Marketing & PR – Don’t Forget It!


The following post is from as friend of mine Mike Rodwell. I really like hearing what he has to say, so I jumped at the opportunity for Mike to do this post.

Take it away Mike!

Why is it that the vast majority of games/ apps end up on the scrap heap? Hours upon hours of development time is poured into games that simply don’t move the needle when it comes to downloads and revenue achieved.

Ironically, there are many great games and apps that are buried deep in the App Store search results, never to be found, never to be played and never to return the rightfully deserved revenue to the developer. Is yours going to be one of them?

Low Barrier to Entry, More Competition

Luckily the process of App Reskinning and outsourcing has greatly reduced the cost development and time to market. Put simply, you can produce apps quicker than ever before with little or no technical knowledge and at a reduced cost. This is all great news for those wanting to get into the apps business but it’s a double edge sword. An easier path to entry means more competition. You’re going to have to work harder than ever to stand out.

You’ve Made a Great Game…Great!Tick Image

Many indie and small development studios focus all of their attention on the task at hand – developing a great game. This is a very noble endvour – the player experience is paramount and should not be overlooked. It is however, half the challenge.

Just because you have a great game it doesn’t mean you can kick your feet up and start watching the cash roll in as your download’s sky rocket. Those days are gone. You’re up against some big, experienced competition with deep pockets. You can sure as hell bet they’ll be marketing the heck out of their new release. So… why aren’t you?

They’ve Got Big Budgetscash money

Yep, the competition has a lot of money to spend. Deal with it, that’s life. Someone is always at the top of the pecking order with underdogs like you chomping at their heels. There’s no reason why you can’t emulate what they’re doing, minus the cost. In fact, you absolutely need to be focussing on marketing and PR in parallel to your development activities. That way, on launch day, you’ll be ready to go – hit the ground running!

Big Ideas, Low Budget

Marketing and PR can be as expensive as you like. If you’re willing to pour money in the bucket it will expand infinitely. Here’s some things you should be thinking about if you have a very small bucket or no bucket at all!

Branding – who are you? What do you do? Who is your target market? And, most importantly does your banding ‘speak’ to this. It’s important to get this nailed down pretty early on in the process. The development of your logo, tag lines, colors and messaging will be re-used time and time again. Nothing is set in stone but it’s well worth the time upfront to get this locked in.

Captain Spinks Games Logo Evolution
While we’re on this subject, don’t let the quest for perfect get in the way of great. How you act, what you say and the games that you create will all feed into what becomes your public brand/ image. It develops overtime and is a whole lot more than imagery and logos. There will be plenty of time for refining this in the future.

Spinks WebsiteWebsite – This is marketing 101. Make it easy for people to find you. Your website must be exciting, enticing and encourage people to download your games. Think of a website as a window into your development studio. It serves a number of important purposes:

  • Present your games/ apps, entice people to click your download links
  • Press Info – if someone in the press comes looking for more information on you, make it easy for them. Give them everything they need to make a story out of you. This includes your background story, contact details, high res images, trailer videos and any press release articles that are written. (insert PR link here)
  • Who Are You – many website’s most popular pages are the ‘about us’ section. Make it interesting, make it fun and finish with a call to action, ie, ‘download my games!’
  • Blogging – Consider writing a blog. Make it interesting, make it useful. This will drive repeat traffic to your site. So long as you offer something of value, your audience will reward you by downloading and trying out your games

My favourite theme is Appify Pro which I wrote a post about on the Captain Spinks Games Blog. There’s a number of different versions and it really makes presenting your apps/ games a breeze. Check it out.

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (yes, Google+) and LinkedIn. Start immediately and be consistent. Building a social media presence takes time and persistence. Just as you focus on player experience during your game development you should focus on audience experience with your social media posts. The odd joke post is fine but for the most part, stay on topic and give the audience what they want. Ask yourself “does this serve a purpose for my audience?”

I like to use Hootsuite to manage my social media posts as it allows me to aggregate all of my feeds into a single pane and schedule posts. This is particularly important if you are looking to target a specific timezone or demographic.

If it all possible, get involved with the online community. Contribute to social media pages and groups and build relationships with your followers. Meeting people on Twitter has been a gold mine for me so take some time to chat with people and always be forthcoming with useful information/ posts and you’ll find this is reciprocate thick and fast.

Game Review Sites – Free advertising that is squarely focussed on gamers. It’s that simple. If you can manage to get your games reviewed you will get more downloads. And, as Tim will attest, even negative reviews can have a silver lining.

It’s worth noting that submission to these sites in many cases will require some customisation. It might be time consuming but this should be part of your final push and getting picked up by just one of these sites could make a world of difference.

I recently put together a spreadsheet of 149 sites that review mobile games. Take it, use it and submit your games to every one of these.

Public Relations & Press Releases – imagine if a story about your game made it into Digital Spy, Tech Crunch or a tier one publication such as USA Today. By default you’ll get thousands of downloads and your games popularity and ranking in the App Store/ Google Play store will sky rocket. But…Here’s the thing, you need to be news worthy.

What is it that’s unique about you, your company and/or your games? What’s your angle and why would anyone care? You need to think long and hard about this or employ someone that can help you (think Fiverr, Elance, People Per Hour). There’s 3 pieces to this puzzle

  1. Find Your Angle – start thinking about this on day one. If you have a story idea, write it down immediately. You’d be surprised how useful it is to have a list of seemingly worthless ideas to brainstorm with. This will get the creative juices flowing.
  2. The Press Release – writing a press release doesn’t have to be difficult. Put google to work and read a bunch of press releases. You’ll very quickly see the similarities. Most notably, the structure is clear and concise with the first couple of sentences summarizing the story. This makes the journalists life easy.Here’s a tip, work in reverse. Get your favourite news publication and look for a technology based story. Now, go to the company’s (who the story is focussed on) website and check out their press section. You’ll most likely find a press release corresponding to the published story and in many cases identical quotes are used.

    Use this process to get comfortable with the structure and style of writing. Pay particular note to the angle or how the company presents a news worth story.

  3. Get Your Press Release Found – Your press release is worthless if it never gets found or read by the press. There are many paid services that can push out your story to news outlets and as with all things PR these can be hit and miss. If you have a very small marketing budget (or nothing at all) just focus on the free news wire services.
    Captain Spinks Games PR List Download

    I’ve put together a list of 49 sites where you can register and submit your story. Again, this takes some time but if you get published it will be well worth it!

If your story does get picked up by a news outlet the journalist will often request more information. You need to be ready. This means having your story straight and any supporting media that may be required. For games this will mean screen shots, video trailers, company info and imagery, company background and founders biographies.

And, since you are going to the effort to put all this information together I strongly suggest you make it available on your website. The format will vary but make it easy for journalists to navigate and find exactly what they’re looking for. You can check out my press section here to give you some ideas.


As an indie developer in a market that is becoming more competitive by the day you need to work hard to stand out. By focussing on marketing activities that are inexpensive or free you will be giving yourself the best chance of success. Branding, Website, Social Media and PR are all activities that can deliver immense value at minimal cost. Start the process of your marketing and PR early and consistently chip away as you progress towards your launch date. Good luck and do drop me an email if I can help you in any way! [email protected]

About the Author Tim Buchalka

Tim and his team completed over 500 reskins for himself or clients, and is an expert in the field.He has written 3 complete games, and has two complete video courses on Udemy that are about reskinning (as well as an Android development course with over 16,000 students!). You can find out more about Tim’s video courses here. He has also written a 110 page ebook about reskins that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed with reskins which is available on this website. You can get a complimentary copy of this ebook as well as discounts to his video courses by visiting this link. To contact Tim, visit this sites contact page.

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