If you want to create a successful indie game, marketing is one of the most important things. Some claim that an awesome game is all you need, and word of mouth will do the rest. To back up their claim, they use use Minecraft as an example on how a great game can succeed without marketing. Well, let me explain how Notch, the developer of Minecraft, did more marketing than the average indie game developer out there.
What is marketing?
Since a lot of game developers confuse marketing with advertisement, let’s first give a clear definition of what marketing means. This definition is focused on indie game developers:
Marketing is all effort that is not going straight into improving your game, but into getting the word out about your game.
Some marketers might say that having a good product is part of the marketing, but for this article, let’s assume you already have (or are working on) a good or awesome game.
Marketing can be split up into different forms of marketing. The most straight forward way to explain the different forms is done with the following text:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
Minecraft didn’t sell itself
So now that we cleared up what marketing is, let’s see what effort Notch put into marketing Minecraft.
Notch started blogging in May 2009, way before it was finished. He did 81 posts that month. That’s about 2.5 posts per day! The months after it he posted less, but still on average more than 1 post per day.
He also posted video’s on YouTube, at about 1 video a week.
Just like any good marketer, he uses discounts, time pressure and experiments with different revenue models.
The title of a game is one of the first things a potential buyer sees. So it needs to capture the essence of the game, it needs to attract potential buyers. Notch choose the title in a team brainstorm, were others could give input.
Marketing is essential
Remember, marketing is much more than advertisement alone. Notch didn’t only put much effort in developing his game, but also into getting the word out, and using sale techniques. That’s marketing. Without it, we would never know about Minecraft.
The same story for Angry Birds. If they didn’t market it, almost nobody would have heard of it.
So go on and create the most awesome game you can make, and market it like hell!