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13 Feb 2014

Self-Promoting Your Indie Game via Merchandise

As an indie developer, you have the freedom to promote your game in multiple ways. Anything is fair game when it comes to promoting, yet often (especially for those starting out in indie development), this is easier said than done. Sure, it would be nice to promote your game using merchandise, yet I don’t have to tell you that custom merchandise can be expensive.

But it doesn’t have to be.

If you have an awesome idea for merchandise (and if you don’t, a future post may help with that) yet don’t want to sell your first born children to purchase said merchandise, there are a few different outlets to choose from in order to buy inexpensive yet quality merchandise. Below are a few types of merchandise you can use for self-promotion purposes as well as the online businesses that allow you to order customized merchandise on the cheap.


A pretty obvious type of merchandise, right? Go to any video game convention, and everyone has their own customized t-shirt. Heck, even the security guards at the conventions seem to have their own custom t-shirts (‘hire me for your next social event’), but t-shirts work. When enough people at a convention realize you are giving out free t-shirts, expect the lines to grow long and the many of the attendees to start wearing your t-shirt as a badge of honor.

Plus, they’ll be getting a t-shirt that’s likely pretty rare and will keep it as a memento of the convention they attended. It’s what I always do anyway.

So you have an awesome idea for a t-shirt, and you know that this design is going to have people lining up and ready to throw their shirt off in the middle of the convention floor and put yours on. That’s great – now where can you order quality t-shirts inexpensively?

One of the best places to start is One Hour Tees. These guys print quality t-shirts starting at $5.99, and if you need an order quickly? They can actually ship within one hour (but be prepared to pay significantly more).

Uber Prints and Spread Shirt are two other alternatives worth checking out as well. Quality shirts at fair rates, you have a variety of options to choose from whenever you need an awesome looking tee right away.


Whether you want to have an awesome, mini-comic book, art book, photograph book, or any other type of book that you can give away to your fans, you have a few options when it comes to printing books for self-promoting purposes. One of the best places to start is with Blurb. Starting at $12.99, you can print books that will captivate the imaginations of those that look at them, and will certainly increase the hype surrounding your indie title to 11. And if you want a truly beautiful looking, hardcover book? The team over at Blurb provides this for you as well. No matter what kind of budget you have in mind (and no matter what type of custom book you want created), Blurb can help.

It’s kind of odd to think about books being used as self-promotional tools, but believe me it works. Some of the best goodies I’ve been given at conventions have been books that either tell a short story about the game in question or features illustrations, photographs, and beyond regarding the game. It will definitely get fan’s attention, so give it a shot!


You may not consider action figures (or other types of figurines) to be the best choice when self-promoting your game, but come on: everyone loves action figures and unique figurines, right? Consider purchasing customized figurines from 3D printing houses that will assuredly see you self-promoting your games and overall brand in a cool, unique way.

Quick note: Keep in mind that you need to be able to design a 3D file in order to custom order your figurine. If you do not know how to do this, consider outsourcing this task to someone before ordering your own custom figurines.

Shapeways is making a name for itself in making it easy for ordinary people to upload a 3D file and order a customized figurine for their personal use. It isn’t the cheapest route to go when self-promoting your game, but if you want to make an impression, your personal figurines inspired by your indie game is one of the most creative ways you can do this.

For those that have used custom merchandise to self-promote your indie game or overall brand, I will turn the post over to you. How have you found success in self-promoting via customized merchandise? Are there any online destinations that were left off you would like to suggest? Let us know in the comments below!

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