Announcing your indie game to the world for the first time

So, you’ve worked on your indie game for ages and it’s finally in a state where you feel you have something to show the world. So, what’s the best way to do this? Let’s find out!

I work with PR & Marketing here at Zoink Games and I’m in charge of a slew of different things, one of them being announcing games to the world. So far I’ve only announced a few games (less than five) but the announcements have all been pretty similar. I’ve written a few pointers  below that you could follow for a successful announce.

What you’ll need (the essentials)

You’ll need a few things in order to properly announce your game. Those things are:

Website with info about your game

Set up a website where you list all the information about your game. This will be the go-to place for your potential customers. Social Media is good and all, but for just listing information nothing beats a regular website. Make sure it’s easy to update and it works in all the gazillions of cell phones that’s out there. I can’t stress this enough – build a website that’s easy to maintain and doesn’t need any (or very little) updating. Since you’re an indie you won’t have time to update websites so make sure all the information on your site is accurate today, tomorrow and in one year.

Visit the Zombie Vikings landing page 

Trailer of some kind (Launch/teaser or gameplay)

You’ll need a trailer for your game. It could be a regular launch trailer, teaser trailer or even a gameplay trailer. Just some video that shows your game and how it looks when it plays. Don’t make it too long though, probably around 1:30 or so and not longer than 2 minutes. People today have such low attention span so make sure the trailer immediately grabs the viewer’s attention within the first 15 seconds.

A couple of screenshots (4-5)

Your screenshots should be as final as possible. They are going to be on the Internet forever and most likely always appear when someone does an image search on Google for your game, so make sure they look good! Put them on your site and make sure they’re easy to find if someone needs them.

A text briefly describing your game

If websites are going to write about your game make sure you have a good text that explains your game on your website. The text should be easy to read, not too long and easy for a member of the press to copy and paste into their news article. Keep in mind not everyone is fluent in English so try not to make the text too complex and don’t use words no one understands.

The announcement teaser trailer for Zombie Vikings from 2015

What’s your message? Find it and focus on it

What do you want your audience to do? Like a tweet? Watch your trailer? Sign up for your newsletter? Think about what you want the audience to do and make sure you communicate that message in all your promotional materials. If your main goal is to get everyone to watch your beautiful new trailer all your tweets, Facebook posts and emails should say “Check out my new awesome trailer here!”.

Make it as easy as possible for everyone to support you. Don’t tell your friends something like “Share my trailer, help me get my game Greenlit, Back my Kickstarter and sign up to my newsletter. Please?”. Instead focus on one message e.g. “Can you just retweet this tweet?” I know it’s tempting to do everything at the same time but focusing on one thing, not only sends a clear message to your community, it also makes it less stressful for you as a developer.

Prepare social media messages beforehand

When we announced Fe at this year’s E3 we had already prepared all the social messages that should go out. There were three of us working social media that evening and we had made a little schedule where we each had one or two responsibilities. The second our CEO left the E3 stage we started posting everything and within two minutes we had posts up on Facebook, Twitter, our blog and our dedicated Fe site and the trailer was live.

So create a Google Document and write down all your social media messages so you have them ready for launch. Make sure you consider character length for the different sites and try to target each social media differently. A tweet can vary much from a post on Facebook and you’re targeting two different audiences, so make sure your message reflects that.

Fe Announcement Trailer for EA Originals program supporting Indie development

Have your press kit ready

If someone from the press wants to write about your game and needs a screenshot or two you’ll need to have a press kit on your site that’s easy to find and download. You can put whatever you want in there (concept art, screenshots, character art, company and game logo etc.) Just make sure it’s not too big. A good recommendation is to use presskit() from Rami Ismail.

Zombie Vikings press kit (That doesn’t use presskit() from Rami)

Announcement time!

So, it’s time to reveal your game to the world. Make sure you’ve selected a good day, don’t announce your game when there are other big events taking place like PAX and E3. Don’t announce during holidays when people don’t work. Pick a day that works for you and have everything prepared. When you’re ready set everything live.

  • Set your website live, make sure it works and the link to the press kit works.
  • Publish your trailer on YouTube
  • Send out your press release (ALWAYS send as BCC)
  • Send out all your social media messages
  • (Post on whatever forums you frequently visit)

Set away a lot of time right after the launch. Don’t announce and then go to bed an hour afterwards. The times I’ve announced games I’ve stayed up until 3 or 4 am just answering messages, emails and tweets. Often it goes crazy and you’re getting bombarded with messages so be prepared!

To sum up

Announcing a game is exciting but also scary. But if you follow this list you’ll have a better chance of a successful announcement. It’s a really fun experience showing the entire world what you’ve been working on so try to enjoy it as much as possible.

There are of course many different ways to announce a game. Go crazy and be as creative as you can. Dress up as a shark and start chasing people down the street, let Twitch stream your game (like tinybuild did), parachute onto the PAX stage while wearing a monitor with your trailer on it. Just keep in mind that after you’ve done that and everyone wants to write about your game you have followed my steps so you already have your landing page, screenshots, press kit and trailer ready.

Drop me a tweet or comment below if you have any questions or thoughts.

Good luck with your announcement!

@MikaelForslind
PR & Marketing Manager
Zoink Games

 

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  • Garrett Nixon

    This is so helpful! Thanks!