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Help with marketing my first game (Firewall)

06-29-2011, 12:08 PM
#1
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 77
Help with marketing my first game (Firewall)

Hey people,

I am now starting out with my first game. I've been reading here and there about marketing, funding etc - and have been trying to follow through what seemed reasonable for me.

I tried posting on this forum here, but received very few views (and now on page 3 so fewer views will come), and I tried making a funding campaign here, with little success.

BUT, I'm just starting! So I want to learn how I can do better. Anyone with ideas?

Thanks ahead!
Aviad.
06-29-2011, 07:06 PM
#2
Marketing is the most horrible work you have to do as a game designer. That's what I'm learning. I'm just starting out with it and it's very frustrating. If you're gonna do advertising I like Project Wonderful It's some weird collective of small to large sites and you can bid on your ads. I've ended up paying about 3 dollars in the last two days to have a total of 60 clicks on our sites. It's a small victory, but I think it's worth the minimal cost.

06-29-2011, 07:54 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
I'm starting to think they should rename this from "the developer forum" to the how do I market my game forum" - don't take that in a bad light, it has been very useful for this purpose, but it's clearly become the biggest issue that the majority of people who post in here want to talk about, and with good reason!

Anyway, basically you really need to do a lot of homework at this point. Posting around on forums like this is certainly a good start, but spend a few days (at least) throwing yourself into research, what does and does not work. If you intend to make money with your app, you need to consider marketing from the very early stage of the production, it is not something to be shoehorned in later. This affects all angles of development - the name of the app, what the icon will look like, are there characters, is the interface user-friendly enough, can the app be grokked within the first 15 seconds after initial launch, what genre is it competing with, what's it's tagline, is there IAP/light versions/update planning, do you have a a dedicated website/youtube/twitter/facebook/blog, how expendable is the entirety of the app, do you have any kinds of connections/relationships built up with media/editors/other devs, what kind of viral campaign might you be interested in, how much experience have you got writing copy/press releases and submitting them to the appropriate sources, what's your 6month/1year plan following the completion and release of the app so far as other productions, will they be ported to other platforms and what are their cultures like (<-- run-on sentance for effect)

Anyway you get the point. It takes a long time to get your head around much of this, and by the time you do start getting somewhat savvy it's possible that 6 months to a year have passed and many of the rules/environment may have already changed.

This is always debatable, but in my opinion your best bet as a new developer is to plan a smaller project first and get your feet with the entirety of the process, especially if you have never done independent development before (and particularly in so aggressive/trendy a market such as the App Store). It will be painful and sloppy, and you might not earn any $$ off of your initial foray, but the experience you get will be invaluable towards planning your next move and building bigger projects, with a more appropriate recipe for what can be successful.

Good luck!
06-29-2011, 08:11 PM
#4
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: ΖΞN
Posts: 304
Very wise words from headcaseGames there. The last paragraph should be written in stone!

The hardest part is putting down your creative developer side and taking on marketing/promotion full-time. It's sure worth it for the experience (as mentioned), and one which I plan to pass on to my daughter who I will happily pay for the service! Alternatively, find a good publisher who loves what you are doing.

BubbleSand - "the best sand app"
Tetroms
06-29-2011, 09:03 PM
#5
I started making comics on our site. I don't expect it to generate us many fans for a long time, but I think it's an innovative way to spread the word. At the very least, it's a lot more fun than writing press releases.
06-29-2011, 09:27 PM
#6
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
comics aren't bad. I've spent a lot of time merely putting up (useful) content on my blog to try and get visibility. It did help, but I'll never know if it's ever actually done much to help me short of engendering a little good will here and there.

Another point I rather glazed over in my rant is partnering with a publisher or PR firm. Definitely useful things to consider, of course there are pros and cons in any relationship. Much of the allure of "doing it yourself" in software development does carry over to marketing and selling it, and from there being able to keep all the proceeds yourself/build up an IP or brand, etc. Working with a publisher may potentially compromise this in several cases, and if you aren't really slick to know the ins and outs of things then you may end up being taken advantage of or wasting your work. As for working with PR firms, if that's the route you go you should be prepared to spend significant money if you expect it to yield any interesting results, and you definitely want to do a lot of research before merely throwing your hard work at some random company and hoping they'll put your best interests in priority.

At the end of the day, even if you are going to work with partners you still must consider marketing in the early stages of a project no matter what, unless your intent is not necessarily to actually sell a product.
06-29-2011, 10:24 PM
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
"but in my opinion your best bet as a new developer is to plan a smaller project first and get your feet with the entirety of the process, especially if you have never done independent development before (and particularly in so aggressive/trendy a market such as the App Store). It will be painful and sloppy, and you might not earn any $$ off of your initial foray, but the experience you get will be invaluable towards planning your next move and building bigger projects, with a more appropriate recipe for what can be successful."

Good luck!
I think this is the best advice a young developer can receive. I remember hearing this when I started my first game and thinking "no way! My first game has to be epic!" and here I am in month 18 of making my first game and wishing I had started out smaller. Spending that long a time on one project when you haven't even tasted any success from it is very difficult.

I also think starting small pays off financially in the long run. Live and learn.
06-29-2011, 11:27 PM
#8
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by headcaseGames View Post
This is always debatable, but in my opinion your best bet as a new developer is to plan a smaller project first and get your feet with the entirety of the process, especially if you have never done independent development before (and particularly in so aggressive/trendy a market such as the App Store). It will be painful and sloppy, and you might not earn any $$ off of your initial foray, but the experience you get will be invaluable towards planning your next move and building bigger projects, with a more appropriate recipe for what can be successful.
This is a great tip, and in fact I'm working according to it. Firewall is my first game, and the simplest of the bunch I have in my evil mind. I decided to go with it even though it's not a classic for the iOS market (board games aren't prominent there), for exactly this reason.

Regarding your other points from the main rant, I did consider many of the points you raised. Some of them I'm not doing the best that can be done on purpose, some are not done well because I don't know how to do it well. Because of that, I have a few questions:
  • What do you mean by "being grokked within the first 15 seconds"? Probably just a word I'm not familiar with.. Looking it up a bit, I think you might mean "figure it out"?
  • I dont have any connections with media, and I don't know enough sites. I have experience in writing copy and press releases, but I wouldn't know where to submit them to. Do you have any suggestions?
  • I do intend on porting it to other platforms, including the infamous "real life" one, as this is truly a board game originally. Do you know of anyone who did this? Some experience someone else have in doing this?

Finally, thanks for your long and thorough comment! I do think that when it comes to indie development, marketing is often overlooked until the last minute and forums like this are, whether they intended to initially or not, the best media for such developers to share these experiences and knowledge... Most of the time it's easier for us developers to write that extra business logic or add that polished UI but we wouldn't know how to get the required attention for that product. So thanks!
06-30-2011, 12:14 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by aviadbd View Post
Most of the time it's easier for us developers to write that extra business logic or add that polished UI but we wouldn't know how to get the required attention for that product. So thanks!
Great to hear you are considering improving the UI on the Firewall! I think it will greatly prevent your game from being "grokked" as HeadCase says.

"Grokked" means screwed. As in you can get screwed in the first 15 seconds if your game isn't pretty enough unfortunately.

You did a good thing coming here and asking, there's a lot of very experienced people here and you can find some great advice by digging around in the hundreds of other 'how to market game' posts.

Media connections aren't really necessary. It's all about building relationships, you can start by emailing blogs and review sites, get involved in the board game community and iOS community, and build your connections there. That will translate into media exposure when the time comes.

I see you attempted a fund raising campaign. What exactly did you do to promote you indiegogo campaign? We are coming to a close on running our own kickstarter campaign that was successful, and we learned a TON in doing it.

As far as porting the game to the real world, I totally agree! This is exactly what we are doing for RoboArena as well, and we have already designed the board game and are play testing it now and talking with printers.

Welcome to the forums by the way.
06-30-2011, 12:16 AM
#10
by the way, here's their preview video for anybody too lazy to click on the links.