Too often, indie developers rush to spend on social media advertising, hoping that dropping $100 or $1,000 will bring floods of players to their game. Unfortunately, not everyone has that experience. You can easily spend hundreds and bring in just a small handful of players. And there’s no guarantee that those players will do more than play your game once and move on.
The future of video game advertising, especially for indie titles, is community marketing. Search engine optimization and social media platforms aren’t as fruitful as they once were, and as the landscape changes, your direction must change with it.
So, what is community marketing? And how do you implement it for your upcoming release? The key component of this form of advertising is right in the title.
Build Your Community
The first thing you need to participate in community marketing is a community. Building one isn’t an instant process, but with tools like Reddit, Discord, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch, you can start gathering like-minded players.
You’ll need to cater your tactics to each platform, using their strengths to your advantage. For example, Discord is best for real-time conversations with prospective players about the game. TikTok is where you’ll garner interest with gameplay snippets, and YouTube is better suited for longer developer vlogs.
The more you show of your game and the more you’re willing to talk about it, the more people will want to hear more.
What Can Your Community Do For You?
Remember when Among Us was released and it was an immediate breakout hit? No, because that’s not what happened. Among Us released to a very small audience, and was practically dead when it finally gained popularity. And what was behind its sudden resurgence? A community of gamers.
Streamers and content creators can drive a game to success, as was the case with Among Us. South Korean and Brazillian creators drew their audiences to Among Us, effectively making community marketing a significant part of the game’s ongoing expansion.
Make Them Feel Part of the Process
User-created content is going to be crucial to building your audience, as players want to feel like they’re part of the team. Throw them some assets create memes or, if your game allows, encourage mods. The more your audience shares their creations, the bigger your reach winds up getting.
Give Them a Way to Participate
You want to deliver a finished product that players will enjoy. While you may test your game on the backend, a user-focused playtest serves two purposes:
- Helps you find points of improvement
- Makes your community part of the development process
Playtests can even extend beyond your active community, bringing in even more players through services like G.Round. The key is to get hands-on with your game to encourage more players to talk about it on their social media platforms and within their friend groups.
Build Relationships for a More Successful Launch
The cornerstone of community marketing is the relationships you build. You can foster strong bonds with your audience by being communicative, offering ways for them to be part of the creative process (even if it’s just through playtesting), and keeping them in the loop with updates. This builds trust that helps facilitate effective community marketing and gets your game seen by more and more people.