Indie Game Marketing with Zero Budget!

Indie Game Marketing with Zero Budget!


You’ve built a great game and you want to
get it out to the masses. The problem is that you don’t have any money
to pay for a marketing campaign! What is an independent developer to do? In this video we’re going to show you how
to get great a marketing and public relations outcome from your game – with little or no
money invested. We are Ask GameDev, AKA Min Max & The Code
Warriors, AKA Code Cudi & Kanye Test, AKA the Ben Steins of Game Designs, and this is
indie game marketing on a shoestring budget. Welcome back! If you’re new to Ask Gamedev, we make videos
to help you learn about the games industry so that you can elevate your games and Inspire
others. If you’re on a gamedev journey, consider
subscribing. We’d love to help you along the way. So you are closing in on the end of your development
– your team has been working hard writing freshly authored game code and everything
is coming together nicely. You are starting to wonder how you can get
the word out about your soon-to-be-released masterpiece… and the unfortunate reality
is that you don’t have much money to allocate to your marketing efforts. This is a pretty common scenario – most indie
developers operate on a shoestring budget and don’t have the money needed to pay for
expensive marketing or public relations firms. So what options do you have? Luckily, there is a path that you can take
to help get the word out that will only require your time and effort. You will need to focus on creating and sharing
online material, such as videos, blogs, or social media posts, that does not explicitly
promote a brand – but is intended to stimulate interest or solve a problem. That’s content marketing – and the tools
that you will need in this area have never been more accessible. Let’s start by reviewing what you are trying
accomplish with your marketing campaign. Your goal with your content marketing campaign
is to build a small group of loyal and passionate evangelists of your work. In the early days, this work will be content.. But as time passes, it can be many different
things – including games. The initial content should be valuable and
high-quality posts that they care about – and on their preferred social sites or other web
platforms. You will also need to provide this content
regularly and for an extended period, including participating in conversations about your
content and helping your audience with questions and problem solving. Remember that when it comes to making content,
no matter how big you get – always remember the A.S.K. rule. Audience Stays King. This type of content strategy has a long track
record of success. The Michelin Brothers created the Michelin
guide books on hotel and restaurant quality, and then leveraged that audience to help sell
tires. General Mills created the Betty Crocker brand
to build an audience around recipe content – and then proceeded to sell kitchen and food
products into that audience. So move forward on building that initial audience
– even if the content you provide them isn’t promoting any particular product of yours. It is these passionate early evangelists that
will spread the word about your content to others – thereby increasing the amount of
attention it receives. If you do this right, you will build audience
loyalty. It is that loyalty that you can lean on when
you want support with the promotion of your game. The goal is to get this audience to carry
the promotional torch for you – thereby keeping your personal marketing costs in time and
effort reasonable. So let’s talk specifics on how to do this. The first thing to do is to define the community
of prospective customers of your game. The starting point for this is to look at
purchasers of other games and genres that are similar to your future release. You will need to find out as much as you can
about these people. Where do they spend time online? What are their characteristics? What type of content resonates with them? Do your homework as these individuals are
where you are going to focus your initial efforts. Let’s pretend you have identified our favorite
Ask Gamedev mock title – Super Teal Robot – as a game whose audience you want to target. Super Teal Robot is a side-scrolling shooter
in the action platformer genre. It is similar in genre to games such as Megaman
or Shovel Knight. It has a mid to hard-core theme and is available
on the PC platform. The audience for these types of games are
predominantly male, 14-35 in age, and located in the western nations. When they consume content around side-scrollers
– they do it by watching game trailers and lets play videos on Youtube, live streams
on Twitch, and via voice and text chat about their games on Discord. There’s a lot more to learn obviously..
but this initial research shows some basic information that you might use to target the
audience of Super Teal Robot. So now that you have your initial audience
defined, the next step is to build authority with this group in an subject matter area
that they care out – ideally the game genre that your title fits within. How do you become an authority of that space? Make great thoughtful content. Do a search on the popular sites that your
audience frequents. What are people posting about that game genre? This could include high quality streams of
similar titles on Twitch, or let’s plays on Youtube, or image content for Instagram. If you are looking for more information on
Twitch, the popular streaming platform with the gaming community, we recently did a video
on how to get your game played on Twitch. Click the card above to check it out. It’s important to figure out what types
of content are getting engagement, like upvotes or comments, with the audience you are looking
to target. Once you have a shortlist of content that
your audience engages with – you will need to determine how you can improve on those
pieces by providing additional value. Let’s go back to the Super Teal Robot audience
as an example. We’ve identified that they have an interest
in games like the one we have developed. We also know where they spend their time,
and the type of content they like. We should look to create content for that
audience by improving on the existing content options in some way. Maybe find some good blogs posts on that game
genre and turn them into 2D vector art snippits, or image posts for Instagram. Maybe take popular Youtube videos that are
long in duration and consider creating shorter videos that are easier to digest. Or maybe take a tutorial series that is in
text format, and instead turn it into a live stream. Does your target audience read a lot of webcomics? Maybe you could start one that targets their
specific interests.The options are endless here – and should really be customized to
the specific audience you are targeting and their specific interests. When deciding what kind of content to make,
obviously consider what you are capable of. Not everyone can make amazing game art or
has the equipment for a professional looking streaming channel. That said, there is always something you CAN
do – whether it is text, image, or video content depends on what you are comfortable with. With time, your regular posts should result
in an quantifiable audience of followers. Maybe 10% of these subscribers are of the
passionate sort – the type that regularly come back to view and engage with everything
you create. It is this group of followers that are your
evangelists, and the larger you can build this base audience, the better. So now that you have an audience that you
are pushing regular content to, the next step is to build a real-time conversation with
those audience members to further drive value and deepen the relationship. This involves adopting a presence in one of
the real-time social platforms on the web. This might include streaming on twitch, youtube,
or facebook, or setting up a chat environment via slack or discord. Either way, the goal here is to be available
in real-time and engage in discussions with your audience. If you can be genuine and useful in this environment,
you can really develop deep loyalty amongst your community, as your audience will ideally
leap from supporting your content – to supporting YOU! We recently set up a discord server so that
the Ask GameDev community can share ideas on how to elevate our games and share best
practices. Take a look in the description for this video
to find a link to our server! So now you have a growing community of passionate
supporters who regularly consume your content on a valuable game genre AND you have a presence
online that supports real-time conversation. You now need to notify your audience that
you have been building a game that they may be interested in. How can you do this to ensure they will support
you? The first requirement in any promotional campaign
is that the game you are intending to drive prospective customers to MUST be good. Trying to build excitement for a game that
doesn’t delight is extremely difficult. It doesn’t matter how loyal your audience
is – they are not going to evangelize a bad game. So we’re going to assume you’ve got a
great title. The next step would be to approach your most
loyal community members first and give them a sneak peek of your game – a beta build or
something pre-release, and ask for their feedback. If you treat the feedback seriously – and
you should given that this audience has a passion for your game genre – its shows that
you value their opinion and this can help to get those users invested in your efforts. Also ask them about your plan to communicate
the game to your wider audience. Make sure they agree with your proposal, as
they can give you early warning if your promotional effort will be poorly received by your community. Once your game is ready for release – let
your audience know via your regular content posting process. Be honest and transparent in your approach
– you made this game as a commercial effort, and would love for your audience to check
it out. Their support would obviously be appreciated
-a successful game can help you finance the continued creation of great content! Be sure to not make the ask for support excessive
or heavy handed. Also, be clear on how your audience can help. Do you want them to spread the word? How and where? Do you want them to make an online review? You should probably give them a free game
copy if you are going to make requests like this. If you want them to buy the title – what special
perk can you give them for taking a chance of your title? Maybe a reduced price, additional content,
or special SWAG? Either way, show your appreciation for their
early support and as much as possible reduce the time and effort that need to expend. So there you have it – a step by step plan
on how to build an audience without money by making valuable content around your game
genre. We’ll leave you now with a look at an inspiring
game made by Ask GameDev community member Mohammed Mokhtar, Mohammed built the first
person shooter Zattack, as an individual development effort. Mohammed wrote all the game code and then
bought all the art assets online. Another great example of the type of games
that can be made by independent developers! Mohammed had made Zattack available for Windows
via Github. It’s free so check out the video description
for the link to check it out. If you are on a gamedev journey, please link
to your game, art, animation, or audio in the comments below to get your work included
in future Ask GameDev videos. Thanks for watching! we are Ask Gamedev and
we make game development videos on how to elevate your game and inspire others. We publish new content every week so consider
subscribing – and hit the bell below to be notified as soon as a new video is available.


87 thoughts on “Indie Game Marketing with Zero Budget!

  1. Check out Ask GameDev on Discord! @ https://discord.gg/N55Z8NN

    Thanks for watching everyone! Let us know in the comments if you have ever worked on a shoestring budget to market your game and if you have any tips for our community!
    For more Ask Gamedev content on this topic, watch 7 Indie Game Marketing Mistakes to Avoid! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nZ2dHtYNus

  2. i am soo grateful that i found this channel , u guys are presenting and explaining each thing in way that even little kids would understand, thank you for this great content

  3. Maybe this is in a separate video, but what are some good sources for gathering audience data? With SteamSpy going away, the only one I'm aware of is App Annie, which targets mobile.

    Thoughts?

  4. Awesome Video is very useful. but there is too much to remember in one video. Hope next time you will make multiple videos on the single topic. it's will be easy to remember key points!! if i am wrong, i am sorry.

  5. I like this video and find it helpful a lot. I have a video request if it is possible for you. Patreon for indie game developers. I see it has been used for different purposes, like developing for only subscribers or developing for a project and crediting subscribers. I think you can make a great video on that. Keep up the good work

  6. Great video, love your channel 😀

    Do you guys think these strategy also works for hypercasual-mobilegames?
    I'm currently developing my second mobile game and i can't really think of good content i can post on twitter related to this genre^^
    First game wasn't really what you would call a "success" with it's 50+ downloads but since it was my first release i expected it that way xD
    Now trying to do better with this one^^

  7. Nice video as usual, and I think it’s cool that your including a little community blurb at the end to showcase games. My game is definitely on a shoestring budget, mainly because I don’t think a larger budget would be cost effective.

  8. Thanks for posting this. I just finished my first Game Development course and have started thinking about how to let people know about the games I'm making. This was very good advice!

  9. Hot damn. This video was way more in depth that I was expecting and it's so good. I'm more motivated than ever to promote my game now.
    It's a space shooter with moba-like mechanics, on procedurally generated galaxies.

    it's available on GameJolt (https://gamejolt.com/games/WarLegacy/342416)
    and Itch.io (https://lince.itch.io/war-legacy)
    I would love some feedback on it!

  10. I am also a new indie dev, and I just finished making my first game! It's called Terror for Two, and it's a cross between a classical text adventure game and a modern horror escape game. Would you mind featuring it in your video? It's on Steam here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/945910/Terror_for_Two/
    I can provide a key if need one to feature it in your videos. You can contact me by emailing me at [email protected] Thanks!

  11. Thanks for the tips!! I'm building my games portfolio while learning tools and design ideas. If anyone is curious just follow my crawling channel or visit my page to see my games -> https://maloke.itch.io/

  12. "The Game must be good" I'm 15 years old and created a small game for Android. My friends say it's awsome. Of course, because they are my friends… So how i should know if it's good?
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.INCREDIBLE.BlockDrop

  13. Very nice video man, sums it all up pretty good! Im working on a game right now, an adventure puzzle shooter set in cold war Germany and a Scandinavian steampunk world! Would love to hear you guys feedback on it!

  14. This is probably all very helpful and accurate, but I can't help feel dirty at some of the things you said. Basically manipulating people into becoming a fan of yours perhaps not even with your own content? So basically, become a personality, gain an audience that has interests that align roughly with your product and then show them your product? That feels Sketchy AF. Basically manipulating people for your own sake? I'm sure it works, but do you want to work that way?

  15. Funny enough I found this channel days after I decided to take game development seriously. These vids are helping out a lot thanks a bunch.

  16. Funny enough i just started being a game dev seriously. And my biggest problem and question in my mind was "how would i market my game?" I am so glad i found this video

  17. I always find these videos interesting. Keep on the great work 🙂

    This year I plubished my first game on Steam and recently gave it an update, you can check it here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/789600/Mortal_box/
    (Also, right now I'm working on a more ambitious one, but have nothing to share of it at the moment)

  18. Really great videos guys! I am going through all of them this week. 😀 They are so helpful and well made! ^_^

    Could you please take a look at my game and tell me what do you think? It's made using Unreal Engine 4, some free and self-made assets and a little help from my girlfriend and 14yo sister. Thank you! 🙂 🙂

    https://youtu.be/ivIcZRADmec

  19. Can you make a video on copyright issues on the playstore and also about the things we should consider before publishing our first game on the playstore

  20. Love your show, but the intro is WAY too long. 1 minute to get to the actual subject of the video just means i'm slapping the right arrow key to try and skip the intro in every video.

  21. Have we marketed our game on 0 budget? We try with our game, Spirit Oath. Some 15 people joined our discord server and we have some 40 FB followers. We try to keep them engaged but this proves to be a real problem.

  22. I have some early access games that i have made
    here the first one : https://gamejolt.com/games/httpgamejoltmihkostasfungame/386183
    and this one: https://gamejolt.com/games/httpgamejoltmihkostasfishgame/386384

  23. Hi Ask Gamedev! I am not sure if you are still scouring the comments for games to feature, but I thought I would give it a shot. Check out our first game, Pilot Unkown: https://twitter.com/GamesByNate. Thank you for the great content and we'll see you on the flip side.

  24. I've been struggling with getting my games noticed, these tips should help!

    I'd love to get your (or anybody else's) opinion on my most recent games! They're still quite simple, but I would appreciate the feedback! Here are links to free demos of my most recent games:

    Battle simulator [WIP]: https://gamejolt.com/games/BattleSimulatorBeta/391319

    Titan-Core First Person Shooter: https://gamejolt.com/games/TitanCore/388189

  25. Well Super Teal Robot reminds me more of Mighty No.9, but yeah it's looking like MegaMan less than Mighty Switch Force.

  26. To 2:50, "not promoting" doesn't mean "fancy stuff that has nothing to do with your game".
    The worst you can do is spreading content that has nothing to do with your game, or making promises that you can't keep.
    Trailers/teasers/pictures, all are great, everyone loves content with good insight or teasers with a good hook like death stranding.

  27. First of all thanks for making these videos, they really help a lot!!

    and please support me on my journey to becoming a game dev by sharing my game
    link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.NGames.Darfy
    PLEASE SHARE !!!

  28. I love your videos. i am not a good developer here is my game

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.banaface2520.spacecowboy

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q3NWMWR

  29. Yeah I am part of a group of students which create their first indie game. And we struggle with getting people to know that our game exists.
    So if you want to check it out i will link our free demo.
    Feel free to give us feedback.
    Transmite: https://gamejolt.com/games/transmiteDemo/399529

  30. Do you think it's nessessary to create a Twitter account for your game? Or is it good enough to just use your companies/personal account?

  31. I am also an individual game developer.I started developing games in February, this year, and i'm currently working at my 4'th game. You can check my already launched games on GooglePlay here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=BENDIS+Games

  32. Love your stuff! I think I missed the mark with the marketing of my first big fangame ^^' But at least I could train before actually selling a game!

  33. Great video! Thanks for the tips.

    As requested, here are our games so far from my indie game company SkyPyre Studios.

    Halen: Ballad of the Blade Thief (2017)
    skypyre.com/halen-game

    The Blobs Fight (2018)
    skypyre.com/blobs-game

  34. Hey guys, I’m working on a battle royale in the Unreal engine called Battle Siege Royale. It’s a medieval siege war battle royale mashup. I’ve been a member of the discord channel for a while and the community has been a huge resource for my development. Thanks for all you do! My game can be found at https://www.indiedb.com/games/battle-siege-royale

  35. Right now I've just started marketing my game. I'm taking a different approach, firstly, I've completely and utterly finished episode 1 which is 3 hours long, although I'm going to try my best to improve always….Here's my strategy:
    1) Send review copies to curators/reviewers (free)
    2) Use keymailer and manually e-mail/pm streamers (free)
    3) Review other's games, spend these next ten weeks or so becoming a small curator (where the marketing budget goes because I've gotta buy the games, although they'll all be cheap and indie like mine).

    I've got a full corporate 40 hour work week to spend on this each week now, so we'll see how it goes. All the plans though are always subject to change as I find what works.

  36. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FusionQSE.visionloop

    I have made this game. Please show it on your channel because it would be of great help for me. And as this is my first time I will learn alot

  37. Check out my latest game: https://ppthebestofficial.itch.io/lallorona and if possible check others out too! https://ppthebestofficial.itch.io/

  38. Hi @Ask Gamedev
    I'm developing a 3D adventure platform game, and I have a lot of difficulty marketing my game.

    is called "Dinos,The great Escape!" (Dinos – a grande fuga!), I did for a Game jam,but I did not win, but I'm perfecting it.

    is this one: https://gamejolt.com/games/Dinos-a-grande-fuga/392416

  39. Hi, i also started my gamedev journey with my first game.
    I would love your feedback and maybe i get lucky and Ask Gamedev includes it in a future video 🙂
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Tiberius_Games.Save_Us

    The idea of the game is pretty simple. You use planks to build structures that protect the characters from falling meteors. The exact opposite of angry birds.
    Until now, marketing with 0 budget has been a nightmare for me. I hope the tips in this video will help!

  40. I'm currently making my first indie game solo. Right now it's production, not too much content to see right now but I have a game dev channel here on Youtube where I try to show the progress. Here's the link — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyL9SkWHE5RabZey_kI_EJQ? —

  41. Hi everyone, I've been working on Hive Quest for a while now & been spreading the word mostly on twitter – there is a lively #indiedev community there, check it out! 🙂
    Hive Quest has a free demo that can currently be downloaded from GameJolt here:
    https://gamejolt.com/games/HiveQuest/416466
    Explore an enchanted woodland – as a bug! ;P

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