That’s the good news. The bad news is this means the volume of games now being released has grown exponentially and the process of discovering them is now a bit like hunting for a needle in a haystack. It’s easy to understand why some developers feel it’s nothing more than chance that seals the fate of one game over another. It’s not.
The onus is on the developer to enable gamers to make these discoveries; in the same way that big budget marketing campaigns could be accessed to enable gamers to discover blockbusters under the old order. Without developers enabling discovery, games won’t make it into the charts, gamers won’t buy them and months, if not years, of hard labour will go to waste.
Developers should also understand they need to do more than just promote their games. They need to start promoting themselves, too. Developers who are able to get the world to take notice of their talent are doing themselves a big favour when everyone is competing for attention. Developers by nature aren’t extroverts, but more are going to have to go against their instincts and learn to shout from the rooftops. They need to get social – they need to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Vimeo to promote themselves, their talent and their games.
Sitting back and relying on others to talk about their games just doesn’t cut it in this digital marketplace. Why is this so important? Think about any studio with a famous figurehead. Peter Molyneux at 22Cans? Now think how infinitely easier it is for a well-known, media friendly developer to attract that vital first burst of attention to his or her creation. Heard of Curiosity? Exactly. Every snowball has to start somewhere!
The UK has a fantastic pedigree of being at the forefront of innovation and creativity in the games industry. Indie studios are doing some great work but they’re not being recognised for it. They haven’t yet been discovered. It's time they were. It’s time these studios made themselves heard and, in turn, used their voices and talent to energise others within the industry.
A great place to start is Develop’s Indie Dev Marketing conference on 10 July; it launched last year specifically to help indie developers understand – and use – PR and marketing to take their games and their studios to market on limited resources. I’d also encourage all indie studios to enter the Develop Indie Showcase, whose sole aim is to help new studios get discovered. The deadline for entry is 13 May and all of the information can be found at www.developconference.com.
Susan Marshall is content director for the Develop in Brighton Conference – 9-11 July, 2013. Speak to her firstname.lastname@example.org