I received an email in my IndieGames.com inbox today that made me sigh in disbelief. It was from an indie developer, and it epitomizes how the average indie dev goes about their marketing. Rather than quote bits, here is what I received in full (with names removed as not to embarrass the sender):
My name is ****. I am the founder of the ****, a small indie game development studio.
I am just curious if you have ever come across the game titled [game name]?
I have been reading about all kind of indie games on Indie Games Blog and I have never seen our game being mentioned on the blog.
Is there any particular reason why [game name] has not been mentioned on your blog?
We would really like for one of the editors to play it and if they think that the game deserves to be mentioned on the blog, we would like to see an outline or review or something about it. If it's possible at all.
Thank you for your time.
After reading this, I immediately checked back through my saved mail to see if I'd heard from this dev, or indeed anything about their game, before. I hadn't. This was the first email I had ever received regarding the game.
I then went searching on Google to see what I could find about the game (as you'll notice that the email didn't even include a link to the game's site). Other than finding the site itself and a page on IndieDB, there was absolutely nothing else on any other site about this game (apart from a couple of personal Blogspots).
Which brings me to the question: does this developer believe the Indie Games Weblog editors to be psychic? Should our Indie Senses have tingled as the game was released? Should we have been scouring the darkest corners on the internet and randomly come across it?
Now, this is an extreme example of the lack of knowledge that some indie developers show when it comes to getting their games out there - of course, lots of developers know how important it is to get the word out, and if you're reading this and nodding knowingly, then you're most likely savy to what I'm getting at. For everyone else however, please heed this warning: If you do not email games sites about your games, then there is a very high chance that anything you release will disappear into a sea of indies.
We talked with Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games on the IndieGames podcast this week, and he told us that he reckons Dejobaan spend around 25% of their time marketing both the games they have already released, and the games they have in development. That's not to say that every indie developer should be aiming for this mark, but it gives a rough outline of how other developers are handling their wares.
So indie developers, ask yourselves: Have you emailed everyone worth getting in touch with? Are you talking about your game in the correct light? Are you building a presence on Twitter and Facebook? Have you marketed your game enough? If the answer to any of these questions is 'no', then you may want to consider your priorities.
If you haven't gotten in touch with us at IndieGames.com yet, then make sure you do so: You can get in contact with all the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need tips on what to send us, try reading my Indie Marketing Guide on Gama.