I really shouldn’t be saying this, because I’m pratically helping my own game’s competitors to beat me, but I cannot help myself so here we go.
When I mention my zombie survival game, I don’t link to my site with a link that says “Dead Wake”. I link to my site saying “zombie survival game”. I do this here, on the forums and behind every other corner of the interne.
The second thing I do is that I ensure my game site’s TITLE tag to have keywords “zombie survival game” in it.
Now, how this affects:
- When I go to google and type words “zombie survival game” in the search box… I don’t see “Left 4 Dead” there. But I can see my own game there. My game is ranking the second at the time of doing this blog post (and hopefully stays that way).
- This of course means I get practically free search engine traffic to my site.
(Okay, there’s several other things that affect the rankings, but here’s 2 important parts of this for starters).
So… if you have a forum signature, and if you have a strategy game with sheeps… then you might want to consider using a signature that links to your game site using text “sheep strategy game” instead of “My Great Indie Company”.
I must add that there’s signs that the search engine traffic (for example Google) is replaced by social media site traffic (for example Twitter), but it’s worth doing the basics for search engines too.
This costs nothing and gets you visibility, so there’s really no point not to do this.
It won’t take long to see that it’s Xmas 2009 – only three months. In case you plan to do some some sort marketing gig by then, better start working on that now. (I won’t, but just wanted to bring up this gently reminder)
Make it possible for players to pay the game in parts (paying $5.99 for 3-4 times). People are used to paying $5.99, but think $20 is much for casual games. Therefore… let them pay $6 four times (total of $24 minus fees, which takes it close to $20ish profit) and they’ll do it.
Yes, there’s already credit cards that can handle “split payments”, but the psychology of “it’s only $6 per month” is a killer.
Trust me on this.
Or, just try it out for 30 or 60 days and see what happens.
Today is the “talk like a pirate day”. Tell Tale Games is giving Monkey Island for free today because of the special day.
Perfect viral marketing idea. Just check your Twitter or browse some forums and I’m sure somebody is telling about this special offer.
This is practically (almost) free publicity for Tell Tale Games – it’s a pirate game. It’s a pirate day. It’s a fun thing. Fun things go viral. Viral means traffic. Traffic means sales. Good job.
In the post few days ago I covered one reason why people won’t buy indie games. I wanted to show how most developers are 99% focused on developing game, and 1% focused on “how to sell it”.
I understand very well why portals take up to 70% (or more) of the profits. It’s pretty simple: they do all the really hard work. That’s quite a big statement – I know – but it takes much more effort to sell anything than it does to develop something.
I can prove it pretty easily.
First of all: I’m pretty sure there’s loads of guys who read this and strongly disagree with me. People who think that development is much harder than selling. These guys might think about this paragraph “you are so wrong here”.
And that proved my point: It’s hard to sell – even a new idea. Now, just imagine how much more work it is to get people give money as well.
Anyway, back to the point.
The reason why indies have hard time selling something is mainly because most people haven’t thought about this at all. Developers just think that they put the game out and people will buy it.
Their marketing efforts looks like this:
- Wait for people to find the game site.
Their marketing efforts could use some from this expanded list
They could add for example this sort of stuff in the list:
- Find a publisher/portal/distributor and let them handle sales (if you don’t want to do anything else than games, then go for this route). This might be pretty close the only thing you need (in case direct sales & marketing isn’t your thing).
- Test & tweak your website (you are currently losing sales, did you know that?)
- Track where the traffic comes from, apply tracking codes and promote more where things work (Google analytics – free tool – is a good friend of yours)
- Set up Twitter, Facebook (and possibly other accounts) and link these from your blog (takes practically no time and can automatically build your links)
- Set up a mailing list and start collecting leads (especially good for games that are under development such as mine)
- Start promotion early (my Dead Wake game has already got good amount of traffic, and I’ve done very little marketing)
- Use the indie game press distribution to get the news out.
- Learn to tell stories and build anticipation…
- Give cool videos (about the game and also about you, the developer)
- Get interviewed!
- Blogs are good.
- If you decide to build a community… keep it fresh and active and get some evangelists to spread the word (give your players tools to promote the game)
- Make your community members “own” the game (credits, special avatars or recognition)… then help them promote the game.
- Get familiar with community marketing campaign ideas
- The more often you release (whether it’s a screenshot, rumour, concept art, video, trailer, sounds… or anything) the more interest you’ll gain
- Set up cool contests – these draw traffic
- Apply some of the more than 100+ (and growing) marketing tips
There’s tons of things developers can do to market their games. My own plan has been pretty simple for Dead Wake:
- Announce news (or new stuff) frequently (with minimal effort, focus being in development – not in marketing)
- Get people’s emails (to grow my audience and make sure people who found the site will come back) and remind them about the game’s progress to build a list of buyers when the game is available for purchase.
I have done very little marketing work for Dead Wake for the reason that my first priority is to get the game out. Now it’s 95%+ development, 5% marketing/community. When the game is out, I expect that the ratio goes almost the opposite at least for this year. The good thing is that while I’ve done some promotion (PRs, sent emails, and that sort of stuff), I’ve actually got more interest than ever (the fact that it got featured in PC Gamer by they coming to me was one of the pretty nice highlights). People are eagerly waiting to see the new versions and want to know when it’s out.
And that’s just one guy doing a tiny bit of marketing.
Anyone planning to complete their game and get it to Independent Games Festival? (submit your game to 2010 IGF here)
Here’s some key IGF Dates for the 2010 event
- July 1st, 2009 (Submissions are Open)
- November 1st, 2009 (Submission Deadline, Main Competition)
- November 15th, 2009 (Submission Deadline, Student Competition)
- January 4th, 2010 (Finalists Announced, Main Competition)
- January 11th, 2010 (Finalists Announced, Student Competition)
- March 9th-13th, 2010 (Game Developer’s Conference 2010)
- March 9th-10th, 2010 (Indie Games Summit @ GDC)
- March 11-13th, 2010 (IGF Pavilion @ GDC)
- March 11th, 2010 (IGF Awards Ceremony (Winners Announced!))
Right now I’m on the “it depends” mode.
Those of you who have participated earlier, please share your thoughts on how was it. I have some friends who have got their games (and did pretty well too), and they are pretty much recommending this to people.
You going to participate? (Why? Why not?)
Mark from Glowing Eye Games kindly shared his Pure Sudoku sales statistics in the past and now he approached me and wanted to share an update for his stats.
Game Title: Pure Sudoku
Previous sales stats info: available here
Update by Mark:
“Pure Sudoku had its price changed from $9.99 to $5.99. Sale numbers increased significantly partly due to the price change and partly due to additional promotional efforts that brought in 50% more visitors to the website each month. Below I have made sure that my figures compensate for the additional visitors due to the promotional efforts.
Before the price change I was selling 20-25 copies of the game a month. So $200 to $250 in income before commissions being paid each month (but note I pay a European sales tax for copies of the game sold in Europe).
After the price change here are the numbers (income, before commission, but including sales taxes on European sales).
March = 45 copies = $302.06
April = 31 copies = $183.15
May = 38 copies = $225.80
June = 79 copies = $463.45
July = 64 copies = $380.06
Now if we take an average income of $225 before the price change we can see that my overall income for March to April was nearly unchanged (average of $237, a 5% increase). However even with a 50% increase in visitors for at the old price point which would have expected to get $337.50 for each month, it appears that my price change may have brought me an 11% increase in income for the June and July months.
What is great is that the game continues to sell and find fans, and even though the results aren’t a major increase it does make me happy to know that more people each month are enjoying the deluxe version. It’s likely I will keep the current price.”
Price change from $9.99 to $5.99 resulted in 11% increase in income for the June and July months.
Mark’s main development site is: Glowing Eye Games
His Solitaire Games website: Solitaire Paradise
Thanks Mark for sharing this story, and update. I find it really great for us all to get these type of stories where you experiment with the prices and see how things go. For Pure Sudoku this certainly worked.
In case you want to get informed when new sales stats become available, remember to subscribe to the spam-free-good-stuff-only game producer mailing list.
Update: Shite… I was being bloody blind today. I watched referring sites which counts only about 25% of the whole traffic. This means Twitter is number one referring site, but not traffic source. I guess I should open my eyes. Search engines (50%) and direct traffic (24%) still are good compared to referring sites (26%) traffic.
Most of the traffic that comes to GameProducer.net is coming through twitter. Some people have reported that they prefer Twitter over RSS (which is understandable). Nevertheless, this is pretty darn interesting – I couldn’t see this coming.
What’s your experiences with Twitter (in terms of traffic generating tool)?
(Just for the record: there’s now 393 guys following me at the time of writing.)
This is a brief tip on how to use Alexa to get hints on where you might get traffic. Alexa is a free system that compares (inaccurate) traffic amounts to several sites. While it’s inaccurate, it’s still usable.
For example, if I want to get some ideas on where I could try to hunt people who like Dead Wake game, I can type the following url in the browser and get a list:
On that page, it says:
Something Awful – The Internet Makes You Stupid
Goldeneye Source – A Half-Life 2 Modification
The community of Dark and Light
12FootTall – Your Gaming Portal!
These related links appear based on this: if many users go directly from site A to site B, the two sites are likely to be related. Basically, people who visit in Dead Wake site, also visit from these sites (More details on Alexa’s page)
From these, I can see that there’s several gaming sites to which I can approach and consider advertising, link exchanges, email list renting – or simply participating in their communities and promoting my game.
Any producer and developer can do this to improve sales. Simply send an email to your existing customers and you can get tons of information to improve sales. Many people are happy to help you out even if you don’t give them any incentive (like free expansion pack for those who answer).
Ask these questions from your customers:
1) How did you found out about the game? (The purpose of this question is to know where to advertise more. When I’ve asked this question, I’ve got pretty interesting clues on which places are important for gaining traffic. Helps you to know where to focus.)
2) Why did you buy the game? (This is perhaps the most important question to ask, and it can reveal you a loads of things that you never guessed. People don’t necessarily buy the game because you put tons of features in it. They might bought it because they thought it was fun and had cute creatures in it.)
3) How you would like to improve the game? (Only ask this if you actually plan to do something with the answers. If you want to know how to improve the game, the people who actually bought the product are a really good source for ideas.)
With just these 3 questions, you’ve done a better job than the 80% of other companies in this planet (who don’t ask these questions).