Marketing. That terrible word that strikes fear into the hearts of indie devs everywhere. No matter what you do or how hard you work, those terrible gods of marketing can decide that your game is doomed to wither away in the dark corners of the internet forever. Your genius cast aside because you weren’t cool enough on twitter, or you didn’t sell out to the man. All joking aside, getting your game out there is paramount to success, and there are a lot of ways to do that with no monetary cost. That being said, for someone as painfully introverted as I am, a trait I suspect is somewhat commonplace among indie devs, interacting with the community can be harder than actually developing a game.
I started off with good intentions. I made posts on reddit, facebook, twitter and my wordpress blog. Granted, I had no followers on twitter, and my blog had clocked exactly two readers, but I was working on that. I thought that maybe people would stumble on the links from the youtube video I posted, or from my post on the minecraft forums where the mod was officially released. With this storm of social media interaction, I was sure the hits would start rolling in. They actually did, though not to the degree I was expecting. Within a day there were several comments, my website stats showed dozens of downloads, and there were several comments on the forum. I had done it, I successfully engaged in social media on the internet. I was a winner.
As it turns out, one blast from a shotgun doesn’t win the war, or even a battle. I was diligent in responding to the comments on the forum, but I didn’t do a good job of promoting my other avenues of advertising, so they withered, and I forgot about them. I figured the youtube reviewers that were active on the forum would stumble on my mod and start doing reviews, and I just had to sit back and brace myself for the deluge of players that was sure to arrive. Obviously it never did, I didn’t do anything after the first day to actively promote it to anyone besides the people who had already seen it. I had never even heard of a press kit, and I assumed the people who did reviews games were constantly scouring the forums to look for new material.
The world of gaming press was completely foreign to me. I mean, of course I had read magazines, and the big name websites, but they covered the big names in gaming, so their rules must have been different. I was just some indie dev (barely), that was something I surely could never hope to get into, so I just didn’t even bother. Now, I know what you must be thinking at this point. “Wow, you are an idiot, you were doomed from the start, no wonder I’ve never even heard of you.” I did make a lot of mistakes, but I’d like to think I’ve learned from them, and I have that much better of a chance at success next time. This was really the first time I had made a game for an audience that wasn’t just myself. I am always really interested in what I’m doing, and since I had only ever made games for myself before it was a forgone conclusion to me that my audience would be just as interested when it expanded.
Ok, after reading what I just wrote about myself I sound amazingly self-centered. I really don’t try to be, but I was wholly ignorant of how the world worked in this regard. I am glad I went through all of this though, and especially glad I did it in a low-pressure environment, because I learned a ton. I will not be discouraged by all of these terrible failures though. I will take these lessons, learn from them, and do better on the next go around. These articles are the first step toward reaching out and making ties in this community, and hopefully my mistakes and these reflections thereon will help some other developer in a similar situation from repeating them.