How to Conduct Market Research For Your Indie Game [Presentation Video]

Learn How to Conduct Market Research For Your Indie Game

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to talk about ways to conduct market research during this years Indie Revolution Expo. The presentation was originally titled “Ways to Research Player’s Path to Purchase”. However, while building my presentation, it became clear that learning how to identify who your player(s) are is more important and is more easily explained within 45 minutes, so I made a slight change to the title, to read “Ways to Research Players” (clever, right?).

The updated presentation focussed on ways to research your target market and identify segments of your audience and how to create what I call a player persona (more commonly referred to as a buyer persona). In conducting market research and identifying segments of your target market, you will have a much better understanding of who you’re speaking to. This should allow you to more effectively promote your game in a more clearly defined manner. This should also give you better ideas on how to communicate the values of your game, depending on who you’re speaking to (AKA, your pitch). This doesn’t have to just stop with marketing and PR. With this type of research, you can also identify ways to possibly improve your game, or add in additional features.

You can check out the full presentation video above, but my head is kind of in the way for the majority of the presentation, so I have uploaded the original presentation slides below:

Presentation Slide Content

  • 1. WAYS TO RESEARCH PLAYER’S PATH TO PURCHASE By Logan Williams @IndieWolverine
  • 2. WAYS TO RESEARCH PLAYER’S PATH TO PURCHASE* * Updated title for relevancy purposes
  • 3. MARKET RESEARCH ‣ “Market research, which includes social and opinion research, is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals or organizations using statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social sciences to gain insight or support decision making.“
 ‣ Wikipedia contributors. “Market research.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Jul. 2016. Web. 11 Jul. 2016. @IndieWolverine
  • 4. BASICALLY, WE ARE RESEARCHING OUR AUDIENCE TO BETTER UNDERSTAND AND EMPATHIZE WITH THEM. @IndieWolverine
  • 5. @IndieWolverineIt’s all about clear communication.
  • 6. @IndieWolverine SOME OF US ALREADY DO THIS WITH THE PRESS…
  • 7. @IndieWolverine THE JOURNEY OF THE PITCH* ‣ You reach out to writer and pitch them a story ‣ Writer likes story and covers it ‣ Readers love story and share with friends ‣ Advertisers pay publication for impressions ‣ Publication pays writer for writing unique and compelling content ‣ You reach a new/large audience ‣ Everybody wins! *Perfect world edition
  • 8. @IndieWolverine THE JOURNEY OF THE PITCH* ‣ You reach out to writer and beg them for a story ‣ Writer skims email and trashes it *Real world edition
  • 9. @IndieWolverine WHO ARE WE SPEAKING TO AND WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS/ISSUES? ‣ Who are we speaking to? ‣ A: Press ‣ What are their needs? ‣ A: Unique and compelling content to draw more readers ‣ What issues do they have? ‣ A: Lack of time
  • 10. @IndieWolverine HOW CAN WE HELP THEM? ‣ With basic knowledge of our audience, we understand that press need unique and compelling content to write about and they shouldn’t have to read through walls of text to find it. ‣ We can help them by creating a short and concise pitch that clearly communicates our value to them. TIME FOR AN EXAMPLE…
  • 11. @IndieWolverine PART 1 The message above is short and to the point. I let the writer know quickly about our release day, AMA thread, Twitch stream and I include a link to our brand new launch trailer. I finish by letting them know exactly what I would like them to do with this information.
  • 12. @IndieWolverine PART 2 The second part of the message is simply a copy/paste of our press release. It give the writer an opportunity to learn more about the game and potentially copy/paste content/quote.
  • 13. @IndieWolverine RESULT
  • 14. @IndieWolverine NOW LET’S FOCUS ON THE PLAYERS The above image is literally the best free stock image I could find…
  • 15. @IndieWolverine STATE YOUR GOALS ‣ Whenever you’re doing any sort of market research, it’s best to start out with an understanding of what your goal is. If you jump into market research without a goal, you’re possibly going to end up with data that doesn’t provide you with any actionable ideas. ‣ For this presentation, our goal is to identify a segment of our target audience that will be most likely to purchase and enjoy our game.
  • 16. @IndieWolverine OUR GAME ‣ Title: Hotdog of Time ‣ Genre: Action-adventure ‣ Platform: PC ‣ Description: Hotdog of Time is a 2D action-adventure, where you play as a hotdog, who’s had a hard life. You awake naked and afraid without your bun or condiments. It’s time to put the pieces back together and get back to your former glory.
  • 17. @IndieWolverine LET’S BUILD OUR FOUNDATION ‣ First, let’s start by gathering some demographic information. We can get this data in a variety of places. For example, if we have a website for our game setup with Google Analytics, we can use Google Analytics to find demographic and interest based data. If we don’t we can use the Google Display planner for a similar game’s website.
  • 18. @IndieWolverine WHERE TO GET DEMOGRAPHICS ‣ http://analytics.google.com/ – Google Analytics ‣ https://adwords.google.com/ – Google Display Planner (go to Tools -> Display Planner) ‣ https://www.facebook.com/ads/audience-insights/ – Facebook Audience Insights (Under Interests, search game title that you want to find data for) ‣ https://www.fullcontact.com/developer/person-api/ – My bae ‣ Various industry reports and blogs
  • 19. @IndieWolverine GOOGLE ANALYTICS Good to use if you have it setup with your website and have demographic and interest based reporting turned on.
  • 20. @IndieWolverine GOOGLE DISPLAY PLANNER Good to use if you don’t have Analytics setup, or don’t have your own website.
  • 21. @IndieWolverine FACEBOOK AUDIENCE INSIGHTS Great, if you’re looking to research audience of a similar game. The game’s page needs to have a pretty large audience to show up in Insights under “interests”.
  • 22. @IndieWolverine FULL CONTACT PERSON API FullContact Person API is great if you’ve collected a list of emails.
  • 23. @IndieWolverine REPORTS AND BLOGS Websites like NewZoo.com offer some interesting insights. They have free insights and reports, but the really juicy stuff can be very pricey.
  • 24. @IndieWolverine DEMOGRAPHICS ‣ Age: 25 – 34 ‣ Sex: Yes Please Male ‣ Relationship Status: Single ‣ Job Title: IT and Technical ‣ Income: 50 – 75K ‣ Location: Los Angeles, CA Men age 25 – 34 should get the Austin Powers joke ^
  • 25. @IndieWolverine “THERE’S LAYERS TO THIS SHIT PLAYER” – MACKLEMORE
  • 26. @IndieWolverine USER NEEDS (THE HUMAN LAYER) ‣ After you identify a target market, it’s time to add the human layer. With demographics, we have the who. With user needs and psychographics, we’re adding the why.
  • 27. @IndieWolverine WHERE TO GET BEHAVIORAL AND PSYCHOGRAPHIC DATA ‣ Interviews – Interviews are great if you do them correctly. You can do them online, or in person. ‣ Netnography – We can also observe players in their natural habitats (Reddit, Steam forums etc). In doing this, we can find trends and points of discussion from our target audience. ‣ User profiles – We can review user profiles to get more in-depth information including: likes, interests and more. FullContact Person API can really help out here. ‣ User Reviews – User reviews can be found on sites like Metacritic and Steam.
  • 28. @IndieWolverine INTERVIEWS Interviews and surveys are a great way to engage with your audience and an excellent way to learn more about them. In the past, I’ve conducted these interviews via email, but there are other tools that work great.
  • 29. @IndieWolverine INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Indie Game Girl is an excellent resource for video game marketing and PR. The link above goes to an excellent post that includes some helpful questions when conducting player interviews. ‣ http://www.indiegamegirl.com/buyer-persona-interview/
  • 30. @IndieWolverine NETNOGRAPHY Netnography involves observing players in various communities. This includes communities like Reddit (seen above), Steam forums or any other community where players gather to discuss similar games.
  • 31. @IndieWolverine USER PROFILES ‣ Reviewing user profiles can help with validating your assumptions about your target audience. You can do this manually, or use tools like Twitonomy or Followerwonk to analyze social profiles at a greater scale.
  • 32. @IndieWolverine FULLCONTACT PERSON API (BAE) Image above was pulled from this excellent article: https:// builtvisible.com/fullcontact-api-excel/
  • 33. @IndieWolverine EXAMPLE OF MANUAL SEARCH ON FACEBOOK
  • 34. @IndieWolverine USER REVIEWS Aside from marketing and PR, you can find opportunities to change your game with user reviews. For example, this review brings up the “slow death/revive animation”. This could be something we improve on.
  • 35. @IndieWolverine BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER ‣ In this presentation, we’ve focussed on a segment of Hyper Light Drifter’s audience (since our example game is similar). We started by identifying the demographics of our target audience. Then we used data that is available to us to layer behavior and psychographic data to create a player persona.
  • 36. @IndieWolverine SMOOTH GAMEPLAY SIMON “Gameplay is important and combat needs to be fun.” ‣ Age: 25 – 34 ‣ Gender: Male ‣ Relationship Status: Single ‣ Job Title: IT and Technical ‣ Income: 50 – 75K ‣ Location: Los Angeles, CA ‣ Simon grew up playing the NES and SNES. Some of his favorite gaming franchises are Zelda and Super Metroid and most recently, Dark Souls. Simon embraces the challenge that HLD brings because he grew up playing more difficult classic games. (Data found through observing HLD forums, communities, reviews and FB audience insights) ‣ Some of Simon’s favorite online publications include: Ars Technica, Kotaku and Polygon. (Data found through manually looking at FB profiles that fit demographics) ‣ While Simon has the extra money to purchase more games, he lacks time because he’s focussed on his career. Because of this, he plays less games, but he is very thorough with the small library of games he currently plays. (Data from FB audience insights and Steam forums)
  • 37. @IndieWolverine TAKEAWAYS ‣ Now that we’ve identified a segment of our target audience (Smooth Gameplay Simon), we can work on reaching and clearly communicating with this player persona. This includes marketing material, PR, merchandising, business development and more. Some examples are below: ‣ Merchandise opportunity: http://store.iam8bit.com/products/hyper-light-drifter-collector-s-edition ‣ Publications to focus on: Ars Technica, Kotaku and Polygon ‣ Social channels to focus on: Facebook, Twitter and Reddit ‣ Marketing material should highlight smooth gameplay and deep lore (gameplay trailer) ‣ Try to attend conferences in the Los Angeles area
  • 38. @IndieWolverine RESOURCES ‣ https://www.youtube.com/results?sp=CAM%253D&q=rami+ismail – Learn why you’re going to fail and how your game sucks. On a real note, Rami is an excellent walking resource for indie teams. He’s frequently speaks at events, so there’s a ton of content to watch. ‣ http://www.gdcvault.com/free – There are many excellent videos in the GDC vault from previous GDC events. I recommend any video by Mike Rose and Thomas Reisenegger. ‣ http://www.indiegamegirl.com – Awesome website with many really helpful blog posts. ‣ “http://tinybuild.com/how-to-pitch-your-game – Learn how to pitch your game! tinyBuild is an absolute trend setter in the indie game publishing space. They do incredibly creative PR and are a must follow. ‣ http://www.gamesindustry.biz and http://www.gamasutra.com – 2 required bookmarks for anyone that’s seriously interested in staying up to date on all things indie game biz/marketing/PR.
  • 39. @IndieWolverine THANK YOU! Logan Williams Marketing & PR Specialist logan@IndieWolverine.com