How to Market an Indie Game

BT: How are you marketing Frozen Synapse, given that you can’t compete in terms of budget with larger publishers?

PT: We started off with an approach centred on releasing interesting trailers and getting as much PR as we could. People have criticised our PR for not being widespread enough, so I asked for a list of sites that we should be on that haven't currently covered the game: didn't get much of a response to that as we've hit quite a lot of targets! We've been on everything from big sites like Eurogamer, Gamespot and Joystiq to quite small niche blogs: we're really working hard on it.

I'm aware that we have some work to do in countries like Germany to get the message out, so I will be working on that.

We’ll also be advertising the game: this is something that a lot of indies don't do, especially at an early stage, but we've proved that it can work on a small scale so it's time to boost that side of things. I don't like having to do that, particularly, I would love everything to be driven by word of mouth but that's generally a fantasy. Having said that, our community are amazing at helping out with things so I want to publically express my thanks to them.

One big part of marketing is targeting your product and making something that people identify with and want to share – I feel like we've accomplished that and now it's time to go and make the most of it – it's an ongoing challenge.

Frozen Synapse Interview How to Market an Indie Game
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BT: Frozen Synapse has already proven to be incredibly popular with most journalists. In fact, we’ve not heard a bad word said about it. How has the team coped with this kind of exposure, compared to your earlier games? Has it had any affect on the development process at all?

PT: Ha, interesting question! We actually were completely bowled over by the response: it is a new thing for us and we're very grateful to everyone who as written nice things about it.

We made a conscious decision not to change any of our plans based on the feedback. We've seen the feedback as a validation rather than an excuse to slack off – if anything it's going to make us work harder, and it's going to make me even more of a perfectionist. I feel like we have a lot to live up to, and I hope that we will do that when we release the full version early next year.

We’re emphatically going to realise our original aims with this game: we're not going to be swayed from the path we're on.

BT: As an indie studio you’re often dealing with your community (and journalists) on a much more personal level, even making your own podcasts. Do you find it difficult to manage that proximity? On one hand you’re much more in touch with your fans, but on the other you’re listening to a vocal minority…

PT: I haven't yet come across any downsides: our community are brilliant. I'm not just saying that to suck up to them; they're actually all just really nice people, apart from Luke Breen.

Seriously, the support we've got has been massive and it just pushes us onwards to bigger and better things.

Frozen Synapse Interview How to Market an Indie Game
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And, yes, we do make our own podcast every fortnight! It's not just for our community either: it's a general gaming podcast that all of the children can enjoy! It's called Visiting the Village. Am I allowed to say that?

BT: Just this once, go on then... We imagine you’re playing the game everyday as you move closer to release. Do you ever get sick of it? Who’s the best player in the team? There are some bitter rivalries going on within the bit-tech team, so if you’ve got any tips or tricks…

PT: I honestly don't get sick of the game, which is really surprising, but I'm rubbish at it and I just get slaughtered. Ian and Robin play the game pretty much every day very intensively; I find it very difficult to play it when we're in transitional periods because I just see problems and it's not very helpful in terms of what I need to be doing.

I think Ian's marginally the best but Robin's played the game more than anyone else in the world so he can be fairly unbeatable on a good day!

Tips: I definitely think that psyching people out is the way to go with advanced players. If you play multiple games with someone, they'll start to be over-confident about predicting your next move, so throw in some stupidly high-risk run-and-gun tactics occasionally and you might reap some rewards.

And that’s it! You can read more about the game at the official Frozen Synapse site, or you can check our Frozen Synapse hands-on for our own thoughts. You can even the Mode 7 Developer Blog for on-going news, then let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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