Indie Marketing 101: The Right (And Wrong) Ways To Market Your Indie Game


We should’t have to reiterate the importance of a game trailer. But just in case; suffice to say it’s going to give potential players their first glimpse of the game in action, and that’s what they want to see – the game in action. None of that fluff that so often comes along with game trailers; you’re not going to win an award for this so just show us the game and we’ll all get on with our lives.

Of course you can have a couple of logos at the start if you so wish, but it’s almost guaranteed that no one will want to see them. Not to be harsh, that’s just how it is. You’re better off just getting straight into the gameplay itself, but what kind of gameplay should you show?

For a start, keep repetition as low as you possibly can. That means you shouldn’t show a game mechanic, environment, bossfight, character, whatever, more than is necessary. Which is usually once. This leads nicely on to the next point: keep it short. This is a trailer – if you want to show off extended bits of gameplay, then make another video especially for it. A trailer’s purpose is to get the person viewing it interested in the game and it is all too easy to overstay your welcome. A minute or less is likely long enough for a trailer. Three minutes is probably the maximum time that you want your trailer to run on for and only if you have something very special going on. Cut it down as much as possible and bear in mind that the wonderful thing about these trailers is that people will rewatch and pause them during their viewing if they want a closer look. Saying that, don’t make every clip half a second long – this isn’t a montage of your best FPS kills.

This trailer for Super T.I.M.E. Force does everything right. Watch and admire its glory.

Style is very important when making a trailer. Most important is showing off gameplay but if you can do it with style then you certainly up your chances of exciting people. Try to fit the mood and atmosphere of the game – make it funny, gentle or hyperactive accordingly. This can be achieved through editing but don’t take a risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. Music is another factor that ties into style. Please do not use anything generic or too well-known. You want your trailer to be as unique as your game, plus, if we have to watch another trailer with that house music then we can’t be held accountable for the ensuing rage.

While we’re on the topic of sound, voice overs are becoming quite a popular element in indie game trailers as of late, but not always to a positive effect. Driving us up the wall regarding voice overs are the microphone pops which occur when the person speaking gets to close to the microphone. To prevent this it is recommended that you get a pop-screen or something equivalent as pops make a trailer dramatically fall out of professional territory and into amateur.

Still on the topic of voice overs, as these are applicable to both trailers and developer vlogs (that lovely word), whoever is performing the voice over should be at least a little bit enthusiastic about the game. Monotone mumbles and incomprehensible panic is no good to anyone, especially your game. So find someone who is chirpy, easily understood and comfortable talking to a microphone.

Not a bad trailer necessary, this one for Guncraft, but the popping during the voiceover and the bleep which is far too loud really stick out:

This page has been quite brief and really only acts as general guidance when it comes to game trailers. You’ll really have to find your own way of doing them and to the best of your ability. If something gives the impression of being amateur, it’s best to consider throwing it out altogether. Most importantly in a game trailer, show off your game and make sure it’s varied and doesn’t go on for too long. That way you’ll leave people wanting to see more. Don’t give the wrong impression about your game with false promises though.

Oh, and it is absolutely vital that you provide links to your website or somewhere that the viewers can then go to for more information about the game. It drives us potty that so many indie game developers overlook this simple and vital step. There are description boxes under the videos so use them!

Page 1: First Steps

Page 2: Website Essentials

Page 3: Game Trailers

Page 4: Contacting Press

Page 5: Generate Your Own Traffic

Valuing gameplay and innovation over everything, Chris has a keen eye for the most obscure titles unknown to man and gets a buzz from finding fantastic games that are not getting enough love. Chris Priestman, Editor-in-Chief of IGM

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