Razer Makes Progress.

A year or so ago Razer took out a full page ad in the New York Times stating that ‘pc gaming is not dead’.  Thanks.  In my opinion it was an overly expensive ad marketing to the wrong audience.  Kind of weird to review a game companies marketing strategy, but it’s one of my more popular posts.  Razer has since starting doing some more creative, more targeted advertising, which addresses many of my concerns.

Becky Taylor posted a tweet about Razer working with the IGDA.

This marketing strategy makes more sense.  Razer has learned exactly the lessons they needed to.  1.) Lower price point.  Offering the Razer Blade to developers for $1000 is a much better deal.  2.) Prestige. Indie Developers have a certain Cache.  But in the hands of a AAA Developer this neat ‘feature’ could be really cool.  3.) Developers.  People who can actually write neat code for that unique little input device that Razer has on their machine.

So how could this go wrong?  Well the ad does not mention the inclusion of an SDK.  Maybe the developer just wants to make their own games and wont ever develop for the device, but why take the risk of missing that opportunity?  A great game could make that little pad desirable.  Granted the market for that game would be tiny as highly specialized hardware is not a great thing for any game.  But why miss that chance?

While not perfect, this new partnership with IGDA makes a lot of sense for many of the reasons I pointed out years ago.  Getting the device into the hands of developers, who can rave about it to their audience, is a much better marketing move then attempting to sell an expensive device to the general public.

Who is Markco Polo Redux?

This deja vu has been brought to you by a glitch in the Matrix.  Actually this post was moved because I was waiting for an affiliate link to go through. This post is still mainly about blogging.  Specifically it’s about how to be better at marketing blogs.  Also its about how to be better at buying and selling stuff in games online, but only kinda.  So if you don’t care about any of those things I’m giving you an out.  Find out ‘Who is Markco Polo?’ beneath the cut.

I first found Markco Polo while playing WoW.  I cannot clearly recall how long ago, but lets say 2005 ish.  The reason for finding his site was because I was interested in two things.  Personal finance and making gold in World of Warcraft.  While searching through the various websites purported to being gold guides, I stumbled ed inevitably the site that has become Just My Two Copper.

Markco’s sites have always been good a promotion.  They have always had the slick vainer of good marketing.  And that turned off a lot of people.  Started a couple flame wars even.  But underneath that has always been solid information.  His ideas are tested and make sense from a ‘financial accounting’ point of view.  In other words he creates well marketed products which contain real information.  DiabloIIIGoldGuide.net has continued in that tradition.

The udemy course came out of his blog/website The Traffic Blogger.  If you want to learn how to make more money from your blog, website, etc. I highly recommend taking his course.  Check out the website, join the forum (i used to be a moderator).  Once you check out the website you’ll see that his real name is Chris Antoni.  Markco Polo was his WOW character.

Tips for being useful on Reddit.

Reddit is a great tool for driving traffic and interest to a game project, blog, or website.  There is a thriving community there.  You can also earn Karma for posts and comments, making Reddit a kind of a game.  Don’t get distracted by Karma though, remember this is about connecting redditors to useful information.  Then every so often driving it to you. The title on this post is ‘Tips for being useful on Reddit’ because that is the best strategy to ‘winning’ on the site.  Be useful to others.

Being helpful to the Reddit Community can drive traffic to your site, and give you practice in dealing with some of the roughest comments on the web.  Feedback can be brutal, as well as snarky and you’ll get a down vote before a helpful suggestion.  But learning how to deal with the community and how to provide Redditors with information that is useful to them can bring you rewards.  For example traffic spikes of 500 to 1000 hits for a single post with 50 up votes placed in a strategic subreddits like r/game, r/indiegame, /r gamedev.  Some posts on reddit get as high as 2000 up votes.  That’s some serious traffic.

Too much Imgur.
Far too many people take screen shots of things and link to that image on Imgur.  For example a screen shot of a tweet, instead of a link to a tweet.  This is lazy redditing…  But also oddly enough it takes more time set up then to link to the thing you took a picture of.  For example if someone announces that Desktop Dungeons is about to go Beta, links to a screen shot of the tweet, they are missing out on driving traffic from Reddit to the twitter feed in question.  That’s a lot of people who could be retweeting this great news.  Also smart Redditors get upset at dumb ones and leave nasty comments.

Bonus points if you notice who made that mistake.

Dealing with the emotional damage.
So you made a mistake.  And people were nasty to you.  They leave mean comments.  How do you prevent a flame war?  When you legitimately make a mistake, fess up.  Explain why you were dumb and how you plan on correcting it in the future.  Then actually change your behavior in the future.

Don’t do what I did and link to screen shots of tweets, link to the tweets themselves.  That way Redditors can follow the people who made the tweets and get the information in the tweet as well.

TL;DR
1.) Find you community on Reddit and learn what it needs to know, and how fast it finds out.
2.) Be helpful to everyone, even the trolls.  Even the down voters.
3.) Ignore Karma, measure Hits.
4.) Link directly to things.
5.) Post your only your best blog posts to the appropriate subreddit.

Tips to drive traffic to your game with Reddit.

Reddit is a cool way to get information about just about anything on the web.  It can also drive a lot of traffic for your blog, website or product. It’s especially good for driving traffic in game related markets.  How much upside is there?  Well let’s use blog.zorts.net as an example.  My first post on Reddit increase my new visits by 96.31%.  My second post on Reddit returned 92.80% new visits on top of the first post.  Those posts scored 14 up votes, and 51 up votes respectively.  Very few people voted my posts up, but tons of people clicked on them.  Other peoples posts on Reddit can get 2000+ up votes.  That is a lot of possible traffic.  So how do you actually capture some of that traffic?

First you need a Reddit account.  Very easy to set up.  Much like guest posting on other sites take a moment to set up a good reference to your own blog.  You can’t link your profile to your site directly, but make your profile work with what you have already built.  Make sure that when you leave a positive comment it ties to your content.  Unfortunately on Reddit backlinks are not quite as important or acknowledged as the all important ‘timely post’.

Next we need to think strategically.  It might be really tempting to start putting all kinds of links up on Reddit right away.  Instead spend your first week or more figuring out where everything is.  Actually read Reddit!  Do some searches for content that is relevant to your blog.  Figure out where the subreddits are that contain what you are interested in.  Some good places for a game designer to start are:

/r/gaming 622,787 readers
/r/gamedev 11,461 readers
/r/Indiegaming 9,645 readers
/r/GamingNews 6,179 readers

Third, Reddit can be a double edged sword and you should treat the sites readers with respect.  By posting your own game there you are asking for their patronage.  Respect the readers time, and have something new to say.  Not every blog post should be linked to on Reddit.  Be an actual and authentic participant on Reddit.  If you have blogs that you follow, promote them as well.  Give them a +1 if they are already Redditors.  Much like on blog posts leave a positive comment which adds value to their posts.

When Markus “Notch” Persson first created Minecraft he used Reddit to get the word out.  And the game exploded.  There is even a /r/Minecraft with 65,408 readers (as of writing this post).  Over the course of development Mojang has spent next to nothing on marketing their products, but continue to leverage social media to get the message out.  They did this not by going out and targeting the site specifically or by doing research.  Makrus used Reddit because he was on Reddit already.  It was an organic thing.  That’s the best strategy for viewing your presence there as well.  Not only does Mojang make really fun games, but they also are extremely savy at promoting those games online because they are really savvy about being online.

To get the most out of Reddit what you really need to do is provide value to others.  You have to be useful.  Do you have any other popular methods of using Reddit?  How do you deal with down voting?  How do you deal with others posting the same links?  Is your game the next Reddit Success?  Share any tips for discussing things on Reddit in the comments.

Blogging is a neat game.

This blogging thing is a neat game.  But what does social media have to do with game design?  When creating a computer game you must “Learn and Respect Marketing” and start talking about your game!  BTW: The book “Inbound Marketing” has been critical in my learning the marketing of a blog.

The Infrastructure:
Obviously I recommend Google for your blogging infrastructure.  Turn everything on, and hook everything together.  A gmail account is easy to obtain.  With that same login you get a blogger account.  Create a webpage to support the blog at sites.google.com.  If you get stuck hooking them together you can turn to youtube for a tutorial (also a google site, btw!).  Turn on Analytics and Adwords.  The Adwords account has a keyword tool which is fun to play with  even if you don’t intend to spend any money.  At least play with the Keyword tool in the “Reporting and Tools” section.  It will help you pick keywords for your posts.

You may get lucky and receive a coupon for $100 in Google Adwords.  I tossed in an extra $10, and that has been the entire ad budget for this blog.  It also netted me an entire series of posts called The Adwords Experiment.  I turned those blog posts into a free step by step document called “The Cheap Fast Guide to Google Adwords“.  It’s a great place to start for a newbie to marketing looking for some help.

The loot:
Google Adsense provides the loot. Sort of.  The higher your numbers, the more readers and viewers and clickers you have the more actual money that you make.  This reward makes you pay attention to your Google analytics information.  It makes you want to drive your numbers higher.  But you will quickly find out that they really don’t pay you very much.  Check out thetrafficblogers forum board for tips and ways to make money online.

The Prestige:
The Google Analytics numbers are fun to make go higher without the reward of money.  Seeing the %Change column with a green up arrow makes you happy.  Much like an up arrow on a ticker symbol on the stock market.  Seeing a red down arrow makes you sad.  They provide emotional feedback to the user which inspires better behavior.

Literally a Game:
By the time this blog gets posted I will have been on Empire Avenue for a couple months (I have a large backlog of scheduled blogs).  EA is a wonderful intersection between social media, finance, and games.  It runs like a stock market, based on your social media activity, with achievements, leader boards and other game mechanics.  EA really peaked my interest lately.

The Source:
Reddit makes a good source for traffic for your site, your game, or your blog.  As ‘the front page of the internet’ it can be a powerful tool for finding folks who are interested in your game idea.  Redditors are very vocal and can be great for feedback, QA, suggestions, tips, etc.  You can even find CC artwork, coders, and others who are interested in working on your project.  We’re going to discuss Reddit a bit more over the next couple weeks.  Check out my next post about driving Traffic with Reddit.