Welcome to the first in a series of Q&A's with industry experts on how to make your game successful. First up, Raghav Mathur of Black Shell Media, a marketing and PR firm focusing on the distribution and publishing of independent video games. (Want to be featured in an upcoming Q&A? Email us.)
Q. Tell me about yourself.
A. I'm Raghav Mathur, an entrepreneur based out of the Bay Area and Chief Marketing Officer at Black Shell Media! I co-founded Black Shell Media along with my business partner, Daniel Doan, and over the past two and a half years we've shipped over half a million copies of our games. I've worked with countless passionate developers to help them achieve their dreams, and I'm having the time of my life!
Q. Being an indie developer and marketing your game is tough. What advice would you give an indie developer studio about gaining the exposure they need on little or no budget?
A. Focus on the grassroots forums, journalists and communities in your niche. Generate exposure and run promotions within the group. When we started developing SanctuaryRPG, which is a very niche title, our small Reddit community proved invaluable. We ran contests and giveaways, set up regular sharing of content and made sure that every player felt important. The truth is, whether you're starting out or just hit your millionth download, every player is important. Treat them as such.
Q. What are the minimum marketing assets you would recommend an indie studio focus on?
A. Focus on solid branding for the store page. What I mean is that if you're on Steam, make sure any front-facing assets (logo, boxart, screenshots, trailer etc) that are on the page are pristine and polished. The store page is what's going to be influencing people to buy the game, and it's vital to ensure that it's as neat and polished as it can be.
Q. We know that posting in forums about your games is not always the best approach. What additional marketing tactics would you recommend an indie studio NOT do when marketing their game?
A. Don't get too cocky. You have a great game, I'm sure, but remember –– journalists, fans and media all see thousands of new games every week from developers who also have a great game in their eyes. Stay humble and show off your game without being overly pushy. It's a hugely saturated market, and you don't want to get a bad reputation.
Q. When you don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing what should you spend the limited dollars on?
A. That's a really tricky one. I'd say make sure your art assets are up to par. There are easy ways to get traffic to the page and grow a social presence, but it's hard to suddenly become great at art or design. Making sure your branding is as good as can be is absolutely important.
Q. What recommendations would you make to on building a happy and successful fan base?
A. Keep them engaged. Whether that's through contests, giveaways, sharing developer blogs, news pieces or even just Tweeting "Hi guys!", make sure your fans feel appreciated and valued as players.