:47 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 22
The Hellish World Of Self Promotion

We've just launched our first game for iOS devices, Dog Park: Top Dog (shameless plug), and while we'd like nothing more than to sit back on our haunches (hilarious pun!) and take a breather for a bit it seems like we've just climbed the mountain of development only to encounter the enormous chain of a mountain range that is marketing your app.

Like a great deal of small indie game developers out there, we were heavy on tech experience but not so much in the marketing department. In some ways, I'll confess that my few experiences with marketing companies has often left a bad taste in my mouth: the marketing reps seem to lack knowledge about what they're selling, there's a feeling that they don't care about the product, or worse they seem to think little of the end user. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, and I'm in the position of trying to get the word out about our great, new, amazing, best ever, innovative, ridiculous hyperbolic adjective game, I'm realizing what an uphill battle it really is. "Duh!", I'm sure you're thinking - but it's still a "Duh" that you can only really realize when you're finally in the muck of trying to sell on the app store.

It's not enough to craft a new idea into a solid and appealing product, getting it in front of the people who would appreciate it is the real battle. The App Store is full of so many wonderful games that artists and developers have poured a lot of their time, effort, and themselves into - unfortunately it's competing against those games with bigger ad budgets and best connections in the industry. That's not to say a small game can't make it - look at Little Wing as a recent example - and it happens enough that small developers all over the world still keep rolling the dice to try and get into this market. It's just that the odds seem very slim indeed these days to get your game noticed.

So, what do we do as small developers? Do we turn into auto-bots, spamming everyone on twitter and email and hope that eventually something sticks? That doesn't seem very appealing to me and I doubt it does to most of you here, either.

I understand that there's no magic bullet - nothing is easy, things take time, patience is a virtue and all that. I just wanted to reach out to everyone here to hear what their thoughts were and whether they had any tips for a small company (there are three of us here, four if you count Ziggy the Dog) who are feeling a bit emotionally spent these past few days.

Thanks everyone!
12-09-2011, 12:54 AM
Hey Mustafa,

Congrats on releasing your first app! A common theme amongst app developers, as you've discovered yourself, is the importance of marketing your app, and the realization that the work goes beyond just the development of an app. If you look through these and other forums, as well as other websites, you'll see a number of posts about what might be the best practice for creating a "successful app".

You have the right idea - it's just a matter of patience, continuously doing outreach to the press, community, your users, etc. Keep building apps - if one of them succeeds, you can promote your other apps to those users. There's a ton more advice around the net.

It seems like you should take advantage of your fourth team member in promoting your game

Gold Miner Go! - The Official Gold Miner game comes to the App Store for the very first time!

Developers of Engaging Portable Games, a part of Grab Games

12-09-2011, 12:57 AM
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Near San Fran
Posts: 61
Good luck! I'm finding this out myself. My dog too.
12-09-2011, 11:26 AM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 22
Thanks guys -

Yah, I've been doing my best putting the word out and sharing as much as I can without feeling like I've wandered across the line of self-respect (heh).

Do you guys know of any sort of indie game bundle we can try to participate in here on toucharcade? I would guess something like that already exists, but if not I'd be interested in trying to get something together with other people.

Ziggy says hello.
12-09-2011, 11:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: ΖΞN
Posts: 304
Yes good luck!

I too expected more on my first release, it doesn't happen without exposure. Since then I demoted back to hobbyist and now it's fun again! The amount of energy required in marketing a game is fulltime and completely unrewarding (for most developers).

Like they say "it's not what you know, it's who you know".

edit: Hey Ziggy...you posted at the same time as me...woof!
12-09-2011, 11:44 AM
That's one beautiful dog ya have there... I don't know why but the dog seems to have this 'Don't worry, I understand...' expression... it really calms one's mind.

Anyway, is guess I could relate to how you feel (we're a 3 man production team too)... always thought that having a well polished app released, and the marketing will happen by itself... I guess I was wrong.

All the best to your app, may it be a success!

Do you love pigeon droppings? Yes / No
Do you enjoy retro carnival coin games? Yes / No
Do you have fast fingers? Yes / No
12-09-2011, 12:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 22
Hah thanks again everyone. It's a tough slog but at the end of the day, we're making games, so you're right that we should focus more on enjoying it than worrying so much.

Sorry to ask again, but does anyone know if the other devs here at touch arcade forums have tried to get an "indie game bundle" thing going? I'd love to coordinate with everyone to spread the word.

12-09-2011, 01:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
there have been indie bundles but its pretty pointless due to the nature of the appstore where free and 99 sales are a daily commodity.. the last one i recall was a bundle of several (low quality) games into a single app (similar to the stuff triniti does)

the point is where is the benefit for the user.. on pc i can understand the attraction of humble & co.. since the prices are a tiny fraction of the games costs.. but on iOS the prices are already more than low..

so one would need to bundle quite a strong collection together from "high" (lol) priced iOS games.. like 20-30$ value to get some attention.. if this is even possible on the market with customers awareness of continuously sales from pretty much everybody..
12-09-2011, 02:06 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 1
Indie Game Bundle

I think bundling games together is a great idea. It's interesting that while mobile devices and the AppStore have created new, previously unavailable opportunities for small teams to develop and self-publish our games, marketing them remains so difficult. In order for indie developers to compete with well-connected megapublishers I would say that working together to promote, bundle and sell games is a must. Of course quality is the most important thing, but so far your game Dog Park is getting great reviews so I'd say you've nailed that part.

Question: What do you think the most effective way to bundle a few games together would be? An app which includes all of them together for one price or another 'free app a day' thing which changes over time?
12-09-2011, 02:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 22
Yah that's what I was wondering about - also, if you reduce your price to free on the app store then won't you naturally see a bump even without participating in an app bundle?

Really, just partnering up and organizing with other fellow developers seems worthwhile; if we can create our own network then we should be able to work together to support each other's games a bit, no? Perfect world?