Eradicate Week 5: Planning for marketing

Coming off last week where I hit a road block concerning art assets, I haven't been able to make much progress on the actual game. It feels like I haven't coded for the game in almost two weeks. I say that I am dedicated as a full time dev on this project, but various legacy contracts keep needed attention. Brings in a bit of cash, but that isn't really a need right now.

But, it has allowed me to rethink the priority and project list for this Eradicate project. We are also bringing in a new creative art guy, an old friend, to the mix at Skejo Studios. We are doing a trial run with this game to see if we have a good long term fit for the studio. Below is one sketch portrait of a key character. Four more to come.

During this brief lull, I have been thinking of the different ways that I want to position the game in the app store, how to get some early, and at launch, marketing in place, and what production assets I would need.

I have been noticing some animosity by indie devs towards'doing marketing', like it is a leprous task. Coming from Silicon Valley where the worst thing that can happen is nobody talk about your product, it seems odd, even a badge of honor, to do no marketing for a game at all. Then when no game review or news site write about them, and when Apple doesn't highlight their game, they complain about 'indie games being ignored' by the elite game media, always pushed out by the AAA games recently released.

I just wrote on this topic over on Gamasutra (will post next week), so I don't need to repeat all I said there. But the main point is that it isn't time wasted to think about how you want to market and position your game, both in the mind of the game journalists and for your eventual customers.

Is it 'Angry Birds meets Tiny Wings', or maybe 'Doodle Jump meets zombies'? 'A side scrolling platformer with time controls', a 'Block puzzlers with metamorphosis aspects'. It help potential reviewers and buyers to place your game in their minds. And if your game is so truly unique as to have no comparison, then compare is against other games that have no comparisons.

Whatever it is, get your focused pithy saying down, and start talking about your game. Remember, 'If you are not talking about your game, nobody is' (see Talk, Talk, Talk section).

Our game is a 'Cooperative strategy game, you against the world.' A zombie motif is just bonus. Either play all the roles yourself, pass around the iPad to others, or play a turn based match through Game Center. 1-4 player games, with three difficulty levels, Game Center w/ Achievements enabled.

See a short blurb isn't all that hard to write up.

So to mark time, this week we saw our artistic part of the team firm up, with some solid project timelines set in place w/ deliverables coming next week and the week after. I have also outlined a decent start for a marketing campaign, who to reach out to, what I want to have prepared for the outreach, and smaller set of people to contact early just to get on their radar.

So a gentle reminder to all coming later, plan to market your game. Set aside time, money and creative energy to push your game once you are getting close to polishing your games. Don't see marketing as a necessary evil, see it as just one more business task that compliments and extends all the development, creative and artist tasks you have already completed.

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This is a dev diary about our Eradicate project (view all posts here). Also visit Skejo Studios to see all we are doing there.