What Game Marketing Is Important? Focus on these 3 things

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As an indie game developer, marketing your game is often a daunting task. With limited time and resources, you must focus on the strategies and metrics that give you the most significant chance of success. In this blog post, we’ll explore what game marketing is important and how to measure and track the metrics that matter most.

Why Vanity Metrics are Dangerous

Most game developers who are new to marketing make the mistake of focusing on vanity metrics. A vanity metric is like when you’re playing a game and get a high score. Yes, it might make you feel good for a moment, but it’s ultimately meaningless.

In the same way, a vanity metric in marketing is a number that might look good, but it’s not a reliable indicator of the success of your video game. For example, social media post impressions, followers on Twitter or likes on a Facebook page are all vanity metrics.

If 1,000 people like your social media content, so what? It doesn’t mean any of these people are interested in playing or buying your game. Vanity metrics give marketers a false sense of security, and that’s why they’re dangerous!

Instead of focusing on vanity metrics, there’s a better way to get valuable insights into your marketing progress. They’re called Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs for short.

Identify and Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

When it comes to game marketing, it’s important to focus on the strategies and metrics that will have the biggest impact on your success. One of the most effective ways to do this is to identify and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) that are specific to the goals and objectives of your indie game.

By tracking and analyzing your KPIs over time, you can make smart, data-driven decisions about your marketing strategy and identify areas for improvement. For most indie game developers, there are three marketing KPIs you’ll want to track.

Track These Three Things For Indie Game Sucess

Here’s our short list of the three most important factors for a successful indie game launch. By tracking and measuring these key metrics, you can gain valuable insights into the performance of your game marketing and make informed decisions about where to place your time and resources.

Steam Wishlists

If you’re a gamer, then the idea of tracking Steam wishlists should come as no surprise. Steam wishlists reflect the number of users who have added your game to their wishlist. When a gamer commits to adding your game to their wishlist, it’s a good indication that they intend to purchase your game at some point.

When it comes to Steam wishlists converting into sales, on average, 19% of all wishlists convert to sales within the first 12 months after launch.

Based on this 19% conversion rate, if you need to sell at least 1,000 copies of your game, you would need approximately 5,263 wishlists before you launch. Here’s a table to illustrate the scale of the challenge.

Target Unit SalesNumber of
Steam Wishlists Required
The number of Steam wishlists required for a target number of game units sold, based on a 19% conversion rate.

Most games will, of course, continue to sell copies after lunch, especially with sales and promotions on Steam. However, the conversion rate after 12 months drops to 10% on average.

Email Newsletter Signups

Email newsletter signups are a metric that reflects the number of users who have signed up to receive updates and marketing messages from your game. A high number of newsletter signups can indicate that you have a dedicated and engaged audience that is interested in your game.

Email newsletter signups are incredibly valuable because they provide a direct line of communication between you and your potential players. Unlike social media platforms, where algorithms often control who gets to see your content, email newsletters allow you to reach your audience without relying on third-party platforms. This direct connection ensures that your marketing messages, updates, and announcements are more likely to be seen by your subscribers, increasing the chances of converting them into players and loyal fans. Additionally, email marketing often yields high engagement rates and a better return on investment (ROI) compared to other digital marketing channels.

If you’re looking to get started building an audience for your game on email, check out our guide: How to market your indie game using email.

Player Retention

Player retention is most relevant for free-to-play and mobile games. As the name suggests, player retention is a metric that reflects the percentage of players who continue to play your game over time. A high player retention rate can indicate that your game is engaging and enjoyable, which can lead to more revenue and a higher lifetime value (LTV) per player.

To measure player retention, track the following metrics:

  • Day 1 Retention: The percentage of players who return to play your game one day after installing it. This is a vital indicator of your game’s initial appeal and the effectiveness of your onboarding process.
  • Day 7 Retention: The percentage of players who are still playing your game a week after installing it. This metric provides insights into the game’s ability to keep players engaged and interested beyond the initial excitement.
  • Day 30 Retention: The percentage of players who continue to play your game a month after installing it. This long-term retention metric helps you understand how well your game maintains its appeal and whether it’s able to create a loyal player base.

Improving player retention can be achieved through regular updates, adding new content, fixing bugs, and fine-tuning game mechanics based on player feedback. Engaging with your community and being responsive to their needs can also contribute to higher retention rates.

Analyze these retention metrics and compare them against industry benchmarks to understand how well your game is performing. By closely monitoring player retention and implementing strategies to improve it, you can increase the LTV of your players and ensure the long-term success of your game.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to note that the specific KPIs that are relevant to your game will depend on your goals and objectives. For example, if your primary goal is to generate as many sales as possible, then wishlists may be your most important KPI to track.

Whereas if your primary goal is to build a dedicated and engaged community, then newsletter signups and player retention may be more critical.

By identifying the KPIs that are most relevant to your game and tracking them over time, you can gain valuable insights and make effective your marketing efforts.

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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