Post-Production: Advertising Your Game and the 10 places to start
I am Joe. My most recent game is Tournament Hero, a game that dominated my life for a few months, and I am now going through the process of actually getting people to play it.
Yep, the hardest part is yet to come.
I had figured (and expected) that fixing all the tedious bugs, fixing the typos, and finally getting those scripts to work correctly would be the hard part. People would flock to the game and positive comments would rein in. LOL it's just not like that.
Anyway, I write this tutorial as my file slowly uploads onto a project site. My struggles can benefit you by simply reading this tutorial. I offer my advice, my insight, and a list of sites with short descriptions about their advertising potential. This is by no means an end-all be-all of advertising. It is just a place to get you thinking about what to expect and where to start.
Before we begin, let me take a moment to stress the importance of a "home" site. This can be a custom website for your game or it can be one hosted by a RPG making community (like RRR). It always helps to have a main place to go because you WILL need to post updates, you WILL need to fix bugs, and you want to be able to do these things easily. Having a main place in which to direct all of your advertising is helpful.
::ADVERTISING YOUR RPG MAKER GAME::
::: PART I :::
::The following is a list of NECESSARY items you must have when advertising your game::
1- A SOLID DEMO or a COMPLETE GAME: If you have neither, don't bother advertising. There is nothing worse than bad press when it comes to RPGM games. A poor rating will destroy your project's potential and a bad name will keep people away.
2- A title picture. Many upload sites require a picture to accompany your download link. Not having one looks bad and potential players are less likely to try your game. Have one.
3- A SHORT description. Sum it up in one solid paragraph. Make it catchy and quick. SELL the game.
4- A LONG description. If your short description was good enough, people will want to know more. Here you can go into detail, but keep in mind space limitations and the fact that people get bored pretty quick.
5- At least 3 (THREE) screen shots that show the BEST portions of your game. If have a beautiful city, show it. Unique character, show it. A run of the mill house interior, leave it out. This is where you get a chance to put your best foot forward, use it to your advantage.
6- A download link for your game (not all sites host for you)
7- URLs (links) for those pictures your going to upload. Again, not all sites host these for you. Remember, having a homepage or a homesite is a great idea and keeps these things simple.
8- TIME. It takes a lot of time to advertise your game. The more time you put into it, the more you will get out of it. It is as simple as that.
::: PART II :::
:: What to expect: Numbers ::
So you have everything needed to advertise your game. Great! Now, what can you expect before you get started. Let me use Tournament Hero as an example:
I consider my game to be of above-average quality with many features that should interest a general audience.
The game has been available for a total of one month (it was released in early April, and was deleted about 3-4 weeks after due to the hack)
HERE ARE SOME NUMBERS:
Total confirmed downloads: 275
Total Comments: about 20
Total Views: 3,000
Total Sites listed on: 10
Highest Review Ranking: 1st
Highest Rating: 5 of 5
Breaking down these numbers, it is clear that in two months, despite my best efforts, the game has not enjoyed terrible popularity in its short lifespan. Even with good reviews there just are not many people who download and play.
Breaking it down, about one person in every ten who view the game site will download it. About one in every ten of those will comment on it. So of the people who see your game, 10% will play, and 1% will comment.
Just keep these numbers in mind when advertising. Remember, every project is unique and these are in no way an accurate sample size to call them common. They are just a reference point.
:: What to Expect: Response to your game ::
If your game is complete, stress that. If it is a demo, stress that as well. People are generally quick to comment when they see an error or problem. Unless your mapping is wonderful, expect a comment on it. If there is a bug or a crash, EXPECT a comment on it. If your download link is broken...well you get the point. The fact is, people generally comment more when things go bad, than when they are good. You may receive a long blurb about how your maps look square or how your game is similar to such and such. And then you may get a simple "Cool game!" positive comment. Take it all in stride. You created this game for only reasons you know. Set your own goals and determine if you have reached them.
:: PART III ::
:: An advertising team of ONE ::
Don't expect your game to advertise itself, and don't expect people to do it for you. Having a website is nice, but you need to GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE. It is the only way to get exposure. Once you have that, then you can rely of word of mouth and google searches. (Think Legion Saga, or The Way).
:: HOW TO BEGIN ::
1-Get the essentials listed above. Once you have them, you are ready to go. Find your home site. I have viewed and visited 20 game making sites and I have found RRR to be, by far, the most popular and supportive game making site. Their member numbers are the highest, their activity is the greatest, and their support for projects is excellent. If you are looking for another easy to use site for hosting your game, I suggest www.RPGM.org It is simple, easy to use, and will host your game (up to 300MB!).
2- Open up word, wordpad, but NOT notepad. Save it as: Advertising. You are doing this for two reasons.
1) You can spell check everything
2) You can keep track of where you're advertising, your information, your notes, and much more.
Once you have your descriptions (long and short) copy and paste them into this document so that you may reference and copy them easily. You don't want to have to type out the descriptions each time, nor do you want to copy and paste from a browser (thats how you get funny font icons and such).
You dont want to use notepad because you will be saving HTML links in this document and notepad does not recognize links.
ALLLLRIGHT, lets begin advertising.
:: PART IV ::
:: Advertising ::
I supply a list of sites and a description of each below in part 5. However, DO NOT limit yourself to these websites. There are a ton out there and more every day. Think outside of the box and go to places like Download.com or HomeoftheUnderdogs. I have kept my list to websites that have RPGM content.
Ok, you have the essentials and your word document. Pick your first site. For this tutorial, lets use WWW.RMVXPUNIVERSE.COM I have selected this site because it will host your file or allow a off-site link. It also has a LOW number of full projects. This is good for getting noticed. Often active and large sites will not allow for projects to get noticed. Tournament Hero had about 40 downloads from this site.
HERE ARE THE STEPS:
1- Register for the site. Most sites will require that you register. This is what your word document is for. Log your USER NAME, PASSWORD, and DATE of registration, AND put a direct link to the web-site right in your document.
2- Log onto the site and submit your project to the FULL Projects or DEMO list. This site will ask for a description, the game file or a link to it, and allows room for screen shots.
3- Create your project file. Now, on this particular site (and like many others) the first couple of sentences are visible from the main projects page. This is where your SHORT description comes in handy. Make it the first words in your description. Follow it with your LONG description. It makes no sense to waste those prime sentences with useless nonsense.
4- :LOG OUT: CHECK and RECHECK your project file. What does it look like to the casual viewer? Do you need to add more, take away, is everything clear. DOES THE DOWNLOAD LINK WORK?
5- (Optional) This is optional because it depends on how much time you have to invest. You will be going to many other sites, so this step may be skipped. Log onto the site's forums and get involve in the community. If you are a part of the community, it is more likely that the regular members will give your game a try.
:: PART V ::
:: Where to Advertise ::
Remember, this list is not the end. It is a great starting point, but go as far as google, or AJ, or Yahoo will take you!
The following is a breakdown of potential sites to advertise on, my experiences with them, and my review of their advertising potential. There is no particular order to these sites, i think it is the order in which I came across them. I have put a * in front of the best.
>> WWW.RPGM.ORG <<
- This is the RPG Manager. It can be a good place to host a project, but also for some low level advertising as well. You won't get many hits here, but there are not many games listed so exposure is likely.
>> WWW.RPG-PALACE.COM <<
- I signed up, created a username, and then the site went down and has only recently been back up. I don't like the layout of game downloads, and I don't recommend spending time advertising here. Others may disagree.
>> WWW.RMVXPUNIVERSE.COM <<
- As mentioned above, this site can host, has very few projects listed, and can yield about 20-30 downloads a month. It has a nice layout, and I do not know why it is not more popular.
*>> WWW.RMXPUNLIMITED.NET <<
- An affiliate of RRR, this site has a nice clean and easy to use projects area. Tournament Hero is the most popular RMXP project and has enjoyed 500 hits (views not downloads). There are few projects hosted so exposure is high here as well.
>> WWW.RMREVOLUTION.COM <<
- This is a small site that only has projects listed via the forums. Tournament Hero has only gotten about 120 hits. However, completed projects enjoy their own listing so exposure can be higher for them. The community only has about 300 members.
>> www.rpgmaker.net <<
- This site also offers free hosting, however, they have a HUGE list of games and getting exposure is quite hard unless your random screenshot happens to appear. Anyway, the Misaos haven't happened since 2006.
>> www.rmrk.net <<
- This site does not offer hosting but allows uses to post their projects via the forums. TH got about 250 hits but the site has almost 6,000 members with activity in the high 200s per hour. The navigation to a project is confusing so exposure is not great, but there is potential.
*>> WWW.RMXP.ORG <<
One of the largest RPGM communities, TH got about 1,000 hits and a few good comments. They are very strict about posting rules, so be sure to include those screenshots and descriptions. There are TONS and TONS of games listed here, so standing out is essential. Discussion on your game IN THIS SITES FORUM will keep your exposure up, but will require more time and effort. U.S.G. and Master of the Wind have done a good job of this. Some games have over 100,000 hits so the potential is high here.
>> WWW.RPGMMAG.COM <<
This one is new for me. It is where I am currently uploading my game. It is quite unique and seems to have a lot of potential. Low number of hosted games but a large community. You MUST upload a .ZIP file with your game, and the upload takes forever! It might be a great site, I wont know until later.
**>> www.rpgrevolution.com <<
And finally, RRR. The way I see it, RRR is the leader in the RPG Making community. The site layout, support, and community are the best place to start and host, as well as advertise. In one day Tournament Hero enjoyed over 350 hits and a couple comments.
:: Part VI ::
:To sum it up:
Advertising is a long and painstaking process. You will have to register for a lot of sites, check and recheck your files, hosting, forums, etc. Remember that you owe it to yourself to advertise your game. You put in the hard work, don't let it go to waste. Remember, don't rush into advertising, it's okay to wait, and its never to late to get your name out there.