In this tutorial we will be touching on the key basics to marketing and promoting your indie games. We will focus on capturing great screenshots as well as touching on social media platforms and content that is relevant for expanding your player base in any game project that you want to see grow. This tutorial will be covering organic ways to grow your brand, game audience, player base, and community WITHOUT spending money on promotional materials or ads. We will cover some basics to brand building that are key before monetary investments into promotion.
To start off, we will cover social media and how you can use it to grow your game audience and player base. The four social platforms below are essential to building a public brand, and marketing your video game and core creative projects. By beginning and maintaining a presence on these platforms, you will be well on your way to building a brand! If you have a game studio name, or creator alias all of your social media accounts should have the same name (or as close as you can manage) as this is step ONE of building your brand.
Discord is the foundation for building a community throughout all social medias, and it can be key for your projects and brand on Core. In the video game world this can be a great tool to connect and communicate with your player base. You can gain priceless information via player feedback, and begin to form relationships with some of your more loyal players.
Discord can also be used to showcase art, development, and future plans for your existing and future games.
Feel free to check out my discord server where I have sections made for each Core project that is published live. I also use discord to keep patch notes as you can see for yourself in docbdesign's game server.
This is one of the more popular and familiar social media platforms used today, and it is a great place to share progress on your game projects as well as quick picture and video content. Twitter is a fantastic place to meet and network with your Core peers as well as other creative professionals and enthusiasts. Carrying yourself in a professional and respectful manner on your brand page is important, but twitter is also a space where sharing internal thoughts (and not just media) is highly encouraged. Share content with text to explain the context on twitter.
My twitter for example: https://twitter.com/docbdesign
YouTube is one of the largest social sharing platforms, and it remains a FANTASTIC place to share content surrounding all aspects of your video game projects. Devlog videos showcasing behind the scenes, your building or coding process, and your updates for your games can help you build an audience that is interested in your projects, while also finding plenty of new fans and players.
Moreso than other social media platforms, quality is king on YouTube. Captuing clear video with clear audio to match is essential if you want viewers to engage with your content. There are many great guides available online on how to publish YouTube videos with GREAT descriptions.
Again feel free to check out a few of the Doc B Design YouTube videos below where you can find examples of Devlog content as well as Core tutorial videos:
Instagram is a great place to share pictures and videos revolving around the content of your games. A good mix of both pictures and videos for both your page and story is key to maintaining views on Instagram, and like always, you want to provide the highest quality content that you can.
My artist Instagram account with fine art and video game work for example: Login • Instagram
Capturing great screenshots is the easiest and BEST thing you can do to promote your games and content surrounding your games. Capturing screenshots is KEY to providing good game thumbnails for players to see inside of Core, as well as to promoting your games in places like YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram.
To capture a great screenshot, I recommend playing your game in the editor on ultra settings. This will probably be taxing on most machines, but as a creator it is well worth the marketable content in the long run. Navigate to the core settings tab, and make sure that your settings are moved over to ultra.
Navigate back to the Editor and enter the game you would like to gather promotional materials for. Hiding UI should be your first step before navigating to the area where you would like to capture screenshots. Only leave UI visible if it is absolutely integral to the gameplay showed in the screenshot or video. Start a game preview in fullscreen mode, navigate to your preferred area, and pause the game with TAB in order to access the normal editor controls. Moving around your player and your point of interest to capture the ideal screenshot with the most interesting angle will make the most of the ultra settings capturing. You can capture screenshots with the windows hotkeys (default WIN+Shift+S).
Note: I highly suggest using a photo editing software like photoshop in order to further edit, resize, or impose text over your screenshots, but standard HD photos will be a fantastic starting place.
Pro Note: If your game is a multiplayer experience, it is easiest to setup AI Bots to fight or navigate during testing and screenshots. You can also elect to play a public or privately published with friends who can help you pose for screenshots. If you have loyal community members, reaching out to them to help with screenshots is a good place to start.
Expert Note: Capturing screenshots like this should be the basis for all content you publish surrounding your games. Your game screenshots on Core, YouTube thumbnails, and all other social media postings can be elevated this way. Keep in mind the different visual sizes and ratios on different platforms.
16:9 ratio is best for Core, YouTube, and Twitch.
1:1 ratio is best for Instagram.
1:1 ratio is suggested for Twitter, but twitter has recently released no bounds posting on images.
Posting and maintaining a presence on social platforms can help you start and grow your brand. It can also help to promote individual games, updates, and skillsets that you can bring to a team. More important than posting is interacting with the people who are in the community with you. If somebody leaves a comment on your game, video, or post then you should respond to them. Starting a dialogue with other developers and players will help you lay the foundation of your community.
Twitch can be one of the most powerful tools to build your community around your projects in Core. The stronger your presence is on other social platforms, the easier it will be for the Core community to learn about your streams. Twitch streams are the BEST way to guarantee players entering your games, as the audience is more engaged on Twitch as opposed to any other platform. If you are not comfortable streaming, or if you cannot run high quality streams yourself, consider reaching out to some of the more consistent Core streamers to see if they will play your games during their streams. Core also has a twitch channel where they feature community games. Joining this community can be a great place to learn more about Core.
Check out these Twitch channels as examples:
Core provides paid promotions directly for games, and this is something you can test on your own. In order to see which sort of promotions work best for you, I recommend running at least two promotions on different days with different game thumbnails. Checking back on your statistics can help you decipher how successful each different promotion within Core is for your games.
The social media presence and sharing of media surrounding your games is a great way to market and promote them, but below I will go over a few basic game style events that can also help you to market your game.
Events are a great way to bring players back to your games, and also grab the attention of new players.
Below are a few different basic events that are common in games, or that I have personally seen success with on Core.
- Holiday Events : Holiday events can be a great way to keep your game fresh, introduce fun new content, and garner the attention of players with shorter attention spans. Halloween events have been very successful on Core, as have Christmas and Winter themed events. Consider decorating your map or world space with current holiday themed events.
Note: If your game consists of larger maps or areas, consider just decorating one of the main player spaces. Covering an entire map in snow themed objects may be unrealistic, but adding a few snowy zones and snowmen is much more manageable. Also consider cosmetic items like pumpkin heads or santa hats as a fun substitute for re-doing entire maps.
Pro Note: Along with holiday themes, you can also use current events as themes. Fortnite is a game that does this at an expert level (although they do use lots of 3rd party IP for these events). Think about Fortnite doing the Avengers and Thanos gameplay mode around the movie release of Avenger's Engame. They have also done similar sets of skins with NFL teams, football (soccer) teams, and even individual athletes and musicians.
Expert Note: Players attention span has shortened with the massive amount of great games to play on the market. The ideal prime time period for a holiday event is around 2 weeks. For bigger holidays, you may want to consider longer periods as players may not be online as often.
- Player Contests : Player contests are a great way to keep your long term players involved, and they are a great way to keep new players engaged for long periods of time. Player contests can be in-game events such as tournaments, daily or weekly challenges, or they can even be tailored for single-player games. Player contests can also be an "outside-game" event. One example of this that my team used was a screenshot contest. Players were tasked at exploring one of our new games, capturing a screenshot, and sharing it to social media. This was a great way to get players involved in our new game, and it also created free marketing and promotion for us on social media via our players.
Note: If player contests are competitive (think about a player tournament in a PvP game for instance) make sure they are balanced. New players can become intimidated quickly by PvP games being dominated by long-term players competing in contests.
- In-Game Reward Events : Events that grant players any sort of in-game commodity are massively popular. These are events such as double XP multipliers, currency multipliers, or special cosmetics that are only available during a limited time.
Note: Trying different types of reward events can easily let you know what sort of rewards your player base is interested in. Running a weekly event that caters to player's favorite in-game content will be a sweet spot for retention.
Pro Note: Running reward events too often can diminish their importance in player's eyes. Consider using social media, discord, and Core's new event system to plan and execute the best in-game reward events for your players.
Expert Note: Any good event will reward players in some fashion. It's important to know that a unique game experience can also act as a game reward. Players often revel in being the first to experience something new in a game.
- Game Update Events : Updating your game can sometimes consist of small bug fixes all the way up to large gameplay changes and improvements. If you are planning on changing parts of your game, adding new maps, new weapons, or even re-balancing aspects of gameplay, then you should consider promoting that update just like any other game or event. Players who love your games will always come back for updates, and it is a GREAT chance to gain a second impression on players who may not have had the best first gameplay experience.
Social media, marketing, promotion, and popular forms of content are always changing and evolving. It is important to explore these platforms as spaces to share your creations, as some spaces have viewers unique to the creativity you might be looking to share. For instance, TikTok is one of the newer social media platforms where it might be great to show small videos from your game's updates and progress. However a platform like YouTube will be much better to showcase a video in which you are showcasing the FULL update to your already published game. Consider the time constraints of each social platform, and recognize that some of them also have quality limitations. As always, your number one focus should be the content you create, and the second focus should be promoting and marketing that content.
If you ever have any questions surrounding Core or other creative marketing, please feel free to reach out to me personally @docbdesign. I will always be happy to help answer any questions I can for creators.