There is no single recipe, to publish a game and succeed 100%. There are ways to increase your chances though! The more you do required actions, the higher the chances are.
Game development has already divided into different areas, where one marketing strategy can be a waste of time and money, but finding the right solutions to gain visibility for your product, can be time saving and/or cost efficient. Some areas require less money, but more time to do marketing efficiently. Right below, I'll scratch the surface or 'Mobile Game Marketing' and 'PC / Console Marketing' from my past experiences.
MOBILE GAME MARKETING
When looking at the current mobile game field, the most efficient action you can perform right now, is the traditional UA (User Acquisiton) campaign. This means spending hundreds, thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands for ads campaign(s) in medias like Facebook, Google UAC, Chartboost, Instagram and so on. After spending enough money for the UA campaigns, you start to be able to see the lowest cost per install (CPI) for your game.
Testing out different creatives (ad images, videos, texts, focus groups) is also one of the key elements when doing UA. It can be surprising, what combination of ad video and focus group start to get players in with low cost as possible. It's crucial to test out even the strangest videos and focus the ads for different user groups, to get the necessary analytics data out from the services. Most likely, it will take thousands of dollars to get the idea of your core user and what they prefer to see in the ad, to actually install the game.
It's good to understand, that only getting the player to do actions after seeing your ad is only the beginning. Their next stop is the store page (Appstore, Google Play...), which needs to be from the same world than the ad was, which made them to start exploring more. And of course, same goes with the game itself. If the whole pipeline from seeing the ad, jumping to the store page and installing the actual game is seamless, you will most likely get more loyal users for your game.
By failing to do so, the pipeline cracks at some point. This can be noticed when looking at the analytics, and seeing that people do visit your store page, but don't install the game. Or maybe they install the game, but leave/uninstall right after.
If you don't have the budget for doing user acquisition campaigns (UA), your best chance is to make the store page and in-game content as polished as possible and reach out to stores (Google, Apple) for featuring your game.
PC / CONSOLE MARKETING
From my experience, PC and Console marketing leans more into press coverage, active community building and getting the message out for the right people. This might consume less money, but it sure consumes more time and effort.
Like in every game project, the whole design process should start from the marketing point of view. Who is the core user of your game? What kind of other games does he/she play? How do you differentiate from these games? And so on. By having the answer for these questions, it's more easier to start reaching out for the medias, press sites, influencers and other necessary key players, who have already done coverage for these types of games. By randomly shouting to everyone of your awesome game, causes your message to look like 'generic marketing text' which won't (most likely) cause any interest.
Always remember, you are not creating a game for everyone. Someone has to hate your game, if you want someone to love it.
Form a clear message of what you are about to create, how you are going to create it and for who you are about to create it for. Once this is done, you are more ready to start the actual development and start spreading the word from day one. Building a community and the necessary credibility for press is time consuming. You need to reserve months for this process, to be ready when the launch day comes.
Hopefully this wrapup brought you some new ideas when planning your game marketing and development! I've been writing a lot of marketing side of game development lately, maybe it's time to dig into the actual development next time!
Klaus 'Kossad' Kääriäinen