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Building your brand as an independent developer About Chris Charla  Portfolio Director for Connected Experiences at Microsoft Studios  Worked as independent.

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Presentation on theme: "Building your brand as an independent developer About Chris Charla  Portfolio Director for Connected Experiences at Microsoft Studios  Worked as independent."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Building your brand as an independent developer

3 About Chris Charla  Portfolio Director for Connected Experiences at Microsoft Studios  Worked as independent developer for 10 years  Launch editor of IGN.com; game magazine editor for six years  on twitter 

4 Being independent is great  Smaller  Faster  Cheaper  More agile  Freedom to make games you want to make

5 The problem: Standing out is hard!  There are tons of great games out there…  How can you make sure people see your game, and understand how awesome it is?  It takes a lot of work, but there are some sound, proven strategies you can implement that guarantee you have the best shot possible.

6 Why just being great isn’t enough  There is arguably more great content out there than there is time/money/consumers to experience it  Videogames are not a rational marketplace.  Discovery is hard; people are lazy

7 Building a brand is the solution  We know on XBLA games with “known IP” sell 23% better on average  This doesn’t mean established IP, such as sequels or licenses.  Building a brand around your game, your studio, and yourself can help that happen – turning an unknown project into a hotly anticipated game  Braid  Fez  Castle Crashers

8 Strategies: Focus Should you focus on a game, a studio, or yourself? Yes.

9 Strategy: Step One  First, have an awesome game. This is really important!  Be honest about whether or not your game is awesome  Be honest about whether or not it has a chance for the level of success you are hoping for  Listen for the feedback you don’t receive

10 Strategy: Be Active on Social Media (duh)  Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc.  Be active without being a shill for your project  Consider two accounts, one for your game, and on personally  Be real  this is important  Evaluating social media ROI  Twitter is probably best for building personal brand  Twitter + Blogs is best for your game  Facebook is harder right now for independent games. Tough to update, tough to stand out in a crowd, tough to manage

11 Announce your game early and often  Games used to be announced late. That’s a terrible strategy  Old paradigm:  Similar to launching a film  Spend a ton of dough to saturate the market with awareness and generate tons of interest among target audience  Very expensive, needed to be timed closely to “peak” with product release  Realistically, no one can afford this type of saturation marketing for an independent game

12 Announce your game early and often  New paradigm:  Low intensity, long-lead time marketing  Target your interested consumers where they hang out  One tweet may not have the “reach” of a magazine ad, but if the right 1,000 people see it, it’s more than worth it  Goal: Create the purchase intent months or years before release, so the purchase becomes a foregone conclusion

13 Analysis: Does this work?  We’ve seen zero negative effects on XBLA for early announces  Braid, Castle Crashers, etc  We have seen correlation of late or surprise announces with low sales

14 Building Awareness Early  Social media  Big media, websites and magazines  Amplification by thought leaders  Shows and events (speaking and showing)  Build awareness  Get actionable product feedback  Network like crazy  PR, Marketing and outreach by the developer can be more impactful than outreach from a publisher.

15 Analysis of your brand building  Be disciplined: Use comps not instinct to evaluate your strategy’s performance  Compare stories / followers / etc with similar games.  If your game got 11 stories after PAX, and every other game got 25, you need to pause

16 What if this seems awfully hard?  Tough luck. Marketing and outreach is an intrinsic part of selling what you do  If you can’t do this, you must partner with someone who can. There is no alternative if you want to succeed.

17 Q&A  on twitter 


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