The Best Marketing You Can Do for Your Game Is to Make It Great!

It all started with my decision to forgo social media for my indie game dev projects back in 2020...

William: A nether born and one of the most contradictory characters of Parallel Pulse

If you're an indie game developer, you've probably came face to face with the following dilemma: Which social media platform to use to promote your game. Websites and social media platforms often dominate the landscape, seaming serving as the only go-to tools for reaching out to your audience and building a community. Also, experts of all kinds will tell you that you need to have a presence everywhere since everyone is doing it.

Prior to Covid-19, I can't recall a social media platform where I didn't have a presence. I was everywhere; however, as time passed I started questioning the effectiveness of social media, and for a valid reason: creating content for most social media platforms now brings limited (if any) organic reach and impact. At the same time, you need to be kept up to date with algo updates and changes. An account that appears successful one day can vanish into nothingness the next, leaving you with nothing but wasted time and effort. Simply put, this isn't a sustainable business model.

When I started developing my indie projects, the decision was clear for me: I should prioritize developing my games instead of wasting time developing content for social media. If you're a solo game dev or a small team, it's just way more practical to allocate your limited time and energy on actual game development rather than "investing" it in social media management. Managing multiple social media platforms at the same time requires a lot of effort, and these platforms are smart enough nowadays to understand if you're using a distribution platform to automate the process.

Can social media drive some traffic to your game? Sure, it can. 

Is it worth the time effort? Honestly, it’s not. It's a massive waste of time for solo devs and single-A indie teams.

If we look at it objectively, social media’s effectiveness has diminished over the years, and organic reach is pretty much dead. The average reach for each of your social media posts is below 10%! And we know what reach means—most of the time, people don’t even glance at your content. When folks are scrolling through their feeds, they rarely pay attention what's thrown at them. Now, imagine trying to convince people to follow your link, land to your steam page, and Wishlist your game. I’d say it’s practically impossible to generate any real leads organically at this point, not with the way most people are doing it.

Today's entertainment landscape is about more than just your game versus others'. It's fundamentally about gaining attention. Let me elaborate on this a bit. We often think our games are competing against other games, but in reality, they're competing for people's attention. A person might prefer to spend their time hanging out with friends, watching a movie, or even eating pizza. All these activities fall under entertainment, and believe it or not, people nowadays have to prioritize what they want to do with their time: play a game or eat pizza with friends.

This reality means that as developers, we're not just trying to make a game that stands out against other games; we're trying to create an experience compelling enough to be chosen over other activities. It's a broad competition for engagement in a world full of options.

Where your focus should really be is on developing your game! Yup, you heard it right.

The indie games that dominate steam right now, deserve the spot they gained.

I recently watched a video from Sasquatch B Studios about why most indie developers fail. The YouTuber explains that the indie games that currently dominate Steam truly deserve their spot, and I agree 100% with that statement.

Back in the day when I was writing and publishing books on Amazon, I noticed that fellow indie writers succeeded for three main reasons: 

  1. Rule n1: Write for market,
  2. Rule n2: Create amazing content,
  3. Rule n3: Be consistent.

It might be obvious, but more than often you'll find yourself caught up in non-essential things, like figuring out how to promote your book, when in reality what matters are the three fundamental rules I mentioned above. It doesn't matter how good your book cover is or how catchy your blurb is if the readers start bombing you in the reviews.

My point is that the best marketing you can do is to make a great game! If the primary material isn't worth it, the truth is that it won't take off, and all the effort you put into it will be for nothing.

And I can hear you asking: "Should we just make a game and do nothing to promote it?" Of course not! You should promote it, but your primary focus should be on developing the game itself, and worry about the marketing when you have something decent to show.

For the initial concepts of Parallel Pulse, we were thinking of having monster / beast traits for the characters.

With Parallel Pulse, I haven't done any marketing so far, but I'll begin promoting it over the next few months using the following approach:

  • Create a Steam Page: Having a Steam page is essential so players can wishlist my game, and it should be the first step you do to promote your game. Without a landing page and key art, creating buzz won’t lead to results—players will forget about the game the moment the scroll down, unless they can wishlist it.
  • Identify my Audience: Like writing for a specific market, you need to know who the target audience is and focus on them. My game is inspired by TWEWY and Persona, so relevant subreddits, Discord servers, and Facebook groups centered around those games are the perfect places to gauge interest. To enhance results, I'll probably start doing FB & Reddits ads, to lead more people to my steam page and improve wishlist numbers.
  • Focus on an Untapped Niche: I started making Parallel Pulse because I always wanted to play more games like TWEWY. But since it's both novel and niche, AAA studios never really had the chance to make another game like it. This makes this niche a sweet spot for a solo developer or small studio because it's profitable and less competitive. Being a part of these communities of TWEWY players because I genuinely love the game, makes it easier for me to know what my audience will enjoy.
  • Reach Out to YouTubers: There's a handful of YouTube channels that cover TWEWY games exclusively. That niche following is exactly what I need, so I'm planning on reaching out to them and collaborate to promote my game, even paying them if necessary.
And here you have it. A simple yet effective marketing strategy to promote your games. Have you tested something else that worked? Please share in the comments.

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