The #1 ingredient to successful game marketing

Carrion came out a few days ago. 

It’s currently sitting at more than 3,400 reviews with a $20 price point.

How did it sell so well?

How did Neon Abyss get more than 1,900 reviews in two weeks?

Why is 5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel currently blowing up? (relative to its scale)

What’s the common factor in all these success stories?

Incredible game design? Great artstyle? Replayability? Juicy game feel?

I don’t think so.

From what I’ve seen, the thing that matters most is…

their ability to generate hype.

Buying a game is an emotional decision that gets justified by logical facts.

When everyone is playing the same new thing, you want to get in on the fun.

It happened to me with MORDHAU last year, a multiplayer medieval slasher.

I got caught in the hype, bought the game and played it for a couple days before shelving it forever.

Look at this graph representing the number of players over time. 

This is what a game that has managed to generate enough hype looks like: 60,000 peak concurrent players that got down to an average of ~7000 players after launch.

Compare that with the graphs of Rising Hell or I Dracula Genesis

The initial spike doesn’t go very high compared to the long tail, which means they didn’t have a lot of hype at launch.

Now, how can we get a hold of the mighty power to generate hype as solo devs?

I see 4 options:

  1. Work with a publisher that has legitimacy and an existing large audience
  2. Build our own audience through social media
  3. Become famous and release a buggy prequel to our previous successful games
  4. Make an appealing game and leave the rest to luck and timing (basically the strategy used by 5D Chess)

All four options can work, but the most realistic and reliable one for us is probably #2: building our own audience.

We could do it through a mix of reddit, Twitter and imgur like The First Tree and DARQ did.

Or we could build our audience through YouTube like Equilinox (ThinMatrix), The Dreadful Whispers (Blackthornprod) or Karlson (Dani)…

…which, by the way, is one of the most wishlisted upcoming games on the platform. Why? 

Cause it’s generating a lot of hype.

Some things have become increasingly clear to me:

  • If you have an audience, you could make an OK game and it will still sell pretty well.
  • If you don’t have an audience and you make an OK game, you’ll sell peanuts.
  • The less of an audience you have, the more dependent on other people, publishers and platforms you are. (because you want to get in front of their audience)


Whether you choose to build an audience, work with a publisher or rely on infuencers, platforms and luck… 

…your ability to get your game in front of enough people on launch day and to get those people hyped for it will likely be the difference between a profitable game and a failed project.

Until next week,

Thomas Gervraud,
Developer of Space Gladiators: Escaping Tartarus