Indie game marketing: How to stand out as an indie developer

Major publishers and corporations don’t have many marketing problems, but every move counts for indie developers. So what should indie developers pay attention to in marketing?
Indie Marketing
What should independent developers pay attention to when it comes to marketing?

Video game development is a very costly process for indie game developers. From the development tools to the marketing cost of the game, the costs can easily exceed tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are overwhelming for many indie developers. That’s why many young studios turn to crowdfund tools like Kickstarter to raise funds.

In the last decade, the popularity of indie games has grown considerably. Indie games that emerged in the past were the precursors of today’s games we know and love. Indie games are often handcrafted by a small team and run on minimal budgets. Some indie games are under the control of a single developer. In this situation, there is nothing in the name of the budget. In other words, we can say that the most crucial factor that separates these productions from AAA games is the size of the developer team and the budgets.

What should a small but diligent game developer who is trying to survive the market pay attention to when they’re spreading the word about their game? To excel and be successful among other companies, you will need a solid video game marketing strategy.

Avoid using every strategy in the book

One of the biggest misconceptions in this industry is to think that using as many marketing strategies as possible will work. Using every marketing strategy you can find will confuse you. While most people believe that marketing strategies have changed recently, you need to distinguish what is suitable for you and what works.

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It is very important for small teams to manage human resources correctly.

Some elements are extra important when it comes to marketing. The most important of these is your budget. You don’t need to have a large budget to run a strong marketing plan, but it’s important to have a good budget. Another key element you’ll miss as an indie developer is a large or talented marketing team. That’s the challenge of being indie.

For the reasons above, it will be much more productive for your game if your marketing team adopts a few primary strategies instead of focusing on too many strategies simultaneously.

Analyze your competitors thoroughly

While doing a business, you should not neglect your competitors. Your job may be overwhelming, but knowing what your competitors are doing is essential. Knowing what’s happening in the game industry will take you one step further.

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Pay attention to which paths your competitors are taking

The target audiences of your competitors will be similar to yours directly or indirectly. To stay on top of the competition, you must be at the top of the search results. A good competitor analysis means being aware of what the competitor is doing, which keywords it stands out, which titles it uses, and what kind of breakthroughs it has made. Understanding the patterns and strategies employed by your opponent will help you find the best strategy for your game.

A typical false notion is that “marketing is the easy part”, it’s not

According to the data we have (SteamSpy and Steam Charts), about a third of the games on Steam are almost never played, and some are not played. Thinking that marketing is easy in this kind of scenario is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Nobody wants a game they’ve worked so hard for to fail because of poor marketing.

The essence of developing a game is to let your players see and experience your game. That’s exactly what marketing does. It makes your game stand out and gets players noticed.

For your efforts to pay off and your game to be successful, you need a thoughtful marketing plan. For this, you should work with leading experts in the field of marketing. Working with experts makes your job easier and helps you focus on other tasks. On the way to success, the leader needs to have the ability to bring in the best minds to achieve the company’s vision.

Reaching the right people

Choosing the right manager is not an easy task. It would help if you had someone with marketing experience, able to handle projects, strong organizational skills, excellent communication, and focus on results. They need to know about the game industry. If you don’t know a game-specific hiring platform, we have an idea for you: Mobidictum Jobs.

Mobidictum Jobs Marketing
You can create job postings specific to the game industry through the Mobidictum Jobs platform!

We bring job seekers and employers in the game industry together on our Jobs page, jobs.mobidictum.biz. We can deliver the job posts we include in our weekly email newsletters to tens of thousands of people through many channels. Being clear in the job posting you publish will carry you further in reaching the talents you are aiming for.

How to find an investor for your indie game

You’ll be lost in a sea of unplayable games if you don’t have the money to make your game and marketing strategies great.

We encourage you to connect with investors worldwide and get the funding you need to make your game great. The steps below will make it easier for you to find an investor for your game.

Start the process early

Keep in mind that finding the right investors and securing an investment deal will take a lot of time. On average, a deal takes two to three months to finalize (it can take longer for large companies like Microsoft, of course). It may take a year or longer in some cases, depending on the deal amount. In any case, you have to consider the time issue when looking for an investor. Doing this early will make it easier for you to search for another investor when your finances run out.

Separate investor types

There are different types of investors you can reach for financing. It would help if you had an excellent understanding of the types of investors to ensure you are collaborating correctly.

While expert investors focus only on the game industry, regular investors without industry focus on many different industries. If we take the expert investor, we can say they use their funds to invest in video games. For example, Galaxy Interactive, UK Games Fund, and BITKRAFT Ventures are in the expert category of game investors.

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Decide which type of investor will be most beneficial to you

Before working with an expert investor, the first thing to remember is that such investors have a deep knowledge of the video game market. So they will not need a detailed explanation about the games and will quickly understand whether a game is worth investing in. When they look at your business metrics, they can easily understand how much finance you need. So they can analyze whether the price you want is more or less. Therefore, the probability of not getting the fee you wish is low in this type of investor.

On the other hand, regular investors invest in many sectors simultaneously. They do not dig deep into the industry and are less involved in the business process. Unlike expert investors, these are focused on the final result. They have little expertise in in-game pricing and rely on you to set the correct numbers. Since their only concern is to make a profit, they will want the funds they raise to be used properly.

Prepare your project presentation and documents

Once you have shortlisted potential investors for your game, it’s time to prepare your presentation documents to persuade them to support your project. First impressions are essential, so you must create a live presentation that paints your video game as a project worth investing in.

Project presentation

A good presentation should answer all the questions in the investor’s mind and even raise new questions by attracting their attention. You need to gather as much essential information as possible in your presentation to get investors to call you back.

Make sure to make the presentation visually appealing to encourage traders to review it to the end. Don’t forget to include basic details such as game type, environment, target audience, and supported platforms in the presentation. It may sound funny, but young developers may ignore such fundamental information, thinking that the investor will automatically perceive it.

Introduce your team and company

Investors want to know the people behind the project before investing their funds. You can present this information through a portfolio of companies highlighting team roles and published projects.

This information will make investors respect the professionalism of your team. It will also help them convince you that you have a qualified team to develop the project within the specified time successfully.

A roadmap with milestones

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You should set your milestones before you hit the road

A project file you will prepare should also include essential milestones. This document will help you prove to investors that you can plan your time and allocate resources to achieve desired results in a given time frame. To make your plan look realistic and achievable, you should report the milestones you’ve achieved.

Meeting with investors

When you have finished your project presentation, you expect your potential customers to analyze and respond to all this. Don’t be disappointed if it takes a long time to get a response. Investors will consult many places to measure and ensure the correctness of their decision.

If an investor is interested in your game and wants to meet with you, you must be prepared for the interview. Try to set up a face-to-face meeting to discuss the game and how investor funding will take the game to the next level. The investor will ask you some questions to determine if your project suits them. Keep calm and answer their questions honestly to gain their trust.

Don’t be afraid to be candid, as this may be your first official interaction with an investor. Stay focused during the meeting and do not miss any facts that may be important to the investor.

Conclusion

Marketing is a long topic that needs to be addressed in many aspects (you can find more information in our article titled Introduction to Video Game Marketing). While it is a situation that even large companies and publishers should pay attention to, this issue becomes even more critical regarding indie developers. An irrational move with limited budgets and human resources will take you one step back. If you focus your time and budget on a good marketing strategy, there’s no reason you can’t get good results.

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