The Final Challenge
Pixels & Profits: Epilogue
The Undying Truth
If there’s one thing we hope you take away from this series, it’s this:
There’s nothing unique about marketing a game.
Whether you’re marketing a car, a beverage, a night club, or an indie game, the underlying principles are the same.
You start with discovery and validation.
You strive to know your audience, make an offer that resonates with them, and present that offer in an engaging way.
Yes, there are always outliers — it happens in every field.
But as I’ve stressed throughout this series, the outliers are not the norm. They are the exceptions, not the rule.
People get lucky. There’s no planning for it.
All you can do is be ready to pounce if luck happens to walk by and wave at you.
Which is why your fundamentals matter so much.
Do the work I’ve outlined, and respect the order of it.
Audience first. Always.
It’s also worth repeating that effective marketing is a critical component throughout the entire lifecycle of an indie game. It’s not an afterthought or a ‘nice-to-have’; it’s essential. But don’t take our word for it – let’s look at some real-world examples.
Lessons from the Titans
Remember how we’ve studied several success stories in our earlier stages? Each was unique, but they all share the same core principles of marketing.
Let’s revisit two of them and analyze the common threads.
Initially the title launched in 2018 to relatively little fanfare. However, with consistent community engagement, influencer partnerships, and serendipitous global circumstances, it saw a significant boom in 2020. As a result, it became one of the most downloaded games globally in 2020.
This indie game saw tremendous success because of its developer’s clear understanding of their audience, potent storytelling, and relentless commitment to improvement based on player feedback.
We’ve seen many similar examples. What do they tell us?
They all point back to the core principles of marketing we’ve discussed throughout this series, and everywhere else on this site.
- Know your audience
- Create a compelling offer
- Present it in a way that resonates with them
- Iterate until you gain traction
- Pivot when necessary
On that last point, remember, learning from success is crucial, but so is learning from failures.
Most mistakes come down to a misunderstanding of audience, or a misalignment in product-market-fit, but those aren’t the only ways fail…
Let’s look at one last example of what not to do:
Anthem was a game with high expectations but a profoundly disappointing launch. The problem wasn’t the technical issues.
Speaking as someone who was hyped for that game myself, I can safely say that the misleading marketing and lack of clear communication with players significantly contributed to (probably caused) the game’s downfall.
Gamers are generally forgiving of rocky launches, so long as the developers are responsive.
Glitches weren’t the problem. Lies were.
Once rumors began to circulate that the game was nothing like the advertising suggested, it gave prospective players (myself included) reason to wait before buying.
At one point, the game went on sale for $1.75.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I still didn’t buy it.
The game was essentially dead 6 months later.
Even free, nobody cared anymore.
The lesson is obvious, right?
Don’t mislead people.
What else will you take away from these stories?
It's Your Turn Now
Now, it’s time to apply everything you’ve learned here, to your own indie game projects. This isn’t just about reading and understanding; it’s about taking action.
Execution is everything.
There’s no predestined path, no “magic spell” for success.
Anyone who claims otherwise is lying to you.
The road from where you are now to that destination, that horizon, that goal you aim to reach, is long.
Some work will be easy, some will feel like torture.
There will be calm weather, and there will be storms who’s end you won’t be able to see on the horizon.
The only hope of realizing your dream is a utterly relentless dedication to personal growth.
Experience is the sharpest blade you can wield.
Yes, you might falter, even fail, but remember, failure is a marketer’s best fuel — it is where the best data comes from. Embrace it.
We can’t do our jobs (well) without it.
The Future Awaits
As we wrap up this guidebook, we must look to the future — because platforms, tactics, and trends will continue to mutate and evolve.
When that happens, remember, no matter what becomes popular tomorrow, the essence of what we do as marketers won’t change. Our craft is the same as it was in the ancient marketplaces of human history, and it will be the same for as long as commerce exists:
We seek to understand and unravel the desires of our audience, crafting offers that quench their thirst, and we make it a point to spin our tales in a way that educates, engages, and enchants.
That’s the whole game. That’s all we do.
And it will feel like fighting a Hydra…
Because that’s what this Boss fight is.
The Final Challenge
I often think back on one of my first interviews when I started in marketing:
I was after an Art Director role and, out of nowhere, the agency owner asks “so, are you an artist or a designer?”
Years later, I learned they offered me the job because I understood the question behind the question.
See, in the eyes of the agency owner, an “artist” will die on the hill, defending their creation.
In contrast, a “designer” will create whatever “art” it takes to make a client’s campaign successful.
There are two branching paths in front of you:
- Make whatever game you want.
- Make the game your audience wants.
Either choice is fine, so long as you’re checking your bias, and being honest with yourself about which choice you’re really making.
It’s easy to make something we think our audience wants.
It’s even easier to convince ourselves we’re right.
The guidelines I’ve provided in this series will help you stay focused but, your journey is just getting started — you’ll still want to get familiar with systems theory, paid traffic, and the nuances of rapid prototyping.
Those lessons are available, for free, in our Living Library.
Naturally, Wabbit offers its own suite of products and services as well.
One of those products is Wabbit EDU, our flagship multi-week masterclass on marketing. If you feel like you would benefit from personalized education in a community setting, click the link, read about the course, and consider if enrollment is right for you.
Whether it’s from us, or other veterans of the craft, make this commitment to yourself: never stop learning.
Listen to podcasts, GDC talks, webinars, join forums, read blogs and books of quality.
No matter what, we must remain open to new ideas and different perspectives.
But remember, the best teacher is experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them.
I know I can speak for all of us Wabbits when I say that we are eager to hear about your journey.
What marketing strategy are you proud of devising? Have you scored a victory with a unique marketing approach? Share your questions, triumphs and trials with our community in the comments below.
You never know who you might inspire.
Lastly, my fellow makers, thank you for the time you’ve spent here. It’s been my privilege to share our knowledge and experience with you. Now, as you step into the thrilling world of indie game marketing, the team and I raise our goblets to your impending victories and unparalleled success.
We are stronger together.
Founder of Wabbit