3 Tips to Build an Audience Before Your Launch
If you’re six months out from the launch of your game and still have the “if I build it, they will come” mentality, it’s time to wake up! Unless you’re known in the market (i.e., your company has already released a successful game, you’re an industry god, etc.), attracting an audience is going to take some serious work. So don’t wait until the cat’s out of the bag, start early and be proactive. There’s nothing worse than launching your game and hearing crickets. Here are three easy steps to help build an audience before your game’s launch.
1. Launch a Development Blog
Content is king. It’s true, and it’s not just people who think so, it’s Google. The more content you write: pages, blog posts, etc., that include your company’s name, game’s name, type of game, etc., the more Google will index those pages and rank you higher in searches for those words. This in turn makes it easier for people to find your game. (I’ll go into this more in a separate blog post, but keep it in mind for now).
Beyond Google, people love content! Think back to when Blizzard announced Diablo II. Weren’t you dying to find out everything you could: scouring the web for any little tid bit? That’s how all people are about things they’re excited for. Now, if your company and game are new, this won’t be the initial reaction, however, a development blog is a place to start the conversation, i.e., direct people to get them interested. From there, the blog provides plenty of articles to learn more and become engaged. And from there, it provides information that can easily be shared via social media, and so on, and so on. See where I’m going with this?
Here are two excellent examples of development blogs:
2. Spread the Word
Building an audience is like planning a wedding: no one will come if you don’t invite them. Even if you have the greatest, most accessible content in the world, don’t assume that people will find it. Be proactive: know your audience, research what forums they contribute to and what blogs and publications they read. Then, get involved. Become a member of those forums, blogs and publications. Join in on discussions, post comments on articles, friend members on Facebook, follow writers on Twitter, etc. Let them get to know you first as a credible contributor so you can promote your game without seeming like a spambot.
3. Post a Teaser Video
Everybody loves a good teaser video. In fact it’s the way a lot of indie developers get discovered…if done right. There are many ways to make an effective teaser video, but I prefer two styles which I call “Intrigue” and “Developer.”
The Intrigue approach turns teaser videos into a piece of art: captivating viewers with beautiful imagery and music. However, it also barely shows any gameplay and often leaves people craving more. This is exactly what Techland did with Dead Island (see below):
The Developer approach is just what it sounds like: a teaser made by a developer. This type of teaser typically is narrated by a developer taking the audience on a tour of his/her game in its development environment, or during gameplay. It is somewhat technical, has that “behind the scenes” kind of feel and the human element. This is what Sauropod Studio did with Castle Story (see below):
Lord Mikeabout 10 years ago
@Emmy, great work, very imformative and clearly understood. Thanks! keep your flag up . . .Reply
Emmyabout 10 years ago
You know it! Thanks for the comment.Reply
Dwightabout 8 years ago
Thanks for the great information Emmy. I recognized your website name from somewhere in the past but was never able to work my way around to visiting until recently. I'm glad I did, you present invaluable information that is difficult to research and isn't easily consolidated into a well presented format. Thank you very much. OK now that's out of the way. :) The two dev blogs you reference above as excellent examples I think could be updated with better examples. Southend Interactive’s Ilomilo - this site no longer exists. Sauropod Studio’s Castle Story - I actually like this one but when I went to sign up for updates there wasn't an option for email updates. I prefer email updates over other options. I understand this is an older post so Southend 'was' probably a great example when you originally published. Thank you again for the great work you do on this site. Can I use your name when I get asked who is my PR rep is? :)Reply
Emmyabout 8 years ago
Hi Dwight, thanks for the comment and for letting me know that Ilomilo's blog no longer exists. You're right, I did write this post a while ago and the example was a great one when it was live. I'll be updating this post soon with some other good examples. Re: email updates. Every dev blog should allow followers to sign up for email updates...and I always recommend it to my fans for exactly this reason. Perhaps you could email the Sauropod team to see if they offer email updates in some way? The studio does list its contact info there.Reply
CleanWaterabout 8 years ago
Your tips always help me out. They are very simple to any indie follow it. Thank you very much miss!Reply
Pat Rackabout 8 years ago
Great article again. Short and sweet.Reply
Shanzebabout 6 years ago
Hello Emmy thank you for the tips. I am a student as well as a game developer. i have developed 5 games but none of them worked out. I feel like i have wasted time making those games. when i don't get enough feed back. Is there a way to build great audience for my games?Reply
Emmyabout 6 years ago
Hi Shanzeb, thank you for the comment and sorry to hear that your games did not work out the way you had hoped. If you're main challenge is not getting enough feedback on your game before launch, I would suggest looking into doing some kind of beta program where you invite people to play your game and provide feedback that you can use to improve it before release. Some great ways to recruit people for your beta are through your own network of friends/families, on social media, or by showing your game at events and asking people if they would be interested in joining the beta there. Hope that helps and good luck!Reply