Getting Your Game Out There

The internet is full of games, don’t get your game lost in the crowd

Game Making — it’s no longer tinkering with bytes and stacks. A few clicks here and there, and you’ve got yourself the next Call of Duty. The tools developers have access to nowadays have significantly boosted the number of games out there. And software isn’t the only incentive — coverage of indie games and such has exploded. Anyone can make a game now and get a large reception.

This is great when first thinking about it, but unfortunately it brings about some negative points. The biggest one being that the amount of games out there to play is incredibly large. No one could play all publicly available games. So the question is now, how can I make my project stand out from the rest?

First Impressions

This is probably the biggest point to make. So many people come across so many games, and much like job interviews, first encounters matter the most.

Don’t just upload your game, chuck a few generic screenshots up and hope for the best. That’s not going to work at all. Sure, your friends will play it and they might find it really good, but complete strangers won’t bat one eyelid at your game.

Naming

What your game is called matters a lot, and it’s not just about finding some name that’s completely original and hip. Calling it something epic and breathtaking will definitely not go with a game that you play for about 5 minutes.

In my experience, games that entertain for short periods of time and the ones that are there for that small, satisfying user experience tend to be received a lot better with catchy names. Use alliteration or a play on words! With longer, complex games that players might come back to, consider calling it something unique yet well thought out. Don’t be too dramatic about it.

Imagery

Screenshots play a incredibly big factor when it comes to grabbing attention. In some places you’ll only get one image to get someone’s click, so make it count. Like with the game name, what you put in the screenshot matters. Something fun? Make it colourful. Something atmospheric? Make it surreal and mysterious.

Spreading the word

Everybody does a bit of spamming for their projects. They can’t help it — they just want to get their games out there to you and me. However, there’s a right way to doing it and a wrong way.

The wrong way

People aren’t going to spend very long writing messages to spread the word. They want to get the message known to as many platforms as possible. The outcome? A short generic, unloved statement that doesn’t get you anywhere. Sure, a friend or two might click through, but you aren’t grabbing anyone’s full attention.

The right way

For every platform you post a comment on, think about it. Spend some time crafting your perfect message. Think about the audience. Posting on reddit? They like images and GIFs of gameplay in albums, and videos of the games too. You don’t have many words to grab them in with the title, but make them count! Posting on Twitter? Use an image or a GIF to grab people’s attention. Use a hashtag to spread the word. Make your tweet retweetable, and people will retweet.

Don’t just post the same description and link for every website you post to. Think about it, and make each one special.

I’d recommend having the following ready when you release a game:

  • A YouTube video or two — trailers, gameplay videos, something to draw attention in. Trailers are good for first impressions, whilst gameplay videos are good for getting what your game is about across
  • An image library — a lot of people won’t have time to play your game immediately, but if you show them what it’s about, they’ll remember it and follow it.
  • A personal statement — this could be a blog post, a forum post, anything that you’ve written. Don’t make yourself a salesman selling a flashy new car — make yourself a humble developer who’s finally released a new project. Talk about how you felt making it, and how you did so. People like to know the man behind the mask.

AlexVsCoding on Fireside wrote up a really helpful article about this in detail here. Go give it a read, it really fleshes out this major area.

Initial Reception

Unless you have built up hype for your project through a devlog, various imagery, or another project, the initial reception for your game is going to be pretty slow. It all depends on your audience.

Loyal fans and followers will play as soon as the game’s released. Sure, they’ll pass it on to a few friends, but that’s it. There aren’t many potential gamers.

Then comes the small time YouTube videos from people who are browsing newly added games. They’ll get a bit of exposure for you, but not too much. However, this is where you have a chance. This will spread the word to a lot of people, and if your game is very pass-on-able, then it will be played even more.

Articles from sites (like Fireside!) boost your reception to game enthusiasts — the proper lot. If you can get some of these people playing, then you’re going to have a good time. Articles are good for when people search for your game over time and want to find out someone’s proper opinion about it.

Then comes the bigger YouTubers. I’ve had a few large channels play a variety of my games, and let me tell you this — it can happen anytime. I mean it. It could be day one, or two years.

Closing Words

Don’t lose hope when people don’t play your game. It doesn’t have an expiry date, so you can keep trying. Keep at it and you’ll hit the right formula eventually. Everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to their own games. Approach it with an open mind and take it slowly — don’t rush in!

Oh, and if you want at least one play for your game, send me the link. I’ll try to play it!

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