Starting your video game marketing can be a huge project for any person or a small team. Regardless of how great your game is, you still need a game plan for your marketing.
Not having a plan makes it hard to market your game. Even if your game is amazing, not as many people will know about your game if you’re not marketing it well.
But creating a plan can be daunting and there are a lot of unknowns.
How to set goals, what’s the right approach, how to keep your audience’s interest, where to post. The list can go on.
All of these things are essential to marketing your video game. It can become pretty overwhelming.
That’s why creating a plan for your indie game marketing is so helpful. It limits the guesswork and helps keep you organized.
Now you just need to create one.
This post is going to share the essentials of what you need to focus on when planning your marketing. In this, we’ll address topics like.
- How to break down your game’s goals into actionable steps.
- The importance of creating an experience for players.
- Why you need to start thinking like a content marketer.
- How to stay organized with your game’s media assets
- What metrics to focus on and how to measure results
- Ways to develop confidence in your video game marketing.
We even shared a video game marketing plan template you can use.
That way, you’ll have the confidence to tackle your marketing plan and be ready to take action.
So let’s get started.
What is a video game marketing plan?
Simply put, a video game marketing plan keeps you organized. It will detail everything from your goals, strategies and tactics you plan to use while you’re marketing your game.
Let’s break this down a little further to show how this could look for your game.
How to start writing a video game marketing plan?
There are several steps to follow when writing your video game marketing plan. In a nutshell, you’ll be writing your intent, what you will do in each step and how it contributes to your goals.
Here’s a breakdown of what that will look like.
- Define your studio’s game marketing purpose
- Determine your game marketing goals
- Research your game’s audience and market
- Develop game marketing strategies and tactics
- Creating clear and concise marketing messaging
- Organize your marketing assets
- Game distribution platforms and audience accessibility
- How to measure and optimize your game marketing campaign
Let’s get to it.
1. Define your studio’s game marketing purpose.
When you start writing your plan, you need a mission or focus to start with. This can be part of your overview game strategy and how you plan to approach your marketing efforts from a high level.
Doing this will help define your purpose, guide you as you write your game marketing plan, and help you make decisions that align with your vision.
Just take a moment to check out these defining statements from a few known indie studios to get some ideas.
“We’re a video game studio born from a love of games and community“
– Rose City Game
“An independent games company that’s dedicated to creating only the highest-quality games.“
– Kitfox Games
“We want to make games that spark your imagination like the games you played as a kid“
– Supergiant Games
You can tell these studios have a clear vision, purpose which likely helps influence their marketing decisions.
2. Determining your video game marketing goals
Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, you need to define your goals.
These don’t need to be overcomplicated. Ideally, you want them to be specific and big, like getting 100,000+ wishlists or voted to be the best video game of the year.
Think these goals are too big?
When you create your goal, you need to make it big and something that’s a reach. Then you need to do everything to achieve it.
Here’s the deal.
Life and any number of things you didn’t plan for will happen and limit your goals. Setting goals that are easy or realistic can’t account for life or the unknowns that will happen.
By setting goals you’re “comfortable” with, you’ll already be limiting yourself.
Don’t do that.
How to break down your video game marketing goals.
So whatever big goal you set and are ready to tackle, you need to make sure it’s actionable. To do that, you need to break it down into steps. At a high level, it could look something like this.
100,000 wishlists → All Traffic to Steam page → Different traffic sources → Traffic generating content
Once you break down your goals, you’ll start to have an idea of what your strategy will be. Don’t get too detailed with your strategy yet.
The next step will help you a ton.
3. Researching your game’s audience and market.
Or…ATAYA for short.
You need to remember this when making marketing decisions. That’s why you need to know everything you possibly can about them. Research helps with that.
While your audience’s key demographics and other interests are helpful, chances anyone else making a game like yours knows that information too.
People making a JRPG right now may target people who like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, or other similar titles?
However, that information, while helpful, doesn’t necessarily help you stand out.
Making it a point to get to know your audience as much as possible is a sure way you can differentiate your game from others.
How do you get to know your game’s audience?
Here are a few ways.
- Create player personas.
- Ask questions in communities where players hang out.
- Conduct surveys
- Monitor topics that are important to your audience.
These few ideas will provide valuable information that will help you stand out.
It gives you the opportunity to better understand and connect with your audience. If you want to stand out, that’s one definitive way to do it.
Another area that’s indirectly associated with your audience is knowing the market. Simply put, your competition.
Researching and learning as much as you can about the market allows you to see what other games have done or not. This can present you with lots of ideas and opportunities on how to better serve your audience.
A great way to start is by looking at Steam tags and reviewing the game’s Steam page.
Be open-minded to potential opportunities and any you discover include them in your plan.
4. Develop video game marketing strategies and tactics
This is where a lot of people get overwhelmed, but it’s often because people like to overcomplicate things.
Remember when we outlined what a potential strategy could look like from breaking down a goal. The next step is to break it down further.
Here’s an example of this.
All traffic to Steam page → Different traffic sources
→ Website traffic
→ Social media traffic
→ Other sources
Now things are becoming more clear.
As you further define your strategy, you want to make sure you have the right mindset, start small and be consistent.
Wait, mindset? Why is that important?
What’s the best mindset for video game marketing strategies?
Adopting the right mindset gets you prepared for strategies and tactics you’re going to implement. And that mindset? You’re now a content creator creating an experience for players.
Say that three times fast.
Every step, from the moment they’re first introduced to your game until they play it, you are creating an experience for players. It’s what I like to call the player’s journey.
Leading your strategy with this mindset helps you establish two main things.
- You make better and more efficient marketing decisions.
- You develop empathy for your audience. (ATAYA!)
Every time you share content about your game, you need to make sure it resonates with people. By developing empathy, you get better at creating content that resonates with people.
They go hand in hand. Including these concepts into your strategy’s approach will help you better stand out and come up with creative strategies that work best for you.
As you become familiar with this mindset, you’ll become more efficient at reaching your goals.
How to implement video game marketing strategies?
To keep it simple start by picking two platforms and post on them consistently. You can pick more later if you want.
When making your decision, first do some light research on what platforms have great results in terms of how they relate to your goals. You want to make sure your audience hangs out in those places too.
It’s even worth reaching out to other devs to get a sense of what worked for them. It also provides you with great networking opportunities.
When you get a sense which platforms are most impactful,define its purpose and how it will contribute to your goals. It’s a huge bonus if you already use those platforms. It will help tremendously when engaging and connecting with others.
Once your decision is made, learn absolutely everything you can about the platform and become an expert at it. Doing this will give you confidence, control and help ensure success on that platform.
Now that you have this completed, you’ll want to start defining your process in creating content on these platforms.
It starts with your messaging.
5. Create clear and concise marketing messaging.
Knowing your audience will make it much easier to communicate and connect with them. Regardless of this, you still need to be clear.
Whether you’re updating your Steam pages’ short description, promoting your game with Facebook ads, even making a Reddit post, you need to be clear and concise.
Not doing so will cause confusion and create friction for your players. When you create friction, it reduces your ability to achieve your goal.
Here are a few examples of how clarity can be effective in conveying what a game is about.
Defy the god of the dead as you hack and slash out of the Underworld in this rogue-like dungeon crawler.
When you read any of these descriptions, you should have a very clear idea of what the game will be like.
This framework is great to follow for all other types of messaging you create as it focuses on being clear and concise.
The same applies to writing a call-to-action (CTA or when you’re asking people to take action.
With all the distractions and limited amount of mental bandwidth people have, don’t make things harder with confusing messaging that doesn’t clearly convey your game.
6. Organize your media marketing assets.
Remember, you’re a content creator now. Even if you’re not creating a blog or a YouTube series, you’ll regularly be producing content to share with your audience.
This means you need to have a strategy, a set of standards and processes when creating your content.
Defining your strategy can help dictate the type of content you create, what to share and a way to track how people engage with it.
How to define your game’s media content strategy?
Having a set of standards in place will ensure you create quality content that represents your game in the best light possible.
Here’s a list of some great questions to ask yourself when creating content.
- Does your content align with your purpose?
- Does it clearly show what your game is about?
- Does it provide enough visual context without messaging?
- Does it show your game from an older build that’s not current?
Having these standards in place will have a dramatic improvement on your content’s quality creating a great first impression and a positive player experience.
How to keep your video game marketing assets organized?
From an organizational standpoint, make sure your content can be found and identified easily without looking at images.
Just as you would have descriptive naming conventions for your scripts or in-game assets, you’ll want to do the same for your marketing media.
Doing this will reduce errors, save you time and help you scale your content creation and distribution process.
7. Game distribution platforms and audience accessibility
When considering a distribution platform, you need to think about how it relates to your strategy, goals, and the experience your game delivers. The best way to approach distribution is audience accessibility.
Basically, the more accessible your game is, the greater your reach and the better you can serve your audience. While you want to serve your audience, you still need to be mindful of how your distribution plans may influence your strategy.
For example, if you think your game is a good fit for consoles, you need to be mindful of the resources and costs associated with those platforms.
Localization, controller support, and an array of other features are all important to consider when thinking about accessibility for your prospective players.
As you prepare for distribution, you’ll also need a plan for pricing and discounts. Ultimately you want to make sure you’re priced accordingly in your market.
If you’re confident you’re able to offer players a great experience compared to others in the market, don’t be afraid to ask for more.
The higher price will also increase your perceived value and profit margin. This may allow you to be more competitive with discounts. It would even give you flexibility with running ads to sell copies of your game or collect wishlists.
8. How to measure and optimize your video game marketing campaign
As you work on your plan, you need to measure your progress and how it contributes to your goals. You will feel busy with your efforts and at times receive signals that may indicate results.
However, if those signals are not contributing directly to achieving your goals, you need to either change or stop what you’re doing. That’s why knowing what to measure is so important.
What’s the best way to measure your video game marketing results?
The best way to measure your results is to determine what your most important metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) are. These metrics basically let you know if you’re on track with your goals.
If your goal is to obtain 100,000 wishlists, your KPI is wishlists. You may have several tactics or strategies you’re using that provide all sorts of metrics that look and feel great.
Those can be indicators of how well your campaigns may be performing but don’t directly relate to your KPI which is wishlists.
This is another reason why defining the purpose for your strategies or platforms is important. If you believe they would contribute to your goal and haven’t, you need to reassess or optimize what you’re doing.
Let data help you make that decision but also keep an open mind. If you’re doing something wrong, your data will show you poor results.
This is why it’s important to become an expert with whatever platforms you choose, so you can be more confident in your results and decisions.
What’s the best way to optimize my game’s marketing campaign?
When optimizing your campaigns, you want to lead with the question of how you can improve your results.
Everything you do needs to be constantly viewed with this lens. Here are some great questions you should be asking yourself when optimizing your campaigns.
- How could my Steam page get more direct traffic?
- How can more people sign up for my mailing list?
- What type of images get the most engagement?
- Is there a certain time of day that gets better results?
- Would updated capsule art improve my click-through-rate?
- Would using more video content increase results?
Almost every question can be applied to any channel or campaign. What’s important is that you’re asking them.
In time you’ll want the questions you ask to be set standards, so you’re constantly looking at and know how to improve your results. With this set in motion, you’ll be looking for more opportunities and creative ways to hit your goals.
Take action and write your video game marketing plan.
While it will take some time to write your video game marketing plan, putting the effort in now provides you with a framework that most people don’t have to follow.
That in itself will give you peace of mind, clarity, and confidence as you market your game.
I hope that this guide provides you with the right direction to serve your audience in a way that allows you to connect with them, stand out and achieve your goals. Good luck!