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Quick dirty guide for indie devs for press / marketing
Liam Dawe Jun 13
I decided to actually make a little guide for indie devs here on their marketing, and how to not actually fail totally at it....

So you're making a game and you want it to not utterly fail? Okay, some quick tips from someone who has been writing about them for over 10 years.

1) Do you have a trailer?

No? Go back to step 1. That's a fail. Do you have one? Great. Is it on YouTube? No, fail again.

I'm amazed at the amount of small developers not putting their trailer on YouTube. It's pretty much free marketing. Myself and basically all other news sites add them into our articles, you're massively missing out there.

2) Do you have a Steam store page?

No? Go back to step 2.

Get it ready early. This is essential, you need to build up followers and wishlists on it. A lack of those are going to mean you're likely to fail.

Also ENSURE you're putting your website and YouTube links on the Steam page. Steam has a section especially for this. Do it.

I cannot stress point 2 enough. Why do you want people to write about your game if there's nowhere for them (and everyone who reads their article) to properly follow it ready for whenever it releases?

3) Wishlists & Followers on Steam

You want thousands of Wishlists. Not hundreds. Thousands. This is going to be one of your main points for marketing, you need to build that up to get those conversations into actual sales.

More Wishlists and Followers will help you get featured on Steam.

If you take a single thing away from this post. It should be point 3. Seriously. Build. Up. Wishlists.

You only usually convert a small percentage of it, so the more the better. Think about it, if you only had 500 wishlists and you somehow miraculously got 50% to covert, that's still only 250 sales. You also need to think about refunds on top of that.

Build. Up. Wishlists.

4) Get a presskit, and keep it up to date

Everyone I know loves https://dopresskit.com/, it's so simple and easy for press to scan over to see if they're going to cover it.

Always keep the presskit (and your store page!) up to date with current screenshots.

If there's one thing I really hate, it's a zip download of a presskit. That's another step of friction to just getting the info we want and need. Get it online properly. Your info can and does change before release, downloads go out of date, your own presskit online will not.

5) Emails need to be simple

Too many emails we get are ridiculously flashy, full of noise and take too long to read over to get to the actual important stuff:
- What the heck is it? Simple description, a nice bullet-point list of features
- A VERY VERY CLEAR store link. Put it near the top, the middle and the bottom (yes all three). Make it stand out. You will be AMAZED at the amount of emails that somehow don't even link to a single thing.

6) Just put the Steam key in the email, seriously

Don't make press hunt you down for that Steam key. You've emailed them, you obviously want their eyes on it, the less friction they have there the better.

If you're worried about people selling them, that's mostly a non-issue if you're doing it right. Make a simple spreadsheet, note who you gave the key to. Doesn't need to be more complicated, it's only a few extra minutes work but is going to be really beneficial for you.

Steam keys are free to generate, they technically cost you nothing. There will always be a few chancers, but that will be mostly from people emailing *you* claiming to be from some random youtube channel or steam curator - if you really want them to have a key, find their real email from their channel instead of the email you got claiming to be from them. If their channel lists no email, move on.

A fun thing I've seen become more common is having the email title start with:

"[Key Included] for super awesome game"
(that always gets my attention)

Or if you're really adverse to including it:

"[Key Available] for super duper cool game"
(but then make sure all they have to do is reply, and send over the key)

Even some of the biggest games out there are often emailing direct with a key, or offering a key via a simple reply to the email. If you're not making it that simple, you'll be skipped over for who does.

7) Steam Curators

Steam Curators DO NOT NEED a Steam key. You send a copy to their Steam Curator directly on Steam, no keys are ever involved. There's absolutely no downside to offering up a copy to Steam Curators, because all they can do is accept the game where it goes into their library or deny it.

If they claim to be a Steam Curator and want a key, that's an instant one for you to add to your blocklist.

8) GamesPress

I'm a fan of https://www.gamespress.com/, they make it quite easy for us to find news about everything. Give it a try.

9) Discord changelogs

For the love of my sanity, please stop using Discord as your only place to post your updates. Discord is a closed platform, and not indexed by search engines. Put them on your Store page, it's literally what it's for.

Not just for press, but for your players too. If you're not posting them on Steam, people will think you're not doing anything.


I'll keep adding to this when I think of important stuff. Feel free to share to developers. I might turn this into an article eventually.

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 13 June 2024 at 3:36 pm UTC
This will certainly be helpful to someone Liam!

Point 9: Thank you for someone else finally pointing it out. This has been a pet peeve of mine ever since it started!

To re-iterate what Liam said:
Stop using discord as your change log / update notification service.

damarrin Jun 13
Excellent write up, thank you so much.

Discord is great for some stuff, but absolutely atrocious for others. I have no idea why it’s become so prevalent.

Also in pt 2 maybe make it clear that you mean a store page on Steam in the title? Steam does appear halfway through the point, but for a moment there I thought you meant a website with a buy option.

Last edited by damarrin on 13 June 2024 at 3:35 pm UTC
based Jun 13
9. 9 9 9 9 Just... PLEASE!
Or at least use Steam' news & community hub feature

Last edited by based on 13 June 2024 at 4:06 pm UTC
CatKiller Jun 13
Quoting: damarrinDiscord is great for some stuff, but absolutely atrocious for others. I have no idea why it’s become so prevalent.
"We need to build a community of prospective players while we're developing our game."
"So we'll have a Discord."
"Discord is where our community is, so that's where we'll put all the information."

Having a Discord where devs can communicate with players is nice; it's making the mistake of only communicating with players through Discord that's the issue.
Pengling Jun 14
Quoting: Liam DaweIf there's one thing I really hate, it's a zip download of a presskit. That's another step of friction to just getting the info we want and need. Get it online properly. Your info can and does change before release, downloads go out of date, your own presskit online will not.
Oh goodness, this is SO TRUE. I used to be a games-writer for some hobbyist sites loooooooong ago, and even back then, some developers got this very right, and some got it very wrong (this being an era when it was the norm for them to self-host the press-kit on a dedicated subdomain of their own site, rather than there being services for such things*).

*Mind you, that was also an era where licensing-slicks were still often in print form, and not digital! How times change.
Quoting: Pengling*Mind you, that was also an era where licensing-slicks were still often in print form, and not digital! How times change.
Damn.... Showing your age there Pegnling.......
Pengling Jun 14
Quoting: StoneColdSpiderDamn.... Showing your age there Pegnling.......
I am! That was half a lifetime ago!
Quoting: Pengling
Quoting: StoneColdSpiderDamn.... Showing your age there Pegnling.......
I am! That was half a lifetime ago!
But your a robot......
You will go almost forever as long as you keep on top of your services and tuneups..... and keep your log book in check......
Quoting: Liam DaweI decided to actually make a little guide for indie devs here on their marketing, and how to not actually fail totally at it....

So you're making a game and you want it to not utterly fail? Okay, some quick tips from someone who has been writing about them for over 10 years.

1) Do you have a trailer?

No? Go back to step 1. That's a fail. Do you have one? Great. Is it on YouTube? No, fail again.

I'm amazed at the amount of small developers not putting their trailer on YouTube. It's pretty much free marketing. Myself and basically all other news sites add them into our articles, you're massively missing out there.

2) Do you have a Steam store page?

No? Go back to step 2.

Get it ready early. This is essential, you need to build up followers and wishlists on it. A lack of those are going to mean you're likely to fail.

Also ENSURE you're putting your website and YouTube links on the Steam page. Steam has a section especially for this. Do it.

I cannot stress point 2 enough. Why do you want people to write about your game if there's nowhere for them (and everyone who reads their article) to properly follow it ready for whenever it releases?

3) Wishlists & Followers on Steam

You want thousands of Wishlists. Not hundreds. Thousands. This is going to be one of your main points for marketing, you need to build that up to get those conversations into actual sales.

More Wishlists and Followers will help you get featured on Steam.

If you take a single thing away from this post. It should be point 3. Seriously. Build. Up. Wishlists.

You only usually convert a small percentage of it, so the more the better. Think about it, if you only had 500 wishlists and you somehow miraculously got 50% to covert, that's still only 250 sales. You also need to think about refunds on top of that.

Build. Up. Wishlists.

4) Get a presskit, and keep it up to date

Everyone I know loves https://dopresskit.com/, it's so simple and easy for press to scan over to see if they're going to cover it.

Always keep the presskit (and your store page!) up to date with current screenshots.

If there's one thing I really hate, it's a zip download of a presskit. That's another step of friction to just getting the info we want and need. Get it online properly. Your info can and does change before release, downloads go out of date, your own presskit online will not.

5) Emails need to be simple

Too many emails we get are ridiculously flashy, full of noise and take too long to read over to get to the actual important stuff:
- What the heck is it? Simple description, a nice bullet-point list of features
- A VERY VERY CLEAR store link. Put it near the top, the middle and the bottom (yes all three). Make it stand out. You will be AMAZED at the amount of emails that somehow don't even link to a single thing.

6) Just put the Steam key in the email, seriously

Don't make press hunt you down for that Steam key. You've emailed them, you obviously want their eyes on it, the less friction they have there the better.

If you're worried about people selling them, that's mostly a non-issue if you're doing it right. Make a simple spreadsheet, note who you gave the key to. Doesn't need to be more complicated, it's only a few extra minutes work but is going to be really beneficial for you.

Steam keys are free to generate, they technically cost you nothing. There will always be a few chancers, but that will be mostly from people emailing *you* claiming to be from some random youtube channel or steam curator - if you really want them to have a key, find their real email from their channel instead of the email you got claiming to be from them. If their channel lists no email, move on.

A fun thing I've seen become more common is having the email title start with:

"[Key Included] for super awesome game"
(that always gets my attention)

Or if you're really adverse to including it:

"[Key Available] for super duper cool game"
(but then make sure all they have to do is reply, and send over the key)

Even some of the biggest games out there are often emailing direct with a key, or offering a key via a simple reply to the email. If you're not making it that simple, you'll be skipped over for who does.

7) Steam Curators

Steam Curators DO NOT NEED a Steam key. You send a copy to their Steam Curator directly on Steam, no keys are ever involved. There's absolutely no downside to offering up a copy to Steam Curators, because all they can do is accept the game where it goes into their library or deny it.

If they claim to be a Steam Curator and want a key, that's an instant one for you to add to your blocklist.

8) GamesPress

I'm a fan of https://www.gamespress.com/, they make it quite easy for us to find news about everything. Give it a try.

9) Discord changelogs

For the love of my sanity, please stop using Discord as your only place to post your updates. Discord is a closed platform, and not indexed by search engines. Put them on your Store page, it's literally what it's for.

Not just for press, but for your players too. If you're not posting them on Steam, people will think you're not doing anything.


I'll keep adding to this when I think of important stuff. Feel free to share to developers. I might turn this into an article eventually.


Number 10. Use other places for marketing. Get a website Put your change notes there in a development blog. Put the presskit there. You already have that YouTube channel? If not, go back to step one. Put multiple demos and a few dev logs there as well.

Get an X account. As much as people don't like the place, I find a lot of cool games there, and it'll take you 3 minutes to upload your trailers there too/ make a post. If you really want to maximize your reach do exactly what you do on X on Mastodon, Bluesky, and literally every other thing like it. Copy and paste, it's what I do. Just don't scroll on all of them, you have game developing to do!

Last edited by NathanaelKStottlemyer on 19 June 2024 at 2:02 am UTC
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