Read This If You Are Not Sure on How to Promote Your Game

Every now and then I get an email something like here:

My question is, I dont know how to go about promoting this game or even how to let other sites and people know the game exists! We spent a year on making it and feel its top quality and want other gamers to be able to experience its fun.

If I enroll to insiders are there any schemes setup that will help me promote my product and make the internet game sites aware it exists?

Thanks for any tips or suggestions you might have.

My typical answer is something like this.

Check out marketing tips
The practical marketing category contains some tips that can help you to get coverage for your game. Some of the articles are written months ago, yet have practical information today.

Take a look at some sales tips
There’s plenty of articles about getting sales, so going through them might be worth your time. Just skimming the category headlines might give you an idea or two on how to increase your sales – so it just might be something that you need.

Set up a newsletter
It’s amazing how many developers don’t have a newsletter on their site, so that’s something to consider when you want to start promoting your game. The newsletter is a handy way to get people back to your website.

What comes to the Insider membership: that’s a twofold issue.

Does Insider membership help you to learn on how to promote your game? Yes, if you are willing to take some time to go through the material. I’ve tried to write everything in short way by giving the essentials (I don’t want to waste my time by writing more than would be necessary, and I don’t want you to waste your time by reading anything more than the essential information).

At the time of writing, the Insider have access to special resources that contain dozens of tips on what I’ve done to get tens of thousands of people to visit my websites. The press release distribution tool gives the chance to get in touch with the press.

I must point out that Insider membership alone won’t help you. You actually need to provide newsworthy items for the press. If you have a good story to tell, then promoting your game is easy.

There’s several benefits that comes with the Insiders membership, so go and take a look at it.

If you are not sure if the membership is for you, then please feel free to ask me.

Press Releases Can Get You Into Gaming Magazines

When I first heard about press releases (that was ages ago), I wondered why one should bother sending any?

Well, today I got reminded by one of our game players why they are important. Thanks to GameRelease.net Our Dead Wake zombie game made it to the PC Gamer US “zombie issue”.

Here’s a youtube video this guy made:
(The quality of the video is bit rough, but you can see the text and bit of a picture. I’m still waiting to get my own copy somehow to store in my shelf. And no – I didn’t ask him to do this.)

I suppose this guy is living in some very cold country…

Every Game Purchase Is Based On Emotions

There’s lots (and I mean LOTS) of discussion about the impact of game price for sales. Some people are certain that if only games would cost 50% less, they would double the sales.

At some instances that might be true, but there’s just one tiny problem with this thinking: irrational thinking takes place when people buy games (or pretty much anything for that matter).

I know that’s a “slight” exaggeration, but if we start thinking about the fact how purchasing decision for games are made, we can quite clearly see that there’s no much sense.

In this article I try to bring out the idea, that even though you and I both could agree that we are pretty rational thinkers, that has little meaning in the end. We’ve just become pretty darn good at convincing us that we make rational decisions.

Let’s look at what takes place in the buying process, and if buying games makes any sense at all. With this article, I try to shed light on what we could know more about buyers, so that we can get more gamers to want to buy stuff from us. That’s pretty selfish reason – I admit – but everybody who wants to create game business out of his game passion needs to think about tricking gamers to buy from you getting people to support your game by making the purchase.

I’m not joking here (all the time). This is pretty good stuff, read on.

Here’s some questions one could ask before he thinks of buying a video game.

Could the money be used in better purposes?
Think about the last video game you purchased. Did you buy the game because it was cheap?

Did you think about the fact that the money could be spent in better way? (Or the fact that staring the bright lights on monitor and playing games can harm your eyes and isn’t exactly the best way to get fresh air).

In fact, there’s lots of reasons why somebody could be thinking NOT purchase ANY games. Here’s what some people (not me) are reasoning:

  • Games make you aggressive
  • Games are bad for your eyes
  • Games make you fat
  • Games are expensive
  • Games suck (you just gotta wonder why the heck these people keep PLAYING those games if games suck so much!)
  • Games are too short
  • Microsoft is evil
  • EA is evil
  • In fact, all game companies must be evil

And the list goes on from thinking about the fact that instead of buying a game you could donate to charity and save some child’s life.

Nevertheless, if we look at the list, we can see that there’s some truth in it. For example the violence aspect, it is true to some extent (check out my blog post: Violence in games makes us murderers).

Getting fat (or not losing it) can be true to some people. It might be a better option to be outdoors instead of playing games all day long. (If you don’t believe me, check the World of Warcraft episode on South Park series)

If you look at some big companies, then you might have seen them do some things people could consider evil (like firing lots of people). But that doesn’t make game companies evil in an absolute sense, but there can be truth behind those statements.

Reasons to buy games
On the other hand, there’s lots of reasons to buy video games:

  • They are fun
  • They are cheap (yes – some people say they are cheap)
  • Indie game companies need to be supported
  • Games can last for long (just compare with watching 2 hours long movie)
  • Games are challenging
  • Games keep kids out of streets from shooting other people (thus – they reduce violence)
  • You can learn languages
  • They keep your child busy so you don’t need to spend time parenting
  • And so on.

There’s lots of reasons to buy games. It makes sense you could say.

Is it rational?
Here’s the key point. None of those reasons are based solely on objective facts. While there’s some scientific evidence on them (and yes – some games are too long), that still doesn’t make a rational reason to buy games. Even if you have fun while playing games, it doesn’t mean it’s a rational decision to buy games.

In fact – if it’s about “having fun”, what more is that than something based on emotions? You feel the fun (you don’t “know that game is fun”, you feel it) and it’s those feelings and emotions that really makes us buy.

I mean, rationally thinking, wouldn’t it make more sense to save some child’s life by giving money to charity than purchase the latest video game?

We feel differently and hardly even think this type of comparison when we purchase games.

Yes, we purchase games because they are fun (and for some other reasons). While it’s true that price affects our decisions, ultimately it’s our feelings and emotions that really tell us what to buy.

And then some examples
I purchased Half-life 2 multiplayer game some months ago via Valve’s Steam. The reason I purchased it was so that I could test a zombie game mod. While there might have been some rational reasons (I keep saying “market research” to my wife), the purchase timing was completely irrational (I just bought the game as soon as I heard about the mod, without much thinking). And, I think there could have been other games to check out. Nevertheless, I made the purchase – and it wasn’t based on rational reasons. In the end I “felt like I really need to buy that game” (and the “so that I can test it” came after to rationalize the buying process).

Let’s take another example. Couple of years ago I bought Battle For Middle Earth strategy game. Rationally it made no sense (it was such a time eater that I suppose it theoretically cost me thousands of dollars to play that game – if I think about the time spent on playing). I bought the game because I wanted to play it, and the LOTR brand has such a positive image in my head (just read my past blog post about why people buy games) that I simply had to get the game.

Do you really think price was a factor? I could rationalize by saying it had… but that would be lying. In the end: it was the irrational feelings that got me in the buying mood.

What were you thinking when you made your latest game purchase?
Okay, it might happen that I just admit the fact that I buy games (and pretty much everything) based on emotions. Logically it doesn’t make sense, I admit that my logic is telling me “that’s not true”, but what the brain logically fails to see, doesn’t make it untrue. In my case: I admit that I buy stuff based on emotions no matter how much my brains try to persuade me and say I buy based on rational thinking. There might be some shreds of logic when I purchase something, but ultimately it’s the feelings that are in control.

Now, let’s get to you.

What do you think?

Has anything I’ve written here resonate in any level. Even though you are probably an intelligent individual, have you really put your logic under a serious scientific experiment? Have you really explored every tiny bit of feeling that you’ve had after making a purchase.

Think about the last time you purchased a game.

Was it a rational purchase? Was it because “price was so good”? Or was it because you assumed it is a good game? Could you have waited 30 days before making the purchase – or did you just had to get the game? Weren’t the old games enough fun to keep you playing them?

What were your reasons for doing the purchase? If you look carefully, do you think you really based the purchase on rational thinking, or could it been that you purchased the game for some hidden reason – and then justified it with logic?

Tell us.

The Good Thing About Asking Feedback

The good thing in asking feedback is that it is a very efficient way to find out something you might haven’t realized.

Some time ago I asked feedback regarding game producer blog and got several answers.

I was really surprised to see so many people saying that lack of comments in the blog is not a good thing – and the forum commenting system should be more straightforward. People told me that they weren’t interested in registering to a new forum to be able to comment.

I agree that the system needs some improvement (in an ideal situation people could read forum comments also in the blog, and perhaps make anonymous comments). The bad thing about anonymous comments is spam, so some kind of brief registration would probably need to be done anyway.

I’m listening to the feedback (and if you have some ideas regarding improvements, feel free to mention them at the producer forums or contact me directly) and thinking how to improve the system. I have several ideas on what could be done (such as different updating database, using forums as the writing platform and so on).

Back to the key point of this entry. The best thing about feedback is that it can really tell you what people are thinking – and can show you that they are thinking something different from what you thought.

Thank you for the comments so far.

Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do With Your Newsletter

I’m getting newsletters from one service (a name that I won’t mention). There’s some “tiny” problems with this service that makes me wonder what on earth were these guys thinking.

Problem #1: I didn’t opt for the newsletter
I didn’t ask to receive this email… yet some wise marketers seemingly took my email address and started sending me newsletters. One after another. They are game related news for hardcore gamers – but I’m spending more time making than playing game. I’m simply not their audience – nor have interest to publish their news that are only for hardcore gamers.

Problem #2: I’m getting the newsletter twice
Not only I’ve got one newsletter… but I’m getting duplicate letters since I seem to be on their list on two separate email accounts. They sure wanted to make sure I get their emails.

Problem #3: They have “unsubscribe” link
I tried to click the unsubscribe link they have in the bottom of each newsletter, just to notice the freaking link was not working. I couldn’t unsubscribe from my second address because “page was not found”. I tried clicking the unsubscribe link from the other email I got, and this time the link moved me to a web page that was online. Too bad on the page it said “your email address is NOT unsubscribed”.

“Is not unsubscribed”?

Whadda heck are these guys thinking?

Remember Your “But Now” Button

Here’s a tip for anybody: proofread stuff on your website – especially when you are selling something. I know my blog is filled with grammar errors, spelling errors and other errors, and to be honest: that’s not such a big deal. Most of the people seem to forgive me and get what I’m writing about (and I do my best to improve my writing). And rest of the people probably don’t care anyway.

When it comes to a website that is selling something the rules change. The more grammar mistakes you have, the less professional your site will look like. I know some major gaming companies (won’t mention names though) have sites filled with grammar errors.

It’s strange. If you look at a site that has seemingly great product – let’s say a gaming engine. And when you go through the features you spot couple of grammar errors. The same moment you start to feel if the payment provider is reliable… or if there’s some problems with the engine. You might think: if they don’t have time to correct some obvious grammar errors – will they have time to make proper engines?

One guy at the new game producer forums had a different problem. His “buy now” button was accidentally showing “But now” text for months. Read the funny story by clicking here – that sure gave some headache for customers to find out how they can buy stuff.

Better make sure you proofread your website – especially for key links and buttons.

Halo 3 Sold $170 Million On The First Day: Tip For Product Pricing

Halo 3 sold $170 million on the first day according to Microsoft. I was bit skeptical about the Halo 3 sales estimations some days ago, since Halo 2 sold $125 million on the first day.

What’s interesting to see here, that the price of Halo 3 is almost $100 in Finland (that’s 60-70 euros) – for one game. Indies are thinking if they should sell their games for less than $20. I wonder why aren’t we (self-publishers) selling games for at least $40.

Maybe our game will get a higher price tag when the game is done…

Halo 3 Leaked Before Launch – Was It On Purpose?

Halo 3 has leaked and before proceeding I must point out that.

Halo 3 leak has been discussed on several sites. Gameindustry.biz reports that the game can be illegally downloaded from the net and can be played on modified Xbox 360s. Theinquirer had another story (from April) about the leak that contains a video about the gameplay (I’ve embedded the video on this post).

Was the leak done on purpose?
I doubt that Microsoft would help getting pirate version, or gameplay video about – but a paranoid in me still asks if this was done on purpose. Simply watching the stats of the video: 2,855,425 views. Almost 3 million people have watched the video (which shows beta play) at the time of writing – and that’s pretty darn good free publicity.

How much would it cost to get thousands and thousands of websites and magazines to write about the gameplay video? I bet it would cost a lot… unless it was “leaked” – which makes a great story in itself.

I doubt that the illegal pirate version of the game was leaked on purpose (actually I’m not even 100% sure that there is a leaked version. Who knows – perhaps this was just another marketing trick), but who knows.

Whatever is the truth, one thing is for sure: Halo 3 launch happens on next Tuesday and at the moment pretty much every game magazine are writing about it. Thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of websites are writing about Halo… for free.

Here’s the April video showing gameplay from a beta version of Halo 3.

Creating buzz by leaking (or “leaking”) stuff sure seems to work.

Update: Messed up with some dates – the gameplay video is actually several months old.

3 Principles That Helped Me To Get 206,670 Unique Visitors to My Website Fast

There are three important principles I’ve practiced to get traffic to my website. This article covers how these principled helped me to get 206,670 visitors to see what I have to offer. The article headline actually contains all these principles – in an erroneous manner.

If you wish to see the traffic pictures, feel free to click the below image:

Principle #1 – Forget get
The title of this article is actually quite misleading. In reality, this article is not about “getting” anything. The guys who just focus on “getting” something for them are probably the ones who won’t probably ever get what want. It’s not about what you can get – but what you can give.

Principle #2 – It’s not about “me” or “my website”
The article headline has also another misleading element in it. While I own and operate this site, it’s wrong for me to say “what I did to get these visitors”. In reality it’s not because I did something fantastic, it’s because the visitors chose to come here. It’s not in my control to decide who comes here thus it would be wrong to say that “I made it happen”. It’s wrong to think that site owner “made people come”, when in reality the final judgement is done by the visitor. You and only you made the decision to come here. I could praise here all night long saying how great unique content I have – but it’s up to you to visit this site. Anyone wishing to see visitors needs to realize who really is in charge: the visitors.

Principle #3 – It’s not about getting traffic fast
The article says “fast”, but that’s a relative term. When your perspective is 10 years, seeing 200 000 visitors in a couple of years is quite fast. The key is not to think about ways to get traffic super fast or in months. There might be peaks of traffic (as you can see also from that attached image) but those come and go. I believe more important is to keep going, and take a long-term goal. It’s easy to spend 6 months on some project and get frustrated as “others are getting more traffic”. What I suggest is to take a 6 year or 16 year goal. How would your site look after 6 or 16 years if you kept going and promoting it?

It’s not about “you” or “getting traffic” or “fast”. It’s about them, giving value and being patient.

Spammers Sure Have Something to Learn About Marketing

Here’s a spam I just received:

T’h,i*s g e_m is rea.lly m ovable!+!
T,h’i,s o,n+e is reall.y profit-‘able!!!
H,a_v.e y-o+u b*e’e-n wa*tchi ng t’h.i-s f*o+r t’h,e l+a-s t w+e,e’k ?
T a.k’e a l-o*o+k at it:
r_ecent n’e.w s relea-se*s s+e n.t ge*nerat’ing gro*wing inte._rest in C,Y-T,V
two lines removed
Curren’t P rice: $+.,4+9
4 t’h Straig-h_t d’a.y s we h_a,v.e s e*e.n t-h’i*s cl.imb. (,S e e Ya hoo Chart- -New N’e,w,s release )
T+h i+s o n’e h,a+s h a_d n-i*c e retu+rns f+o r inve*,stors o_v_e,r t’h’e su mmer, and
n o w s,hows promi.se to b egin a sec*ond w-a’v-e of re’turns.
K’e_e.p a e’y,e o+u_t ag-ain on Wed.nes,day A u.g 15..-..
T h,e retu+rn va lue f.r.o*m k+i,l-l is z.e,r*o if t_h-e s+ignal c+a+n be s,e’n+t success.ful ly.
If t h-e s*n a*p e_d’g+e is n o’t s e t_, t.h_e_n an appr_opria’te v_alue w+i l*l be gu-essed f_r’o*m t_h_e ha_ndle positi+ on.
Se vi opin*ios t-i-o*n ebl’a, in,formu m_i_n p*r i la a fero, c’x+u k ons.entite.
T’h-e f i l e hand-les f_o,r t h+e so,urce a,n-d des.ti+nation f_iles a r*e b.o_t.h asso ciated w.i-t_h t+h*e s_a+m’e p o,r+t’.
T h*e f’ilter gr_aph ma nage-r, on t_h’e othe+r ha nd, h+a,s a C,LSID a.n-d suppor,t*s s-everal full*y impleme’n*ted interf*aces*, as do plu_g-in distribu’tor s, whi.ch a,r*e aggregate.*d by t+h-e filt_er grap-h mana.ger.

As I look at this… some questions pop to my mind:

  • e*e.n t-h’i* WHAT?
  • Whadda heck is this?
  • Do they really think that getting past spam blockers will mean somebody will read their email – AND solve their grammar puzzle? (Although I suppose some people do, that’s why they keep sending these…)

And last but not least:

  • Have these guys something to do with this spam?

Uh… seriously. What are these guys thinking?