I’ve done a lot more research into marketing recently in preparation for a new title of ours being released. It’s been a while since I last posted about our marketing efforts and experiences, and thought it worthwhile to post an update looking at what marketing work you can outsource.
I don’t know about you, but personally I find it quite interesting reading about marketing but not a lot of fun actually doing it. It may be I’m just not very good at that creative side. You can get inspiration from others here. Back in the early 2000s you may remember Acclaim because notorious for their ever-more-desperate marketing efforts for their last few titles before going to the wall not long afterwards. They started with ideas for their Turok dinosaur shooter series around naming your first born child Turok, or changing your own name to Turok for a year, and were pretty much universally berated for it but this undeniably generated publicity.
Acclaim also published the early Burnout games, and notably offered to pay speeding tickets in the UK for anyone speeding to buy the game on its launch day. That never happened in the end, but even announcing it generated lots of news. Acclaim also spoke of promoting Shadowman by placing adverts on actual gravestones, although no doubt this was never a truly serious suggestion.
The other reason I don’t enjoy marketing work is that I find it quite laborious maintaining email lists and sending out carefully crafted “on message” press releases, particularly when the results are so intangible. When you’re coding you see the results of your efforts immediately, not so with marketing. With this in mind I started looking into getting paid help to do marketing. I should add a disclaimer here, we’ve not actually engaged any outside party so far and probably won’t due to budget constraints. I’ve no vested interest one way or the other with anyone mentioned here.
I tried a few likely-looking marketing teams who present themselves as being indie-focussed, and the friendliest were the chaps at Wootcomms. Their strapline is “making the game is only half the battle”. See, I have learned something about marketing, I know what a strapline is! However, if the game is only half the battle, then we’ve got several man-years of effort ahead of us. Their point still stands though – there is lots to do after the game is done.
If you’ve got a budget you can outsource some of the work to the people at Wootcomms, allowing you to focus on other matters, such as playing Skyrim or planning how you’re going to spend the revenue earned from your new game. Wootcomms also do a great job of collecting articles about marketing, worth a trawl through their site. They’ll do your press releases and bulk email announcements, but you can also engage them earlier in the development process to help define what you’re actually aiming for with your game, if that’s something you’d like to do. I think I’d prefer marketing to come later, rather than having marketing influence the game design. Personally, I think having complete control of the game design phase is an important freedom that indies should preserve in order for a healthy diversity of games to appear.
Another resource I thought was really great was a series on Gamasutra that has what I’d regard as a fairly definitive guide to marketing, with a big chunk of information on outsourcing, albeit not for a very successful game. Worth a particular highlight from that Gamasutra series is the site Fiverr.com which is great for those on a budget, as indies invariably are. It is a site where you can buy people’s services in somewhat “off the wall” marketing skills for just 5 dollars. So someone might video themselves pretending to find your product in the Australian Outback or they might sing or paint or scream your product, or make your logo out of a pile of household objects. There are some really creative ideas there, and for 5 dollars for a YouTube movie of it, it’s great value.
Good luck with your ventures, as always I’m interested to know your own experiences with marketing.