Oct 11, 2013
The internet has revolutionised the way we pass on and share information, often about our personal lives via social networks. Social media has been enveloped by businesses, and is a cheap and easy way to spread the word on the latest products. This is also the case for game developers and publishers.
Nearly everyone has a social networking account this days, especially people in the know-how who like to play games. The average gamer is usually pretty tech-savvy, and it is unlikely they won’t adopt new social platforms to try out. So it’s safe to say they will be present on the major networks such as Facebook. Couple this with internet surfing habits, and you can easily find an audience for your game.
It is absolutely vital for Indie developers to spread the work effectively on social platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. PR is vital to ensuring the success of an unknown game, as without huge financial backing or reputation, it can go very badly indeed.
Reputation is something that I find very interesting on the internet. On forums, Blogs, and other mass media sites, games can find a name for themselves, whether it be for something good, or bad. Such repertoires include Call of Duty being the same game every year, and the infamous years where Pro Evolution Soccer was named better than FIFA, even though FIFA held the licences. These kind of fan driven reputations were what these games thrived on.
And this is important to remember for Indie games. Sites such as Reddit can really influence public opinion. With thousands of posts, Reddit has a broad spectrum of articles, thoughts, discussions, or images. And if your game is of high quality, you will find people talking about it on there. Games I’ve experienced gaining praise on the website include GTA V, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, Payday 2, FTL: Faster than Light, or Bastion. This shows that no matter the budget or scale of a game, the quality is all that matters. I was convinced to purchase Bastion after reading what complete strangers had to say about it, which is something I hadn’t even previously considered.
If you are producing a quality game, it does the marketing itself, as people begin to talk about it and it will make a name for itself. If it’s a bad game, then its likely people will bring this up too, such as the recent The War Z/Infestation: Survivor Stories debacle, whereby gamers warned others of the lack of features promised in the game, and not to be fooled by the name change. Discussions on Reddit, called Ask me Anything or AMA, can also bring awareness to a game or studio, from Indie studios to major studios taking part and answering a host of questions.
This will spread to other blogs and social platforms who read about the games, and thus hype is born. This is essentially free PR for Indie studios.
Aside from mere reputation, I find that personal representations on social networks work very well in ensuring people follow various developers and their escapades. Personally, if I find a companies Twitter page to be likeable, with various replies and discussions with the community, I will enjoy following them, and hearing about their latest discoveries. Some developers choose to Tweet only when something major has occurred, whether a release or an update, which feels a lot more cold, and will put off the public from following, and restricting the audience of whom would otherwise like to hear about upcoming titles.
Developers who appear as themselves rather than behind a commercial moniker are also very interesting, as hearing the people behind your favourite games talk about everyday life and the various trials of developing games is truly interesting.
With a lot of mobile platforms implementing social network logins, this can be used to the advantage of the developer, who can track who is playing their games, and create a userbase for future reference.
I’ve seen major studios embracing Vine, or Instagram, in order to show behind the scenes. Consuming video is often very popular amongst tech-savvy gamers, with various Podcasts and weekly videos on YouTube or gaming news sites. Facebook itself houses many games, which is becoming increasingly popular, with casual gamers partaking in socialising online at the same time as gaming.
Not only can these means of gaining reputation via social media or other websites mean that you can gain customers, but also build a relationship with both existing and potential consumers. Social media allows these audiences to engage themselves, and voice their opinions, and so developers can listen to the consensus and implement them into future titles, keeping their fanbase happy.
Although AAA can benefit from good social media or praise online, it is likely that if established, the game will be gaining recognition from major outlets. It is Indie games that look to prosper the most from grappling with social media, as it acts as free publicity that they do not have access to until they have proved themselves.
Social media has many benefits for gaming studios: one-to-one engagements, mass awareness, customer service, feedback, and boosted sales. This is essentially what has led to the recent uprising of Indie gaming, as they can build reputations quickly on the internet, and is something all developers should be aiming to do.