Games are a medium that can tell stories and convey messages in a way that is unique and engaging. Indie developers often have creative and innovative ideas that can be showcased through their games. Marketing these games effectively can also mean the dissemination of powerful messages or themes inherent in the game, leading to a deeper connection with the audience.
In the early days, indie games, being a novel concept, required little marketing. However, as of 2021, the excitement for indie games has matured, necessitating a more strategic approach. During the pandemic, games have become an essential part of entertainment culture as never before.
Today, marketing an indie game is a more time-intensive endeavor, requiring a tailored, well-researched approach, considering the game’s unique aspects and the target audience’s preferences. Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch are where a substantial portion of the gaming community spends their time. By advertising within these platforms, indie developers can directly reach their target audience. This is particularly crucial for indie developers who often struggle with visibility in a market dominated by larger studios. Leveraging the power of gaming influencers, indie game developers can create a more interactive and memorable experience for potential players on social media. This helps in building brand awareness and loyalty, which are critical for the long-term success of any game.
One more important point for indie developers is budget constraints, which are a common challenge. Platforms, and especially YouTube, offer a cost-effective way to market games. Collaborating with influencers, who already have an established audience, can be a more budget-friendly approach compared to traditional advertising methods. Influencers can provide authentic endorsements, tapping into their followers’ trust and interest, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
Further in the article, the Famesters experts are going to tell you how to market as an indie game developer using YouTube which is one of the most popular and available platforms for game streamers.
Let’s start with a brief guide suggesting the overall marketing strategy for successful promotion of your indie game.
Focus on optimizing the game’s name, keywords, and description for app stores to enhance discoverability. More information on how to encourage app downloads you can find in one of our previous articles.
A soft launch is a crucial step in game development, serving as a testing phase to assess whether a game is ready for the broader market. This approach involves releasing the game to a limited audience, allowing the developer to observe and evaluate user experience and gather feedback. Based on this feedback and user engagement, developers can make necessary adjustments and improvements to the game. This process helps in refining the game before proceeding to a full-scale launch to a wider audience, ensuring better preparedness and potential success in the market.
Engage influencers to review the game on their channels, leveraging their influence to attract new followers.
Maximize organic traffic through word of mouth from existing users, as personal recommendations are highly effective. You can also utilize industry-specific ad networks or collaborate with other developers for cross-promotion.
Gain press coverage through relevant digital platforms. You can utilize various platforms such as popular local YouTube channels, press release platforms, reviews, and widely-followed tech news websites to generate buzz about your game. The more exposure and conversation your game receives, the more likely people are to try it. You should support this press coverage with a link to a micro landing page that effectively showcases the unique features and offerings of your game.
The viral indie game ‘Among Us’, created by the InnerSloth team, has produced a great mobile-friendly landing page where everyone can easily find all the information in one and easy-to-use place – from the game’s synopsis and the trailer to the ‘download’ and ‘buy merchandise’ buttons, screenshots and relevant links.
Engage in online events, such as the Google Play Indie Games Festival, for promotion and networking opportunities. Participate in forums and communities, and consider creating your own community to engage existing players and attract new ones.
Use social media platforms to engage with the target audience, share content, and initiate conversations. Focus on building relationships between players, and leverage these to enhance user engagement and loyalty. Leverage the power of influencers to enhance brand awareness and engage with new followers.
The game ‘Star Citizen’ is a good example of how to market as an indie game developer using YouTube. It utilized the popular platform effectively, leading to the development of an engaged community and increased sales.
‘Star Citizen’ has been in development since 2012 and has gained a significant following on YouTube, with nearly half a million followers. This success is attributed to the game studio’s commitment to regular content uploads and community engagement on the platform.
A standout example of their YouTube presence is a video celebrating International Women’s Day. This ‘behind-the-scenes’ video featured female employees from Cloud Imperium Games, the studio behind ‘Star Citizen’. It achieved notable engagement with over 24,000 views and 408 comments.
YouTube’s popularity and effectiveness in the gaming niche makes the platform a necessary place for promotion of your brand. With over two billion users in its 18-year history, YouTube’s significance as an online video platform is undoubtful. YouTube, known for its large gaming audience and influential gamers like PewDiePie and Markiplier, is an ideal platform for reaching a vast and engaged audience. The ease of engagement and sharing on YouTube makes it a prime choice for new developers, especially those with limited budgets. Take note that gaming is the second largest industry on YouTube.
Source: Influencer Marketing Hub
Considering the fact that YouTube is not only a social media platform, but also the world’s 2nd largest search engine, it might be underscored that the gradual but rewarding process of audience growth on YouTube means that initial efforts can lead to greater ease and success in the long run.
Only the relevant influencers can contribute to successful game marketing. A key strategy is to partner with influencers whose fan base aligns with the game’s genre, as this can significantly enhance the game’s reach to relevant audiences who are more likely to install and make in-game purchases. The effectiveness of this approach is attributed to the strong influence creators have over their followers, who often trust and rely on their recommendations.
Therefore, indie game developers should not focus solely on streamers with large audiences when marketing their games on YouTube. The Famesters experts suggest finding streamers who are passionate about the game’s genre and play on the same platform or console for which the game is designed. In essence, compatibility and genuine interest are far more important than sheer audience size. Apart from game streamers, you can also target influencers who specialize in niches related to gaming, such as tutorials or game reviews.
When choosing an influencer, the two metrics are taken into consideration more than any other: number of followers and engagement rate. In essence, while high viewership numbers are important, engagement metrics, which include the audience’s interaction and interest level, can be a more significant indicator of potential success in marketing collaborations.
Today there’s a move towards valuing engagement and niche marketing over sheer follower count, especially for smaller and medium-sized businesses. Indie game developers should also take this tendency into account as they can greatly benefit from collaborations with micro-influencers.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, nano-influencers (1K-10K followers) are the most popular choice for brand partnerships, with 39% of brands favoring this group. These influencers are known for their niche audiences and high engagement rates.
Micro-Influencers (10K-100K followers) are the second most popular choice, selected by 30% of brands. They strike a balance between reach and engagement, making them attractive for brand collaborations.
Read more on the topic: Nano-, micro-, macro-, and mega-influencers explained
When selecting a YouTuber for collaboration, it’s crucial to balance high viewership with high engagement. High viewership with low engagement might lead to poor conversion rates, making the investment less worthwhile. On the other hand, working with creators who have a smaller audience but high engagement can lead to a more interested and engaged audience, potentially boosting conversion rates. That is why indie game developers should opt for collaborating with micro-influencers. A nice bonus – that working with micro-influencers is more cost-effective – makes these niche content creators a preferable choice for your indie game advertising campaigns. In other words, you pay less for great results!
If you feel that now is an opportune time to start promotion of your upcoming indie game, then we’re waiting for you at our influencer marketing agency. Here at Famesters you will meet real experts who know for sure how to boost engagement, improve reach, and ultimately pave the way for your game’s success leveraging the power of the relevant influencers. We will help you to test waters in influencer marketing. First launching a campaign, we use only 40% of the budget to reveal the most profitable directions. Further, if a collaboration results in increased engagement rates and audience growth, we will help you to establish long-term contracts with influencers for sustained marketing benefits.
Read more on the topic: Why video games need influencer marketing
The game ‘Shovel Knight’, developed by Yacht Club Games, significantly benefited from exposure on YouTube, resulting in the campaign overfunding by 415%. David D’Angelo of Yacht Club Games noted that about 20% of the campaign’s backers were directly influenced by YouTube. This platform played a crucial role in the campaign’s success, particularly in its final days. Initially meeting its goal in late March, the campaign experienced a surge in funding, quadrupling its initial target, largely due to attention from YouTubers.
To leverage YouTube’s influence, the Shovel Knight team collaborated with popular gaming channels like GameGrumps and Super Best Friends Play. They asked these channels to showcase Shovel Knight, which helped in attracting a larger audience and more backers to their campaign. This strategy highlights the significant impact that social media influencers, particularly YouTubers, can have on crowdfunding campaigns, especially in the gaming industry.
The arrows pointing to the days where YouTube influencers released their Shovel Knight videos. Source: Tips for Marketing Indie Games on YouTube
In the competitive gaming market, success is not just about creating visually stunning games, but also about ensuring they are discovered by potential players. Indie game developers often face the daunting task of marketing their games with limited resources in an increasingly crowded market. A comprehensive and robust marketing strategy should consist not only of such essential steps as good ASO, soft launch, press coverage, and community building efforts, but should also include wise social media promotion tactics. Utilizing platforms like YouTube and engaging in influencer marketing can help overcome all the challenges. By identifying and collaborating with influencers who align with the game’s theme and audience, indie developers can effectively amplify their game’s visibility and appeal.
Influencer marketing on YouTube is a cost-effective and reliable way to reach a broader audience and generate more interest in your indie game. Key points include finding the right creators, balancing the choice between high viewership and engagement, and leveraging influencer marketing effectively. By employing these tactics, indie game developers can more efficiently market their games on YouTube and enhance their prospects for success.
At the Famesters full-cycle influencer marketing agency, we help indie game developers with their marketing efforts. Effective marketing demands substantial research, and that is what we base our influencer marketing strategy on. Contact us via email [email protected] if you want to launch an advertising campaign backed by data, statistics, and analytics.
In the current digital landscape, where gaming has become a major part of entertainment culture, leveraging the power of gaming influencers is not just an option, but a necessity for indie developers seeking to carve out a space for themselves.