If you’ve found yourself reading this article then I can only assume that you’re either a game developer that uses or follows GameMaker Studio or that you’ve been tricked into reading it purely on the amazing title that I given this article, if that’s the case then all I’m going to say is you’ve made it this far, why not continue reading and see where it goes.
To sum up this article I’m going to be talking about the importance of having a website and the kind of role it could and should play when it comes to making a statement, building up a following and marketing your game(s).
What is a website?
Most people know what a website is and what it can be used for, or at least the younger generations should. If I was to sum up what a website is in one sentence I would say “A website is a platform for distributing information, media and the marketing of shops and products”. Well hopefully just by reading that one sentence you’ll get the jist of where I’m coming from and what you’ll get out of reading this article.
Getting Global Exposure
One of the biggest game killers for any game developer apart from over promising and under delivering is exposure, without exposure how do you expect anyone to know you or your game exists? There are many ways to get exposure, word of mouth, TV adverts, billboard posters game conventions but to name a few, which all apart from word of mouth cost serious cash and only hit a limited number of people. A website on the other hand has the potential for constant global exposure. If a country has the internet then you have the opportunity to get exposure with a website. A website is on 24 hours a day 7 days a week (unless your hosting provider is rubbish).
The Types of websites
There are several types of websites that you could use to promote your game, and they are all capable of being combined with each other to make a much larger more informative website.
A Development Blog
You could use the site as a development blog which would enable you to keep your many followers up to date on the progression of the game, this will enable you to keep drip feeding updates of the game and the progression of it’s development, which in turn increases hype.
Your website could be used to showcase your game and all of it’s features and why it’s so amazing. Including screenshots of in-game footage and media clips of you or someone else playing the game. Doing this gives people the opportunity to see firsthand what your game looks like and how it plays.
You could have an informative website which gives as much information about your game as possible, for example if the game is an RPG then you could have an entire section explaining about all of the different character types. This kind of website goes hand in hand with a showcase style site, so that you can pull in users with the fancy pictures and the amazing videos, then bedazzle (yes I said bedazzle) them with all of the features and cannon of your game.
Shop / ecommerce site is pretty much self-explanatory, if you are wanting to make some cash from your game then a shop style website is a good way to go. If you’re giving people the opportunity to buy directly from you then you are in complete control of the price you sell the game for, and don’t get stung by various commissions you’d get charged for selling your game through a 3rd party.
Ultimately there is nothing stopping you from combining all of what I have mentioned above, then again maybe you want to start off with a development blog and start churning up some hype, then gradually improve the site as the game develops into something more than just an idea.
Keeping the cost down
A lot of new game developers often don’t have the funds to advertise and get the name of their game out there via the various media platforms, a cheap yet extremely effective way to do this is, of course you guessed it a website, with a website it’s a fixed cost, you pay for your domain name (which is an annual subscription), anywhere between £/$0.99 to (just imagine a really big number). For the hosting there are some free but limiting solutions out there, or if you want something a little more flexible then you could find yourself paying £10.00 – £30.00 per year, or if you have a bit extra cash you could go as far as renting a dedicated server which gives you the maximum configuration options possible, but they tend to start from about £30.00 per month upward depending on provider and spec of the server.
For info: The GameMaker Blog is hosted with Vidahost and we’ve managed to secure you a 10% discount on hosting if you use the code: GMB2017
If you want cheaper hosting then I can also recommend BlueHost who currently have a sale on, offering hosting at just $3.95 per month.
Being that little more professional
By having a website for your game, you are telling your consumers that you’re more than just a 13 year old writing code in his/her bedroom,
“you’re telling them you’re a 13 year old who can build websites as well as games and that they should totally buy your game!”
you’re telling them you’re a developer that has taken the time to not only produce an amazing game, but you’ve also produced a site to showcase, inform about and hype up your game, as well as giving them the opportunity to contact you to discuss the game (assuming you’ve left some form of contact details on the site).
Making Money Without The Extra overhead
Another great thing about having a website is being able to have a platform whereby you can distribute your game. The cost of hosting is a fraction of what you’d have to pay if you were to have your game printed to disc, stored in a warehouse somewhere and shipped out to the consumers. Having the ability to automate the sale of your game from your website means once you’ve set everything up you can sit back and start work on some dlc or the next big title.
Using Social Media
This is the stats for my Twitter account in the past 28 days, as you can see I’ve put next to no effort into using it yet with just shy of 100 followers and 13 tweets I’ve had near 3000 impressions, granted impressions aren’t actually people seeing my post but it’s made it as far as their feed. However I’ve had 65 profile visits, which isn’t bad for the amount of effort I put into Twitter and if those 65 users see something they like they may pass on my information via a tweet or a retweet and more people will see what I’m up to and what games I’m working on and before I know it I’ve made millions through sales.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first article on GameMakerBlog, and with any luck I’ll be asked to write again.