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You’ve built a great game and you want to
get it out to the masses. The problem is that you don’t have any money
to pay for a marketing campaign! What is an independent developer to do? In this video we’re going to show you how
to get great a marketing and public relations outcome from your game – with little or no
money invested. We are Ask GameDev, AKA Min Max & The Code
Warriors, AKA Code Cudi & Kanye Test, AKA the Ben Steins of Game Designs, and this is
indie game marketing on a shoestring budget. Welcome back! If you’re new to Ask Gamedev, we make videos
to help you learn about the games industry so that you can elevate your games and Inspire
others. If you’re on a gamedev journey, consider
subscribing. We’d love to help you along the way.

So you are closing in on the end of your development
– your team has been working hard writing freshly authored game code and everything
is coming together nicely. You are starting to wonder how you can get
the word out about your soon-to-be-released masterpiece… and the unfortunate reality
is that you don’t have much money to allocate to your marketing efforts. This is a pretty common scenario – most indie
developers operate on a shoestring budget and don't have the money needed to pay for
expensive marketing or public relations firms. So what options do you have? Luckily, there is a path that you can take
to help get the word out that will only require your time and effort.

You will need to focus on creating and sharing
online material, such as videos, blogs, or social media posts, that does not explicitly
promote a brand – but is intended to stimulate interest or solve a problem. That’s content marketing – and the tools
that you will need in this area have never been more accessible. Let’s start by reviewing what you are trying
accomplish with your marketing campaign. Your goal with your content marketing campaign
is to build a small group of loyal and passionate evangelists of your work. In the early days, this work will be content.. But as time passes, it can be many different
things – including games. The initial content should be valuable and
high-quality posts that they care about – and on their preferred social sites or other web
platforms. You will also need to provide this content
regularly and for an extended period, including participating in conversations about your
content and helping your audience with questions and problem solving. Remember that when it comes to making content,
no matter how big you get – always remember the A.S.K. rule. Audience Stays King. This type of content strategy has a long track
record of success.

The Michelin Brothers created the Michelin
guide books on hotel and restaurant quality, and then leveraged that audience to help sell
tires. General Mills created the Betty Crocker brand
to build an audience around recipe content – and then proceeded to sell kitchen and food
products into that audience. So move forward on building that initial audience
– even if the content you provide them isn't promoting any particular product of yours. It is these passionate early evangelists that
will spread the word about your content to others – thereby increasing the amount of
attention it receives. If you do this right, you will build audience
loyalty. It is that loyalty that you can lean on when
you want support with the promotion of your game.

The goal is to get this audience to carry
the promotional torch for you – thereby keeping your personal marketing costs in time and
effort reasonable. So let’s talk specifics on how to do this. The first thing to do is to define the community
of prospective customers of your game. The starting point for this is to look at
purchasers of other games and genres that are similar to your future release. You will need to find out as much as you can
about these people. Where do they spend time online? What are their characteristics? What type of content resonates with them? Do your homework as these individuals are
where you are going to focus your initial efforts. Let’s pretend you have identified our favorite
Ask Gamedev mock title – Super Teal Robot – as a game whose audience you want to target. Super Teal Robot is a side-scrolling shooter
in the action platformer genre. It is similar in genre to games such as Megaman
or Shovel Knight. It has a mid to hard-core theme and is available
on the PC platform.

The audience for these types of games are
predominantly male, 14-35 in age, and located in the western nations. When they consume content around side-scrollers
– they do it by watching game trailers and lets play videos on Youtube, live streams
on Twitch, and via voice and text chat about their games on Discord. There’s a lot more to learn obviously..
but this initial research shows some basic information that you might use to target the
audience of Super Teal Robot. So now that you have your initial audience
defined, the next step is to build authority with this group in an subject matter area
that they care out – ideally the game genre that your title fits within. How do you become an authority of that space? Make great thoughtful content. Do a search on the popular sites that your
audience frequents. What are people posting about that game genre? This could include high quality streams of
similar titles on Twitch, or let’s plays on Youtube, or image content for Instagram.

If you are looking for more information on
Twitch, the popular streaming platform with the gaming community, we recently did a video
on how to get your game played on Twitch. Click the card above to check it out. It’s important to figure out what types
of content are getting engagement, like upvotes or comments, with the audience you are looking
to target. Once you have a shortlist of content that
your audience engages with – you will need to determine how you can improve on those
pieces by providing additional value. Let’s go back to the Super Teal Robot audience
as an example. We’ve identified that they have an interest
in games like the one we have developed. We also know where they spend their time,
and the type of content they like. We should look to create content for that
audience by improving on the existing content options in some way. Maybe find some good blogs posts on that game
genre and turn them into 2D vector art snippits, or image posts for Instagram.

Maybe take popular Youtube videos that are
long in duration and consider creating shorter videos that are easier to digest. Or maybe take a tutorial series that is in
text format, and instead turn it into a live stream. Does your target audience read a lot of webcomics? Maybe you could start one that targets their
specific interests.The options are endless here – and should really be customized to
the specific audience you are targeting and their specific interests. When deciding what kind of content to make,
obviously consider what you are capable of. Not everyone can make amazing game art or
has the equipment for a professional looking streaming channel.

That said, there is always something you CAN
do – whether it is text, image, or video content depends on what you are comfortable with. With time, your regular posts should result
in an quantifiable audience of followers. Maybe 10% of these subscribers are of the
passionate sort – the type that regularly come back to view and engage with everything
you create. It is this group of followers that are your
evangelists, and the larger you can build this base audience, the better.

So now that you have an audience that you
are pushing regular content to, the next step is to build a real-time conversation with
those audience members to further drive value and deepen the relationship. This involves adopting a presence in one of
the real-time social platforms on the web. This might include streaming on twitch, youtube,
or facebook, or setting up a chat environment via slack or discord. Either way, the goal here is to be available
in real-time and engage in discussions with your audience.

If you can be genuine and useful in this environment,
you can really develop deep loyalty amongst your community, as your audience will ideally
leap from supporting your content – to supporting YOU! We recently set up a discord server so that
the Ask GameDev community can share ideas on how to elevate our games and share best
practices. Take a look in the description for this video
to find a link to our server! So now you have a growing community of passionate
supporters who regularly consume your content on a valuable game genre AND you have a presence
online that supports real-time conversation.

You now need to notify your audience that
you have been building a game that they may be interested in. How can you do this to ensure they will support
you? The first requirement in any promotional campaign
is that the game you are intending to drive prospective customers to MUST be good. Trying to build excitement for a game that
doesn’t delight is extremely difficult. It doesn't matter how loyal your audience
is – they are not going to evangelize a bad game. So we’re going to assume you’ve got a
great title. The next step would be to approach your most
loyal community members first and give them a sneak peek of your game – a beta build or
something pre-release, and ask for their feedback.

If you treat the feedback seriously – and
you should given that this audience has a passion for your game genre – its shows that
you value their opinion and this can help to get those users invested in your efforts. Also ask them about your plan to communicate
the game to your wider audience. Make sure they agree with your proposal, as
they can give you early warning if your promotional effort will be poorly received by your community.

Once your game is ready for release – let
your audience know via your regular content posting process. Be honest and transparent in your approach
– you made this game as a commercial effort, and would love for your audience to check
it out. Their support would obviously be appreciated
-a successful game can help you finance the continued creation of great content! Be sure to not make the ask for support excessive
or heavy handed. Also, be clear on how your audience can help. Do you want them to spread the word? How and where? Do you want them to make an online review? You should probably give them a free game
copy if you are going to make requests like this. If you want them to buy the title – what special
perk can you give them for taking a chance of your title? Maybe a reduced price, additional content,
or special SWAG? Either way, show your appreciation for their
early support and as much as possible reduce the time and effort that need to expend.

So there you have it – a step by step plan
on how to build an audience without money by making valuable content around your game
genre. We’ll leave you now with a look at an inspiring
game made by Ask GameDev community member Mohammed Mokhtar, Mohammed built the first
person shooter Zattack, as an individual development effort. Mohammed wrote all the game code and then
bought all the art assets online. Another great example of the type of games
that can be made by independent developers! Mohammed had made Zattack available for Windows
via Github.

It’s free so check out the video description
for the link to check it out. If you are on a gamedev journey, please link
to your game, art, animation, or audio in the comments below to get your work included
in future Ask GameDev videos. Thanks for watching! we are Ask Gamedev and
we make game development videos on how to elevate your game and inspire others. We publish new content every week so consider
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