Building Your Brand: A Marketing Guide to Making Your Game Dev Company Infamous

A lot of people have been asking me how I get people to download my games. It's a good question. After all, marketing can be so overwhelming that most people would rather give publishers a cut of their earnings than do the marketing themselves. While it's true that marketing can be challenging, I'll also make the case that it's fun to do. In fact, I enjoy it way more than making the games themselves.

Of course, I understand that some people would disagree with my process. I'm no expert and I didn't take any marketing courses in college (I have a Psychology degree). Some might say I should have done things differently instead. I still feel that I succeeded doing this and that I enjoyed every bit of the marketing I did, so no regrets. I also believe that things I learned from my experiences will help people out.

First off, I'd like to put it out there that I value marketing my company as much as marketing my games. One of the reasons why I self-publish is because I wanted to build my own brand. If I release my games with a publisher, they get all the credit. News sites will call it a new Ketchapp game, Tabtale game, or whatever. They get the fanbase and the brand growth. With each game you release, you still have zero fans and you start from scratch every time. You'll always pray to the gods the publisher picks you up again. If you self-publish, your  number of fans grow with each release.

If you have a good brand, its involvement with a game alone can sell a game. See Death Stranding for example. It could be argued that if it wasn't a Hideo Kojima project the hype wouldn't be as big. AppSir has done an alright job with its brand too. The mere announcement that AppSir is doing another game gets praise, and AppSir endorsing other companies such as Akinaba have helped them get some sales. Building your brand is important, and it goes beyond making a logo and putting it in the splash screen of your games. Although, don't skimp on the logo crafting process. You have to make a memorable one that you can use universally. Think of a logo you can use anywhere, and it's something you can stick with for years to come.

Before I even announced my first games I was thinking more about the brand behind those games. First thing I did was research about how to set up my own website, and I was surprised to learn that domain names are actually very cheap even for someone like me living in a third world country like the Philippines. I wanted a TLD (Top Level Domain) for good SEO and I took my time picking between .XYZ, .NET, and .COM. Eventually, I went with and bought the domain on GoDaddy.

Next, I had to fill in the sites and pages with cool images. However, I didn't want to use those free tech images and mock ups you'd find online. I wanted mine to look more unique and impactful. Luckily, my friends were freelance models who were willing to help me out for free. We shot some images and videos I could put on AppSir's websites and social media pages.

The picture at the very top was one of the early marketing materials I created for AppSir. I have a lot more of these saved somewhere but I don't have them right now. My philosophy behind these shoots was that I wanted to make them outrageous and eye-catching. I wanted our images to give off the same vibes old video game magazine ads had:

I used these images as banners for my websites and I'd also post them on social media pages and forums with a clickable link. This clickable link lead to a countdown website and links to our social media pages, which got some follows. I think the countdown may have helped build some hype and intrigue for what AppSir was going to be. Because social media algorithms prioritize posts with images and video, I think I was able to gain a lot of eyes on AppSir with these images too. Take note: social media sites have been wanting visual content for a while. This is also the reason why Facebook now offers background colors for your text posts.

I had to prepare my websites and pages. I had to make sure each game that would be put in there had some sort of press kit, a zip file of promotional artwork journalists can use for promotion. I also put in contact forms, an opportunity to subscribe to our mailing list, funny commercials, and promotional videos. I also set up a custom email address so that our outgoing emails would more likely be opened. just felt noobish for me.

I was contemplating about what personality AppSir as a company should have. Should it be a funny, comedic company? Should our posts be snarky? Should we portray ourselves like those evil corporate entitites in the movies? Should we be techy, serioius, and jargon-filled like the ones on the Random Startup Generator? Eventually, I think we got a combination of the four. "AppSir aims to reinvent and improve the digital experience, and life itself" became our slogan.

No matter what our portrayal was going to be, I was always sure about what kind of message I wanted to send with AppSir's introduction to the world. When people visit our site, I want them to feel that we're a gamedev company that goes above and beyond with everything we do. No lip service here. I want them to see that with every image, every video, and every game we have. I want them to treat AppSir like a big deal because I felt that it will be. I want them to get hyped about anything we put out.

Around the time we launched our site, we had a lot of confetti. We already had about 4 games ready to launch at the time, so our highlight video was these different games with release dates. It was glorious. Think of it like how Marvel announces their list of upcoming movie titles. Looking back though, the games could have been better but I was sure that the way it was presented made them look like 5 star masterpieces. The reactions people have for our marketing materials felt like a high for me. I've been enjoying marketing my games since.

Funny enough, I soon had a dislike for our first games and deleted them. We also deleted remnants of our past because we went through multiple rebrands. Despite this, our first outing had its fair share of triumphs. Because of the prestige at which AppSir was initially presented, AppSir soon got featured in Asia's biggest kids magazine: K-Zone. I also got some emails from several sites like PewPewCat and Slickster asking me for an interview. We even got a Youtuber with 2 million subscribers playing one of our endless runner games.

It's just too bad these games weren't that good. The brand could look good but it has to have the games to back it up. Otherwise, it could backfire. My fiancée, Daphne Ayala, helped me change the direction at which AppSir was going.

From these early experiences I found out that I didn't have to spend anything to get downloads and that traditional marketing worked. This is only a small fraction of the things I've been doing lately though. I learned a bunch of new tricks since then and I'll share them with you in the next blogs.

While I felt happy with these earlier triumphs, I was always feeling like we could have done more. We've had numerous rebrands until we got the one we're comfortable with. The best thing about the experience is that we got some fans that loved us despite our average games, and they went along for the ride until we became the better versions of ourselves. The fanbase is growing with each new game we release, and I can't wait to see what AppSir will be like in the years to come.

- Darius Guerrero


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