Free Indie Game Marketing WordPress Plugin

{Creating a good game is hard, but that’s only half the battle. If you don’t market your game, chances are fewer people will end up playing it! To help you promote your video game, I created Indiedev Game Marketer, which is a free & open source WordPress plugin, forever free and forever without a premium version to buy.

Integrates With Your WordPress Plugins & Themes
Create & Distribute Your Press Releases
Auto post your #screenshotsaturday & more
Create Presskits for Your Games
Convert Your Traffic into Steam Greenlight Votes
Free, Open Source, No Paid Addons: Forever

You know that making a good game is hard, but that making a good marketing campaign is usually just as hard, especially if you don’t come from a marketing background. Time is money, so this plugin aims to help you more effectively market your games, without increasing the cost of marketing. However, this plugin is just a tool that covers the bare minimums, and while it hopefully makes your life a little easier, the hard work of marketing is still up to you to complete.

indie game marketing

Introduction – or “Why I Made an Indie Game Marketing WordPress Plugin”

I was inspired heavily by Rami Ismail‘s presskit(), which if you’re not familiar, is a legendary standalone PHP system to create presskits. Rami is half of Vlambeer, who created Nuclear Throne and Super Crate Box, among other games, but I had downloaded presskit() before I was aware of any their games and presskit() made a lasting impression on me.


I’ve been using and developing with WordPress for almost a decade, so while I did try presskit() on a local test server, the fact that it was standalone turned me off from deploying it for my live presskit needs. I decided to follow Rami’s lead and make an open source tool for indie game marketing, but I didn’t want to directly port presskit() to WordPress because I also wanted to provide additional tools. So, while being swamped with my own gamedev load, I took a few weeks off from Daath Origins development and coded this tool for you instead.

If you like this tool then please take a moment and vote yes or no on the Daath Origins Steam Greenlight campaign.

Steam Greenlight marketing

Download

IndieDev Game Marketer

Beta version. Licensed under the GPL v2.

Installation

The easiest way to install this plugin is to go to your site’s wp-admin Dashboard, click Plugins > Add New then search for “indiedev” without the quotes. Then click the Install button for Indiedev Game Marketer, then the Activate button. With the plugin activated, find Indiedev Game Marketer in the wp-admin menu, and click it to bring up the settings page. For maximum indie game marketing effectiveness, make sure you configure the software after installation. Alternatively, here are the manual installation instructions:

Click to expand `Manual Installation Instructions`

Configuring & Setting Up IndieDev Game Marketer

sidebar

Now that you’ve successfully installed and activated the plugin, the next step is configure the plugin so that it’s useful for your indie game marketing needs.

To work with IndieDev Game Marketer, you will need access to your WordPress Dashboard, which I’ll call wp-admin for the rest of this document.



To begin, enter your WordPress Dashboard and goto wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > which will load this page:

settings

There are quite a few settings. For now, we’ll ignore the “Use Default CSS” setting and the “Twitter Settings.” I’ll cover both near the end of this article in their respective sections.

Continuing on, we’ll look at how to set up IndieDev Game Marketer in the recommended order so that you’re up and running as soon as possible, first with your company, then with a game, and finally on to subjects such as creating Presskits and Press Releases.

Setting Up Your Company

When you click on the Settings tab you will find a lot of company settings. You should start by filling out this information, even if you do not represent a company. By defining this information in the admin panel, you will not have to re-enter it when creating press releases or press kits, and can also use shortcodes to automatically insert this into pages, posts, or any plugins which accept shortcodes. You can view most of the available shortcodes below.

Click to expand a full breakdown of all `Company Settings`

Creating Your First Game

After setting up your company information in the Settings tab and saving, it’s time to move on to adding a game. To add new games, visit wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > then click on the Games tab, and then click Add New Game:

add_new

When you click the Add New Game button, a giant form is presented, allowing you to define many aspects of your game. You do not need to provide a value for everything possible, but at a bare minimum I recommend filling out these fields:

Game Name, Short Description, Long Description, Genres, Logo, Icon, Developer, Publisher, Multiplayer, Platform One, and Release Date on Platform One.

However, for early projects or placeholder games, feel free to fill out just the name and save it. Later you can come back to wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > and click on the Games tab and then find your game by it’s name, then click the Edit button to fill in additional details. You can also delete games by clicking the Delete button. Note that no posts or promos related to the game are deleted at this time, although I’ll fix that in a future revision.

Click to expand a full breakdown of all `Game Settings`

Adding Screenshots, Trailers & Other Game Promotional Assets

Making a Presskit for your game starts by defining your game, which you’ve already done. However, the basic game information you’ve provided so far only covers the essential facts, and so in this phase we will be adding all the game promotional assets such as screenshots, videos, and more that will make up the bulk of your game’s presskit.

add_promo

To add a new Game Promo, goto wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > Add Game Promo. You can edit existing items at wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > All Promo Materials. Game Promos are like WordPress Pages, except that they are combined and rendered together on to a single Page. This means that you can use any WordPress plugins or shortcodes with your Game Promos.



promos

Game Promos use the native WordPress editor, but there are a couple of differences to pay attention to that are important. Below the post, is a drop down box labeled Which game is this for? This setting associates the current Game Promo with a specific game. The next thing to notice is underneath the Publish box, instead of a Category box, we have a Game Promo Types box.

The default Game Promo Types are Screenshots, Awards, Press Coverage, and Videos. Each Game Promo Type represents a section in your game’s presskit, but if there are no Game Promos for a specific type on a specific game, the presskit for that game will not render the section. You can add new Game Promo Types at any time, which will create a new section in any game’s presskit that has at least one Game Promo of that type to display.

edit_promo

Creating a Presskit

The process of putting content into your presskit has already been covered above. Once you’ve created a game you can actually create a presskit immediately. All of you have to do is go to wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer and then click on the Press Kits tab. Then, click the Create Page button next to the game you wish to create a presskit for.

new_presskit

What does that do exactly? Well it creates a standard WordPress page and put this shortcode in it, although the game=1 will be different depending on your game.
[indiedev display=presskit game=1]

Since you’ve got a standard WordPress Page, all your favorite SEO plugins, shortcodes, and other WordPress Page related features will work as you expect, which can be very handy for indie game marketing. However, let’s take a closer look at what the above shortcode does and what it outputs. Here are the default contents of this shortcode (assuming you filled out all possible options for your game.)

  • Contents – An automatically generated table of contents to your game’s presskit.
  • Factsheet – All the very basic information about the game, including developers, publishers, platforms, initial release date and retail price.
  • Description – A section that starts with your game’s Quick Description, which is immediately followed by the game’s Full Description.
  • Game Promos – This is the meat of your presskit. If you made Game Promo posts with all the default Game Promo Types, then the order will be Videos, Screenshots, Press Coverage, and Awards. This is because Game Promos are presented in DESC alphabetical order, so if you created a Game Promo Type called Zebras and then made a Game Promo with that type for your game, then the Zebras section would come before the Videos section. I intend to add a manual sorting option in one of the next updates.
  • Logo & Icon – The logo and icon you defined for the game.
  • Press Releases – A link to all the press releases you’ve published for the game.
  • About YOUR COMPANY – This section is titled based off of the Company Name you defined, and it displays the Company Description.
  • Credits – Lists all the developers, publishers, distributors, producers, designers, programmers, artists, writers and composers that you defined for the game.
  • Contact – Lists all contact information you listed for the company, including the Main Press Email, Company Website, Company PR Phone, Company Facebook, Company Twitter, and Company YouTube Channel.

Creating & Distributing Press Releases

Press releases are one of the best tools you have for indie game marketing. To add a new press release, go to wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > Add Press Release. You can edit existing press releases by clicking Edit next to the one you want to edit, on this page: wp-admin > IndieDev Game Marketer > All Press Releases

I personally write my press releases in Word, and then save to multiple formats such as docx and pdf, but I’ve also been a firm believer of hosting a copy of each press release on my company’s website. The benefit of publishing all your game’s press releases through this plugin is that links to each one will appear in the Press Release section of your game’s presskit automatically. This means it is beneficial to publish even older press releases from before you started using the plugin (just make sure you change the date to accurately reflect the date your press release was first published.)

press-release

If you want to insert a barebones press release structure, press the Indiedev Game Marketer TinyMCE button and then click the Press Release Template button. This will insert an entire press release template for you to begin with, which may be useful to you if you’re new to press releases or just need to knock one out quickly. However, I recommend using Word, LibreOffice or another dedicated word processor instead of this plugin in most cases.

Social Media

The Social Media tab is currently centered around Twitter, but this leaves room for future improvements. In the meantime, before you begin to use the Twitter autoposting tool, you’ll first need to set up OAuth in the Settings tab in the Twitter Settings section. Note that PHP 5.5 and the OpenSSL extension are both required for Twitter functionality to work.

Setting Up Twitter OAuth
  • apps-twitter
    1. You will need to create a new Twitter App. Go to https://apps.twitter.com and click Create New App. You may be prompted to log in before you can create a new app.
  • 2. Fill out the settings for Name, Description, Website, and leave Callback URL blank. Read and agree to the Twitter Developer Agreement, then click the Create your Twitter application button.
  • 3. Open your new Twitter App, and then click on the Keys and Access Tokens tab. Make sure Access Level is set to Read and Write, if it is not, click modify app permissions and change it to Read and Write.
  • 4. Scroll to the Applications Settings section. You need to copy 2 values into the Indiedev Game Marketer settings. Those values are Consumer Key (API Key) which should be placed in the Consumer Key (API Key) setting, and Consumer Secret (API Secret) which should be copied to the Consumer Secret (API Secret) setting.
  • 5. Scroll down to the Your Access Token section on your Twitter Apps page.. You need to copy 2 more values into the Indiedev Game Marketer settings. Those values are Access Token which should be placed in the OAuth Token setting, and Access Token Secret which should be copied to the OAuth Secret setting. Click the Save Changes button to save your Indiedev Game Marketer settings.
  • 6. With all 4 Twitter Settings saved, a new button appears in the Twitter Settings section which is labeled “Test Twitter Authentication.” Click that button to insure your Twitter authentication is working correctly.
Using the Twitter Autoposter

Why use this over TweetDeck or another tool? Well, you can schedule tweets that include shortcodes… so anything that outputs a shortcode can be automatically tweeted, which can’t be done on TweetDeck. You can also select images from your WordPress Media Library to tweet. This tool is a bit rough at the moment, as there are no graceful error messages when tweets fail (for instance) so the documentation here is going to remain barebones until I finish this tool. I have several things in mind to make Twitter life easier for indiedevs, but I’ve yet to implement them fully. Check back soon and autoupdate the plugin for more features soon!

The More Tab

This section links to other indie game marketing tools and resources.

Getting More Greenlight Votes

Did you know that if you’re not opening up the Steam Client when someone visits your Greenlight page, that they are most likely blocked from voting until they 1) log in, 2) authenticate with Steam Guard 3) check their email or text messages for the code from Steam Guard 4) enter the code into the Steam Client 5) and finally reclick your link to get taken back to your Greenlight. That’s 5 steps just to vote, so most of the traffic you’re direct externally to Steam Greenlight is resulting in no votes! Unfortunately, you can’t use Steam Client

When you fill out and save the Greenlight URL setting for each game, you’re able to utilize a tool that is designed to convert more of your Greenlight’s traffic into actual voters! Basically, instead of giving out your Greenlight URL directly, you use links like this:

http://yoursitesname.com/yourPathToWordpress/index.php?greenlight=X

where X is the ID of your game (the number before the game’s name on the Edit Game list.) This special link will attempt to open the Steam Client to get more direct votes, bypassing Steam Guard and making it only 1 step to vote instead of 5, but it will also load the Steam Greenlight in the browser as a fallback, to maximize compatibility! This is based on this stand alone PHP Greenlight tool that I wrote, so if you want a more detailed explanation of how it works, I recommend reading that blog post.

Shortcodes

This plugin takes in a lot of your input, and luckily you can

Company shortcodes allow you to embed company information into pages, posts and other shortcode supporting plugins, so that the information always stays current. Change “label” to “true” have a label describing the setting printed out in front of the information.

  • [indiedev display=name label=false] – Display the Company Name.
  • [indiedev display=companydesc label=false] – Display the Company Description.
  • [indiedev display=location label=false] – Display the Company Location.
  • [indiedev display=roles label=false] – Display the Company Primary and Secondary Business Activity.
  • [indiedev display=email label=false] – Outputs a hyperlink to the Company Main Press Email address
  • [indiedev display=website label=false] – Outputs a hyperlink to the Company Website
  • [indiedev display=facebook label=false] – Outputs a hyperlink to the Company Facebook
  • [indiedev display=twitter label=false] – Outputs a hyperlink to the Company Twitter
  • [indiedev display=youtube label=false] – Outputs a hyperlink to the Company YouTube Channel
  • [indiedev display=phone label=false] – Display the Company PR Phone number

Widgets

I’ll be adding widgets for everything in one of the next few updates.

CSS for Styling

For some users, the default styles provided by your theme will suffice in terms of the aesthetics of the content produced by this plugin’s shortcodes. However, other users may want to use CSS to change how the output of this plugin looks on their site. To that end, here is a full list of classes this plugin outputs:

  • .indiedev-list – Attached to all “UL” tags.
  • .indiedev-list-item – Attached to all “LI” tags.
  • .indiedev-label – Attached to all labels, attached to the “STRONG” tags.
  • .indiedev-link – Attached to all “A” link tags.
  • .indiedev-presskit – Attached to “DIV” tags on the presskits pages that wrap around each section.
  • .indiedev-h3 – Attached to all “H3” tags, used on the presskits.
  • .indiedev-h4 – Attached to all “H4” tags, used on the presskits.
  • .indiedev-presskit-wrap – Attached to the “DIV” tag that surrounds each presskit.
  • .indiedev-presskit-top – Attached to the “DIV” tags that surrounds the table of contents and factsheet sections of the presskit.
  • .indiedev-presskit-bottom – Attached to the “DIV” tags that surrounds the credits and contact sections of the presskit.
  • .indiedev-presskit-content – Attached to the “DIV” tag that surrounds each presskit, but inside of .indiedev-presskit-wrap.
  • .indiedev-presskit – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding each presskit.
  • .indiedev-presskit-entry – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding each section in a presskit.
  • .indiedev-presskit-toc – Attached to “DIV” tag surrounding the presskit table of contents section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-factsheet – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the presskit factsheet section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-description – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the presskit description section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-logo – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the presskit icon & logo section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-press-releases – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the press release section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-credits – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the presskit credits section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-contact – Attached to “DIV” tags surrounding the presskit contact section.
  • .indiedev-presskit-entry – Attached to “DIV” tags on the presskits .

Bugs, Known Issues, & Future Development Roadmap

While I did my best to weed out all the bugs in the couple of months I spent making this plugin, there are some notable issues present in these first versions that I will need to patch. There are also a few missing features, and undoubtedly many bugs I failed to catch at all. If you find a bug, please let me know so I can fix it! Without further ado, here are the known issues and when I intend to fix them:

  • BUG: Failure to autopost to Twitter provides no visible feedback. The next several releases will address this obvious issue.
  • MISSING FEATURE: No ability to manually sort the sections on a game’s presskit. It will take me a few releases, but each game will get a drag & drop solution for reordering where the sections appear.
  • MISSING FEATURE: No ability to edit scheduled Tweets. Currently you have to delete the old scheduled Tweet and then create a new one.
  • MISSING FEATURE: Right now, although you can use shortcodes in Tweets, you cannot auto-attach images. I plan to add that ability in a future revision.
  • PLANNED FEATURE: Widgets. Plan on adding a bunch in an update because they’re quick and easy to do.

Conclusion

Indie game marketing is difficult, so I hope this tool helps you with the challenges you face in promoting your game. This tool is a work in progress, and I intend to smooth out the rough edges, but I’ll need your questions, comments, concerns, and critical comments do it effectively, so please comment below! I would love to hear your feedback, both negative and positive, so that I can make this the best tool for indie game marketing. Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this content, please take a second to vote yes or no on Steam Greenlight for Daath Origins. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. Version 1.0.1 (beta) is available now. The main change in this update is the inclusion of WordPress MultiSite support, including Network Activation.

  2. Updated to 1.0.3 (Now hosted in the WordPress plugin repository for easy upgrading.)

    = 1.0.3 =
    * 4th beta release.
    * Added: Each game platform can now have a URL associated with it. On the presskit, each platform with a provided URL will be hyperlinked to that URL.
    * Fixed: Patched a problem where settings only created usable links when using the complete syntax, i.e. “http://” must preface the URL. You can omit or include the http or https without consequence.
    * Fixed: Now you can enter the Company Facebook and Twitter URL settings in most manners and still get a usable link on presskits and in shortcodes.
    * Fixed: Patched an issue where Greenlight URLs were not loading into the Edit Game form, causing them to be lost after editing games.
    * Fixed: Corrected an issue where the Game Engine wasn’t saving and also wasn’t displaying on the presskit even when saved.
    * Fixed: In Chrome on presskits, using the default CSS, multiple columns were spilling over. The CSS was updated and now seems to properly work on Chrome.

  3. Chosker

    Hey thanks for this awesome plugin!

    I found a bug though: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/cant-save-my-game/
    I can’t really use the plugin atm :/

    1. I’m looking into this now and will post a follow up when I have a solution for you. Thank you!

  4. Hey. I love that you created this, but there is an issues when I try to activate it. It states that: Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘[‘ in the file …/indiedev-game-marketer/admin/class-indiedev-game-marketer-admin.php on line 1679

    Any help would be appreciated. I dont want to edit the code and totally break the plugin. Thanks for your help!

    1. I’ve attempted to solve your issue with version 1.0.5, available now. Please let me know if the problem is resolved or not! Thanks for your help and patience in this matter.

      1. Thanks for the response. So, I got the update and received a new, but similar error:

        Parse error: syntax error, unexpected [, expecting ) in …/indiedev-game-marketer/admin/class-indiedev-game-marketer-admin.php on line 1682

        As an fyi, after receiving the error adter the update, I uninstalled and then reinstalled just to make sure and the error still exhisted… thanks for workijg on this 🙂

        1. From that sounds of that, I’m guessing you’re using an old version of PHP. That parse error makes me think you’re on PHP 5.2, which was released in 2006, and was no longer officially supported in 2011. I think PHP 5.4 would fix your issues, but even that has been unsupported for a few years. PHP 5.6 is supported until 2018, but PHP 7 is really where it’s at (big performance improvements.) PHP 5.6 is the minimum supported version of PHP for this plugin (and the minimum version still under active maintenance by Zend.) Let me know if I’ve correctly diagnosed your issue.

          1. omg… that worked.. lol. I had no idea my website was using such an old version of PHP!!?? Last year I switch to a new web host, and on my previous host, 5.5 was what I had it set to , so I never thought to check that such an old version was being used. Thank you! Now I can check out your plugin 😀

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