How To Promote Your Indie Game

Promoting your indie game may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. But marketing and promotion are essential tasks for a successful game launch. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to promote your indie game. We’ve also included places you can use to promote your game for free, as well as some paid options if you have the budget available.

Start Marketing Your Game As Soon As Possible

As an indie game developer, it’s natural to want to be protective of your game ideas by keeping them to yourself and building your game in secret. But please don’t do this, it’s a trap!

Ideas on their own are not valuable, but building your game and promoting it are valuable. Your amazing, unique idea is unlikely to be unique. Most ideas have already been thought of by other developers, but they don’t have the time to build them because they’re busy working on their own games. What makes your game unique is the way you execute your vision; no one else will do it the same as you.

When we say start marketing as soon as possible, we are talking about getting your idea into the world as soon as possible. Getting feedback and other ideas from the community of gamers and other developers can be used to improve your game. Finding a target audience of gamers who will be interested in your game and letting them know about it before you launch is valuable to your long-term success as an indie developer. Let’s walk through ways to achieve this.

Identify your target audience

Step one of promoting your indie game is to understand your market and identify your target audience. There are six key factors to consider, and a lot will depend on the type of game you are building, but generally, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. What games exist that are similar to yours? (Research by playing games in your genera.)
  2. Who plays existing games that are similar to yours?
  3. What else are they interested in besides games?
  4. Where do they spend time online and in the real world?
  5. What devices do they prefer to play on? (Are they PC gamers, or do they prefer mobile gaming?)
  6. What do they think other similar games do well or poorly? (Look at store pages and reviews to find how gamers perceive them.)

As you find the answers to these questions, you will uncover a profile of the type of players that will want your game. The next step is creating a plan for how you will tell your target audience of gamers about your game.

How To Promote Your Indie Game

Build A Strategy To Reach Your Audience

Having identified your target audience, you can use the information to create a marketing strategy for reaching them. Your strategy should include the different marketing channels you’ll use to reach your target audience, how you will talk about your game and which elements of your game you will promote. Later, you can create a marketing plan that includes the promotional activities and key dates for marketing your game.

For example, if you are creating a mystery puzzle game, you may have identified that your target audience is likely to be interested in mystery novels and escape rooms. You then look for forums and online communities of people who enjoy these things to engage with. You can use these online communities to find people who are interested in your game.

Create Content

The overall goal of the content you create to promote your game is to show its most interesting and exciting elements – that will capture your target audience’s attention. In other words, you know your game is awesome, but you need to show and tell other people what makes it so good!

When you sit down to create promotional content, start by crafting compelling copy (text) that highlights your game’s unique features and selling points. This copy should be used across all your marketing materials (website, Steam, socials, etc.) to maintain consistency. Finding the right words is difficult, but as a starting point, you can look to your game’s design pillars for inspiration. And when you’ve got something playable, feedback from playtesters is another great source of inspiration.

Concept art can play a significant role in sparking interest; it gives your audience a glimpse into the game’s world, characters, and atmosphere before it’s fully developed. Screenshots are equally important as they provide a more concrete look at what players can expect.

A devlog from the Thin Matrix Youtube channel

Last but not least, there’s video content. Video is such a powerful tool for promotion since video games are, after all, a visual medium. You can create trailers, gameplay videos, and even dev-vlogs (development video logs), all of which can significantly boost engagement by showcasing the game’s mechanics, story, and passion behind its creation.

Together, well-written copy, stunning concept art, informative screenshots, and immersive video content form a powerful toolkit for promoting your indie game and capturing the imagination of your target audience.

Setup A Landing page or Steam Store Page

Set up a website with information about your game and a way to subscribe to your mailing list or wishlist your game. A website acts as a hub where you can link to places where people can buy your game and platforms where they can follow development.

If you’re releasing your game on Steam, the first and most important promotional task is to get your Store Page live so that you can begin collecting wishlists. To learn more about setting up your Steam page, check out this guide on wikiHow.

If you’re a mobile developer releasing on Android, Google Play allows you to set up pre-registrations for games. This has the benefit of giving you a huge spike of initial downloads for your game. But you have to publish your game within 90 days. If you’re new to marketing apps, check out this article on App Store Optimization (ASO) for mobile apps.

Choose Channels To Promote Your Game

There are many marketing channels and platforms you can use to promote your game. As an indie developer, your time is often limited, and marketing can be a full-time project on its own. Therefore, it’s best to pick a handful of platforms to try out and then focus on the one or two that give you the best results. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular channels to promote your game.

YouTube: Share DevLogs and Funny Clips

YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms for marketing your game since video games are a visual medium. Many indie developers have found success by documenting the development of their games and releasing them as DevLogs. Some notable developers who took this approach include Michael Kocha (Swords ‘n Magic and Stuff), ThinMatrix (Equilinox, Homegrown), and Pontypants (Punch a Bunch).

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our list of the 21 Best YouTube Channels for Game Developers.

Build a community, leverage Discord Servers


Discord is a real-time messaging platform that supports voice, video calls, and text, making it a versatile tool for online communities, especially in the gaming world. For indie game developers, Discord offers a unique opportunity to directly engage with their audience, gather feedback, and promote their games within passionate gaming communities. Engaging in existing Discord communities that align with your game’s genre can help you understand your audience better and create buzz around your project. Promoting your game within these communities should be done respectfully and in accordance with the community’s rules to avoid being seen as spam.

Creating your own Discord server allows you to build a dedicated community around your game. However, this comes with the caveat that maintaining an active and engaging server requires a considerable amount of effort, especially as the community grows. To keep your audience engaged, you need to be active daily, providing updates, sharing behind-the-scenes content, and hosting live Q&A sessions or playtests. It’s crucial to give your community a reason to stay active and participate; simply having a space to hang out is not enough. The challenge is to balance promotion with genuine engagement, ensuring that your community feels valued and involved in the development process. While building a community on Discord can be rewarding, it’s important to be prepared for the commitment it entails.

If you’re looking for Discord communities to join and inspiration, check out our list of 20 Must-Join Discords for Indie Game Dev Success.

Join Screenshot Saturday and Wishlist Wednesday on X (Twitter)

X (formerly Twitter) has a large and thriving community of indie game developers and gamers who want to see games like yours. To use X (Twitter) to promote your game, you can join in with two weekly events and share content from your game, Wishlist Wednesday and Screenshot Saturday.

Screenshot Saturday is for sharing screenshots, animated gifs, or videos from the development of your game. Good examples of content would be a character you’ve animated, when your game’s AI is bugging out, or a general funny or exciting moment of gameplay. Add the hashtag #screenshotsaturday to your X (Twitter) post to get involved.

Whishlist Wednesday is, as the name suggests, for sharing links to your Steam Store page so people can add your game to their Whishlist. The ideal content for this are links to your store page and gameplay trailers. To get involved, add the hashtag #whishlistwednesday to your X (Twitter) post.

To get the most out of X, it’s important to see it as a community rather than just people who want to buy your game. So take 5-10 minutes each day to like and comment on posts from other indie game developers, as well as like and respond to comments on your own posts.

Online Forums: Reddit

Online forums such as Reddit are similar to X (Twitter) in that you will find many passionate communities of game developers and gamers who will be interested in your game.

Reddit can be a great resource for sharing progress and asking for advice from the community, as well as for more explicit promotion of your game. The platform is separated into individual forums known as Subreddits or “subs”; each has its own specialist topic, rules and set of moderators. To participate, sign up for a Reddit account and then join Subreddit. Before you post, check the rules on what you can post – as some subreddits don’t allow “self-promotion”. You can usually post the same content in multiple subs, although watch out for getting flagged as a spammer. With skilled writing and some luck, your post may go viral and attract attention from outside the platform, such as YouTube and the Press.


TikTok is a more recent platform you could use for promotion. Many developers are using TikTok to promote their games, but I’ve not heard of it helping them get wishlists and sales. TikTok is a platform that could be worth experimenting with, especially if your game has a lot of fast-paced action that would fit in a short video.

Email Marketing, Mailing List

Email marketing is a powerful yet often underrated channel for promoting indie games, particularly if you already have an existing audience. It allows for direct, personalized communication with your fan base, enabling you to keep them informed about your game’s development progress, launch dates, and any promotional events. By building a mailing list, you create a digital asset that gives you direct access to your audience without the need for intermediaries. This can be especially valuable for sharing exclusive content, early access opportunities, or special offers that can drive engagement and anticipation for your game.

To effectively utilize email marketing in your promotional strategy, it’s crucial to understand the best practices for engaging and growing your subscriber base. For a comprehensive guide on leveraging email to market your indie game, consider exploring our detailed article: How to Market Your Indie Game Using Email. This resource offers insights into crafting compelling emails, segmenting your audience for targeted campaigns, and measuring the success of your efforts to continuously optimize your approach.

Release A Free Demo or Prologue

Releasing a free demo or prologue of your indie game can be a strategic move to pique the interest of potential players and generate buzz before the full game’s release. This approach not only allows players to experience a taste of your game’s mechanics, story, and unique features but also serves as a direct engagement tool that can lead to valuable feedback and word-of-mouth promotion.

A well-crafted demo can help in building anticipation, encouraging players to wishlist your game on platforms like Steam or follow its development more closely. Additionally, offering a free demo provides an opportunity for content creators, such as streamers and YouTubers, to showcase your game to their audiences, further expanding its visibility. When releasing a demo, ensure it is polished and representative of the game’s core experience to leave a positive and lasting impression on players, motivating them to engage with your full game upon its release.

Take Part In Steam Festivals

Steam Festivals are virtual events hosted by the Steam platform that showcase upcoming games, offering indie developers a golden opportunity to spotlight their projects to a vast audience of gamers. These festivals allow developers to feature demos, host live streams, and engage with the community through Q&A sessions, significantly increasing the visibility of their game on one of the largest digital distribution platforms for PC gaming. To participate, developers must have a Steamworks developer account and submit their game for consideration ahead of the festival deadlines, ensuring their game meets the requirements for inclusion, such as having a playable demo.

The primary advantage of taking part in Steam Festivals is the heightened exposure. It can lead to an increase in wishlists and followers on your Steam page, critical metrics for a successful launch. Additionally, the direct feedback from gamers who play the demo can be invaluable for making final adjustments before release. However, the major drawback is the competition; with so many games featured, it can be challenging to stand out. Developers need to invest in creating an engaging demo and marketing their participation in the festival to maximize the benefits of this opportunity.

Reach out to reporters or editors – particularly for mobile games

Reaching out to reporters or editors can significantly amplify your game’s visibility, especially if you’re developing a mobile game. Journalists and media professionals are constantly in search of fresh, compelling stories that will engage their audiences. By pitching your game to them, you provide content that could fit their narrative needs while gaining exposure to a broader audience. The key to a successful pitch is to make it as relevant and intriguing as possible to the recipient. Highlight what makes your game unique, any innovative features, or how it contributes to current trends within the mobile gaming industry.

When crafting your pitch, start with a concise, attention-grabbing subject line, followed by a brief introduction to yourself and your game. Then, dive into what sets your game apart from others, any notable achievements or milestones, and why their audience would find your game interesting. Offer them exclusive access, a unique story angle, or insights into the development process to pique their interest.

Example pitch:

Subject: Exclusive: Launching a Mobile Game that Blends AR with Environmental Activism

Dear [Reporter's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I'm the developer behind [Game Name], a groundbreaking mobile game set to launch next month. [Game Name] uniquely combines augmented reality technology with a narrative focused on environmental activism, offering players a meaningful, engaging experience that transcends traditional gaming.

Given your interest in covering innovative mobile games and technology's role in promoting social causes, I believe [Game Name] would resonate with your readers. I'd love to offer you an exclusive first look at the game, including behind-the-scenes insights into its development and how we're using gaming to inspire positive change.

Please let me know if you're interested in learning more. I'm also happy to provide exclusive screenshots, a demo, or arrange an interview to discuss the game in further detail.

Thank you for considering my pitch. I look forward to the possibility of working together to share [Game Name] with your audience.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Participating in game festivals and competitions is an excellent strategy for indie developers seeking visibility and recognition. Platforms like Google Play Indie Corner and being featured on the App Store offer unparalleled opportunities to showcase your game to a wider audience. These festivals not only celebrate creativity and innovation within the indie game community but also provide a platform for developers to connect with potential players, industry professionals, and press. To increase your chances of being selected, it’s essential to ensure your game stands out in terms of originality, gameplay, and visual appeal. Additionally, tailor your submissions to align with the specific criteria and themes of each festival. Being featured in such prestigious showcases can significantly boost your game’s profile, drive downloads, and attract media attention. However, it’s also important to leverage these opportunities by actively promoting your participation in these events through your marketing channels, such as social media, email newsletters, and your game’s website. This not only helps in maximizing the exposure gained from these festivals but also in building anticipation and excitement among your existing community and potential new fans.

Influencer marketing: Streamers & YouTubers

Influencer marketing, particularly with streamers and YouTubers, is a highly effective strategy for indie game developers looking to promote their games. These influencers have dedicated audiences who trust their opinions and recommendations, making them powerful allies in generating buzz and excitement around new games. Collaborating with influencers can lead to your game being showcased to thousands, if not millions, of potential players, providing visibility that would be difficult to achieve through other channels.

To engage with influencers, developers can reach out with personalized pitches that highlight what makes their game unique and why it would be of interest to the influencer’s audience. It’s important to research and choose influencers whose content aligns with the style and genre of your game to ensure a good fit.

An example of an effective pitch might be:

Hi [Influencer Name], we've been fans of your channel and love how you engage with [game genre] games. We're about to launch our indie game, [Game Name], which we believe brings a unique twist to the genre by incorporating [unique game feature]. We feel your audience would enjoy discovering and experiencing the unique aspects of our game, just as we've enjoyed the content you create. We’d love to provide you with an early access copy of the game to review and perhaps share your thoughts with your audience. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and hopefully collaborating!

This approach shows that you’ve done your homework, you’re offering them something of value, and you’re respectful of their influence and audience.

Paid Marketing

Paid marketing platforms offer a powerful way to promote indie games, enabling developers to reach a broader audience beyond their existing network. Some appropriate platforms for indie game promotion include Facebook Ads and X (Twitter) Ads, as well as gaming-specific channels like Twitch and YouTube for video ads. These platforms can provide highly targeted advertising options based on demographics, interests, and user behaviour, ensuring that your game is shown to potential players who are most likely to be interested.

One of the primary advantages of paid marketing is the ability to scale your visibility and user acquisition efforts quickly. With the right targeting and creative strategy, you can drive significant traffic to your game’s website or store page, potentially increasing your player base and game downloads. Additionally, paid ads can be launched at critical moments, such as during a game launch or a major update, to maximize impact. However, the cost of paid marketing can be a significant barrier for indie developers with limited budgets. It requires an upfront investment without a guaranteed return, and the cost per acquisition can be high if not carefully managed. Furthermore, creating effective ad campaigns demands an understanding of marketing strategies, audience targeting, and data analysis, which can be time-consuming and require expertise.

Balancing the cost and effort against the potential benefits is crucial when considering paid marketing for your indie game. To achieve the best results, it’s often recommended to start with a small budget, test different approaches, and gradually scale up based on the performance and insights gained from initial campaigns.

Test And Measure Your Results

When posting content to different channels, keep a Google Sheet with where you posted, when, and the results it gave you, such as views, likes, comments, and Wishlists. Track this for every piece of content on every platform. After a month of testing like this you will be able to make a decision – of where to focus your promotion efforts. If you’re unsure what to measure, check out our article: What Marketing Is Important.

Optimize And Repeat

Once you’ve identified a promotion channel and content format that yield good results, it’s essential to focus on these successful strategies while continually seeking ways to optimize and enhance your promotional efforts. This iterative process involves analyzing the performance of your marketing campaigns, understanding what resonates with your audience, and refining your approach based on data-driven insights. For indie game developers, this could mean tweaking your email marketing campaigns to increase open rates, adjusting your social media strategy to boost engagement, or modifying your Discord community activities to foster more profound interactions. Additionally, consider experimenting with different calls-to-action, headlines, or visual elements in your content to see what drives the best response. Regularly soliciting feedback from your community can also provide valuable insights that help you fine-tune your messaging and offerings. Remember, the goal is not just to attract attention but to maintain interest and build a loyal following over time. By continuously optimizing your promotion efforts based on what works best, you can create more effective, engaging campaigns that help your indie game stand out in a crowded market.

Keep Updating Your Game

Consistently updating your game post-launch can significantly enhance its promotional appeal and extend the longevity of its success. Fixing bugs and improving gameplay based on user feedback not only demonstrates your commitment to quality but also helps retain your existing player base while attracting new players who appreciate well-supported games. Adding new content, such as levels, characters, or storylines, can rejuvenate interest in your game and encourage players to return, keeping the engagement high for the long tail of your game’s lifecycle.

In-game events, such as seasonal or themed events, create timely reasons for players to engage with your game more frequently and invite others to join in the fun. These events can be a powerful tool for community building and can significantly boost user activity and content virality.

Expansions and downloadable content (DLC) offer additional revenue streams while also enriching the game’s world, providing players with new experiences and reasons to continue playing and discussing your game. Such updates can be marketed as major milestones, generating buzz in gaming communities and gaming press, thus keeping your game in the public eye. By maintaining a steady stream of updates, you not only improve the player experience but also continually refresh your game’s appeal, making it a more dynamic and attractive product for both new and returning players.

Participate In Platform Sales & Promotions

Game developer money

Platform sales and promotions are special events hosted by digital distribution platforms, such as Steam, where games are offered at discounted prices for a limited time. These events can significantly increase visibility and sales volume for participating games. For indie developers, being featured in a Steam sale or promotion can be a game-changer, offering the chance to reach a wider audience and boost revenue. The benefits of participating in these events include increased exposure to potential customers who might not have discovered your game otherwise and the opportunity to climb the sales charts, which can further amplify your game’s visibility on the platform.

Developers interested in participating in Steam sales and promotions can do so by keeping an eye on the Steamworks Developer dashboard for announcements and invitations to upcoming sales events. Steam typically asks developers if they want to participate in these sales a few weeks or months in advance, providing instructions on how to opt-in and set discount rates for their games. It’s also important for developers to prepare for these events by ensuring their game’s store page is up-to-date and engaging, with compelling screenshots, videos, and descriptions that can capitalize on the increased traffic during sales events. Participation not only offers immediate financial benefits but can also lead to long-term growth in your game’s community and player base.

Key Takeaways

Here are our key takeaways on how to promote your indie game:

  1. Start Marketing Early: Don’t wait until your game is finished to start marketing. Share your ideas and progress early to gain valuable feedback and build anticipation.
  2. Know Your Audience: Identify your target market by understanding who plays similar games, what their interests are, and where they spend their time online. Tailor your marketing strategy to reach them effectively.
  3. Develop a Marketing Strategy: Use the insights about your target audience to create a focused marketing plan. Decide on the channels and content types that will best reach your potential players.
  4. Create Engaging Content: Create compelling copy, concept art, screenshots, and video content that showcases your game’s unique features and grabs attention.
  5. Establish an Online Presence: Set up a landing page or a Steam Store page to collect wishlists and email sign-ups. This acts as a central hub for information and updates about your game.
  6. Select the Right Channels: Consider your resources and where your target audience is most active when choosing the most effective platforms for promotion. Options include YouTube, Discord, X (formerly Twitter), and online forums like Reddit and TikTok for short video content.
  7. Engage with the Community: Participate in community events like Screenshot Saturday and Wishlist Wednesday on X, join relevant Discord servers, and contribute to forums to build relationships and spread the word about your game.

Top FAQs

How long does it take to promote an indie game?

The amount of time you need to promote an indie game depends on the number of sales or downloads of your game you want to achieve and how quickly you can build your audience. As a rule of thumb within the indie game community, for games that are to be sold on Steam, you will want to achieve 5,000 wishlists before launch in order to achieve 1,000 sales. Depending on how well you promote your game, you may achieve your target number of wishlists in a few weeks, but most projects take months or years to reach their goal. Another consideration for how many whishlists and sales you need is knowing you need to recoup the budget for your project, we have an in-depth blog on that here: How profitable are indie games?

How much does it cost to promote an indie game?

Games made by AAA developers and larger indie studios will often spend twice the cost of development on marketing their game. So, if you’re a solo developer working on a small project and your only “cost” is your own time, then you would want to spend twice the amount of time working on marketing your game. If you’re working on a larger project, perhaps as a larger studio, then you’ll want to allow for 2 times the development budget of your game for marketing – this is where a publisher can be a great asset as they can take care of marketing and it costs, in return for a percentage of sales.

When should you start to promote an indie game?

The short answer is as soon as possible. Once you have a working prototype or some concept art, put something out there for other people to see. A screenshot, a GIF, or even a dev-vlog will let people see what you’re working on and get excited about it! Hopefully, they’ll follow along on your game development journey.

Aron Marriott-Smith

Aron is a hobbyist indie game developer. Before building this website, Aron spent many years helping businesses market their products and services.

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