Marketing & Podcasts

Started by Sebastian K. Hickey, August 27, 2009, 10:46:23 PM

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Sebastian K. Hickey

Hi guys,

I'm writing a game.  I'm also building a website.  During the creation, design, scheduling and implementation of the RPG project, I thought it would be prudent to keep an eye on publicity.  My thinking is that the earlier I put myself in the public view, the better.  Or maybe that's just rubbish.  What do you think?

To support the website, I'm recording a games design podcast, a sort of docu-study of my journey through the design of a tabletop RPG.  Every week or so during the next few months, I'll be posting podcasts of the design process.  I thought it would be interesting, in the future, for other designers to listen to how my game was made, whether or not it succeeds.

Has anyone else done something like this?  Do you think I should try to circulate the podcast, or should I sit on it for a while until I'm sure of the quality?  I suppose that last question leaks my insecurity.  I'm anxious that the podcast is a bit dry.  That is, maybe it's too dull, or dreary, or under-prepared, rambling, off message or naive.  Do I think of the podcast as a vehicle for marketing?  If so, I should probably make sure it 'sells'.  Or do I think of it as a forum for design feedback?  In which case I should think more about an informed audience.

In summary, these are the questions I'd like to get help on:

1) How early should one start to market?
2) What's the best avenue to get started marketing, once the time is right?
3) Could a podcast on games design hurt the project?
4) How should I think about the podcast - Marketing vs. Feedback?
5) Are there any posts in the forum that summarise a strong marketing strategy?

Kind regards,


Sebastian K. Hickey

Pretty boring topic.

Reading back over it, it stinks of ego.  It looks like more of an ad than a set of questions.  Sorry about that.

I was/am anxious about my fledgling project and although I'm sure it will whisper away unsuccessfully once it's finally complete, I still want to give it every chance of success.  That's why I was looking at marketing.  Perhaps it's not something I should concern myself with now.  Could someone help me to close this topic please?

Ron Edwards

Hi Sebastian,

Fortunately, there's a fair amount of history to work with to help you sort out your thinking about the idea. About ten years ago, a number of people kept public Game Design Journals as a form of promotion, particularly since doing it mainly by yourself had not been considered a selling point previously. John Wick did it with Orkworld most successfully. However, overall, my take on that tactic is that it tended to distract from the work. People tended to put a lot of energy into the reportage, and sooner or later, the reportage started to be about why the person hadn't done much since the last time they reported, and the project would hit a death spiral. I commented pretty freely on that topic regarding Legends of Alyria, which you can see in my review from long ago.

I stress that I cannot say the following as a conclusion or as advice, but it is possible that a public design process (in the sense of detailed commentary) works best for someone whose work is already doing well commercially. For everyone else, I am a big advocate of making use of public spaces for promotion while designing - obviously! - but I favor more interactive and specific discussions, when needed, rather than an ongoing "what I did today" activity.

Can anyone else speak to the activity of reporting upon one's own design activities as one goes along, particularly from that period of about 1999-2004, when it was kind of a thing?

Best, Ron

Robert Bohl

Sebastian, Joshua and I are doing this right now! That's pretty funny. To answer your questions from my perspective:

1) It's never too early IMO, especially in indie game design.
2) Podcasts are a good way but listen to what Ron says.
3) It could certainly hurt the project, but it probably won't if you make something of high quality that's worth listening to.
4) I don't know that there's too much of a distinction between marketing and feedback. Maybe putting one in primary place would be good. I have found that for my projects, I don't get a lot of feedback, but my main podcast doesn't have a forum so that's probably part of why.
5) Can't help there.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Sebastian K. Hickey

Thanks guys.  Good luck with your while-it-happens game design, Robert.  Fun idea!

Ron, I was already getting caught up too much with the podcast/publicity, even at this early stage.  Thanks for keeping me on the right track.  The podcast is going on the back burner so I can get back to the drawing board.  If anyone wants to listen to it, each episode is 7 mins long.  I'll update it once a month.

Cheers guys.

(I guess you can close this thread now)

Nathan P.

One thing to keep in mind is that a podcast (like a design journal, or really anything else on the internet) can serve as a marketing tool after the game is released. People want to know something about a game before they buy, and having a series of 7-minute audio files on your website that talk about the game sure can't hurt. Also, if they're up on iTunes or otherwise out there in the pod-o-sphere, you can potentially pull listeners to your website via the podcast for as long as the files are up. My main point is that marketing is something you continually do, and aiming your pre-release marketing towards the goal of also serving as post-release marketing is probably going to be helpful.

Also, I think it is possible to start marketing too early. But I think that that's probably a topic for another thread, unless you want to discuss it here, Sebastian.
Nathan P.
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I blog | Games, Design & Game Design
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Sebastian K. Hickey

Hi Nathan.

Good points.  Well made.  In regard to marketing too early, I'm not sure it would suit the forum etiquette to shoot off topic, so I'm going to start another thread.  Perhaps you could offer your advice there?  I'd really like to hear from your experience.