Marketing Our Hosted Games

i think anyone that play text based games already know of hosted games and choice of games, more than marketing helping your sales it will be what type of game you make that make you sell more or less.

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It’s always interesting to see new ideas tossed around, and I’m curious to see the suggestions, but honestly I concluded a few years ago that marketing our Hosted Games as individual writers is just not cost effective.

I mean, our margins are very low, we depend on volume, most people don’t even understand our product, the app stores and the publisher do all the work for us, and the product itself is tucked inside an Omnibus app, which creates another layer of friction over which we have no control.

This is just much different than the situation independent authors (of traditional fiction/non fiction) find themselves in. They control the prices, they control special promotions, they can seek out avenues like bookbub, and people already know what novels are. Plus, their margins are (generally) higher.

Of course they also spend hundreds/thousands of dollars of their own money on editing, covers, and Amazon ads, so we have a relatively sweet deal. I just think our best business model boils down to “get your next IF project published!”

*a caveat to all of this is that if an IF writer can get a review on a big/influential blog/website, than that would change all of the above.

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It is still a new website, but https://ifadventure.com/ provides a spot to register your story for free, help increase its visibility a bit. Has a paid option for boosting who sees it as well.

Not a lot of sites regularly review or cover Choice games. IF stands at a crux between gaming and reading and is largely shunned by the press for both sides.

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I definitely agree that many people don’t know about interactive novels. I remember when I was a kid I couldn’t get away from CYOA books, but now I tell people “it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book but on the computer” and they look at me like I’ve grown a second head. :joy:

I think your caveat brings up another great point. There ISN’T a big, influential website that reviews IF games or indie queer games. The Yuri blog is the closest I could find, but I stumbled upon that site on accident. It’s a lot of piecemeal.

I’ll keep in mind that it might be best to focus more on the next project. Thanks for answering!

@hustlertwo OOOO, that website looks shiny! Thank you!

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That looks like a cool site from the 45 seconds I took to check it out. I didn’t know it existed!

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Chiming in to note that the most successful ‘marketing’ I’ve done by far (for my unpublished HG WIP, mind) has been through Tumblr; posting and sharing regularly on there with a dedicated account for my WIP has brought around 1,500 readers who stumbled upon the game nebulously, the majority of whom (so far as I’m aware) weren’t already aware of the game through the COG forums.

Also tagging in @Eric_Moser’s thread on author marketing from last year, this other old thread about game promotion and ROI, this ChoiceScript wiki article on Choice Game Marketing, and this list of author social media accounts in case anyone wants to add their own or take a peek at what others are doing. Oh, and this thread about social media platforms that are useful for talking about Hosted Games!

These aren’t necessarily specific leads, so I’m also going to throw out sub-q magazine, which I’ve heard about from @HannahPS. They’re a publication for interactive fiction and seem to do interviews and columns and news about IF, so maybe contacting them would be worth a shot!

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There is also http://gamebooknews.com/ who often review and discuss new CoG and HG.

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I know both Kotaku and Ars have recently posted about accepting pitches too, if someone wanted to pitch an article about IF games in general.

I don’t have any actionable ideas, but it seems like the fanfiction community would be a natural fit for IF games.

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Yep. I asked around about sponsored advertising in some areas that likely would have netted some people outside then normal HG sphere due to overlapping interest, but the amount for a single short shout out seemed to start at about $600-1000 from memory. No way that’d ever be cost effective for a game like Oedipus (I’m sure I would have been out of pocket by a big margin from cost to gain for trying that although I couldn’t be sure), and a gamble even for games that you’re fairly sure are going to go well without advertising. It doesn’t help that there’s no way to give out sample games to reviewers. (If your game is on steam I suppose you could buy keys, but if not I don’t think there’s any way to gift particular google or apple games.) I tried a small amount on facebook promotion posts, but didn’t really get enough views to justify it, and few likes of my actual facebook page, so I’m not convinced that is a cost effective way of promoting either. I agree, best recourse is to just continue writing stuff, rely on the audience already being there for HG’s (which is considerable) and otherwise hope for the best :slight_smile: .

NB: I do think tumbler accounts can be useful, but it’s also a trade off in the amount of time it requires to keep them active enough to be useful vs the time you have to continue working on another project. (I honestly don’t think I’d have the time to maintain one properly and so haven’t tried.)

@hustlertwo I’ve never seen that site before. Looks worthwhile looking through :slight_smile:
Edit: Tried to add a listing twice and there seems to be something wrong with the site at the moment as it errors out :frowning:

Also forgot to add: Everyone make sure you register your games at ifdb. It probably won’t increase the visibility of your games a heap, but it’s free and people do use it.

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Maybe this is a bit off-topic but I think the games section on the CoG websites are now too large, several games are shown in the same page in a huge list.

I think the usability would improve if the games were categorized by genre and maybe better organized. It was fine the way it was when there were less games but now there’s just too many to navigate with those large images.

Maybe this could improve things a little I think.

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Web design might be something they need to budget for. Hopefully a new catalog system is in the works sooner than later.

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Nice. I’ll be looking into these!

As for me, I am going the tumblr route because it is the medium I know. I’ve been on there since 2008, so while it does take time to nurture a fandom, it’s time well spent to me. Just the ability to see what people do with my story has increased my productivity a lot.

But word of mouth is very hard to predict, I’m still amazed I pulled it off.

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Oh snap, this wiki is cool!

https://ifdb.tads.org/

Totally feeling everyone here. I have market training/contacts in the indie book world that I thought would be helpful, but are ending up void due to lack of review copies.

@malinryden I’ve asked around before about using tumblr for CoG promotion. I checked it out and the tag seemed dead, with posts dating months back. I checked again last week and there are more posts and even lively discussions. So IDK if I want to start a platform on there or not. Have you tried Pillowfort or one of the other Tumblr 2.0 apps?

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I think that most people on tumblr use the tags for the games, not really for a central tag like choice of games sadly.

I haven’t tried Pillowfort, waiting for them to stabilize. I checked in when I was concerned that tumblr might go belly up last year, but so far I haven’t taken the step to go anywhere else. There seems to be no consensus on what the next cool site will be, but I’m keeping an eye on things. I ended up on tumblr after the livejournal strikethrough scandal, but it took some site hopping until tumblr (and AO3) became the place people went.

We’ll see, So far no other place has the feel I want. And I have no time to establish a new place, that’s why I picked tumblr. I already knew it. Could probably have made a case for Instagram too, but I can’t stand it. And Twitter is… twitter. I’m on there, but…

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I’ve always been a bit leery of Instagram. I’ve been told many times to get one for my photography, but the TOS make me a little nervous. If you read it, it basically says you give instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free transferable, sub-licence to use the content uploaded to its platform. So basically they can do what they want with your content without breaking copyright laws once it’s uploaded. Would they do it? Probably not (past use in advertising for themselves) as the backlash would be huge if people found out. Could they sell off your work or allow others to use it in some fashion if they wanted to without asking you for permission first? The wording of that licence makes me think they potentially could. (People can correct me if I’m wrong here.) Anyway, it’s unlikely to happen, but the wording of that licence has always struck me as unnecessarily broad in the way Instagram can use anything you post.

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@Jacic Agree on all counts. I never really got into Instagram to begin with, because my visual sensibilities struggle. Then I learned they’re owned by Facebook and I was definitely like naaaaaaah.

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I also feel like Instagram isn’t exactly a place where IF writers congregate, especially not text-based IF writers lol.

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Hey friends! Got a successful shout out so I thought I’d share. If you’re not familiar with Writing with Color, they’re a tumblr blog with a ton of great resources for writing characters of color. I read them a lot. :smile:

Back in December, I saw a post calling for blog readers to submit books (or book-like things) to be featured as WWC Reader Publications. It took awhile, but it happened and just in time for Valentine’s!

With 600+ notes at no cost to me, I’m pretty pleased. The downside is the promo only comes around once a year.

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Hey friends! I dug up a new marketing opportunity. I found a Sapphic Book Club on tumblr/twitter, contacted the host (Lara) via email. She wrote a GoodReads review of Moonrise and featured me as an author spotlight. She didn’t have a set price for her service,s and I kinda of ballparked it around $40. I haven’t seen an uptick in sales, though that might be because my self-promotion skills have been lacking lately. However, I did get messages from other queer friends that they saw my name and game, without me telling them to go look. So that was encouraging :grinning:

Lara’s GoodReads Review: Lara (SapphicBookClub)’s review of Moonrise

Sapphic Book Club post: Sapphic Book Club

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Hey all! After taking a marketing hiatus due to [makes vague gesture at everything], I’ve gotten back into the grind. Some more resources that may help:

  • Interactive Fiction Database. I failed to investigate it in time for Moonrise to be eligible for their yearly XYZZY awards. I honestly didn’t know about the awards until Creme de la Creme won! Congrats!!!
  • TV Tropes. If I’m remembering rightly, there was another thread on the forum that asked players how they found IF. Most said by scrolling twine or these forums, but one person said TV Tropes. Plus, it’s like a ridiculous amount of fun to add one’s game to the wiki. Make sure to index it back to Choice of Games/Hosted Games.
  • techradar’s “Queer indie games deserve more recognition” article led down some interesting rabbit trails. And it’s worth the read for its discussion of how players and game journalists settle for not-as-good rep in big budget games, instead of taking pains to find and celebrate stellar rep in not-as-known games.
  • Qweerty Games is a nonprofit organization that does fundraising for various queer causes and works with big companies to host events/provide resources for queer game devs. They also post Top 10 articles and reviews, so I emailed them asking if they’d consider doing a piece about interactive fiction. More relevant here, they have micro-grants for queer indie devs.
  • Queerly Represent Me is a nonprofit focused on helping marginalized communities through resources, training, and support. They specialize in the game industry. Relevant here, they have a page of resources and a database of LGBTQ games. There are lots of Choice of Games listed already, and make sure yours is there too!
  • I Need Diverse Games is a powerhouse of games journalism, and anyone can email them a game rec or article pitch. I emailed them about Choice of Games. It doesn’t seem like they’ve covered interactive fiction before.

Hope everyone is doing best as can be in these times! It’s cold as frick here. I’m typing from under a blanket and 3 pillows. The fuzzy socks are ON.

EDIT 05/13/2021: Someone on Twitter made an awesome thread about how indie creators need more support, because a sea change in indie gaming will make AAA game companies take note. This triggered a similar thought in my head about how gamers don’t have time to do deep Internet searches for queer + trans games, I made a big o’l rec list of sites to start looking. Most of it I’ve already posted in this thread, but some new places people could check out, so I’m sharing it here too!

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