If you want to create a successful indie game, marketing is one of the most important things. Some claim that an awesome game is all you need, and word of mouth will do the rest. To back up their claim, they use use Minecraft as an example on how a great game can succeed without marketing. Well, let me explain how Notch, the developer of Minecraft, did more marketing than the average indie game developer out there.
What is marketing?
Since a lot of game developers confuse marketing with advertisement, let’s first give a clear definition of what marketing means. This definition is focused on indie game developers:
Marketing is all effort that is not going straight into improving your game, but into getting the word out about your game.
Some marketers might say that having a good product is part of the marketing, but for this article, let’s assume you already have (or are working on) a good or awesome game.
Marketing can be split up into different forms of marketing. The most straight forward way to explain the different forms is done with the following text:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
Minecraft didn’t sell itself
So now that we cleared up what marketing is, let’s see what effort Notch put into marketing Minecraft.
Notch started blogging in May 2009, way before it was finished. He did 81 posts that month. That’s about 2.5 posts per day! The months after it he posted less, but still on average more than 1 post per day.
He also posted video’s on YouTube, at about 1 video a week.
He contacted the press because he got plenty of coverage on his newly announced game at indiegames.com, Jayisgames, Destructoid (unfortunately that page is already gone) and TIGSource.
Just like any good marketer, he uses discounts, time pressure and experiments with different revenue models.
The title of a game is one of the first things a potential buyer sees. So it needs to capture the essence of the game, it needs to attract potential buyers. Notch choose the title in a team brainstorm, were others could give input.
Marketing is essential
Remember, marketing is much more than advertisement alone. Notch didn’t only put much effort in developing his game, but also into getting the word out, and using sale techniques. That’s marketing. Without it, we would never know about Minecraft.
The same story for Angry Birds. If they didn’t market it, almost nobody would have heard of it.
So go on and create the most awesome game you can make, and market it like hell!
giich · January 4, 2016 at 12:38
i doubt the idea of “marketing” a game like Minecraft. I personaly think that some indie-games hit the cross and it becomes extremly popular. This cant be predicted by anyone and it’s a big luck (of course, with a lot of work) if your game became very (millionary :D) popular.
You can do 10 post in your blog per day, get a 1000 publications and even pay for media advertising and still fail. People could just dont like your game, end of story. That does not mean your game is bad, maybe for 1000 people in the world or even 10 000 it is the best game ever made. It’s just too hard to get your game to that exact people.
So the true marketing lies inside indie-developer head – making a game that YOU want, but a LOT of people will LIKE.
Just make more games, develop fast, dont stick to 1 idea, experiment and probably the next big thing will be your game.
ellie · January 22, 2018 at 08:19
I did not enjoy this site!!!!!! it did not help me
Koen Witters · January 22, 2018 at 08:28
In what way didn’t it help you? What are you looking for?
Axl · January 6, 2019 at 22:21
Vert insightful article. The 2 other commenters are full of shit
noob · January 17, 2020 at 04:40
This is a children’s website do not swear
Jacob · October 9, 2020 at 23:38
This is an incredible article, thank you for taking the time to make it.