A lot of game developers dive head first into making their game without really considering many of the finer points as to what a game launch entails.
Decisions need to be made about social media strategy, optimising timelines and preparing pitches.
Whether this is your first game launch or you’ve done it before, here are 20 key questions you need to be answering as early as possible.
Which social media channels should I use?
Having a presence on, at the very minimum, Twitter and Facebook can go a long way in helping your campaign.
Not having one can make your game hard to find for people looking to find out more. Also, as pretty much everyone has a social media account these days, you don’t want to be left behind!
One of the fastest growing platforms is Discord.
Multiple developers are now using Discord as an important part of their overall communications strategy. Setting up and managing a Discord server gives developers a great way to interact with their community as well as better conduct and manage play-tests.
One common tactic right now is to offer closed-beta keys through the Discord.
Whatever you choose, these must be kept up to date and active. Be aware of your capacity as you should never run more accounts than you can handle.
What’s my social media content strategy? (number of daily tweets/posts, fresh content to tweet or post)
It’s a bad idea to put metrics and quotas on your social content.
It quickly feels manufactured which is never good when you are trying to come across as authentic and give your followers a reason to follow you.
For those who follow your content, they will want to see you spending more time developing the game than you do on social media!
Even the biggest games suffer from this problem.
Posting two to three times a week is a good starting point. You don’t want to use up all your assets too quickly.
Posts should be segmented into categories such as:
- Art (concept art, screenshots etc.)
- Development (dev diary, updates, behind the scenes, spolier season and reveals)
- Community (polls, memes, ties into current events or holidays, thought leadership)
- Promotion (Store page, sell pre-orders/wishlists, links to coverage)
What’s my marketing strategy and time-frame for launch?
What’s my marketing budget (if any) and how will I allocate it to different channels?
How will I have my trailer produced?
Check out this informative video from The Game Makers Toolkit channel on how to make an indie game trailer.
Also highly recommended is this GDC session on what makes a successful and memorable games trailer.
What’s my game’s USP (unique selling point of my game)?
How do I write a great press release that grabs the media’s attention?
A good press release always starts with a headline that gets the reader’s attention. Don’t make it too lengthy. Aim for 18 words maximum.
Also, be wary about using certain cliches in the headline – or anywhere in the press release for that matter.
For example, very few things are ‘revolutionary’.
Unless you truly believe your game will bring about radical social and political change, think carefully before stating something about your game is ‘revolutionary’.
As we have just covered, getting your USP’s in the press release is vital. If the reader was to read no further than this, they need to know what makes your game special. If you’ve done it right, they will read this section and want to read on.
Including one or two USP’s in the sub-header will catch the journalists eye, and stand as a good elevator pitch.
With the headline and sub-header done, it’s now time to add the meat to the bone. Keep the press release to a page in length, and order the content in order of importance or newsworthiness.
Not sure what to include? Lead with the release date.
Take a look at your games features list. Use these to form an opening paragraph that hits these eye-catching points. Then, take the most important features from this paragraph and expand upon them in the rest of the press release.
A call to action is one of the last pieces of the puzzle. Make the reader want to download the game and tell them how to do it. Put a link in, to show where the game can be downloaded from. Or, if the game can’t be downloaded yet, go with a ‘Learn more’ and link to your social accounts or website.
Add in some contact details for the media so they follow up with you or another team member if they need more information. All you should need is an email address and a link to your press kit.
You wrap a press release up with a boilerplate. This is a brief description or biography of you and your studio to give some context and information. Be sure to include a link to your website and/or social accounts too.
How will I identify the key media that I need to reach?
How will I approach the media once I’ve identified them?
How am I going to pitch my game to the media in as concise a way as possible? (often termed as ‘The elevator pitch’)
How will I position my game against the competition?
What’s my localization strategy for in-game text as well as marketing copy?
What’s my testing and customer research/feedback strategy?
What’s my pre-launch hype building strategy?
What’s my update road-map? How often will I refresh the content in my app to keep people interested and engaged?