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!
Why use this plugin at all? Aside from helping you assemble press kits for your games, another vital feature is that if information changes about your game, then you only need to change your game once and it will update across your website.
For example, if you delay your game, you simply change the release date in the admin panel, and then your press releases, game store pages, and any blog entries where you inserted the game’s release date (using a block or shortcode) will now have the accurate day. This saves you the hassle of manually editing game or company information across your website any time you change something about your game.
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.
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.
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:
Configuring & Setting Up IndieDev Game Marketer
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
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. Let me know in the comment section below if you’re actually using this feature as I am considering removing it altogether.
The More Tab
This section links to other indie game marketing tools and resources.
New in version 2.0 is support for Gutenberg in the form a Block. You can find it in the editor under the “IndieDev Game Marketer” section of the blocks menu. The classic editor is still supported. The available blocks are called “Game Company Info” and “Game Info” and they allow you to put any individual or full section into a block. You can also output
Company shortcodes allow you to embed company information into pages, posts and other shortcode supporting plugins, so that the information always stays current. Game shortcodes allow you to embed information about a specific game. Change “label” to “true” have a label describing the setting printed out in front of the information.
- [indiedev display=presskit game=1] – Displays the presskit for game 1, where 1 is replaced by the ID of your game (id found on the Games tab.)
- [indiedev display=company label=false] – Displays everything about the company.
- [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
In addition, if you supply a game id in a shortcode, you can use the following values as display:
name, logo, icon, small_desc, long_desc, genres, multiplayer, home_url, developers, publishers, distributors, producers, designers, programmers, artists, writers, composers, community_managers, pr_managers, social_media_manager, game_engine, franchise_series, platform_a, release_date_a, platform_b, release_date_b, platform_c, release_date_c, platform_d, release_date_d, platform_e, release_date_e, platform_f, release_date_f, platform_g, release_date_g, platform_h, release_date_h, platform_i, release_date_i, platform_j, release_date_j
So to display the programmers for game 2, you would use this shortcode:
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
I hadn’t updated this plugin in over 2 years, as I was very busy and not happy about Gutenberg from the initial betas. However, a developer asked me to continue to support the plugin. As a result I fixed a bunch of things, and added support for Gutenberg. The point is, this plugin is for you. If you use it, tell me on Twitter or in the comments below what you like, dislike and what you’d like to see from this project in the future.
You can find a list of patched issues and other changes at the changelog here:
- BUG: Failure to autopost to Twitter provides no visible feedback.
- MISSING FEATURE: No ability to manually sort the sections on a game’s presskit.
- 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.
- PLANNED FEATURE: Widgets. Plan on adding them.
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 follow us on Twitter. Thank you!