7 Life Hacks to Successfully Promote Your Game

Jul
24

Part I. Before Release


Just a while ago Renatus celebrated its 3rd anniversary in the industry of games. Our team managed to release over 30 titles to key platforms, boost our audience up to 50 mln users and become the organizer of DevGAMM, the largest conference in CIS countries.

Three years later, we still remember how hard it can be to make first steps, so we decided to share some tips that may be of use to the beginners.


Young developer? Start-up founder? A talented guy dreaming of making his own game? This post will reveal some secrets of casual games promotion that might save your time. 
 
Let’s start from what you must do BEFORE RELEASE.
So, your game is in Beta, lots of work done and lots of sleepless nights are past now. This is exactly the point when you should start promoting your title.


1. Better soon, than later

Today, news are spreading almost at the speed of light. Despite this, we recommend you to start your promo activities at least one month before the release date. This period depends greatly on the size of your team and your budget.


2. Content for application stores

Placing your app into the application store is a long-awaited happening, because you can finally see the fruit of your team’s tedious work. There are a few main points in this whole procedure of creating a profile for your app.

Game Icon
This is basically the face of your game. We could write a whole book about designing icons for games, but we’d rather cut straight to the main rules you are to follow instead. 1) Icon should reflect the genre and essence of your game. 2) Icon should be eye-catching, distinguishable from other icons and perfectly match the store interface. 

Stick with these and remember - there are no established rules for creating a win-win game icon, you should invent your own perfect icon formula through experimenting, analysis and research. 



Description
In this part you should tell about your game - its plot, mechanics, best features. Each application store has its own way of presenting a game description, but you may create one text that would fit naturally into all (i.e., Facebook, Appstore and Google Play).
Main principle here: fewer words, more action. Or rather - more calling to action. Describe the best and most outstanding features of your game in 2-3 short sentences (150-200 characters with spaces). This part is what user will always see on your game’s page, to read the rest of the description he’ll need to click the Read More button, which means that you should give the cream of your app in the first lines. 

Even if you feel like the next Hemingway, don’t write too much. Be brief, informative and adopt a casual writing style without giving too many details about mechanics or gameplay. Try to evoke a certain mood in your future reader. Here’s a description of an award-winning game about cookies that provokes appetite as you read it:  https://www.facebook.com/games/cookiejam 

Always remember about the keywords. If properly used, a couple of words can become a ‘shortcut’ that will drive traffic massively to your game. To avoid app banning, make sure your keywords are relevant to the content of game and don’t contain names of other companies or apps. 

Screenshots
Take screenshots depicting the gameplay, map and boosters in your game. Keep in mind that Apple Appstore allows using graphics editors to add visual effects to your pics, but Facebook team will not tolerate screenshots which depict something that can’t actually be found in the game.

3. Promotional video

The ever-increasing competition forces us to go looking for tools and means that might put the game in a favorable light. Most games have trailers (videos) that give you a general idea of what the game is about and how to play it.
Important! There’s no need in making long game videos: keep its length within 30 seconds.

Cram your video with visual effects and animations rather than text and subtitles. We truly believe that a video is worth a thousand pictures.
Check out the video for our game Ice Cream Splash:



In case you have enough time and sufficient resource for several videos, we recommend you to come up with a teaser. A couple of short attention-arousing teasers would be perfect for a pre-lease campaign.

You can learn how to make a promo video on your own from this post: http://habrahabr.ru/post/120361
Lots of useful tips in!

4. Building a game community

No campaign would be complete or efficient without social network profiles. It won’t take long to create such profiles for your game and will bring you lots of benefits instead. 

With it you can gather a community of loyal fans even before release - they will be your target audience and focus group for testing content and various engaging activities (contests/offers/etc.). It will be much easier to control your target audience with these people, who have been in touch for weeks or months by the time of release. They will help other players and give support within the group - all these would mean that you’ve created an active long-lasting community of fans. 

Among the currently available social networks Vk.com and Facebook remain the best for launching games. Their advantages include: quick access to the app (click “play” and you’re in the game), the option of uploading photos and videos, discussions, detailed statistics, user-friendly page timeline and - the most important - a vast audience to reach. 



Twitter, Youtube and Instagram can become an additional space to create the hype and engage more players. Unfortunately, they are no good for being used as main networks to build a target audience. Except for, maybe, Twitter - it works perfectly well with any mobile app.



Instagram has been on the rise for a long time. The average growth rate for brand page subscribers on Instagram makes 237%.
FYI. Twitter has 400 mln registered users, while Instagram has only 300 mln. The gap is huge, unless you take into account that Facebook was created far in advance of Instagram.

But Instagram is good for promoting brands that offer some material goods or services, not the social apps. Few top-level game developers have an Instagram account; even if they have one, it’s mostly used for building the hype and not as the main source of target players.  

On top of this, you are always welcome to use your team members’ accounts for spreading the news. Even if your team consists of 2-3 men, sharing always means additional coverage and a few more players for your game.  

5. Website Content

Your company’s website must be found easily on the web, and you should try to make browsing enjoyable for your target audience (players and business partners). If you’re not creating website from scratch, add a separate page for each released game with all the links, description, screeenshots, promo videos, FAQ, etc. 

Some game developers come up with a separate website for their game.
Example by King: 



6. Media List

It’s important to decide on media outlets where you’d like to have your game review published and prepare the necessary content for journalists (article, banner ad, screenshots, video, etc.). It’s recommended to create your own list of review websites, social network groups, bloggers or websites with wide reach of your target audience.    

Make sure to establish contact with journalists ahead of time - you can tell them about the scheduled release date, or even share link to your game in Beta. 
Tip: try to talk them into publishing announcement on the day of your game’s release.

7. Press releases

Before game release you can publish a so-called game preview. There are media outlets that write previews for games which they find interesting. Author describes the plot, gameplay and announces the release date. One way or another, it’s a great opportunity to boost players and media’s interest to your game.

But remember, you must always provide journalists with high-quality flawless promo materials and a ready-made video.


In this post we only managed to tell about the key stages of promotional activity. It would probably take us to write a three-volume edition to cover them all. 
However, if you’re interested in some particular point and want more details, please write at pr@renatus and we’ll get it covered in our next post.

Sharing your own experience and tips in the field of game making is also encouraged!

Posted by Renatus on July 24, 2015