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5 Social Media Posts You ♥ Must ♥ Make For Your Game’s Launch

 

Launch day is hectic— what do you post besides the ​launch announcement?!

 
Having survived many, many launches of varying degrees of success, I feel your pain when launch day comes near. You’ve probably got a checklist of stuff to do, announcements to announce, posts to post, updates to update, but your mind is frantic. Don’t fret! You’ve got this. Keep your cool, try to keep your tabs below 20, and get some help to help you send posts and emails.
But what about social media? What all should you post then? Well, good news, on a lot of sites you can schedule posts so you can draft these before you even hit Release on Steam. So, let’s go over 3(ish) of my tweets I always make come release week!

(For all these examples I’ll be using my most recent launch, Image of Perfection, a commercial RPG VN)

 

1. Prelaunch Tweet

This one should be a no-brainer- hype your followers up by reminding them that your game releases tomorrow! I tweeted this right before 11AM CST on the day before- it has a video of gameplay, it has a small description, and has links to where they can buy it that next day.

 

✨ Optional ✨

 

Do a countdown on social media to your launch day! A fun way to do it is with art- here’s a couple of examples from my 5 day countdown for Paths Taken- the countdown featured a different drawing of each of the main characters for each day. In hindsight, I could have mixed up the small message with them a bit more.

2. Launch Tweet… and In Case You Missed It Tweet!

I didn’t schedule the launch tweet because I wanted to tweet it out the minute I uploaded it to Itchio and hit Release on Steam, but I did schedule the ICYMI tweet for later that night!
As you can see, the game went live around noon CST and I had scheduled the ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) post for later that night, around 6 hours later. If I had a professional trailer for this game done (it was a very quick 2 month development cycle- please try to get a good trailer done for your games!) then I would have posted that in the release announcement.

3. Seeking Press & YouTubers

Your mileage may vary on this one— you should send out emails to press before and during release, but it never hurts to just ask any that might follow you if they want to review it! Sometimes this lands me a few reviews, sometimes it only lands me a few RTs. Either way, it’s worth the 30 seconds writing the tweet for me.
The tweet for Image of Perfection only did a few RTs… but the Paths Taken tweet got a couple YouTubers interested!

4. Giveaway

Run a giveaway for a free key or two of the game! Set a few rules (I typically say “follow us and RT to enter”), set an ending date, and link the store pages. As usual, I add a couple emojis for some extra flair.
✨ Optional ✨

 

Some giveaways use custom graphics that have the rules explained in more detail. Some giveaways have more info and links in a reply tweet. Post the rules in whatever format you want!

5. First Reviews

Reviews on any game are extremely important- so, show off the first few you get, especially if they’re glowing reviews like the first one we got for Image of Perfection!
 
…And that’s it! There are a lot of other tweets you can make during launch (RTing streams, posting articles about the game, asking people to share their favorite screenshots, etc.) but these are a few more basic ones that I try to post every launch time. Hope this article helped some of you out- if it did, consider reading my previous articles!
 

​Wishlist my game on Steam!

Asterism

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The Importance of Landing Pages for Indie Games

There’s a new restaurant being built in my town- it’s a refurbished old warehouse, so it’s less being built and more being brought up to code. This has been going on the past few months, with the parking lot and landscaping recently being completed, so it was apparent that the restaurant was going to open very soon- however, the restaurant has yet to put a sign up with the name, let alone saying that it’s even a restaurant and not some kind of shop.

​Today while driving past it, I remarked that they now had condiments and paper towels on the tables near the windows- surely it was going to open soon after they put the sign up. Tonight while driving past it, the parking lot was full. People were sitting in all the tables we could see. It was a soft launch where they were testing their speed and kitchen, so not the full launch- but yet, there was still no sign for the restaurant. As an outsider, I’d assume it was another boutique or even just a small warehouse like the surrounding stores.

This was mind-boggling to me- you want to open up a store and not even advertise what kind of store you are, let alone your name? Even a nearby restaurant that was hidden down a set of stairs had a few small signs (and even a menu) on the wall next to it. So, as a game developer and person who attempts to market said games, it got me thinking- what would this be like if a game did this?

I’m going to use a couple different cases here in my analogy since there won’t really be anything 1 to 1.

Case #1 – No Name/Branding

The first case is the most obvious and extreme- you are posting on social media or Discord servers and such but you’ve yet to put a name to your product, or you fail to refer to it as such/put no logo with the images. People might see a screenshot of the game but if you don’t have a name for it or don’t put a name where people can easily see it, how will they be able to find out more? Sure, sometimes they’ll see it on your Twitter, but what if they happen to see it out in the wild where you can’t easily reply with an answer?

This should be a case that, if you’re reading this, shouldn’t happen. Most, if not all of you, should already have a name set for your game and be calling it by that name if you’re actively promoting it in places. Now, I’m not saying you should throw you game’s logo on all your promotional material for the game (I find it somewhat annoying to receive screenshots of in-engine looks with the logo plastered on it), but I am saying it’s typically best to have the name visible when promoting it in places for consumers.

Case #2 – No Landing Page

This case is going to be more prevalent for most devs- we forget to have a landing page. In this sense, a “landing page” is going to be broad, but something where consumers can view what the game is about and see some form of updates for it. In this sense, the following (I feel) qualify as a “landing page”:

  • Steam/Itchio/GameJolt store page
  • Website with newsletter
  • Social media specifically for the game

I’ve picked the types above as they all include some way to see updates for the game as well as get notifications for new updates- while I normally wouldn’t consider social media to be a “full” landing page as they’re more for sharing links to the above two places, they are ways for players to subscribe to your content. I would very much prioritize the first two, i.e. making a store front for your game where players can wishlist/follow it and making a website where players can easily see what the game is about.

Your goal with a landing page is to convert viewers into customers. You want a landing page to entice a consumer into supporting your game, even if it hasn’t launched- this can be by them following your social media, wishlisting the game, subscribing to your newsletter, and more.

So, what on Earth does this have to do with my long-winded analogy at the beginning of this? Well, them not putting up their name meant I had no way to search them up online, which means even if they did have a website (which they did) I couldn’t find it so I couldn’t see their menu, their “launch” date, and more. Make pages where potential customers can wishlist your game or sign up for updates!

When do I make a landing page?

As soon as possible! …No, but really, you should try to make landing pages for your games months before release if you can. Wishlists on Steam are basically an automated email blast of when a game launches and goes on sale, so you want to collect as many of those as you can. And like I said with the analogy, if you wait until release to have a landing page, you’re missing out on potential customers who lost interest because there wasn’t a way for them to follow the game.

As game devs, we’re all guilty of procrastinating things that aren’t coding or art or writing (aka, everything business) but we really should try harder to put landing pages and such up sooner. Maybe next time I’ll write on the abysmal importance of wishlists on Steam and how they translate to sales on launch day…


Wishlist my games on Steam!Asterism   ♦   Image of Perfection

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Game Dev Social Media Post Ideas

One thing I frequently get asked is “what do I post to social media? How do I keep it active? I don’t have any art!” and I always send them a long list of ideas on what to post but I never consolidate it anywhere. So, it’s about time I do that.

 

Below are a list of ideas on what to post to social media- ones in bold are ones I very much recommend for being high in engagement / eye-catching. Don’t forget to check out my Game Dev Social Media Calendar and my Twitter Guide!

  1. Post a screenshot
  2. Post a WIP screenshot
  3. Post a progression screenshot (post an old WIP screenshot and then show how far its come)
  4. Post a gif
  5. Post a video/trailer
  6. Post concept art
  7. Post finished sprites
  8. Post finished full art
  9. Post a funny expression from your character sprites
  10. Post a snippet of music
  11. Post a full piece of music
  12. Post a playlist that you listen to while working
  13. Share (and credit) a piece of art that inspires you
  14. Share a piece of fanart
  15. Post a snippet of writing / a funny quote
  16. Post a snippet of code
  17. Post a picture of animals in the office
  18. Post a picture of your workspace
  19. Talk about your daily work routine
  20. Give a review for a piece of equipment/software you use for work
  21. Ask for feedback on something (piece of art, dialogue, etc)
  22. Run a poll (ask what people’s favorite game is, what their favorite x is, etc.)
  23. Do a Q&A session
  24. Talk about where you got the idea for your game
  25. Talk about the game itself
  26. Talk about future projects you’d like to do
  27. Interview your staff / introduce them
  28. Talk about what your dream merch for the game would be
  29. Make a mood board / aesthetic board for the game
  30. Post something inspirational for #MotivationMonday
  31. Write an editorial to help other game devs
  32. Post a link to an editorial you found helpful
  33. Post a small preview of something upcoming
  34. Do a giveaway of a previous game or a piece of software
  35. Post a progression shot of how your game’s art has changed
  36. Thank your followers and highlight some of them
  37. Link a Let’s Play of one of your games
  38. Talk about a game that inspired yours but what you’d change about it
  39. Post a drawing of a girl from your game and tag it #CutieSaturday
  40. Post a meme about your game
  41. Post links to where people can find your other social media (Discord, devlog, etc.)
  42. Post a funny chat log from your Discord
  43. Post a picture of you showing the game off at a convention / booth
  44. Post a survey to find more about your consumers and what they like
  45. …And more!

Here’s a few examples of me doing these ideas on my company Twitter:

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Game Dev Social Media Calendar

tl;dr I couldn’t find a social media calendar for video games    specifically so I made one. Enjoy.

I should probably preface this with a definition- what is a social media calendar? According to CoSchedule:

Social media editorial calendars are spreadsheets or apps used to schedule social posts in advance. They’re also used to plan when and which content will be shared, manage campaigns, and track deadlines.

For now, I’ll use the definition of “a list of plans to help create social media content”. Social media calendars that fit this description, in most cases, are used by big corporations for brainstorming ideas for marketing content on social media, as the name implies. However, because most of these are made for large corporations by marketing companies, they are made to be as inclusive and broad as possible so anyone can use them- in this, they become harder to use, especially so for niches rather than conglomerates. I couldn’t find one that would be great for game developers to use as reference for social media- rather, I had to use a combination of multiple calendars to get ideas for social media that would be relevant.So, I made my own.
These are a few suggestions for each day to post about you’re games- some days have prominent hashtags (mainly on twitter) but every day has a suggestion on what to post in general.Wednesdays and Saturdays are typically the biggest in terms of relevant content you can post, given that they both have 2 large tags that are very relevant to game dev. This list is mainly for Twitter, but can be referenced for other social media sites.

Feel free to download the image, share it around, and link back!

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Opinion- Why You Should Run Game Dev as a Business

Rather than an editorial, I want to preface this as being mostly opinion, as this is something that I have argued with people about before. I also want to preface this by saying I only mean this about games planning being/on Kickstarter and commercial games– games made just as a hobby are not what I mean by this article. I don’t want any accusations that I’m against hobby dev- after all, that’s how I got in the industry. Now with that out of the way, let’s begin.

Game Dev as a Business- What Does that Mean?

“Game dev as a business” means just that- it means looking at how you build games and refining that process from a business perspective, making decisions that are business oriented rather than fully game developer oriented. Again, let’s get some disclaimers out of the way.

  • This does not mean making every single decision from a business perspective, throwing all creative freedoms out the window in favor for more business-savvy choices
  • This does not mean becoming a full-on business person and taking courses in running a business
  • Again, this only applies to developers making games for Kickstarter and/or commercial games

So, in a more liberal sense, what does “game dev as a business” mean?

It means taking a step back every once in a while and looking at your game objectively- seeing it as something besides just your baby and evaluating if you’re making smart decisions for the game that consumers want. It means making tweaks to the game that consumers will enjoy- after all, you’re taking their money, so they should be happy with the product. It means not slacking on all the fields (namely marketing) while in development so your company can stay afloat after launch and make it to another launch.

On a smaller scale, it means adding more choices to a visual novel to make players who want a bit more interactivity happy. On a larger scale, it means changing the art style to be more appealing to a wider audience while also refining it to look more polished. On any scale, it means keeping marketing strong through the process rather than waiting till the last minute.

Why Should I?

​Game dev is an artistic medium, and allow a lot of creative liberties with it. However, when you start taking people’s money for said games (aside from donations), you are now producing games for said consumer, and they must have some sort of input in the game. You are giving them a product and taking their money for it- therefore, you should refine some details of said product to be tailored for the consumer. As I stated before, this doesn’t mean making a game completely based off of consumer feedback and lacking in creativity- it ​means changing smaller parts of the game to make it overall more polished.

Specific Examples


​Here’s a few specific examples from my own games:

  1. That Which Binds Us: I didn’t do this before launch, and I regret it- I wish I had added more choices to the game. There are long stretches without any choices, and all the choices in the first playthrough of the game are basically meaningless. Adding more choices would have increased interactivity as well as replay value. I also had a cool phone CG that should have been used more to increase the unique style.
  2. Asterism: The art style was not good. Don’t get me wrong, I like my own art style- but it wasn’t what I wanted for the game, and people agreed with me. It took me what felt like hundreds of times (it was at least 50) to edit and reshade the sprite for Kotachi, but I eventually got him to a style I really like for the game. It’s more anime but it’s also much more polished than before.
For a good amount of months, I was fine with the 2018 version until I realized that people (including myself) didn’t like it.

Why Should I? Part 2

Making more business-oriented decisions can help keep your studio afloat from one launch to another- it can mean the difference between actually making it to that next launch. Delaying a game release in order to properly market can lead to lots of sales that you would have missed otherwise had you waited until after launch to market the game. Adding some more interactivity can bring in new customers who would have otherwise been put off by the lack of gameplay.Basically, making business decisions for the game can bring in new customers and/or satisfy current ones.

When you start taking money for games, you must begin thinking of it like a business.

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Why Game Jams Matter

Often we think of game jams as small, random events that game developers enter just for fun and bragging rights- but, they give developers so much more than we bargained for.

Game Jams are events held every single day across the world and online with thousands of different themes and time constraints. Some last 2 months; some last a train ride; and some last an hour. Some have thousands in prizes and some have nothing more than bragging rights. But still, why do we enter them besides fun? What’s the point if you’re already working on a fulltime project? There’s a lot of reasons why.
1) Having a Finished ProductThis is a bragging right of course but it’s also tangible evidence that you can deliver a product you made from start to finish. It’s something you can share to prospective employers. It’s something you can use to market yourself with and gain a fanbase. It’s something you can use as a starting base for a bigger/expanded project. But most of all, it’s something you finished.

Most game jam games aren’t perfect. Hell, most of them haven’t even gotten close to being polished. But they’re still mostly playable and in a “finished” (but not polished) state. These games can be proof of concepts for future projects or your abilities.

2) Cutting Scope

A vital part of finishing and shipping any project is being able to make a reasonable scope and cutting it when needed. A scope that’s to large is the biggest killer of projects- they just can’t handle all the work and the game never gets done. “What if we added this feature here?” “How about there’s this mechanic for this section of the game?” “Let’s add a new character to this scene.” It’s things like this that add up over time- some are more obvious than others. The ability to take a scope and cut it in half is a seriously undervalued skill of project management.

3) Networking

After doing a game jam you typically end up afterwards rating and playing other entries- this is a great time to make friends and network with them. In layman’s terms, networking is basically creating contacts by making friends with people. That’s it. Play games and give feedback on them, let people know who you are.

4) Game Dev Experience

Working on a game will teach you some mechanics, but finishing a game will help solidify them- not only do you know how to work in an engine enough to get things moving, but you understand them enough to make a complete project. You’ll learn about all the assets that it takes to make a finished product. It’s hard to fully realize how many assets go into a game until you’re trying to wrap everything up and oh no there’s no sound effects and also the main menu barely works.


Game jams are a lot more important than people think, and are a great way to get started in game dev by finishing a small project. I always try to tell new devs to do a game jam first before jumping headfirst into a long term project, and I hope this article goes over why.