Here is an outline of how we plan to market our game and raise awareness about our game. I have used Gamasutra’s template to help organise this marketing plan into different sections, but I have also carried out some additional research to aid me in completing each part of the marketing plan to ensure that each area is addressed (Hietalahti, J., 2021).
As it is notoriously difficult to gain access to sales figures for any given game, these figures were reached by applying the Boxleiter method, a method for projecting how much a game will raise after various deductions (Steam/GOG’s share, discounts, adjustments for regional pricing,etc.), according to the cost of a game and also the number of reviews a game has received (Birkett, J., 2021.). To aid us in using the Boxleiter method, we use a tool online called the Steam Revenue Calculator (Steam-revenue-calculator.com. n.d. ).
We used two games that are similar to ours to apply the Boxleiter method and work out our sales goals. We used Machinarium (Machinarium, 2009) and Papetura (Papetura, 2021).
Machinarium was released in 2009, costs £12.99 on Steam and has acquired 9,418 reviews. After Steam deductions have been taken into account, this game can be estimated to have made £1.8 million in net revenue since its release, roughly equivalent to £151,270 per year.
Papetura was released in May of this year, costs £9.29 on Steam and has acquired 465 reviews. After Steam deductions have been taken into account, this game can be estimated to have made £64,097 in net revenue since its release.
For our game, we would want the amount the game makes to sit somewhere between Papetura and Machinarium. However, as we are a small indie studio and this is our debut title, the game’s success will likely be closer to Papetura than Machinarium. We are aiming for our game to exceed the success of Papetura.
Both of these games have a price that is significantly exceeds the average price for a point and click adventure on Steam, which is £5.79 (SteamSpy. 2021.). We intend to sell our game at a significantly higher price as we aspire to these games in terms of quality, but also to factor in that the game will have a more complex than usual set of game mechanics for a point and click adventure which are outlined in this post.
We aim to release our studio’s debut game on Steam and GOG, with a view for it to sell 6,000 units and make a total of £90,000 in its first year if we sell at an initial price of £14.99. As this game belongs to a genre of a niche target audience, but has been designed to appeal to fans of game genres such as strategy, will be able to take advantage of this and we can aim for a conversion rate of 3%,
The game will be playable on Windows and Mac and can be purchased and downloaded to both using one of two gaming two distribution services – Steam and GOG.
We will list the game on Steam, which has an estimated 25 million users worldwide (Statista. 2021.) and is by far the most dominant gaming distribution platform.
We will not be able to advertise and market the game on Steam’s store directly, as Steam’s algorithm only tracks games that are already selling highly and already have a large following. Only these games will have a chance of being advertised across Steam’s store. (Lobb, I., 2021.) While we cannot rely on Steam directly for marketing, we do intend to distribute the game in way that helps us build these sales.
We will aim to list our game on Steam prior to the release of the game so that potential players can become immediately aware of it and register their interest by adding it to their wishlist. (Dealessandri, M., 2020. ) We can also use the Steam page to include a trailer and additional content about the game in order to help them make their decision.
Listing our game prior to release and gaining those wishlist listings will give us several additional advantages. These include notifying all Steam users who have wishlisted the game, once it has been released. On average, 29% of wishlist additions made before a game’s release result in a conversion and 13% of those happen during the first week of a game’s release; meaning that this will help to gave our sales a boost in the initial release of the game.
We will also track the wishlist additions and use it as one of our metrics to make an estimate of how much this game would sell. We will use this to determine how much investment we should be putting into marketing, as well as how well our other channels for marketing the game are performing.
In the run up to the game’s release, we will encourage our followers on all of our promotional media, including our website to add the game to their wishlist.
We have decided that we will also release the game on GOG (GOG.com. 2021.). GOG is a newer game distribution service, having been established in 2008. It has a much smaller selection of games than Steam. Steam has approximately 30,000 games whereas GOG’s library is more in the region of just 2,500. (Edmonds, R., 2018.) GOG is also criticised for having a lack of new game titles.
However, we believe we can use this to our advantage as we would be adding a new game title with a unique selling point and a popular following to the platform. While we expect the majority of sales will be carried out on Steam, listing our game on GOG will also allow us to gain extra sales with another platform.
GOG is a growing platform which is well known for having a good user interface and great customer services, so if there is a dramatic shift towards GOG, we will be covered.
As we are an indie game studio, our funding for promotion is limited. However, we intend to use a range of channels available to us to generate awareness of our game both prior to release and once the game is release.
Website and newsletter
We will have a website that will be registered under the name of our studio and the logo of our studio will be present on the website. However, the branding for our game will be more dominant on our website for at least the one year after our game’s release or until we begin work on our next game; in which case that game’s branding will become more dominant on the site or our studio’s branding will become more dominant.
This will work both ways for us. As we are a new indie game studio, we only have one game in development and we need to ensure as much of the focus of the website is on the game as possible. However, the name of our studio will still be present on the website and all other promotional material to ensure that this name also sticks in their mind and that if they like the game, they will come back to us for future game releases, avoiding any chances of being a one hit wonder. (GDC, 2019.)
Prior to the game’s release, the website will have widgets embedded that allows the user to add the game to their Steam or GOG wishlists, so that they can be alerted once the game is release. When the game has been released, these widgets will be replaced by ones that allow the user to buy the game.
The website will feature a trailer and various image from the game that highlight gameplay. The website will also have biographies of both the founding members of the studio, which will also give our branding a more human touch and potential players will know more about the people who made this game.
We also intend to set up a Kickstarter page for the game (Kickstarter. 2021.) , which I will talk about in more detail when I write a post about how we will budget fund the making of this game, but there will be a link to the Kickstarter campaign to encourage people to donate towards the production of the game.
The website will also feature articles which keep the user updated about our progress and will also include videos that document how far we have got with the game. The posts will also include videos of us working which will be embedded from our tie in YouTube channel (see below).
We will also set up a mailing list with a newsletter that we will consistently encourage people to sign up to through the website. We will use the newsletter to keep users posted about our progress and how soon until the game is released. Once the game is released, we will use the newsletter to keep users posted about any updates to the game, as well as future projects. The newsletter will essentially function as an extension of the website and will be used to get our subscribers to keep coming back to the website.
Again, the design and branding of these newsletters will be largely dominated by our first game in the beginning, but as the studio develops and starts developing more titles; as well as when we have developed a stable following, the studio branding will start to become more dominant.
Our website and newsletters will together be the most dominant online marketing tool and this will be the central focus for promoting our game and encouraging people to buy our game. However, we will have several social media channels that will serve as extensions of this and will be used to encourage people to our website and also serve as another means of promoting the game.
Links to each of these social media profiles will be displayed on the website in order to for users to choose how they want to follow us.
Social media will not be the focal point of our online promotion campaign as although it can be used to build a following and communicate with our followers, it can be detrimental too. (GDC, 2019.) The algorithms for various social media changes all the time, meaning we have less control over how our message is distributed, hence our decision to focus more on the website and newsletter campaigns. However, we intend to utilise them as a means for developing a following and encouraging people to the website, where they can buy the game.
We will use a YouTube channel to document our progress on the game in the run up to its release. We will do this in a similar way to the Youtube BWDev (BWDev, 2021.), when he was developing his game Lumberhorn as this will allow our followers to get to know us as game designers, as well as the game we are trying to develop – they will be part of our journey. Out of all our social media profiles, YouTube will be the primary one.
We will also similarly create an Instagram, which will be used to document our progress and when the game has been promoted, we will use it to share extracts from the game that display gameplay and entice people to want to play the game. Instagram will be used to bring people to the website. It will not be used as much to advertise the game, but to raise awareness. Given that instagram is a largely mobile placed platform, it would be more difficult to advertise a PC game with an immediate call to action.
We will use Twitter to post updates about the game, but also to interact with our fans about the game, as well as to develop a rapport with them.
We will also use Facebook as a tool to advertise the game, raise awareness about the game and eventually encourage people to buy the game. We will make use of numerous gaming groups and communities based on Facebook to spread word about the game and encourage people to add to their wishlist.
All of our social media will be listed under the name of our studio and just like the website and newsletter, as we gain a more steady following and more titles under our belt, the studio’s branding will become more dominant.
During the development of the game, we will circulate promotional materials for the game in numerous gaming forums, which explain what the game is about and also to get people’s opinions of the game concept.
We will use the more popular gaming forums to spread word of our game (Gamedesigning.org. 2021.), including:
When the game is released, we will use the same game forums to announce the release of the game.
Variety Twitch streamers
Within the first two weeks of the game’s release, we will reach out to streamers on Twitch and encourage them to play our game and to stream themselves playing our game. (Marsden, A., 2018.)
We will offer them promotion on our social media profiles in exchange for them streaming our game.
We will primarily target variety streamers – that is streamers that are known to stream a variety of games and content, as opposed to streamers that are known only for streaming one game.
We will compile a list of streamers to contact, which will be based on the types of games that they play, but also important metrics such as:
- Number of followers
- Average concurrent viewership
- Follower growth
- Monthly impressions
To aid us in finding the most appropriate streamers, we will browse Twitch itself using various categories, but also useful tools for monitoring metrics such as Twitchmetrics.
We will set up a discord server for our game studio, so that our followers can interact with us directly, both while the game is being developed and also after its release. We will use this to release betas of our game so that players can test the game for us and comment on their experience of the game before it is released. This will also serve to build a rapport between us and our followers, which will allow for more success when developing future titles.
When the game has been released, we will be tracking all sales figures of our game using sales reports on Steam and GOG, but more importantly, we will focus on reviews of the game and ensure that most of our reviews are positive and also to look out for any outstanding issues within the game that can be updated. While it is important that people buy this game, it is more important to us that they like this game and that they enjoy playing.
We will also track reviews and comments made about the game on Discord, as well as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
We will use player reviews on Steam and GOG to work out where there are rooms for improvement in our game.
Using our Discord server, we will also have channels set up to report any bugs within the game, as well as any other suggestions for improvement. We will add these updates to the game as quickly as possible and we will upload the updates to both Steam and GOG.
We will continuously track the performance of our game, using all of the metrics stated above and we will use sales on Steam and GOG to see if the game sells better at a lower price. We will also work on continuously adding new features and content to the game to make it more appealing to more players. We will always document these updates using our newsletters and various social media channels.
Birkett, J., 2021. How to estimate how many sales a Steam game has made. [online] Greyaliengames.com. Available at: <http://greyaliengames.com/blog/how-to-estimate-how-many-sales-a-steam-game-has-made/> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
BWDev, 2021. What 2 YEARS of Unity Indie Game Development looks like…. [image] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW8uvrxfw_A> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
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Edmonds, R., 2018. Comparing the differences between Steam and GOG Galaxy. [online] Windows Central. Available at: <https://www.windowscentral.com/steam-versus-gog-galaxy-which-better-pc-gamers> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
Gamedesigning.org. 2021. Top 30 Gaming Forums: Find a Video Game Community for You. [online] Available at: https://www.gamedesigning.org/gaming/forums/ [Accessed 16 October 2021].
GDC, 2021. Build Your Own Fan Club: How to Use Your Email List. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ5H6DeaKKs> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
GDC, 2019. No Time, No Budget, No Problem: Finishing The First Tree. [image] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5f7yixtQPc> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
GDC, 2019. Put Your Name on Your Game, a Talk by Bennett Foddy and Zach Gage. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4UFC0y1tY0> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
GOG.com. 2021. GOG.com. [online] Available at: <http://www.gog.com/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].
Hietalahti, J., 2021. Gamasutra – The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games. [online] Gamasutra.com. Available at: <https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2695/the_basic_marketing_plan_for_indie_.php?print=1> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
Kickstarter. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.kickstarter.com/> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
Lobb, I., 2021. Building Awareness of your Game.
Marsden, A., 2018. The Ultimate Guide for Promoting Your Game with Twitch Influencers. [online] Medium. Available at: <https://medium.com/powerspike/the-ultimate-guide-for-promoting-your-game-with-twitch-influencers-a17045c32611> [Accessed 16 October 2021].
2009. Machinarium. Brno, Czech Republic: Amanita Design.
2021. Papetura. Bytom, Poland: Petums.
Statista. 2021. Number of Steam users 2021 | Statista. [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/308330/number-stream-users/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].
2021. Steam. Kirkland, Washington, US: Valve.
Steam-revenue-calculator.com. n.d. Steam Revenue Calculator. [online] Available at: <https://steam-revenue-calculator.com/> [Accessed 16 October 2021].