Growing your game organically is a long play that takes patience and consistency, but one that can bring great value when combined with the right paid approaches.
Your game is ready to launch. You have put months of effort, sweat, and tears into crafting a beautiful experience for your audience, but it isn’t the end; it’s the start of a new journey.
However, not everyone has the budget for big ad campaigns. Luckily, you don’t always need them to be large of expensive, as you can get people talking about and playing your game without breaking the bank.
This article will focus on four organic approaches that are essential building blocks for a wider marketing strategy and which of them is the right approach for your game and audience.
These tactics will take you towards launching both monetization campaigns to drive revenue streams and user acquisition efforts to make your game grow with the most valuable players you can find.
There are two main avenues you can take to market your game: Organic and paid campaigns.
An ideal scenario would see you mixing elements of both to find the sweet spot that works for your title and the game category you are entering. If you want to combine approaches or just learn more, check out this article on the Unity blog.
However, this article focuses entirely on the organic routes to help your game grow, so let's get started:
1. Get on more app stores and explore crowdfunding
After coming out of the development phase, your first move should be to make your game available. Obviously, you want to reach as many people as possible, but the challenge lies in the time and resources it takes to share a game worldwide. That’s where your distribution strategy should kick in.
There are obvious places where you should be publishing, like Steam, Apple’s App Store, and the Google Play Store, but you should not underestimate alternative app marketplaces beyond the big players. Why? Alternative app stores are experiencing tremendous growth and enable you to reach audiences that the Google Play and App Store are missing like China.
To take the pain out of posting on multiple app stores, check out the Unity Distribution Portal which eliminates creating different builds for each app marketplace. With one single build and metadata profile, you can submit your game to multiple stores from one place.
Another option is to consider crowd funding sites like Patreon or Kickstarter where you can receive great monetary support from core players during the development phase.
2. Get your blog going
A blog can serve as the central hub for all updates and information about your game and, if done with care and consideration, can be an ideal organic method for getting your game on people’s radar.
It doesn’t just have to be chunks of text about the game, it can be a development log, a community feed, or a place to share exciting news as all of these things can bolster your reputation with your audience and strengthen your site in the eyes of search engines if you post regularly enough.
Details like your social media handles, a contact form, and good design with video and striking visuals can also go a long way to gaining visibility and new players for your game.
3. Get social
- Start with game development platforms
Channels like Twitch will help you get eyes on your game from a critical audience
Reach out to Twitch streamers to introduce your game and pique their interest in playing it.
Consider streaming your own gameplay and inviting others to join you. This will help you build a follower base while showing your game online.
Keep it simple and easy. You don’t need an elaborate setup to start your stream. Use the tools you already have and don’t be shy about engaging with your audience.
Why Twitch? A good example of how a game can go from zero to hero thanks to the power of social media is Among Us, which grew exponentially after gamers on Twitch started streaming gameplay to their audience (and for which Unity helped them sustain the unprecedented growth they experienced).
- Expand to other social channels
The power and necessity of being on social media for marketing is long past debate, but don’t just set up a Facebook page and call it a day. Crosspost and repurpose your content across other platforms like TikTok, Twitter, and Youtube to maximize your exposure and reach new communities.
- Publish relevant and regular content
Make sure you establish a regular cadence for your content. Consider tagging others and use every opportunity to show off your game. Use your social channels to communicate new content updates, bugs and fixes, the release of new versions, exciting new features, or things coming down your pipeline.
- Maximize your exposure
If you integrate elements of your game with social media through video or static capture, your players can create content directly from your game and then share it with their networks for easy exposure. Just ensure you include your game’s logo or watermark so people know what they are looking at.
- Join the community and be vocal about your game
Online communities and forums like Reddit and Discord are great sounding boards for developers. Share your creation on these forums, show off your game with cool footage, get advice from fellow developers, and be active in the community. These are the kind of interactions that could make your game unexpectedly take off just based on getting exposure in front of a savvy audience.
4. Charm the influencers
Gaming influencers are experts in creating content that resonates with their large audiences and can help you drive awareness and installs for your game in a very cost-effective manner.
According to a report published by Google Play, for every person who clicks on the tracking link of an influencer video on YouTube, four more people are not clicking but still download the game within four days after watching.
Their audiences are more loyal to them than brands, so it pays off far greater to work with them as you are nurturing a dedicated player community while gaining new players. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Beginning the search
An excellent place to begin identifying potential candidates is Twitch. Check the analytics for your game’s category and make a list of the gamers that match your bill. Attending gaming events and being active in forums and groups can also help you with your search.
- Look for the perfect match
Before entering into a partnership with an influencer, make sure that the person you choose ticks some boxes:
- Someone who knows your studio or brand.
- The right audience. Too big or too small might not be ideal for cost and engagement. Find the sweet spot with a gamer who has earned a sizable audience organically.
- Appropriate content. Peruse their previously produced work and see if it fits your narrative and style.
- Active and engaged. Take a look at their channel’s activity and check for engagement, comment moderation, and the number of shares.
- Watch out for red flags
You tie your reputation to their online activities by engaging an influencer. Make sure to check all of their social media handles and look for anything questionable that might be off-brand for you and your game. This might include inappropriate language or strong personal or political opinions. Avoid influencers using black or gray content techniques, and look at the community’s perception of your candidate.
- Tune your outreach
- Take some time to go through the influencer’s channels and make sure to mention how you connect with their content. Be specific and validate the influencer’s work.
- Make your value proposition as straightforward as possible. Avoid corporate jargon and keep it light.
- Set clear expectations and aim for the long term.
- Don’t over-promise and leave some room for negotiation.
Be on top of your marketing game
Organic marketing tactics and strategies are not backup moves for studios without the budget for “bigger things”, they are a core part of any developer’s playbook that is looking to grow their game.
Understanding what tactics to employ, how they fit in with your audience, and the ways organic tactics mesh with paid campaigns can be the difference between your game being a success and it not reaching the people you made it for.
However, organic isn’t the entire picture and paid has its place. If you want to learn about the best paid approaches to maximize your marketing investment and how it helps with specific KPIs like user retention, growth loops, and MAUs, check out this article.