Ten Tips for Promoting Your Indie Game
, Game Dev
When you release a game for Xbox Live Indie Games, you can expect to get a whole ton of trial downloads right off the bat from the "New Releases" tab on the Xbox Dashboard. You may even get a lot of hits from the "Top Rated" or "Most Popular" tabs too. Position on those tabs is fleeting and a savvy developer will have to turn to other methods of promoting their game once it no longer graces any of these Top Lists.
While I can't directly point to how many downloads my promotional efforts have gotten me, there are several things I have done that have definitely put more eyes onto my games and given me a steady (abet small) stream of viewers to my company website and (hopefully) more downloads on the Xbox Marketplace.
Have a Web Presence.
The central hub of your promotional efforts should be your website. By funneling everything to one central point, you ensure the highest likelihood that viewers will not only find all the info they could ever want about your game but also return at a later time for more info or updates on upcoming projects.
I have created one central website for my company along with individual sites for both games I am working on. The main site contains links to both my games and the individual sites contain screenshots, videos, and other information about my games. Whenever I create a press release (more on that later), seek a review (more on that later), or post a comment on a blog or forum (more on that later), I always leave a link back to my website.
Ideally you'll setup this website prior to releasing your game. This will allow help you not only in search rankings but also since it gives you more time to have a fully website prior to release and not give early visitors who are considering trying/purchasing your game a bad impression by having a half-done website.
Perhaps the biggest promotional success I've had has come from releasing press releases. Thus far I have sent out press releases for the initial release of Nasty, an update to Nasty, and one for announcing Abduction! You can see my press releases for Nasty at the bottom of this page. I send out a press release for each major milestone that I reach. This generates a renewed interest in my games and often brings in a fair amount of traffic to my website. With a lot of places linking to my website through the press release, it also helps my over rankings in search engines.
My best success for getting press release out there has been through the website GamesPress.com. This is a website that takes your submitted press release and distributes it to a large number of those in the gaming media. I've been pleasantly surprised with each submitted press release at just how many different websites post my release (usually verbatim but sometimes they add their own spin to it).
You can also submit your press releases to different gaming magazines and websites. I spent a significant amount of time doing this with my first press release but found that most of these media members (aside from XNA/XBLIG specific websites) didn't return my emails much less post anything about my game. I'm not going to tell you not to do this (as they have the potential to bring you a lot of visitors) but this ended up being largely a waste of time for me.
Have a Video or Two or Three
Static images and text are nice, but they don't go nearly as far as showing of your game as a good video does. While not required to submit a game (or even viewable once on the Xbox Marketplace), you should create one anyways.
Videos are much more effective at showing off your game. I make sure they're easy to find on my website and I alwa
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