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Video Game Marketing

Indie Game Marketing from the author of the Game Marketing book, The Indie Developer's Guide to Selling Games. Video Game Marketing made simple... or at least as simple as I can make it.

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Location: Philomath, Oregon, United States

As you can see on the left: I am a professional juggler. The rest you can learn from this Blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Game Marketing 4Ps

Because it is a holiday weekend I will rehash a really old article I wrote for Gamedev.net ages ago. I may slip this into the book, but at the current time this isn't in it. The reason is because does not pertain directly to games, it is more general marketing philosophy to help move you into the mindset of thinking of sales factors.

So: Enjoy the links and the old articles! Happy Tofurkey day (we had a lot of vegetarian guests this year)



Saturday, November 19, 2005

Payment Processor

Video Game Marketing isn't just about selling your game to others, it is also about the back end that supports your product. Included with the book is a handy chart that compares the prices of processing fees for games at various price points. Along with that is a list of each processor with a description and (if available) a list of payment types they accept.

There's more to this section than meets the eye though- If you think that price is the ONLY factor in payment processing you are only thinking of half the story. Service, chargebacks, and number of payment options are also major players in your decision making process.

While the book, from the objective standpoint that the reference guide is supposed to be, doesn't delve into who has the "best" service, it does discuss payment options and when available, chargeback fees.

Depending on the price of your product you will want different processors, but at the common 19.99 price there are usually three "leaders" that clearly are a cut above the rest. This information is not included in the book as I suspect the subjective nature of this is going to change rapidly and I do not want to misrepresent someone.

In no particular order they are:

Plimus - www.plimus.com Plimus recieves top marks in customer service and price (10%), with slight negatives on some questionable practices with download insurance. The price, customer service, and no chargebacks make Plimus a solid choice for anyone at a $20 price position.

BMT Micro- www.bmtmicro.com BMT Micro not only offers competitive rates (9.5% at the lowest tier) but also has a solid reputation after many years of business. BMTMicro also has a fairly decent affiliate system with lower costs than Regnow. However, they have a 7% chargeback fee at the lowest tier (that's 1.40 at $20) and also slightly less payment options than some other alternatives.

Digital Candle- www.digitalcandle.com Digital Candle is a low cost alternative with some distinct advantages- namely that they have a low price (10% with no minimum), no chargebacks, and accept Paypal payments. However, their reputation isn't quite as clean as others in customer service. Still, paypal payments are big and I am surprised others arent offering it. For whatever reason, good or bad, Digital Candle also runs some download sites.

Other altneratives are E-Sellerate and their built in sales DRM and Regnow, with their high prices, crappy service, but incredibly huge affiliate package (with extra fees).

If you want the complete breakdown the book will list all the information you need for high pricing, low pricing, and anything in between. There are 12 payment processors listed, but only the facts and none of the experiences and opinions I can list in the Blog. For the experiences you will have to ask around :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

And Civ4 Arrives

Last week I wrote 40 pages of the book in a single sitting. This week I wrote 2. Reason: Civ 4. Productivity is currently down 95%... Thanks a lot Sid!

It is blasphemous to say this but the Civ series is a great example of cross selling through creation of sequels. Each civ game is great, but mostly each civ game is the SAME. Sure the effects are different, the graphics are different, and even some new items are added or taken away... but the core of the game is entirely unchanged. Yet like Civ 3, 2, and 1 I can not put it down. Change a few dynamics in your game and update the graphics; that's all it takes to create a sequel and SEQUELS SELL.

A section of the book is dedicated to sequel vs. non-sequel decisions... but the summary of it is they are both easier to market and easier to sell.

Current Mood: Angry that Persia launched their spaceship before I could achieve a cultural victory... I blame Tokugawa and Montazuma for their tagteam attack on me at a socially crippling time.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Horizontal vs. Vertical Niches

Section 2, Chapter 1 of the unedited Indie Marketing Survival Guide (ok, that's just a test name... I think it needs to be shorter) is about Horizontal and Vertical Niches. What are they and most importantly, how they will affect the marketing of your product.

The unedited introduction currently says this on the subject:
"In the gaming world you will have the opportunity to create any game you can imagine. However, the best difference between a business and a hobby game designer is how they select the products they make. It doesn’t necessitate that the businessman does either horizontal or vertical development, just that they make a conscious choice on which one to go after."

Ok so that didn't tell you squat about either one. Unfortunately I can't cut and paste this whole section into my blog, so I will summerize it:

Horizontal is a mass market approach where you are targetting gamers or even genres. You are more likely to rely on large traffic sources and third parties, which will cost you a percent of profits, but have the opportunity to capture a very large population and with it a large amount of cold hard cash.

Vertical is a narrow market, you are targetting a type of person very specifically. You are most likely to really get your hands dirty in marketing a vertical game, going out there and seeking this tight knit target market (remember that from the earlier post?). Vertical games don't even need to target gamers- they just need to target people interested in something. Because you are doing a lot of the legwork here yourself, your margins should be higher. Often your risk will also be lower as well, though that depends mostly on competition and quality.

So, keep this tip in mind: If you are planning on making a product that you feel isn't going to be a smash hit with the mass market approach, try to alter it to better suit some vertical market. For instance my recurring example is Soap Box Racers, targeting gravity racing fans. A vertical product like that doesn't even need to be sold to racing gamers, you can sell it directly to gravity racing enthusiasts REGARDLESS of if they like video games! It all depends on your design, of course... and obviously people who DISLIKE video games won't be interested (they just don't have to identify themselves with gamers).

Aim vertical unless you have a plan to succeed in the mass market.

But maybe I just reccomend that because I am short... :)

More tips to come next weekend. And stay tuned during the week for general discussion on the process of printing your own book. Currently below this post you'll find the post on "what the heck size should this be." Currently 6x9 is in the lead.

Current Mood: Waiting for Civ4 to arrive...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What Size?

So while I write I am considering the size of the book. Size affects a lot of factors involving how I will lay it out. While I am writing it, it is a 6x9 book.

Other options include 8.5x11 (which is much too large to be easy to hold or easy to lay out).

6.625x10.25, which is an interesting idea, gives it a more horizontal feel and slightly larger than 6x9.

9x7 Landscape which would give it a very hoiztonal feel

or a 7.5x7.5 square... which would give it a very .. er.. square look.

Personally I am debating between 6x9 and 7.5x7.5. Any opinions out there on what size they would prefer?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Target Market

Remember: All of the excepts so far are unedited: This means they will contain glaring grammatic errors and maybe even some spelling ones.

The book is laid out in 6 chapters. Chapter 1-5 go through marketing in each stage of development. Chapter 6 is all about advaned theories.

The very first subject covered is target market. Here's an excerpt on target markets:

"So what is a target market? This is a group of people that are most likely to purchase your game. Target markets can be many factors or combinations of factors. Typically this is some kind of demographic; however, the common demographics (age, sex, race, ect) are the worst way to judge a target market. The best way to judge a target market is by interest or hobby. The second best way is by educational level. Only after that do you resort to general demographics as an attempt to identify a target. They are NOT mutually exclusive, so be sure to mark down as much as possible on each."

The topic goes on as follows:

"This information will be very valuable in both design and later marketing of your game! Always remember the group, education, and demographics of your target. If your target market is middle-school and higher, ensure that the text and learning curve on the game is scaled accordingly. Later-on it will give you an outlet for forming partnerships. Perhaps there is an international society for soap-box racers out there who would be more than happy to sell your game!"

Somewhere beforehand I talked about the fact that soap box racing will be my recurring example product. You'll see a lot of soap box racing references, despite the fact I actually know very little about gravity racing. Heck, I haven't even seen an X-games event in 5 years. Do they even still exist?

More great marketing information to come. Check back next weekend for the latest!


Welcome to the Blog!

Ok, so I should have jumped on this fad ages ago. I didn't... Mostly because I didn't need to and partially because I didn't want to be "one of those people." However, now I have something important to share... or at least important enough that it could result in someone learning something or improving their business.

I market video games. More over, I market independent video games from my company, VGsmart (www.vgsmart.com). Yep, my website needs to be updated.

Anyway, I am writing a book on the subject so that when people ask what experience I have I can accurately state "I wrote the book on the subject."

So once a week, maybe twice, I will inform the world of the book's status and take an interesting excerpt from it. By the end of this I hope the blog will entice you enough to buy the darn thing... but if not I hope the blog will give you some hints and tips marketing video games!

-Joe Lieberman