GamesIndustry.biz recently published a post called Marketing influences game revenue three times more than high scores. Research has shown that the belief that game reviews have an impact on the sales of a game is a false one.
Or at least a poor quality game with big marketing dollars behind it will sell much more than a good quality game with poor marketing.
On the one hand, it’s discouraging. Gamers already complain about bug-ridden games, the need for patches, and subpar playing experiences. I was shocked to find that FIFA ’09 for the Nintendo DS had crash bugs in it, and according to at least one comment in a game review out there, it seems that FIFA ’10 has its own share of show-stopping bugs. That the FIFA games are at the top of the charts in terms of sales has to make game players feel disheartened. And when game companies start shoveling anything they can out the door, customers will feel the need to be more discerning about their purchases. The video game industry already had a crash when anyone could and did make an Atari game. People stopped trying to find fun in video games when most of the products were horrible. And, of course, marketing dollars become even more important, which means the larger companies with the greater capabilities win.
On the other hand, none of this is really news, is it? Ask anyone who knows anything about marketing, and they’ll tell you that marketing is way more important than most people think it is. If you create a fantastic game that no one wants, of course it won’t sell. If you create a game that a lot of people want, even if the attempt isn’t the best, it will sell. Part of product development should be market research: finding out if anyone cares about what you’re creating.
It’s true across all industries, and it’s true for the video game industry. That said, what can an indie game developer do?
Generating Buzz for Indie Games and Advice for Aspiring Indies have some marketing tips which should fit your budget. It also helps to remember that major publishers such as EA and Nintendo need to make a lot more money than you do, and so your marketing budget doesn’t need to match theirs in dollars. You can spend much less and still make enough money for your business. Also remember that your time is a resource, and there are plenty of ways to improve your marketing that just happen to take more effort than money to pull off.
Marketing will have a huge impact on your sales potential. Don’t ignore it.