By Nazgum, Founder, ManaKeep
Ever since 2008 and the release of Braid and Spelunky, indie games have been gaining in popularity fast. Really fast! And with how accessible it has become to create and sell an indie game, the space is more than a little crowded. To have your game get noticed nowadays requires a strong marketing effort, and at the heart of that effort should be your games website.
Your Game Showcase
Your website is where you can really showcase your game, exactly how you want it to be seen. You get to choose which features you want to talk about, what screenshots and videos to show, and what information you want to highlight. No where else will you have so much freedom in choosing how to promote your game, and you should take advantage of it! Draw your readers in and focus on the best aspects of your game. If you have a great story, introduce them to it. If your graphic style really sets your game apart, make sure to include screenshots and videos that capture it.
A Home Base for Marketing
When reaching out to the media, posting on Twitter or sharing your game elsewhere on the web, you need a link to share with people that says how to find your game. While you could share a link to a distribution channel such as Steam, you have little control over how your game is shown there. And what if your game is available through multiple distributions?
Sharing a link to your games website can have a more positive effect, allowing visitors to see your game as you want it presented, and giving you the opportunity to direct these visitors toward a goal. What are you hoping to achieve? Are you looking for feedback on your forums? Do you want to build up subscribers to your newsletter? Or are you looking to make more sales? Decide on a goal, then make your website laser-focused in achieving that goal. This helps to tie your marketing efforts together for your game and measure your success.
Build a Community
One of the best feelings when you are trying to market your game is to see other users already doing it for you! Users who are passionate about your game are more likely to spread the word and help promote it to others, and one of the best ways you can help make this happen is by building a community around your game. All communities start small. Make some friends!
Adding forums to your website is one way you can achieve this. Forums provide your users with an official place to talk about your game, and gives you a great place to interact with your fans. The discussions which take place here help you engage with your users, and hear their feedback and suggestions for your game which can be invaluable. Having a community behind your game before you launch can play a significant role in the media attention and reach your game achieves.
Creating your Website
So you want to create a website for your indie game. How do you get started? One method is to roll your own using WordPress. You want to do it all yourself, so you rent a server, install WordPress, and then customize the code until you are happy with the result. If you prefer to be in complete control of your site, this may be best suited for you.
Another option is to use a website builder. Website builders offer you pre-built pages, layouts and elements you can use to create your site, making the process easier and saving you time. Some notable website builders that can help you include ManaKeep which is made specifically for indie games, Squarespace which has more of a design focus, and Weebly which is more business-oriented.
Great Games Are NOT ENOUGH
With the amount of indie games being released these days, it is no longer enough to simply create a great game. You must really focus on the marketing efforts for your game to find success. Having a website that showcases your game well can play a large role, and it is a marketing opportunity you should make sure to take advantage of.
Nazgum is the founder of ManaKeep, a Toronto, Canada, based web service that helps indie game developers create websites to promote their games.