Guest post by Valaney Martin

You want to make a cool video game, not just to impress your friends, but to actually make a profit. Does the average indie game developer have a chance in this economy?

Well, yes, but making money from your game and getting it noticed both require special attention. We’ll cover both in this article, so keep reading to learn the basics.

Making a Profit:

Virtual currency

Many popular games today include micro transactions, which encourage the player to convert real money into game currency, as seen on Zynga’s FarmVille flash game and Viacom’s virtual pet community Neopets.

virtual currency and online games

Ideally, the game is still fun for users who don’t buy anything, and the additional items don’t unbalance or “break” the game. Thus, the items are often just for show, such as a new outfit or wig for a character.

As an indie developer, you can let a bigger company handle your virtual currency transactions by allowing them to take a small commission. For example, using Mochi Media’s Mochi Coin system not only makes it easier to run these micro transactions, but can get your game more widely distributed, too.

Freemium

If you plan to sell your game, you may be able to boost sales by designing a free trial to go with it.

Subscriptions

Common with massively multiplayer online role-playing games, subscriptions usually start with a free trial or low starting fee, then charge monthly payments for continued access to the game. It is expected that the game will be updated with new content on a regular basis.

According to multimedia consultant Samuel Asher Rivello, the number of gaming subscribers online is expected to reach 44.5 million at the end of 2014.

Sponsorship

If a company sponsors your video game, they will pay you to brand it with their advertising, logos, and messages. Your game will include a link to their website, too.

Licensing

When a company licenses your game, it becomes their property, and sometimes even exclusive content. The game is offered on their website, helping them bring in more traffic.

Getting Your Game Noticed:

Make a website or blog

Having a website for your game will make you more credible and help gamers and the media learn more about it. Plus, it can make press releases, especially those distributed online, get more attention as readers click on the link to your website.

Write a press release

Your game should be announced by a custom press release, which is pretty much a news article focused on an event or product. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you’ll be glad to know you can find freelance writers working at low rates on websites like Elance.com and oDesk.com. Both of these websites accept credit card payments, too.

When signing up for a credit card, think over the benefits of a business credit card. For example, some business credit cards come with airline rewards points, a big help for flying to all those video game expos. Some come without pre-set spending limits, giving you flexibility to handle a change of pace if sales of your game go up and down at first.

Once you have a press release, follow these tips, as suggested by App Hub:

  • Use Blogpulse ,Technorati, Bing News, or IceRocket to find online publications that review games like yours
  • Find a journalist who has reviewed games like yours and try to contact them directly
  • Write a short message that introduces your game and you to the journalist while also offering to send screenshots
  • If you don’t hear back from them, wait at least a week, then send a short follow-up message
  • Post your press release on Games Press, N4G, and other press release distribution sites
  • If your game is reviewed, send a thank-you note to the reviewer and keep in touch with them, whether you liked the review or not

Design interesting tile or box art

This may be a reviewer or gamer’s first impression of your game, so make sure it looks professional. The description should also be catchy and free of errors.

Create a short trailer

Professional-looking trailers under two minutes will help draw attention to your game. Again, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can always hire a freelancer.

Valaney Martin helps developers and entrepreneurs compare small business credit cards at CreditDonkey to help provide startup financing for their endeavors.  Remember, while following these guidelines doesn’t guarantee you will get your game noticed and get paid from it, making smart marketing moves sure doesn’t hurt.

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