Before You Spend Money on Advertising Your Video Game, Read This...
I'm about to teach you how to market and advertise your video game for free... and how to get gamers to discover your game, play your game, and buy your game.
In order to do this, we must first learn one of the biggest mistakes game devs make when advertising their video game. Then you're going to get 7 tactics showing you an exact step by step plan, the right way to market your game.This will help you immediately. This will help you make a game that sells itself.
If an indie video game developer doesn't know how to market and advertise their game, then they're going to risk wasting 18 months making a game that nobody may not play.
Even worse, they'll spend money on marketing and advertising that will make the advertiser rich, and not them.
Ready to learn new insights about how to market your video game -- for free? Ready to use these new insights to help you make a game that sells itself? Want to make sure 18 months (or more) of all your hard work will pay off?
Then here's what you need to know...
Advertising Is About Getting The Attention Of Investors and Funders -- NOT Gamers
Let me tell you a story...
In 1986, a small video game company made a game called Zombi. In a time where there were probably zero zombie shooters, this game became popular.
The company who made it was Ubisoft (Ubiquitous Software).
The game made these developers some money. So they made more games. And for 10 years they worked hard at developing games. They also did some video game distribution.
They grew slowly, and they had steady profits.
But at certain point, a company's growth starts to plateau. Growth stops. The business of developing video games reaches a peak.
So, how does a company find more cashflow? How does a little video game development and distribution company find a new stream of cash flow?
You turn it into a corporation by going public.
In 1996, Ubisoft went public. The CEO of Ubisoft no longer looks at his company as a video game developer and distributor. His company has now become the product.
Let me say that again...
The company is now the product.
You see, there are way more investors than gamers. And investors have way more money than gamers. Investors give a corporation a stream of cash flow that is more stable and consistent.
The CEO doesn't care anylonger what they sell. It could be autoparts, oil and gas, video games. Doesn't matter. What matters to the CEO is how the corporation looks to the shareholders.
The company is now the product, and their number one customers are investors.
Investors are now the biggest source of cash flow the corporation needs to grow... not gamers.
Before, it was selling to gamers that helped the company grow. Now, as a publicly traded company, it's the investors who help the corporation grow.
The company IS the product. And they are trying to sell the product to investors.
This is an important insight for indie video game devs who want to advertise. Let me show you why...
The Company IS The Product
Once a video game company becomes a corporation, their biggest cash flow isn't from selling to gamers. It's selling to investors. In other words, the game company IS the product, and the CEO is trying his or her best get more investors.
And what's the best way to show off your company to investors?
At this point, a publicly traded video game company doesn't advertise to get more games. They advertise to posture... to show potential investors that their company is big enough and rich enough to spend willy nilly on brand deals, big front page on popular games websites, paying YouTubers and Twitch Streamers to play their game.
Yeah, this has a side benefit too... it will get the interest of gamers and sell copies. But their goal as a publicly traded corporation is to get investors, not gamers.
Remember, there are more investors than gamers. And investors have more money than gamers. Investors give the type of cash flow where a company can budget for the next 2 to 20 years.
So, the corporation has a new game. They do a lot of advertising. That advertising get's gamers, sure. But it also increases their stock price. And they get more investment money.
And the corporation grows.
The corporation isn't a gaming company anymore. They are a corporate machine, only interested in investor money.
They build video games only as a way to fuel the corporation.
In fact, they start buying out new game developers. Remember, they're no longer in the video game business. They are now interested in packaging up their company to look good so to attract more investors.
Game development becomes like any other department of a corporation. It becomes like HR, Finance, Customer Service. etc.
These departments are there to support the corporation. And advertising is used to feed that corporation with new cash flow from investors.
And this, "Industrial Advertising Cycle" continues.
They use investor money from the last game they advertised, and buy another game developer company, or make a new game. They do an ad blast. This attracts MORE investors. And these new investors inject another stream of cash flow. And this cycle continues.
How Does This Directly Apply To You?
Let me ask you, have you tried any of these advertising strategies?
- Pay for Google AdWords, Facebook ads, YouTube ads, reddit ads
- Put out a press releases
- Put your game on portals like itch.io or Steam
- Put your game up on Kickstarter
- PM YouTubers and Twitch Streamers free game keys
- Branding deals with YouTubers or Twitch Streamers
- Maybe even sponsoring a YouTuber or Twitch Streamer
Did they work? How many new gamers did you get?
This type of advertising works if you have enough cashflow to keep pumping money into feeding this beast called the "Industrial Advertising Cycle".
You see what I'm getting at here?
Corporations have that kind of cash flow. And that cash flow mostly comes from investor money. And where indie game devs go wrong is, they see how big successful video game corporations are advertising, and they emulate that.
Remember, these giant video game corporations have enough cash flow to keep feeding the beast... to keep pumping money into advertising.
The moment they stop paying for advertising, this industrial advertising cycle stops.
What if you don't have that kind of cash flow? What if you can't afford to keep pumping money into paying for advertising?
Well, you're in luck my friend. There is a way to market your video games, and it has nothing to do with advertising.
Sure, when you get bigger, and start selling 1,000,000 copies, then you can go public, and jump into the "Industrial Advertising Cycle", that will help you grow every year.
But if you have zero money, you have very little game sales, or you haven't even sold your first copy yet, then here's a video game marketing strategy designed for the indie game dev...
How To Market Video Games: 7 Step System Designed For Indie Dev With Zero Ad Budget
The goal of this 7 step system is to help you make a game that sells itself.
If you want gamers to discover your game, talk about your game, and buy your game, then this this system is made for you.
If you want to build a video games company that supports you life, and is successful enough so you don't have to go back to working a full time job, then this system is made for you.
Here's what you need to know...
Step 1: Make a Game That Sells Itself By Knowing What Motivates Gamers To Play and Buy Certain Games
Trying to convince a gamer to play and buy your game is almost impossible to do. A better strategy is to "bake in" your marketing when designing your game so it sells itself.
This is why I always talk about knowing what motivates a gamer to game. And why I talk about knowing the irrational reasons gamers play a certain genre. And why I talk about knowing about consumer psychology and game personality types.
By knowing why gamer's game and buy games, you'll increase your chances of making a game that sells itself. Gamers will go out of their way to find YOU. Why? Because a gamer has needs, and if your game fulfills that need, then they'll actively search the internet to find that game.
I'm not talking about pandering to the masses. This isn't about doing focus groups. And I'm not talking about looking around and seeing what's popular, and copying that. This isn't about making another "me too" game.
I'm actually talking about the exact opposite of that.
By finding out why a gamer plays and buys games... by finding out what their needs are... will help you discover a NEW game play or NEW story mode or NEW sub-genre.
The reason you're looking at what your gamer needs is to see if there is a game out there that doesn't match that need yet. This is how you make a game that sells itself. When a gamer discovers that YOU made a game that nobody has done before, and it fulfills their needs, then you don't need to pay for advertising. Gamers will come to you.
This leads me into step 2...
Step 2: Avoid Being Dominated By Bigger Game Companies With Bigger Ad Budgets By Being First in a Sub-Genre
Knowing gamer needs is important because if your game can fulfill that need no other game can, then you just made a game that sells itself.
But there's also a second benefit. And that is, by discovering a gamer need, and making a video game to fulfills that need, you're essentially making a NEW sub-genre.
And when you're the creator of a new sub-genre, you have just cornered that market. And no other game dev or game company is going to outcompete you.
Just look at some video games that discovered a gamer need, and created their own sub-genre and cornered it...
Dark Souls: they cornered the "difficult" sub-genre. They found that gamers needed a punishing and unforgiving game, and they focused on making a game to fulfills that need. The cornered that sub-genre, and any game that tried to be "difficult" becomes a "Souls Clone".
Binding of Isaac: they corned the "rogue-like with replay value" sub-genre. This game fulfills the need of a gamer for replay value.
The Long Dark: they cornered the market for "atmospheric survival game". There's a huge group of gamers that don't need zombies and baddies. Some gamers need a survival game where you try to survive the elements, like the weather, and nothing more. This game cornered this little sub-genre.
Whenever you see a game come out of nowhere, with very little advertising and hype, this is why. The game for some reason is fulfilling a gamer need no other game is. And gamers will find these games, and talk about them, and spread free word of mouth.
Step 3: Build a Relationship First So You Increase The Chance of a Gamer Buying Your Game
Advertising is one step selling. The gamer sees the ad, and they decide right there if they're going to buy the game or not. You have one shot. If it doesn't work the first time, you have to make sure they see that ad again. This means you have to pay for another round of ads.
They say somebody has to see an add 5 to 7 times before they buy something.
And sometimes advertising never works. No matter how many times somebody sees the ad, they'll never buy.
The reason advertisers have to keep showing ads is because this is one form of relationship building. Once a person is familiar with an ad or that company, it starts building a bond. This bond is very important when a person is making a buying decision.
But what if you don't have thousands or millions to spend on advertising? What if you don't have cash flow coming in from investors to help you feed the beast called the "Industrial Advertising Cycle"?
This is where YOU have an advantage. As a indie video game dev, you are not a corporation trying to "bond" with gamers. You already have inherent trust built it. Meaning, gamers trust game devs -- they don't trust publishers and video game corporations.
But... before you ask a gamer to buy your game... or even to play your game... you need to build a bond first with them. They need to know YOU, and what you think, and what your opinions are.It's like meeting somebody you like for the first time. Say you like them a lot. Asking them to marry you in the first meeting is going to scare that other person away.
This is essentially what video game devs are doing when they put up a game, and ask the gamer to BUY NOW.
This is what video game devs do when they email YouTubers and Twitch Streamers their game keys and ask them to play their game.
This is TOO big of a commitment. This isn't how to build a relationship. There has to be some sort of bonding first before you ask them big commitments like BUY NOW or play my free gaming key.
Step 4: Give Gamers and Influencers Something That Is Low Commitment So You Get Their Attention
I just talked about how to build a relationship first with gamers (or even influences like YouTubers, Twitch Streamers, video game bloggers).
But how do you get their attention? What is something that is low commitment, but high value, that will make them perk up and notice you and notice your game?
I call this the "7 Minute Gamer Demo".
Think of it like a playable teaser. Think of it like a playable game trailer. Think of it like your hot new music single that you want people to get emotionally hooked to -- and get them wanting to buy the rest of your album.
And it's important that your Gamer Demo is LESS than 7 minutes. Why?
Because it'll force you to strip away any "fat" or boring features of your game. It goes right to the heart of your game, and what makes your game fun.
And instead of having a gamer watch a trailer, they are actually PLAYING your game. It's like their at PAX playing all these great demos.
But the best reason why having your Gamer Demo less than 7 minutes is, it's a low commitment with high value.
Gamers and influencers don't have time trying to discover new games. They don't have time to sit through a demo that's too long. They don't have time to test out a game for 2 hours before they decide to play it or buy it.
By having your Gamer Demo less than 7 minutes, you're going to improve the chances of a gamer and influencers playing your game.
This is the best way to emotionally hook gamers. This is the best way to start building a bond with your gamers.
Remember, asking them to BUY NOW, or even play a long demo is too big of a commitment. It scares people away.
A "7 Minute Gamer Demo" is low commitment, but high value.
A gamer will get emotionally hooked. Then the game is over. They want more. Now they are addicted. They will actively seek you out for more.
Step 5: Get Free Word- of-Mouth By Building an Audience Of Diehard Fans of Your Game
This is the most important step in marketing your video game so it sells itself, and building a video game company that supports your life.
The game dev who doesn't know how to build an audience is going to fail because they'll default to advertising. And advertising is expensive way to build an audience. And it's an unreliable way to build an audience. If you want your fans to come back, you have to keep paying for advertising.
A better way to build an audience is to do it organically. No ads. No silly promotions. You have to rely on your game, your brain, and your wits -- not money spent on advertising.
And the best way to start building an audience is to start speaking. Talk about what you hate about the video game industry. Talk about what games you love, and why they were designed so well. Talk about the games you hate, and how they were designed poorly. Talk about your feelings about the video game industry.
This is a new angle that no gamer has heard before. You often hear the opinions of gamer YouTubers and and journalist. But they have no idea what it's like building a game. And often their only insight is a negative review -- that's because negative review get views!
Gamers want NEW insights into gaming. And game devs are a new source for these insights.
So, start blogging, writing articles, podcasts, videos. Just start speaking, and grow your audience organically. They'll keep coming back, and you don't have to pay for their attention.
Step 6: Give Away Your "7 Minute Gamer Demo" To Your Audience and To Nobody Else
Remember how I told you that before you ask a gamer to buy your game, it's important to build a bond first? Remember how I told you before you give away free game keys to YouTubers or Twitch Streams, offer them something low commitment but high value?
Well, this step is where the magic happens.
I told you to build an audience, organically, right? Well, this is where you can give away your free 7 Minute Gamer Demo -- but only to your audience.
This works like magic because you're making your demo exclusive. And the gamer has come to YOU. Nintendo does this all the time. How many Nintendo Classics and Switches did they give retailers on launch? Very little. They are doing this to build scarcity.
Google does this too. When they come out with a new service, you have to be invited to try it out. They're building scarcity. And scarcity is what makes people come to you.
Also, this is a good way to bond with fans only. They feel they are part of your little tribe. They are fans of you. And fans spread word-of-mouth better than any advertiser or marketer can.
And you don't need a lot of fans. Give your game to a handful of gamers, and watch how that spread multiples exponentially.
This is goes for influences, too. Instead of emailing a bunch of them a free game key, make it exclusive. Pick out a certain few. Tell them that only a handful are being passed around.
A 7 Minute Gamer Demo is less of a commitment. It's a high value, tangible thing a person can use. It's like an ad for your game. And by giving it out only to true fans, and to certain influencers, you're creating scarcity. And what people don't have, they want.
Step 7: Make Your "Video Game Selling System" Do All The Work For You In Selling More Copies of Your Game
Do you see what I'm doing here? I'm showing you how to build a "system" that sells your video game for you.
Here's what I mean...
You don't advertise -- advertising is for corporations to attract more investors so they can get more cash flow so they can advertise more to attract more investors so they get cash flow so they... and the Industrial Advertising Cycle continues.
You build a relationship first with gamers and influencers. How? You build an audience organically. Speak about your insights and angles in the video game industry. What are your criticisms? What do you love?
Then, once you have a small audience, you give away a "7 Minute Gamer Demo". This is like an ad for you game. And it's less than 7 minutes on purpose. It's designed to be the "heart" of your game. It's the best part. It's suppose to emotionally hook you gamer so they want more.
You only give away your 7 Minute Gamer Demo to your fans only. Keep it exclusive.
And you don't need a lot of fans. If your Gamer Demo is addicting, your fans will spread it around, for free.
If you try to spread it around for free, you have less social proof, and it devalues your Gamer Demo. Having a person do it for you, who has no incentive to do so, give your free Gamer Demo higher value.
Giving away free game keys to YouTubers and Twitch Streamer and games journalist use to work. But now these influencers have way TOO much content. They don't have time. But your 7 Minute Gamer Demo is a low commitment, high value product. Instead of giving away free game keys, give them your Gamer Demo to get their attention.
When you've built this "Video Game Selling System", then it works automatically for you. Fans find you. They play your Gamer Demo. They spread it around on the internet. That build more fans. They want more. They come back. And they come back to your Steam Store or wherever you sell your game.
It's very hard to sell a gamer copies of your video game if they don't know you or don't trust you. This Video Game Selling System is specifically designed for you, the indie game dev, who doesn't have a lot of "brand" recognition, or advertising money.
If you want to make a game that sells itself, and build a successful video game company that supports your life, then use the "Video Game Selling System" I just showed you.