Starfighter Renegade – week #1 marketing retrospective and why Google Analytics is useful!
I’m a week in after I announced development of my game (Starfighter Renegade) to the world, and thought I’d share some of how it’s going and what I’ve learnt. The Google Analytics bit is right at the bottom, feel free to skip there if that’s why you’re here.
TLRD: I don’t think I’ll be splashing out on anything expensive anytime soon!
First up – the numbers aren’t great, but I’m in full time work, and this is ‘just’ a side project, so you don’t need to feel too bad for me – and I there’s always chance to turn things around! #nevergiveup!
Everyone knows it’s all about the marketing, so what did I do? Here’s a rough timeline and key points from the game annoucenent week.
Day of the announcement:
- Posted to r/indiegaming
- Posted to Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Imgur and Facebook (Indie Game Promo IGD).
- Emailed a whole bunch of websites.
- Set the games website live – this includes a mailing list signup.
- Steam page live – I don’t think it’s too ugly! Trailer in place, description done, 15x Tags added, etc.. (I read lots of articles about setting up your store page!)
- I got some really nice comments! – whatever the numbers, these totally made it worth It for me. Reddit and Facebook specifically – thanks to everyone who did so.
- Steam Wishlist numbers? – not updated yet, I’ll have to wait another day.
- Small but positive engagement to the launch trailer on Imgur, Instagram & Twitter (~couple hundred trailer views between them).
- The Reddit post reached ~ 850 upvotes, which I was really happy with (thank you!)
- Facebook post got around 120 likes.
- Tumblr I think I got like 1x view…
The day after
- Steam Wishlist numbers are in! – and… not great. Day 1, 20 Wishlist additions.
- To be honest, I already knew this was likely. I’ve been at game launches before (mine and other peoples).
- I’m also aware that my game is maybe somewhat niche for 2021! 1995 it’d be everywhere, but this style of game just might not be on the radar to your average gamer today.
- Low numbers are not uncommon – I think this is worth highlighting as a lot of people can have unrealistic expectations. Yes, there are lots of talks and blogs about the games that made it (well done them!), but there are hundreds of games released every month, and many will see these kind of number – or even lower.
The week after
- I continued to post on social media:
- Twitter, #indiedevhour got some engagement, which is great.
- Imgur, a couple of clips – I’m finding there’s some aggressive downvoting! – I’m not linking to store etc.. which could be disliked by the community here – so still working out why this is happening. Is it the tags I’m using? the wording of the title? Or simply the game isn’t pretty enough! I’ll keep trying.
- TikTok. I started posting here, still working out how this works – I’ve managed ~400 clip views, which isn’t huge – but actually more than I have with Instagram, Imgur & Youtube combined!
- Facebook – a more dev. focused post to Indie Game Developers IGD.
- Changed Steam Tags. Discovery of the page is very low from inside Steam, so this was an attempt to help. I made them more specific and used all 20. Hasn’t worked yet…
- No outcome from any of the emails.
As I’ll show in a moment, very little of the actually converts to Wishlists, but I still feel they’re worthwhile and intend to continue over the next few months.
* Steam Wishlist numbers still aren’t great (~50 in total, with daily additions having dropped to a couple a day)
The future, considerations & some useful tips!
- My plan is to continue to post about the game on social media, learning and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
- My Reddit post could have been more effective – but I also want to stay part of that community and not upset anyone too much!
- I’m considering taking part in the next Steam Festival, which would include a demo of the game.
- I hear that this can have mixed results for some people, for me however – the driver to create the demo is really the key here.
- Content creators. Once I have something playable – finding and sharing with content creators is top of my list. This also includes re-emailing everyone on my list now there’s something for them to play!
- My call to action initially was ‘Wishlist on Steam’ – so for example, my mailing list hasn’t seen any love, as no one knows it’s there yet! I likely need to be more on top of that.
Ok, and onto a tool I haven’t seen talked about too much when looking at game marketing….
I setup analytics for my Steam store page initially just because there was an option to do so and is fairly straightforward thing to do. I figured it ‘might’ have some interesting data…
Turns out that I can get an idea of how many visits my store page is getting (you can see it’s not huge numbers). The number very roughly correlates to the number of Wishlists I’ve been getting too, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising. This page like the Steam Wishlists page only updates 1x a day, but does seem to be several hours earlier.
Interestingly, the internal Steam data indicates they think I’ve had far more page visits (over 1.5k!) but the shape of the graph is broadly the same. It looks like Steam is maybe tracking a lot of visits from its own bots/spiders which could be adding to this. Certainly, the number of Wishlists vs the visits reported from Google makes more sense to me and seem closer to expected reality than vs the number of visits reported from Steam.
I can see that the majority of visits have been via Direct links, with Social coming in behind that.
Diving into Social
Taking a look at Social first. See the screenshot below. You can see exactly where the visitors are coming from, and it turns out that my Facebook post was comparatively really successful.
I feel that Reddit could have been higher – but I was very aware of posting rules. My call to action / including a Store page link could have / should have been better.
I’m pleased to see TikTok creeping in there even though I’ve only been using it for a couple of days. I’ve a feeling if I can work out how to use it effectively, that could be useful. I already seem to be getting better number of ‘views’ than Imgur, Tumblr & Instagram combined. I’m still a long way of the front-page!
Diving into Direct
What’s a Direct link? This site gives good explanation. One particular point to note about what will be categorised as Direct traffic is ‘Traffic from mobile social media apps.’ So basically, this could include everyone not sat at a PC.
Do to that lack of clarity of source, there’s only so much information here really. Using Steams new UTM links could help fill this gap.
You can however see discovery queue links – so I can see I’m not getting great results there. There are also some Steam internal analytics which reflect this.
Over the next weeks/months my aim is to try different Icons/Short Description/Tags to see if I can get any increase here. As I mention above, I did try to change my Tags – initial results are that it maybe made things worse (although the number of data points is so low, it’s close to guessing at this point!), but you have to try, and having these analytics, combined with Steams own can help you understand what effect your changes may be having.
Thanks for reading! Question, ideas and comments very welcome!