How to support your indie game post-launch
Updated: Feb 24
After years of game development, blood, sweat and tears, your game is finally out! Congratulations! It's been a long effort, and things are paying off.
You've carefully chosen your target audience, created engaging social media content throughout the process and developed click-worthy ads to build your wishlist and pre-sales. So the job is done, right? You can now sit back and watch all your work pay off and start your next passion project.
Well... not exactly.
Now comes the hard part. Keeping that marketing drive going.
Just because you finally have a product that's ready to sell doesn't mean that audiences will automatically come clamouring to your store page. Now is the time to really build that word of mouth and show off your USPs.
Use Steam's Visibility Rounds
It's every developer's goal to get their game before the eyes of as many consumers as possible. Of course, that's usually easier said than done, though there are some key aspects to consider.
Once you launch your game on Steam, you are in what the platform calls a visibility round, where your game is eligible to be pushed to different areas of the store like new and trending releases, popular upcoming, on the Steam Queue or featured in your genre list. Where your game falls on these lists can vary depending on the popularity of your game, through wishlist's or how many people are visiting your store page in the first place.
Once you leave the launch round, according to Steam, you can qualify for five more update visibility rounds, and as the name suggests, these rounds are designed to bring attention to major updates to your game. Keep in mind that DLC's do not qualify for a launch visibility round on their own, and best practice suggests that you can promote them by posting an announcement in your community about your DLC launch and then use an Update Visibility Round to highlight your game or software. You can use the short description to describe your DLC launch.
It's also important to note that the Steam algorithm controls the way your game shows up on the store and the type of customers that see it. The visibility of any game on Steam is based on many factors, including how customers react to that product and who the potential audience is for that product. So what you can do on your end is keep developing your game and its updates with your target audience in mind.
As an indie developer, you know that the process is never done. There are always bugs to fix, promised additions to make and answering your fan's burning questions. Throughout the whole process, you need to continue to fill them in on what's been going on. Do you see some features that really took off? Have some of your implemented idea been stinkers? The fans want to know, warts and all.
This type of content really engages readers with your process and turns them into brand ambassadors in ideal situations. Aim to write at least 1-2 blogs a month. This also gives those who purchased your game a reason to keep returning to your store page as they anticipate your next update.
Remember the before times when we all used to physically go to gaming conventions? Well, they are (hopefully) coming back soon.
It doesn't matter if you can get your game into larger shows like E3 or PAX, or you can only afford to go to smaller indie conventions., now that your game is out, it's time to get it in people's hands. Studies show that word-of-mouth advertising is key to the popularity of indie games, and what better way to grab that than by actually interacting with consumers face-to-face.
Whether they be on YouTube, Twitch or TikTok, video game influencers have quickly become an indie developer's best friend over the years. With audiences ranging from the thousands to 30+ million, they can be an instant way to get eyes on your product.
Now it's important that you don't get into bed with just any influencer you see. Just like the market research you've done about your game, you should research your potential influencer partner as well. Do they typically play your genre? What kind of audience do they usually cater to? Can you see yourself going into long-term business with them? It's these kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself.
Building a Community
Whether you're using your game-specific subreddit or a Discord Server, you need to give your fans a home. This not only allows fans to connect with each other to talk about the game, but it also gives them a direct connection to you, the developer.
Keep in mind that just giving them a place to live isn't the answer. You need to be constantly engaging with them. Try creating contests, give away competitions and developer AMAs. This brings people to your community and hopefully keeps them there.
Who doesn't love a good bargain? Keep an eye out for key sales dates on your chosen platform, and don't be afraid to give potential fans a discount. It might be just enough to turn a wishlist into a purchase. Do you have a major DLC coming? Now could be a good time to get new users hooked with a sale price or bundle.
How often and what price should you set? Unfortunately, there's no magic number. This is where you go back to your market research and trust that you understand your audience.
Whether we're talking about getting your game on the first page of Google search results or targeting customers on social media, in today's digital media climate, paid ads are a must-have in your marketing toolbelt.
There is a lot to consider when running your paid campaigns, but before you can get to the fun parts, you have to ask yourself 3 important questions: What are your goals? Who is your audience? And what is your budget?
Finally, and arguably the most important part of your paid ad strategy, tracking. You might have the most creative and click-worthy ads out there, but if you're not accurately tracking them, how else do you know where they are working and where they aren't? Ensure you're using the right UTM codes, keep track of your campaigns using tools such as Hubspot or Google Analytics, and even get involved in A/B testing to boot.
It's a lot to consider, but luckily you don't have to do it alone.
Choosing a partner
Does this all sound like a lot of work? The bad news is that it is. The good news is that you're not alone. There's an incredible amount of value in teaming up with a sales partner to get you over and through your games post-launch strategy.
Consider working with a marketing team like Cold Pixel, where we can handle everything from community and social media management to sales and continuing business. We also make investments in marketing and sales campaigns post-release. Reach out to us to learn more!
That's it for now! Follow us to keep up to date and learn more tips and tricks for video game marketing.