Welcome to 2020. Time to face some cold hard facts about making games in the age of Steam and the App Store... your game will very likely go unnoticed by the vast majority of both press and consumers. Even if you pay for ads, hire a topnotch marketing team, and work with a PR and community team like us - there's still a good chance that your game might not find a lot of traction.
For every Fortnite-like explosion of success, there are 10,000 or more games that come and go, selling 1,000 copies if they're lucky. It's important to know that budget doesn't guarantee success. Similarly, even if you have a great game that the world will want to play, unless you get out there and try to get it seen, it's not magically going to take off.
So, in the face of incredible noise and an ever-increasingly shark-infested ocean of games - what can you do?
Identify Your Target Audience Early
Who are you making your game for? What's the market? Are there other games that dominate the landscape in the same field? How can you engage those players?
Be Prepared to Highlight What Makes You Unique
Maybe you've got a fantastic competitive shooter in the making. But guess what? There are probably already a million games like yours. What makes yours stand out? What's its unique selling point? Why should someone who's invested in PUBG or Overwatch take a chance on your competitive game?
Build Your Community Early
Once you've let the world know your game is being made, either with PR, streams, trailers, launching Steam pages and official sites, there's no turning back. Get that Discord community started, be active on your Steam Community Hub, reply to questions on Twitter, start sharing things on Facebook and Instagram. In short - if you don't have a Community and Social Media team, get one going ASAP. We happen to know a good one... just saying.
Don't Go Early Access, If You Can Avoid It
It may seem like a really great idea - "Early Access" was a novel way to get early feedback and sales for games when Steam and other storefronts first launched them, but by and large these days EA tends to hurt a game more than help it. It's known by gamers that EA titles are rough and unfinished, and most will avoid them until they're complete. Similarly, most press outlets and content creators will stay far away from Early Access games. Some even have policies not to cover EA games, except in special cases. Large publishers are often the outlier - outlets and creators know they'll get views and traffic for any game from a AAA studio or publisher. If you're one of them - why are you even here?!
Lastly - Get Help, Always
I can't stress this part enough - don't wait until a week, a month, or even two months before you want to launch to get help with press, influencer, and community outreach. If you're building something big like an MMO or a GaaS title, it's probably wisest to begin this process as soon as you're ready to announce your game. Even if you're a year or more away from launch, like our client's MMO Ashes of Creation, you want to build, maintain, and keep the flow of information going as you build your game. If you're making a single player experience, the same is true, but you probably don't need as much runway to build that community and awareness. A few months at least, is advised, in order to make announcements, create content, and build hype up with whatever size community you're able to engage.
There is no silver bullet for this business. You might make something incredible that no one plays. It's the danger of such a crowded industry. But at the very least you can give yourself a good chance of finding an audience by engaging with press, creators, and communities early and often.
And that's what we're here for.