With Steam opening the floodgates this year, media attention around your game is more important than ever. How important?
Matthijs recently posted about their experience selling Unexplored, a rogue-like with an excellent dungeon generation system, which had a disappointing launch day on Steam, selling only 250 units. However, the next day they got covered by Rock Paper Shotgun with an enthusiastic article praising their game, and their 2nd day sales shot up to 750 units. RPS also posted two follow up articles, one a few weeks later and another after 6 months, which each provided a sales boost of around 400 units.
That is 1300 extra units sold thanks to those articles. Now contrast this with their launch day sales of only 250 units and you quickly realize how important press coverage can be for your game. Another way to look at it, each RPS article earned them around $4000. You want press coverage. Now how do you get it?
Game journalists receive a lot of requests to review games, so you want to both excite them and make their job easy. And this is where having an official website becomes important. Here are 5 ways your website helps you get written about by the press.
1. Show you are serious. If you ask a journalist to check out your game by sending them to one of the many game database sites out there, you may have already lost them. Journalists have been to these sites hundreds of times, where every game is shown in the exact same way. Already your game is less interesting, and even worse, it can give the impression you are less serious about your project. Every professional game has a website. Popular indie games all have websites. Why doesn't your game have one?
2. Make a great first impression. Your website is where you can really showcase your game and what makes it special. It will be a journalists first impression of your game so you want to seize this opportunity! If you made a horror game, have a dark, atmospheric site that creates tension and teases bits of the story. If you made an action game focus on your exciting gameplay features. Know what is unique and interesting about your game and amplify that message throughout your website.
3. Have a press kit. Journalists are busy and will appreciate it when you make their life easier. A good way to do this is to make all the information they need to write about your game in one easy to find place, your press kit. Make this a page on your website that includes your trailer, screenshots, a logo, info about your team, your studio, and links to contact you.
4. Build a community. A game that already has a following is more interesting to write about. You have social proof that players like your game and are interested in it. Your community can also be a source of information, reviews, quotes, and knowledge. So build a community. A great way to achieve this is to add forums on your site and encourage users to come discuss your game.
5. Write a devlog. Indie games are often considered personal passion projects, and writing a development blog can be a great way to get your story out. Hearing your struggles and successes makes the team behind your game more interesting, and can turn into hooks journalists use in their articles. Rather than a story about just another indie studio publishing just another game, your story can become about an indie studio who overcame a difficult obstacle to publish their game.
With the amount of indie games being released these days, marketing and press coverage are crucial to your success. Having an official website can play a large role, and is an opportunity you should make the most of with your indie game =)