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How to Promote Your Serious Game

Filament Games | Educational Game Developer

At Filament, our objective is to design and develop the best learning games possible based on your learning objectives, audience, and budget considerations. While a robust understanding of your go-to-market strategy will aid our team in designing with these considerations in mind, we do not direct how you will disseminate and promote your serious game.

That said, we have included the below list of ideas and tactics that we have seen previous clients successfully utilize in the past. Each week, hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of new games are launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Years ago, developers could rely on app store users simply browsing and discovering their game organically – however, this is no longer the case. It’s up to your organization to help spread the word and direct people towards your game. See below for a list of strategies that we’ve seen other clients use for promoting serious games:

Activate Your Existing Audience

Oftentimes, the users who are most likely to play your game are existing supporters and followers of your organization. Use your email lists, social media presence, and other marketing channels to tell people about your intention to make a game, and then keep them engaged throughout the development process with updates and previews. This will help your existing fanbase to feel like they are insiders, priming them to accept your big ask – to help spread the word about your game on launch day!

Make a Big Splash on Launch Day

“You only have one chance to make a good impression” is a saying that is very much true when you are launching a free-to-play serious game. Your goal should be to make as much noise as possible on release day in hopes of getting the attention of users, press, and other interested parties. Accomplishing this requires coordinating your resources and efforts ahead of time in order to maximize the impact of your launch efforts. Aside from announcing the game to your own email lists and social media accounts, here are some tactics for amplifying your launch:

  • Reach Out to the Media. Consider press outlets, blogs, and other organizations who might be interested in writing about your game, and reach out to them 2-3 weeks ahead of launch with a digital press kit. Our recommendation is to research writers who have previously written about serious or educational games, and then pitch your game to them directly whenever possible. It’s better to reach out to specific individuals at these outlets rather than submitting your press kit to a generic contact form.  
  • Coordinate Your Launch Day With Us. If you hire us to make your game, we’d be happy to leverage our own social media accounts to promote your game launch. Our followers love hearing about what we’ve been up to and are eager to try new games. Our studio is currently active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • Partner With Other Organizations. You most likely have organizations that you know and love with missions that align with yours. Reach out to them and ask permission to use their email list and social media accounts to promote your game to their followers on launch day. Include written copy, images, GIFs, and a hashtag that they can use directly or use for inspiration. Once they post on social media, be sure to share their posts through your own social media accounts to maximize reach.
  • Ask Connected Individuals In Your Organization To Spread the Word. Think about who at your organization has the largest and most active followers and ask them if they would be willing to use their social media accounts and email lists to amplify your game on launch day. While we don’t recommend organizations force their employees to leverage their personal social media accounts for their organization’s benefit, you can encourage it, and even provide them with copy, images, GIFs and hashtags to make it easier for them.

Expand Your Audience With New Tactics

While your intention should be to maximize the number of users who play your game on launch day, there exist plenty of ways to continue growing your playerbase after launch. Here are a few strategies for reaching new users:

  • Encourage Your Existing Players to Spread the Word. Once you have established your initial playerbase, you want to keep them excited and engaged with your game so they share it with people they know. You can encourage players to help spread the word first by just asking, but also by putting together incentives, contests, and social media games to help encourage this behavior.
  • Keep Promoting Your Serious Game. Continue to use your email lists and social media to talk about your game. When your committee members speak at events or to the public, ask them to talk about your game. One useful tactic is having your speaker take a moment in their presentation to request that audience members take out their phones, download the game, and play the first minute or two of the game alongside the speaker. That gets players through the biggest hurdle – simply downloading the game to their device!
  • Include Your Game in Places Where People Are Already Playing Similar Games.  Try to identify game curators and game sites that aggregate free educational content, and evaluate if it’s worth your time to get mentioned or integrated into their site. Instead of relying on players finding about your game through your website, look for places where users are already seeking out serious games. 
  • Submit Your Game for Awards For a Wider Reach.  There are several high visibility award programs that you can enter your game for to get more recognition such as the Webby Awards, the Games For Change Awards, and the Serious Play Awards. Most require a fee to enter – however if you are selected as a nominee or winner, these organizations will promote your game and further increase your visibility.

Paid Promotion Strategies

If you decide to invest money in promoting your game, there are several ways you can do that via web ads, social media ads/boosts, and SEO optimization. We generally recommend starting with small tests of any paid promotion tactic before investing large sums of money into one particular strategy.  You can additionally explore the possibility of hiring a firm to create and execute a paid promotion plan customized to your budget and desired outcomes. 

Interested in learning more about making learning games? Check out these articles:

Webinar: Video Games and Interactive Learning Strategies for EDU Publishers

Digital Games for Remote Instruction

How Game-Based Learning Fosters the “4 Cs” of 21st Century Learning

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