The thing I always find about marketing is that overdoing it makes me feel like a whore, but when everyone else is being a whore I have to just kind of think it's just me being proud and get over it.
Where strength really has shown with marketing is places on Desura, Twitter and other social media outlets, some-- like Tumblr and Reddit, I just will not touch. Maybe I'll change my mind on that in the future, Tumblr, okay, mayyyyybe?
Haha, nope, that's very likely to never happen.
So philosophically, what use is marketing?
Well, even when you aren't concerned with making cash, it's very important, you are your brand, and it pays to be true as you can to goals you set. I've never had an issue with being transparent about what me and my team is doing, what we're working on. I like letting our players be informed, our players are awesome, and their feedback, while not always actively implemented, is very appreciated!
I think being obstinate with details is both a good and bad thing, me and my team might tighten up once we get really popular, but since so far the sole representative is me, the one who does the systems designs, mechanics and often more art than is expected, I'm confident about what I tell players, and even when some object, that's good! That means, hmm, maybe I should make a compromise! It all comes down to what you do. For me, I'll never sacrifice gameplay for graphics, but there's a large difference in first look appeal and gameplay when you're marketing.
If people can at first glance, see a beautiful, well-tailored world with stunning environments, they don't even need to see gameplay to throw down their current plans at world domination and eagerly await a release, but even better is showing the gameplay and art direction in play together.
This is what I do when I make trailers, I record me actively playing the game, be that both in gameplay and cutscene stages, and most trailers these days feature gameplay because people started sussing out that pre-rendered trailers had the power to be brutally deceptive.
If you look at any trailer I've done, it's got raw gameplay footage. From P to E, from M to I, it's all shown because I stake myself highly in the gameplay area.
Trailers like this annoy me.
He does show gameplay, a whole 2 seconds of it (walking around the map doesn't really count), and most of the game is heavily pre-rendered or rendered-over with video editing software, like it wants to hide something.
There's more I could say, but it's not in my interests to bash this game, my point is that for marketing videos, it's pretty much worthless, it tells me nothing about the game except that you have to save a child. There's no real elements showing the developer himself even has a game to show, and heck, he might! But I can't see it!
This sums up bad marketing practises perfectly, you can't be this vague, because we may as well be buying a 10 dollar lucky dip.
Be open, you've got to get players on your side, I mean your developing games, you love doing that, but the people coveting or reviling those games are going to be players!
I think most adherents of the CCC know I'm not very good at coding, which is why I use a program like RPGmaker, I'm self-aware, and I'll even sometimes completely lampshade that I'm a douche.
All the creative ideas, the epic gameplay, the large amount of lore and intrigue in a games world, it's all visible in the trailer, I make trailers to show what the game has to offer, and what its message is.
There was an episode of Extra-credits about that.
But Marketing isn't solely reliant on trailers, you have to be relentless, and t's tiring, and can at the end of the day, make you feel like an outstretched whore, but...
The pay off can so often be worth it.
Only a year ago I'd have never used twitter, but it's incredibly useful, and offers some quick info I'd have a hard time otherwise acquiring.
My account is years old, and I've publicly admitted I made it purely to stalk Notch / Jeb and their progress on minecraft.
Now it's a very useful marketing tool. And if you want reliable updates on my progress, it's a good way to find it.
There's not much else I can really say on marketing, you'll get used to it after you realize you'll need it to compete, even as a free developer, there are many free games, and you're ultimately going to be judge on your trailer and press, because there's a lot of alternatives out there. Be your brand, and you'll have an audience in no time!