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Game development has certainly come a long way from that little niche back in the 70s and 80s. For one thing, it is now widely recognised for being the complex and demanding art form it always has been. For another, and in more practical terms, it represents an incredibly lucrative field in which to emerge, make yourself known, and earn the loyalty of millions of gamers around the world.
Afterall, that is precisely what can happen for those who apply themselves to every area of game development, and invest all that artistic fire and fervency into every stage of the process. Some of the gaming world’s most memorable titles, particularly in recent years, began as nothing more than the seed of an idea in someone’s home office. From the single-man-show Stardew Valley to the now infamous origins of Minecraft, it is clear that small beginnings – if handled wisely from the start – can lead to a dominant position at the head of an entire global industry.
So, with that in mind, read about the five indispensable steps you should take as you prepare to launch your new title into the gaming stratosphere.
- Organise and Unify Your Branding
There is little logic behind imaginative processes – and that’s no bad thing. It ensures that creatives continue to change and reshape the world with brand new ideas, and that new products and services will be able to get the attention they deserve, rather than falling onto the heap of ‘old ideas’.
The trouble is, creative processes can be messy – more often than not, if we’re being honest.
And, while this will hopefully leave you with a fantastic idea, it will likely also leave you with a handful of extraneous and fragmented ideas that will only serve to convey a confused, vague message to your prospective players.
Unifying your branding is about looking at the big picture as well as the small details. Focus on your tone of voice – the language and slang you do or do not want to use – as well as, of course, the visual details, such as colour, logo, artwork, and typography.
- Make Your Mark with a Website
The world wide web has gone through countless revolutions since those humble origins at the tail-end of the 80s, and very few things have managed to stay the same. From the hit counters and animated cursors of the 90s to the sleek artistry of the 2020s, however, one thing has remained the same: to be seen, you need a website, and to be taken seriously, you need a very good one.
Unless you have years’ worth of experience in web engineering then, as soon as you begin to build your website, you will no doubt run up against a whole gamut of head-scratchers, complications, hold-ups and set-backs.
From perfecting the visuals to tracking down reliable hosting that can – and will – scale-up alongside your brand, doing it without an expert framework is, well, no longer recommended. Fortunately, you can start with a free domain name that Wix is offering and also use their DIY website templates with no charge, rather than working against the tide of professional site developers.
- Create Noise on Social Media
One of the greatest benefits the internet has ever brought us is the ability to collate together hundreds, thousands, or even millions of like minded people, regardless of any geographical limitations. It is, put simply, the marketer’s dream scenario – and, as a new brand just emerging into the global gamer pool, it should be yours, too.
Social media is, of course, where the people are. The internet represents an indomitable expanse, and knowing where to go to reach the most people at once means targeting each of the most popular social media platforms with marketing campaigns created specifically for that particular platform, and the audience it offers to you.
In more concrete terms, the ways in which you make your business known on Twitter – a concise, text-based platform – will differ significantly from the ways in which you market yourself on TikTok, which places a similar emphasis on short-form content, while focusing on audio- and video-based content.
Both platforms have the potential to lead to virality, but aligning your campaigns with the unique mediums and audiences on offer takes a great deal of creativity, time, and practical experience. There are any number of tactics you can take to generate buzz, from giving a voice to your characters to following in the footsteps of Avenger’s Endgame, which boasts its own Avengers-inspired Emojis.
- Don’t Put too Small a Price on the Soft Launch
The soft launch may not be as exciting as the hard launch – and may even begin to feel like an anti-climax after all those months of steadfast development. When we first begin on the road toward game creation, we do not envisage a gentle, lowkey entrance onto the scene – the vast majority of us envisage a far more dramatic, explosive entrance into the public sphere.
There is, however, a near-endless list of reasons to soft launch your video game before committing to a hard launch – all of which promise to establish a more stable foundation for your first days, weeks, and months on the market.
- Reach Out to Influential Names
The world of video games is not confined to the titles themselves – it represents an incredibly strong online community shaped by the fans and players themselves. Consider, for instance, the ever-growing pool of live streamers – some of whom have grown their online personas to the status of ‘household name’. Streaming sites like Twitch, as well as a whole gamut of reviewers operating on platforms like YouTube, have opened up the playing field for new and indie game developers.
Knowing who to reach out to for a review is, for the most part, a case of observing the movement of relevant trends within the industry, finding relevant demographics on Twitch, and having the confidence and wherewithal to make the most of these unique opportunities as and when they arise.