Video Game Trailers, Marketing Assets, and My Indie Game Marketing Formula

With my games, I hype the crap out of them. I make it seem like it's a game the gods themselves would play, like its source code is a holic relic on par with the Apple of Eden, and the game design documents were written with pens forged from the fires of a dying star.

I use traditional marketing for my games. You've heard the gist of it before. Make a landing page for your game with links to a press kit so journalists can properly showcase your game. Post game trailers. Use social media to your advantage. Get loyal fans that will support you for your launch. These are all things you've heard before.

Thing is, most gamedevs are already doing this, but the quality of their marketing materials belong in the recycle bin. It's crazy that developers spend months making their games, but spend only a couple of hours conceptualizing and making graphics and videos for their marketing.

The most important aspect of marketing for me is the game trailer. Trailers have the power to captivate and appeal to the emotions of its viewers. It's a hybrid of audio and video that reaches out, grabs the viewers, and holds their attention at your whim. It's your greatest chance at giving a good first impression for your game.

Unfortunately, I've seen "trailers" wherein the developers just record the preview windows of their game engines for three to five minutes with OBS. They then proceed to upload the unedited footage to YouTube and Facebook, where everyone can see the game engine window and the contents of their desktop. Not editing your trailer means it's going to be too long and uninteresting.  see a main menu screen on the trailer. Have you seen any famous game's trailer show off their menu screen?

Recently I've seen this amazing trailer for a game called 'Trixel Rocket' by Bliz Studio. The developer, Jerry Berg, was able to utilize and integrate the musical energy created by his musician Lewis Thompson. It did what good trailers do: show off the best parts and never had a dull moment. It felt epic, and it did a good job hyping me up for their game.

Jerry Berg also does dev vlogs (video blogs), which I believe do help raise awareness for your game somewhat. In terms of dev vlogs and social videos my favorites are the ones made by Trey Smith of Buildbox. The vlogs look and sound professional. They certainly have the power to hook viewers in. While I can't exactly pinpoint the specific attributes about Trey's videos and distill it into a scientific formula you can replicate, you have to study how his videos succeed in presentation.

Another thing I place particular importance to is the graphic assets developers use for their marketing. I've seen so many bad examples of advertising, I wouldn't be surprised if their artist has this as their desktop wallpaper.

I've started with some pretty bad-looking games myself. I've also published other people's bad-looking games and I got flack for it. I know, I've seen someone bashing me about it. I don't want you making the same mistake as me.

Before I was truly passionate about design I didn't put in to much effort in my marketing images. I didn't care if the saturation was too high or if the contrast burns the eyes of people looking at them. I just want them to stand out in the news feed as people are scrolling down.

When I was making the promotional banner for DERE EVIL EXE, I learned about composition and the use of grids in my images. Fellow developer Christoph Müller taught me about that and I suggest you google these things as it's crucial to the power of your images. I also learned a lot from the Jonathan Bencomo, creator of Arctic Smash. The playful use of colors, the winter feels, and the top-tier quality certainly does it job catching eyes of everyone scrolling down their feed.

Outside of videos and images, the descriptions you write about your game is important. I think it's best that one writes honestly about their game, but at the same time writing it in such a way that the best parts of their game is highlighted. I wouldn't write about stuff such as "one tap" and "global leaderboard" as I don't think most users care about those things anymore. I'd focus on writing the description as if it's a low-key sales pitch that can get users downloading the game without even seeing it.

Most developers make the mistake of keyword spamming their descriptions. Not only is this a bannable offense in most mobile stores, it also reduces the trust factor for your games. I don't download games with descriptions that are too long and that look like they were just written for keyword hits. I don't trust the developer in this case, since I'd think the developer is just making games for money. This means the game will either have questionable quality, or worse, malware.

If you've got a good trailer, an engaging description, eye-candy art assets, a website, and a social media following, chances are you'll get emails from websites wanting to review your game. I wouldn't say no to these reviews since press coverage does a lot for your game's success. One thing I'd say no to is if the website asks for payment for them to review your game. For me, I feel like this implies that they don't earn enough from their websites, which means they don't get enough traffic at all. The same goes for YouTubers asking for payment for them to cover your game. Truth is, YouTubers and developers have a symbiotic relationship. Game developers make the content for the YouTubers, YouTubers bring the exposure to the game developers. I wouldn't spend money on press release sites as well. The sites that pick up stories from press release systems aren't the online places gamers frequent at.

When it comes to paid user acquisition via Facebook or Instagram ads, I haven't experimented with them enough to give advice but I will write about it when I do. One thing I don't agree with is how some big mobile game publishing companies use Disney and Nickelodeon IPs in their advertisements. Refrain from false advertisement and other unethical practices even if it brings down the cost per install. A small mistake like that can lead to huge legal consequences.

Most of the tips in this blog will have non-artists questioning if they'll be able to do this kinds of marketing. You can hire artists or you can learn to do it yourself. Some artists have their artistic quality wired in their DNA, but anyone can practice to invoke the powers of art.

My formula is simple: market your games like how you court your crushes. You make yourself look good, you act your best behavior, and you ethically seduce your demographic so they try your game out. This also means you gotta do a lot of teasing before your game releases too.

The overall essence of this formula is that you have to put as much effort in your marketing as much as you do making your game. While some hyper-casual evangelists will say this won't work for them because they're targetting non-gamers, I believe proper marketing can still help your game get some press and possibly an Apple feature. Remember, first impressions count.

Darius Guerrero


  1. This is going to get millions of Indie Game Devs being relatable to this!


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