Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, Dark Alley Marketing. For an exclusive sneak peek and tons of other content, visit my Patreon page. Premium Members will receive a free copy upon release.
Many indie game developers have a fear of giving away too much.
They don’t want to spoil the game. And I get that. Gamers love to be surprised. They love the feeling of discovering something for the first time. But that doesn’t mean you keep your game under a tarp in the garage. Your game is its own essence! It is a massive epic of art, action and animation. [Assuming you take the advice in Dark Alley Marketing seriously] Your game is an endless well of material to share with your audience. And they want to see it!
Think of all the movie trailers you’ve watched in your life. How many of them walk you through the entire plot, one piece at a time, highlighting the funniest jokes in the movie? Letting the soundtrack guide you through the difficult plot twists the heroes face? The epic moment of truth that always fades to black, then a title? Plenty.
I’ve always felt a bit annoyed when a movie trailer spoils the good parts. But guess what? I still paid to see the damn movie. Your audience will, too.
Remember too, that games are different from movies in one crucial way. In a video game, the audience controls the action. Plenty of gamers (myself included) feel that a game’s plot is secondary to gameplay. You might have spent years working on a backstory to fully flesh out your game world, and it’s your baby. But most players consider the plot a nice bonus and won’t play through a game with an intriguing storyline if the gameplay sucks.
So even if your customers know some plot elements or gameplay elements that await them, they are still in control of the action, and they’re still excited to advance the plot and save the day. They aren’t just reliving your game trailer or images online. They are experiencing it firsthand.
Another good justification for giving away game elements is that, rather than turning players off, it keeps them engaged longer. If your game trailer and imagery show some very big and awe-inspiring monstrous boss from near the end of the game, and that attracts players, they are going to play your game until they get to see that boss! I’m not suggesting you post let’s plays of the entire final boss battle. But a quick glimpse of an impressive boss will impress players and get them interested in seeing more.
It is a fine line to walk, which is a recurring theme in marketing. You want to give away as much as you can, without sacrificing the value of your product.
How much you ultimately spoil in your marketing is up to you, but I always recommend that you show what is most awesome about your game. If you can artfully spare a glimpse of your massive final boss without giving away all the fun, you’ve found the balance.
What it comes down to is sharing the best parts of your actual game. Cutscenes and dramatic story-based trailers are fine and all. But most players want to know what they’ll actually be playing. Show them why they should be excited to spend their money!
For more from Dark Alley Marketing, and to reserve your copy, visit Steven’s Patreon Page.