There are a lot of lists on the internet. Specifically, a lot of lists for how-tos, resources, tool comparisons – and the game dev community is no exception. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a newbie, and we wanted to make sure that new game devs know that there’s plenty of help to be had out there, no matter their level of expertise or budget.
Welcome to Part 3 of our Resource Roundup series! We’ll be talking about marketing, promotion, and funding - some of the activities a lot of game dev find the hardest. We've collected some great guides and advice on crowdfunding and social media, and a lot of these resources are very DIY (do-it-yourself), so developers from every budget range can find something to help take their game to the next level.
In Part 1, we covered game engines and ready-made audio and visual assets for your game. In Part 2, we talked about more powerful tools to create your own assets. It's almost equally important to actually advocate for your own game, however, because no matter how amazing your game is, people still need to find it in order to play and appreciate it.
Game Promotion, Marketing, and Funding
Marketing activities are important for any company. What makes it especially difficult for indie developers is that it's often people with no or very little experience trying to get a hang of "the marketing thing". It might sound really scary, but for the most part, it's just about putting yourself out there in front of the right people.
Find out where your ideal player spends their time online, and tailor your activities to the platform. This could mean managing profiles on Twitter and Facebook, or joining Facebook groups, and using the right hashtags. It could mean running ads in the other games your users play. It could mean offering free game codes to reviewers and media publications if relevant, to make it easier for them to play your game and tell all of their followers about it. Or it could mean attending events, sponsoring gameplay streamers, collaborating with other game developers, and submitting articles to industry publications. And never, ever miss a competition! The guides below walk through a lot of the different marketing activities you absolutely should be spending time on.
Marketing 101: What to Know When Marketing Your Mobile Game - an overview of activities to engage in when marketing your app. Great intro post!
Marketing 101 for Indie Mobile Game Developers - a great comprehensive walkthrough of various marketing activities and channels from Soomla.
The Marketing Guide for Game Developers - another great guide from PixelProspector, ranging from game quality to distribution to events to digital channels.
YouTube Marketing Resources - Video Game Caster, founded by PixelProspector shares resources for influencer marketing through YouTube gamers, as well as growing owned YouTube channels.
A Guide to Launching Indie Games, Part One: Pre-Launch - a very actionable guide to pre-launch branding, which is really important, but often ignored.
Things like developing gameplay trailers, running social media profiles, and influencer partnerships fall under this category. You can do all of this yourself, or if you have a bit of a budget, you can hire people to do things like make trailers, write and distribute press releases, or draw up social media tactical plans. As always, a warning: be wary! You get what you pay for. Evaluate your potential contractor’s portfolio, check their reviews and testimonials, and make sure they have an understanding of what you’re looking for - and you fully understand what they’re providing.
We’re not recommending you go one way or the other, but everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. If you absolutely can’t afford these services, do some research on how to do each item and do your best at putting it all together. That’s really what all of these resources and guides are for. On the other hand, if you have the budget, there’s no harm in giving your project the help it deserves.
It's for good reason that crowdfunding is all the rage, and every game developer looking for funding should evaluate how best to put such an accessible tool to use for them. That being said, crowdfunding efforts can be hard to get just right - just because a Kickstarter page is easy to set up doesn't mean it's easy to manage and promote. We've rounded up some of the best guides to setting up a crowdfunding campaign for success, from developers who've hit their funding goals. Know that the same thing doesn't work for everyone, but you'll be able to see what things work consistently well, and what could work for you based on your game's genre, play style, and monetization strategy.
Most Funded Kickstarter Mobile Games - a link to Mobile Game Projects on Kickstarter, sorted by most funded. It’s a great idea to go through this list and get ideas for your own crowdfunding campaign. Start with what the most funded campaigns had in common, and you can dive deeper and explore categories or genres similar to yours for hyper-relevant ideas!
Your Ultimate Kickstarter Games Strategy Guide - a post from the Kickstarter blog itself, with some pretty useful and unique links to advice and Kickstarter resources.
A No-Name Developer’s Guide to Succeeding on Kickstarter - is there anything Tutsplus doesn’t have a tutorial for?
How to Get Your App Funded Using Crowdfunding - A guide for some of the major crowdfunding platforms from AppTamin, the article has a breakdown of some of the features, as well as links to interviews with and tips from devs who have used crowdfunding
A Lobster’s Guide for Video Game Projects on Kickstarter - a truly commendable 32-part Reddit thread. Seriously, 32 chapters. LobsterSundew, you are amazing.
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Guide for Indie Game Developers - another fairly comprehensive guide. At this point, it’s getting a little redundant, but if you’re anything like me, you want to read all of the things just in case one of them has some golden nugget unavailable anywhere else.
How One Unknown Mobile Game Studio Raised Over $50,000 Through Crowdfunding - cue the inspirational theme music. These guys had a great promo video, 10/10 must-see.
A lot of these are guides based on Kickstarter, but there are several great crowdfunding platforms out there. Each has slightly different ways of working, and different things you can do to optimize your campaign, so be sure to adapt your strategy accordingly.
In addition to crowdfunding, you can submit your games to contests which either provide monetary prizes or other valuable prizes, such as mentorship, subscriptions to useful software, promotional spots, and so on. We'll also be talking about working with publishers in an upcoming post, which is a great choice for a lot of developers, so keep an eye out for that!
These are some one-off and miscellaneous resources that deserve a special shoutout, because they are actually amazing sources of information. These might not be marketing related in the strictest sense, but they'll give new developers insight into dev time, budgets, marketing activities, and pretty much everything that could impact the success of a game.
The Big List of Postmortems - I had a plan to put together a list of my favorite post-mortems by game devs (I particularly enjoy reading these), but Pixel Prospector struck again - there’s no way I could top this list. It is amazing and I hope you make use of it. Gamasutra also has a section for postmortems.
The App Launch Checklist - Branch, the deep-linking service, has created a great community around development and growth. In addition to hosting AMAs with industry experts and hosting meetups around the world, the team there has put together a pretty comprehensive checklist for devs.
List of Game Budgets and Sales - and to round it all out, one more awesome find from the god of indie resources, PixelProspector (seriously, I bow down to you). This is truly indie in its presentation and usefulness, so it’s not necessarily a polished and comprehensive resource. It’s more of a community edited one, and fulfills some kind of personal, geeky ambition to collect all the dataz in a spreadsheet. I think the title speaks for itself, and I’ll leave it for you to explore. Use it to help answer some of your, “but how much…?” and “is it worth…?” questions.
In-App Interactions and Analytics
Branch Metrics - Deep linking and link tracking and analysis
Amplitude - Track user behaviors in your app, as well as cross-platform tracking to follow the user journey from web to mobile.
MixPanel - Track in-app events and user interactions.
DeltaDNA - Built especially for games, DeltaDNA helps with everything from user notifications to event tracking, acquisition, A/B testing, and segmentation.
Gamesparks - Features for multiplayer games such as friends, leaderboards, chats, lobbies, and trading and achievement systems.
GameAnalytics - Free tool for in-game analytics and benchmarking against other games.
Crashlytics - A tool for reporting app crashes.
Megacool - easily create gameplay GIFs to share online.
Localytics - in-app notifications, push notifications, and analytics to track the effectiveness.
There are just some of the tools that will get you started managing and tracking user behaviors, app statistics, user acquisition, onboarding, and app health. Like of our roundups, you'll find both free and paid tools among this list of products.
These tools and resources will help manage the success of your game once you've executed on your awesome idea. From promoting the game and acquiring players, to ensuring they have a good in-game experience, to measuring and improving behaviors in the game, you should be able to find something that works for you.
In future installments, we'll be talking about some of our favorite bloggers, YouTube channels, and publications, classes and tutorials, events to attend, and talks every game dev should listen to.
We’d love to hear what your favorite tools and resources are as a game dev. Is there any particular crowdfunding campaign you're inspired by? Or an analytics tool that's made your job easier and boosted retention and engagement? Sound off in the comments, and we’ll update this post with any especially fantastic resources.