How should I advertise my game

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Labyrinthine, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    My main project game (edit: Labyronia Elements) has gotten good reviews from people who've played it through (the few of them). However, it won't sell. It's like the quality of the game had nothing to do with the sales, unless we were talking about some over hyped AAA title. Then again, would RPG Maker games such as this sell anyways in this day and age, if they weren't marketed and hyped at all?
    The situation is, I'm financially basically broke. Anyone got any good ideas how to market one's game cheaply? Or just marketing tips in general? I understand my game is not selling if no one even knows about its existence.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
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  2. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    If you figure it out, let me know. Steam is just an utter crapshoot these days. I've heard of many developers not even breaking 1000 sales, and they can be really good games. It's just no one heard of them.

    In fact, it's so bad that right now I've heard of developers getting more sales on the Switch than the PC.

    Personally, I'm afraid it's going to be like this until the next video game crash (or until Steam makes changes and getting your game on Steam actually means something again), which I figure will be pretty soon if no developers do well with Steam the way it is.
     
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  3. Isabella Ava

    Isabella Ava Veteran Veteran

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    How many copied did you sell?
     
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  4. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    I am assuming this is about your latest game yes?

    Given your rather unique situation, I would say you honestly don't have many options.

    Your previous games are the 26th, 30th, 38th, respectively for total sales on Steam, in the category of games made with RPG Maker, according to Steamspy. So as far as indie devs who make RPG Maker games, you're hardly an unknown quantity; & presumably have a largely positive reputation among the potential consumer base. So that proverbial box has already been checked.

    You have a website, but I don't know about your company's social media footprint, so it's possible that you could pick up a few sales here & there, from expanding it. But by & large you're likely to be buried under the dearth of wouldbe Jim Sterlings, Total Biscuits, & Pewdiepies, due to similar tags.

    Ergo, you need something that expands your profile beyond that core audience, but as you said you don't have the financial resources to accomplish such a media blitz, so that option is out.

    So you effectively need a third party not attached to Steam, that has a larger social media footprint, to review your game. A gaming website, a popular youtuber, a popular twitch streamer, etcetera. Easier said than done I know.

    Yet it's honestly probably your only immediate option.

    The only other option I can see, is creating secondary content related to your IP, & generating interest in it on social media like Youtube, to draw attention to the IP. However, that is very much a long game approach, & likely wouldn't produce noticeable results for the first year at a minimum. & it's by no means a success.

    After all echo is easily one of the top five as far as RPG Maker videos on youtube, but success there honestly doesn't seem to have translated into sales for her game on Steam at least. Maybe her situation is different on one of the other vendor sites, I don't know.
     
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  5. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    It has sold less than 1000 copies and it was released last december. I think something like 780 (correction: 597 copies). Also, almost all the copies were sold when it was in sale, and so I earned like a dollar per game.

    The only games I get profit from are "The World of Labyrinths: Labyronia" and "Labyronia Elements" (which is the main game of the series) The Labyronia RPG series I get no profit from , because I sold them to outside publishers for a relatively small lump sum back in in 2015. Besides, I'd just want to forget about those games meaning "Labyronia RPG", "Labyronia RPG 2" and "Legend of Mysteria RPG", to the point I wish I never made them. They are unpolished because they were designed freeware originally. Yet, they have sold tons (edit: more than a million combined) probably because my previous publishers know their marketing stuff, unlike me. Or maybe the time I took making Labyronia Elements was too long (3 years), and at the time it was finished, the market had already exploded.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
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  6. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I merged your posts, be careful with the quote feature as it defaults to a new post with that. That's why we recommend the @ symbol instead.

    I think some of the problem is back in 2014/2015, getting the game on Steam still meant something, and even an RPGMaker game with all RTP and sample maps could have sold 100,000 copies. In fact, I've seen a few that are mostly all defaults sell 200,000 copies...but they were released 4 or more years ago.

    However, now people know that getting your game on Steam means nothing, so they don't automatically associate Steam = quality game, so they pass on many games now until they can learn something more about them. Unfortunately, with 7000+ games a year, most people don't have the time or energy to filter through all the games for the good ones, so you can easily release your game, and be even forgotten by steam within a week.

    So that is probably why those earlier games sold better than your new game, different markets at those times.

    As it is, the only RPGMaker games I see doing well on steam are those who already had a bunch of followers from their earlier games, or those who decided to go the Adults Only route with their games.

    In fact, this is probably why when my game is ready for release I'm going to have to go through a publisher, as I will need a way to stand out, and I can't afford to spend the thousands and tens of thousands on art to make it stand out that way (and even if I did, there are games with all custom art that still sold less than 1000 sales on Steam), so I will need a publisher who knows how to market to those who like RPGMaker games.
     
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  7. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    @bglisp
    Yeah, I think you're right. To me, all this is frustrating beyond belief.
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    How do you think I feel? I got a game that's done and in testing that I want to release once the test results are in, but with the market right now it's likely I may not even make back what I spent in music on this game.
     
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  9. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    I spent thousands of dollars in music alone on Labyronia Elements. Never got it back, not even nearly. So, I feel you : /
    edit: and I'm not even going to the various custom/ resource graphical assets I bought for the game.
     
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  10. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    Actually I think the Adults Only route gamers are probably doing better than anyone save for maybe the top five to top ten sellers.

    From what I've seen of their business model, many of them release their game in installments via sites like patreon, as they develop them. With higher tier patreons getting access to the game sooner than the public, as well as getting perks like being listed as beta testers, or exclusive content.

    Even with the prevalence of piracy in the AO genres, I suspect that even the moderately successful ones are making more money from Patreon donations leading up the release of their game, than the overwhelming majority of us will make in total sales of our non-AO games; if the numbers on their patreon pages, & Graphtreon's analysis are anything to go by.

    & their patrons largely don't seem to complain if they abandon their current project for a new one, as they have a copy of what they have made up to that point, in exchange for what they have donated.

    I am not saying all of us need to start making AO games mind you. However, considering the success they seem to be enjoying, while using the same engine as we are, there might be something to learn from their methodology.

    For example, while potential patrons for us might not be interested in a monthly donation, due to a larger more developed game on a lengthier timeline; I am given to understand that you can charge patrons on a "per creation" basis. Namely, a charge is only leveled when you release paid content, but you can release content updates without charge as much as you like.

    So giving patrons early access to a game, along with credits as testers, & the promise of a finished copy of the game upon release; then only charging our patrons when we release a content update to the game; could be used as an alternative revenue stream for those of us not going the AO route.

    Not to mention a potential word of mouth generator. Though, again this is a long game solution, & from what I've seen I recommend an integrated social media presence, with the patreon account.
     
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  11. Jonforum

    Jonforum Veteran Veteran

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    upload_2018-9-2_7-53-32.png
    this will clearly not help
     
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  12. Celianna

    Celianna Tileset artist Global Mod

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    This is what I do, and I'm sure this is the best option for me, versus releasing on Steam and not getting any sales. Patrons pledge monthly to get early access to the current version of my game and they're satisfied with that. It's an on-going thing, which is much better than a one-time only sale.

    As for the original question - I think contacting some youtubers who are into playing the kind of video games you're making, and ask them to play the game for you, would certainly help out.
     
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  13. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    I suspected that would be the case.

    I had actually been considering setting up a "by creation" pay system for my own IP there, once I had released my first game, as funding engine for future entries in the IP.

    While I am not yet willing to discount Steam entirely, a few hundred copies over a year or two while disappointing; is still after all a few hundred more people playing my game.
     
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  14. Redeye

    Redeye Chronicles Creator Veteran

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    While I feel that its kind of cheating, I have to agree with some of the above suggestions. A good way to get traction is to make a deal with a popular lets player or game reviewer. Give them a free copy of your game, and in return they can play and/or critique it and direct their fanbase towards your product. Just make sure to give your game extra polish to make sure that the person you contact actually enjoys what you made.
     
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  15. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    Between market oversaturation and shifting industry trends its always going to be a crapshoot if your games sell well on Steam or not.

    I think making small projects that can be released more frequently will end up being a business model that works in the future. If you can get a full 4 - 5 hour game released every 3 months you could potentially do alright. If sales are dropping on these bigger projects then its time to look at your business model, work out what aspects of your games need to change in order to be able to turn a profit on lower sales numbers and work from there.
     
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  16. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    A couple of things...

    1) test out the price of your game. You're charging $10.29 for an RPG Maker game that looks like an RPG Maker game. I think you need to rethink that price and test out different pricings until you hit a sweet spot. Why would a player spend 10 bucks on an RPG Maker game especially when they know RPG Maker games suffer from a stigma? Honestly, I think even someone who buys RPG Maker games regularly would be hard-pressed to justify that price on a new game with 7 reviews (not all positive reviews). Test out different levels of pricing. Maybe even start low to get more people to buy to get more sales to get more reviews.

    2) You have 7 reviews... You need some credibility. You know how you get that? Reviews. Now you're thinking, well how the hell do I get reviews if no one buys the game! Give away free copies in exchange for an HONEST review of your game. You need credibility and reviews. People don't buy games that don't have reviews. I know you're thinking I JUST SPENT ALL THIS TIME AND MONEY AND I'M GOING TO GIVE AWAY THIS GAME FOR FREE????? Guess what--ALL companies that sell goods GIVE AWAY FREE STUFF! You are not above them.

    3) I'm sorry to say, but the logo isn't catchy enough. Think of your logo like the cover of a book. I wouldn't buy a book that had the cover that is your game's logo. You need to invest in a good logo. This is the first impression you're leaving with the intended buyer. I know you think "don't judge a book by its cover"...but guess what...people judge and judge harshly especially in this overly saturated market!

    4) You need to rethink your copy. "The five elemental worlds are in peril. Guide the protagonist "Dark One" to uncover the mysteries of the divided universe. Labyronia Elements is a role-playing game delivering unprecedented, nonlinear progression, strategic battle scenes and a breathtaking story." This is cliche and I'm not buying "unprecedented, nonlinear progression". There is nothing wrong with using the "elemental" trope in your game, but give the viewer something different. I read this and I say, I don't give a crap about the mysteries of the divided world. Why? Because you haven't given me a reason to care. Who is this Dark One? Why is he the Dark One? What is his goal and how does it play into the mysteries of the divided world? There's a wealth of resources out there for learning how to write good copy. Also don't say "unprecedented, nonlinear progression". "Unprecedented" comes off boastful and cocky. Pick a better word. "Unique," maybe? Remember, unlike other game developers you have to rise above a well-established stigma in the gaming community for RPG Maker games (which I think is actually well deserved since people put commercial RPG maker games out there that are embarrassingly bad).

    5) Network with fellow game reviewers, developer websites, etc. and ask them if they'll give a shoutout for your game or professionally review your game.

    6) I like that you include reviews of the game in your copy. But say where it comes from. Like "Steam reviewer." Don't just say "excerpts from user reviews from different sites" say exactly where from which website, and, if the reviewer agrees, the name of the reviewer. Just builds credibility. Buyers are sceptical people.

    7) Run. A. Sale! Unless it's a triple AAA game with amazing reviews, I won't buy a game on full price. Lots of gamers think that way too.

    8) Learn who your audience is!! More than likely people who buy RPG Maker games will buy your RPG Maker game. People who like indie games may also purchase your game. But advertise to RPG Maker players first.

    9) I notice you have other games out. Here's a lesson learned: you should've found a way to get those buyers on like a mailing list or something so for your next game you have people you can just advertise to right away who like your games. Boom, instead sales and reviews.

    10) Also, you've said a lot about how you have an original soundtrack and this is a reason for people to buy it. It's not. An original soundtrack is great, but it doesn't sell games. Sorry to say, but buyers want a game that looks good (so your logo, making that look sweet and eye-catching), and reads good (great copy).

    10) Save some money and advertise (which is a whole other bag of goodies to get into, but the risks are high).

    This is just some stuff you might want to think about and test out. If you expect to just load up your game and OMG sales!--you are in for a world of disappointment, my friend.
     
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  17. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    I think this is a good idea and works for self-published authors (some romance authors for example publish a book a month to keep their readers coming back) but many of these authors are full-time and writing a book is easier than making a game which needs a good story, pleasant graphics (i.e. good mapping), and new music. Now making a series that is 4-5 hours long and reusing a lot of what you have from before is not a bad idea and is something I will be testing out. The great idea of having a series is the "sale-through". The person buys game one, then game two, then game three, then game four. And if you have a series of 5 games all inter-related, you can give the first game away for free to entice people and still make a profit because of sale-through. Still, I think it would be VERY hard to make a game a month or a game every three months that, again, is of quality. All the marketing in the world won't count for nothing if the game is trash.

    You need to think like a marketer, not a game developer. And that means learning a whole new skill and applying it. Other game developers don't have to worry about this because they have an advertising team devoted to it. You have to think of yourself as a business if you expect it to sell. This is only if you expect it to sell.
     
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  18. Celianna

    Celianna Tileset artist Global Mod

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    This is why it's a great idea to inflate your total price. The actual price of your game (whatever you're satisfied with), should be whenever the game is supposed to be like 20% off. For example, you want players to pay $10 for the game, so you make it something like $12, so that when the 20% sale runs, people are still paying $10. This way players think they're getting a deal, and you're not operating on a loss.
     
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  19. Dankovsky

    Dankovsky Veteran Veteran

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    I've done plenty of research and I think we just need to be realists here:

    1) Indieapocalypse is here to stay and nothing will change it anymore. There are just too many games. The bar for the "sellable game" is no longer just "a good game". Or instead, the barrier for "a good game" has skyrocketed to Saturn.

    2) If your game is just "good", "fun", or "enjoyable", it won't sell. The games that sell have to be "exceptional". This means:
    - perfect visual presentation (just forget about selling RTP games...)
    - interesting gameplay/story/setting hooks (forget about selling ye classic old school rpgs)
    - perfect gameplay that provides an original twist on a known formula
    - no visibly RPG Maker games (it takes an average steam user 0.0000000001 seconds to identify your RPG Maker game in their discovery queue and click "Next", a second more if they also click "Not Interested")

    3) There is a very small JRPG market on PC. There is an even smaller market for RPG Maker games. 1000 sales is a VERY GOOD number for an RPG Maker game.

    4) There are NO viable marketing options for classic RTP RPG Maker games. The market is nonexistent. Unless you qualify for #2 you can just forget about marketing your game outside of some niche forums. The best you can hope is to sell a few copies every Steam sale.

    P.S. And yes, Switch is "in" right now, mainly because it's new, hot, and there's very little number of games available.
    P.S.S. Besides that I think @rue669 gave some pretty good advice, just don't think it will make a big difference, but maybe you'll sell a couple more copies.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
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  20. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    God bless you, you nailed it perfectly.
     
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