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The Dreaded Marketing Thread

A topic by Lantana Games created 1 year ago Views: 755 Replies: 10
Viewing posts 1 to 8

Preface: itch.io is awesome, not just as a platform, but as a community, and these forums are so far reflecting that quite nicely. I love it and look forward to posting our games here for years to come!

Now, I don't know if it's because of a lack of traction/a lack of PR budget/lack of general interest in our games specifically, or perhaps it has something to do with the small size of the site or people being nervous about putting in their credit card info, but has anyone else found it difficult to push premium products here? I don't mean free games or app-priced titles, I mean products that cost $5 or greater. Obviously if your game is on Steam, you're going to see some money just from the size of the audience. I'm still wondering what would benefit my games on the little sites, though. Thinking of heading in the direction of exclusive bonus content, but I know how polarizing that can be. Heck, our most recent title, Mondrian - Abstraction in Beauty, was featured on the front page, and while we got thousands of views, the sales numbers most certainly do not reflect that.

What are some ways you've found success on itch.io? Have you even found any success here, and if not, what do you think is the culprit?

(+2)

I think just because itch.io is a newcomer (a fast-growing newcomer, but still a newcomer) it has a small audience. I've seen some success, but it was modest and not really sustainable. I think it'll take some time before people stop looking to Steam as their only source of video games.

The size of the site does matter right now, since Steam is pretty dominant on the market and there isn't much reason for people to look elsewhere unless they're really interested in the indie game scene themselves.

I will say that a large issue is marketing as well. Most indie developers hope that getting on a front page or having a banner ad someplace will do wonders, and while it may help, there's a lot more that you can do. Look at the Big List of Youtubers, see who would be interested in your game, watch a video or two of theirs to be sure, and send them an email. It's exhausting (at least for me; I still need to finish going through the list), but contacting people for reviews helps out.

Twitter helps too; if you're an indie developer and not on there, seriously consider getting an account just because it's so simple to just throw hashtags onto posts with screenshots and store pages to boost your reach. I managed to get a couple very small channels to do a review on Youtube because I asked publicly on Twitter (and they were even pretty positive, like this one!). Even if the reviewer has no subscribers, don't underestimate the value of someone being able to type in the name of your game and be able to see someone else play and examine it.

Also, pitch your game at the drop of a hat. If a stranger comments on your shirt because they recognize and like the band on it, mention how you like whatever style of music it is, but that you haven't had much time to listen to them since you've been working on your game. Learn how to segway discussions with potential players toward your game and what makes it so interesting. Always have pen and paper on hand to give your game's url to people. It may seem insignificant, but I've made more than one sale and several downloads this way.

I'm sure there's a couple more factors as to why it's hard to find success on here, but I think the site size (and relative obscurity in comparison to places like Steam and GOG) and the average indie dev's marketing strategy to be the main issues.

To-date I've had a so-so relationship with Youtubers/Streamers. Content creators took to Children of Liberty really well when it launched on Early Access, and even Jim Sterling didn't hate it (!!!) but despite sending out over 150 keys for Mondrian, a grand total of... I want to say 6 videos have been made, 2 of which have since been taken down. A good percentage of the other Steam keys, I kid you not, ended up on G2A and Kinguin. It became such a problem that we now spend an equal amount of time reviewing a creator's work and sponsors as reaching out to them. Pretty sure there's a Youtuber out there who's made more money off sales of our game than we have.

Yet they are a very influential arm of the media (though many would like to deny they're media) so all you can pretty much do is send them an email and keep your fingers crossed you don't get screwed.

Admin(+1)

itch.io is a small little fledgling website that has only existed for a few years -- i'm gonna say about two or three? -- and jumping into the current gaming ecosystem, which is currently dominated by Steam and GOG of the like, and finding any kind of significant visibility is a real tough thing to do!

i remember this being a problem for me when i first started releasing stuff (way back before i worked here :B); it's real hard to get people to look at your stuff just from posting it here. most "gamers" don't really care about itch.io, and it occasionally gets a bad rep in hardcore gaming communities because our catalog of available games is so completely out there compared to other marketplaces, and we allow all sorts of experimental work, which most gamers, despite saying they want new stuff, don't seem to actually want very much.

of course, this is a thing that shouldn't be considered a negative, in my opinion, but that's how people feel! we're "too new" and our catalog is too weird and diverse. we also don't have a functioning app like Steam yet, although we have one that Amos has been working on for a few months now that's shaping up really well! i personally feel the app will go a decent way towards getting more eyes on itch.io, since a lot of people find the convenience in automatically downloading updates through an app a necessity. we've also been doing a lot for the site to keep growing it, and it does seem to be working pretty well; a year or two ago, we would have never had a big enough community to launch forums!

i think that one of these days itch.io will become a lot more popular as it offers many benefits not just for devs, but for players who are looking for new experiences. until then though, us devs still have to be our own PR; we have to hit up websites that write about and do video for games and try to get our work in peoples' hands so they'll support us! as itch.io, we can only do so much at a time to get the new work out there right now.

(+3)

most of my sales come from twitter. don't launch a game on the weekend. early in the week is good. i have a list of press people i send free copies of stuff to, and i send them at least a week before the game's release date, so they have time to write something. be really clear about basic stuff about the game in that email, like when it'll come out, how much it'll cost, and what URL they should link if they write about it (itch is cool cus you can set up your game's page / url ahead of time, then set it in preview mode to show to press). again, don't send out those emails on the weekend. i've heard tuesday is a good day, because folks tend to spend mondays catching up on stuff from the over the weekend.

i have always sucked at marketing though so no promises.

Tuesdays also tend to be big AAA launch days, though, so plan accordingly!

this is very helpful ty

(+2)

I have a tiny YouTube-channel where I make Videos about recently released Indie Games in German. For me one the main reasons why I decide to cover a game is whether or not I've heard of it, or its developer before. The game may not get released on Steam, but if your name rings a bell, I'm probably going to cover it. I have weeks where I get drowned in emails and even though I don't like sorting stuff out, I kind of have to in order to get things done. Knowing the name of a developer is one thing that really helps in that regard.

One thing that also helps are follow-up emails. I sometimes forget about games I actually wanted to cover and ended up covering them, because a developer reminded me of it. Sometimes I also don't have the time initially to cover a game, but I might have it by the time I got reminded.


To be honest, I think the impact YouTube has on smaller games is a bit overestimated. Sure, it could boost your game's visibility by a lot, but it's still incredibly tough to get to the point where channels want to cover your game. Most of the time, it's not those larger channels that "discover" a game, but it's smaller channels/sites that specialize in these kinds of things.

I think it's a similar kind of survivorship bias you see with succesful indie devs in general. Since you only get to hear the stories where getting coverage from a large YouTuber saved a developer's business, you tend to think that it happens to everyone who does get covered by those people. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to get coverage from those channels. However I think it's much more important to get to a point where people start talking about your games on a regular basis and not only after you released your game.

What is your go-to place to learn about new developers? Press? Forums?

I don't really have a go-to place. Nowadays I find most people via twitter or just via randomly scrolling through the games over here.

Way back between 2008 and 2010 it was Tigsource, then Rock Paper Shotgun (which still is the only gaming site I visit on a daily basis). I also heard about a lot of games via Rock LeeSmile's Indie Impression series. Unfortunately he stopped doing those almost entirely.

I'm in a bit of weird spot right now, because I'm in the process of switching sides. I have a game that I want to release comercially next year and I'm still trying to come up with ways to convince people to take notice. Right now my strategy boils down to "make a Prototype, make a trailer and don't stop talking about this thing, until it's done". Which probably isn't the most elaborate way of doing things, but it should be a good start right?

I don't mind giving peoples games a bash, my youtube is expanding and i'm into all sorts, no favourite genre. I'll pop a link in the description for you aswell.