Friends Won't Download Your Indie Game? Get New Friends and Do This Instead.

This is the first of a hundred topics about indie game marketing I want to talk about. It's not about the actual marketing yet and it's very basic, but I think you'll learn a few things about social media algorithms and how your real social life will be affected on your way to the top. This is my personal blog, it's ad-free so I don't earn anything from it. Don't expect perfect grammar or proof-reading. I just want to get my thoughts out there and help a few people out. So let's just jump into it.

When I started publishing my games last year, I had a very naive strategy when it comes to marketing. I had a lot of old classmates and workmates that I still kept in touch with that could help me out. It didn't hurt that I have amassed a huge network of people too from my previous job in the government. I thought posting my games on my personal social media profiles would get these people to spread word about my new project. Me and Daphne used to message and email thousands of our friends and acquaintances whenever we launched a new game, asking them to download and share our games. Only a small fraction did, and I am still thankful to those people.

I learned very quickly that if your marketing campaign depends on your real-life friends downloading and sharing your game, you're setting yourself up for failure. Most of your friends probably wouldn't want your game to be on their Facebook wall. You grandma sharing your game doesn't count because those who'll see the post aren't gamers as well.

There will be close friends and family who would want to support you in your endeavors but don't understand what you're doing. They will give your post a like, and possibly a share, sure. But they won't try your game. This is because gaming isn't really something they do. In this case, be grateful for them still because they took the time to do something that they normally wouldn't be interested in. They only did it because they love you.

Even if your friends play games, some friends won't help you. This is because you came from the same place as them and are now doing something different with your life. This is hard for some people to accept, and some would secretly wish for you to fail because it reinforces their belief that they are on the right path. I had a friend that acted condescending and patronizing when I told her about my game development aspirations.

Don't take these personally, it's normal social behavior. I wouldn't call it "crab mentality" but it's somewhere in that vein, I think. Other entrepreneurs faced similar circumstances while they were struggling. Jack Ma once warned us about making customers out of people close to us. If they download your games as a favor to you, they'll feel like you owe them one.

In fact, if your friends don't fall under the same category as your game's demographic, I'd suggest cutting your friends off from your social media marketing completely. Why? Because this will ruin your organic or unpaid views in the future. Here's how I understand it:

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram don't show posts chronologically. They use algorithms to show the posts a user will most likely engage with. They get this data from things like the kind of posts you make, posts you click, profiles and pages you visit, things you search for, and even the length of time you look at a post even without clicking on it while scrolling the newsfeed.

The algorithm also show your posts to a fraction of people at a time. Your post won't be seen by everyone that follows your profile or page. Now let's say you have a Facebook fan page with fifty likes from fifty users who are legitimate fans of your games. Whenever you post about your game there, the fraction of users that sees your post would most likely engage with it because they truly love your game.

Let's say your fifty likes ain't cutting it for you and you want a thousand likes for your pages. You decide to spam your friends inviting them to like your page and you end up with one thousand likes. Now it looks great, because the number padding gives your fan page more legitimacy and authority.

However, when you start posting on you page, there's a bigger chance the algorithm will show your posts to the new people that recently liked your page. Because algorithms show these posts to a fraction of users, your new post might not even reach your legitimate fans. Aside from that, the algorithm might start thinking posts from your page aren't desirable. This would make the algorithm decide to start showing your posts to less people.

This was a mistake I made with my page for AppSir Games. I should have just stayed with my old number of likes, and had my new influx of fans, gamedev friends, and other interested people to like it instead. I don't want you to make the same mistake so I'm giving you guys this piece of advice for free. In return, I hope you follow that page and our Twitter and Instagram too. Don't forget to engage with the posts as well. In Jack Ma's words: rich people become rich because they are willing to support their associates' business, taking care of one another's interests, and thus naturally getting back more in return.

Stop wasting time marketing to your friends and start forming connections with strangers that would be interested in your product. This will be ten times more effective. I still see a lot of people posting their games to no end on their personal Facebook profiles when that time could be spent marketing the game elsewhere.

Before you start marketing, do your research. Where do you think people who love games like yours hangout online? Look for these places and start building your rapport there. There should be a subreddit, a forum, a Discord group, and a Facebook group for people that love playing similar games. If there aren't any, maybe there's not much demand for games like yours to begin with?

You can also form connections with other game developers. There are Facebook groups, Discord groups, online academies, and forums focused on hyper-casual game development for example. Same goes for action games, idle games, and others.

While you shouldn't target your marketing to other developers, building relationships with them will help you in the long run. In groups like that, you'll learn strategies for user acquisition, the latest trends, policy changes in the stores, and industry news. Plus, if you get new friends there, they can provide feedback for your games and help you out with marketing too. Just remember to give and take. You give as much value as you get.

Keep your real-life friends in the personal realm, and your new friends in the business realm. Maintain strong ties with them and things will fall into place.

Darius Guerrero


Post a Comment

back to top