I’ve just finished reading Scott Steinberg’s great (and free) book on videogame marketing, which was recommended to me by a friendly marketing expert. I started with a little developer’s scepticism but it made a ton of sense to me. Especially coming from a background writing business tools where a lot of my time was spent in meetings outlining why we wanted certain resources for our development efforts. This is a practice that I think has great value as it forces you to evaluate your project rigorously and not let it become a folly.
I really recommend you take a look if you’re interested in the Marketing and PR of videogames – you can download it here http://www.sellmorevideogames.com
It has given me a great appreciation for the magic they weave, especially in the face of being “given” a product that they were unable to have any influence over at the design stage – i.e. a non market driven creation.
I wanted to jot down the points that I took away from the book to help me in my re-design. These are in no particular order apart from the ones toward the top ;o)
1. The game should be fun and have a very simple interface. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? I could spend all day listing games that are neither of those two things.
2. Your title should ideally communicate your game concept (e.g. SimCity vs Mutant Fascist Spacemen: The Venus years)
3. You should be able to describe your game within 60 seconds or less (see above)
4. You should focus and communicate its unique selling points on all sales material (e.g. if it’s a tennis game why is different to other tennis games)
5. If you’re going to use pictures to sell the game, make them exciting (e.g. avoid pictures of a vast featureless landscapes unless, oddly, that’s your USP)
6. Avoid narrowing your audience if you can help it (do you really have to rescue buxom space pixies from the evil clutches of the mighty Tharg?)
7. Think about what your game looks like when it’s sat along side a hundred other games vying for someone’s hard earned cash (see step 4)
8. Focus on what you know you can ship as opposed to a vanity project, e.g. if you know you can build a robust & polished gem puzzle game but have always wanted to do a MMORG containing FPS elements and maybe some Portal style spatial problems then it’s probably best to focus on the gem game unless you are actually made from money.
9. Can you fund some of the production by bringing in sponsorship
10. Can you increase potential sales revenues by building in a micro-transaction model that fits well with the game and doesn’t simply try to exploit the player?
11. Can you build virality into the game from the very start?
12. What price is your game going to sell at, this must be decided before development starts. Think about that for a second. Your end price and rough unit sales
figure should give you an idea of what your budget can be (minus profit of course). Your price point should be a factor in your development costs because like it or not, you are doing this for money.
13. Can you buy a finished or near finished game whose core mechanic implements something similar to yours, perhaps one that’s run out of money?
14. Don’t release until it is ready and begin at least planning your marketing activities at least 6 months prior to this date. (This is in direct contrast to the web app world where everything is released miles before it’s ready!)