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3 Feb 2014

How Not to Sell Your App

One of the most important lessons you can learn when finding the best way to sell your game is learning about the best way to not sell your app. Sure, there are a lot of awesome things you can do to ensure that you sell your game appropriately. However, there is also an abundance of things you can do wrong that will not only do absolutely nothing for getting people to notice and buy your mobile game, but could harm the overall sales of your game via wasted time, a poor game plan, etc. Heed these warnings below, and set your game up for success.


Stop trying to contact the top publications to review your game

I hear this phrase from indie developers all too often:


“We’ve contacted IGN, Gamespot, Joystiq, etc. to cover our game, but we haven’t heard anything from them.”




“IGN, Gamespot, Destructoid, etc. covered our game last week, but we haven’t seen any sales from it.”


No kidding.


Let me tell you a story about what a game journalist’s day looks like. Every day, their inbox is flooded with dozens upon dozens of developers wanting them to look at their game. This goes for AAA developers and indie developers alike. Press release after press release rolls into said inbox every day and never stops. Literally.

I can attest to this, as I was the Senior Editor of a small publication for a few years. This happened to me daily, so I can’t imagine how bombarded the top publications in the industry get with email after email every single day. Thus, the first challenge is to stand out from everyone else (tough to do when you’re competing with AAA developers who have millions of dollars devoted to marketing via press releases and the like), and if somehow your game is covered? There’s a huge possibility that it’s going to be lost in the shuffle among the other AAA games being covered.

Make no mistake: the bulk of people that visit the biggest publications are interested in only AAA games. They want news on the latest Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and while many of them may be interested in the occasional indie game, it’s not enough to make your game become a huge seller.

Thus, you need to focus your energy on the places that will actually cover your indie game. Small blogs devoted to indie games, ‘Let’s Play’ personalities on YouTube that receive thousands of views per video, and so on. Seriously, this is the better route to take when marketing your game instead of relying on the outdated method of being covered on IGN or Kotaku. Especially when you want your game to garner a substantial amount of sales when selling your game initially, it’s simply one of the best method to use for getting people to talk about your game.


Make your trailer mean something


Have you ever heard of Dead Island? The answer is probably yes, correct? The reason you have heard of the game is because of its announcement trailer as seen below:

Now, the game left a lot to be desired, and the trailer had nothing to do with the actual gameplay of the game, but it left people talking – and that’s exactly what a good trailer accomplishes.

Your trailer needs to mean something. No, you shouldn’t design a trailer that has nothing to do with your game’s actual gameplay – that goes without saying (or it should). Instead, you need to incorporate gameplay elements into your game that will allow the viewer to know exactly what the game is about and what they can expect while providing a ‘cool’ factor that will make them say to themselves, “I need this game. Now.”

Recently, Paradox Interactive’s game Leviathan: Warships released a trailer that accomplishes this to perfection, and is (in my opinion anyway), the perfect blend of gameplay footage with a ‘cool’ factor:

Release an awesome trailer to build hype before you sell your game, and it will benefit as a result.


Focus on how your players will be playing your game

I focused on this to an extent in my post covering monetization tips last Friday. It is vital that you understand how your players will be playing your game, as it will allow you to build a better game for your players in the long run. Think about it: what if you were contracted to build a home for a family, yet you had no idea how they were going to live in it? Who would build a home based on assumptions? The husband may need a larger office, the wife may want a larger living room to play with the kids – heck, the kids may need a larger room to fit all of their stuff. You simply cannot build anything without proper analytics.


And the same goes for developing your game.


Conduct research to see how players are playing games in your niche before developing your game, and once you are ready to sell it? You will have a game that is properly developed with the player in mind.

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