GIFs were once the dumbest image format on the internet.
Now, they’re the indie developer’s most powerful marketing weapon.
This week, I made the following gif of my game, Roguemance (a roguelite with romance):
The results were amazing. Yeah, I know 18 retweets and 47 likes isn’t a lot, but follow me for a moment.
You might say: “3k impressions is nice, but only 300 of those people actually viewed the gif!”.
True, but my #screenshotsaturday gif led to this article:
Holy blue balls, my game was featured in the title alongside Lucas Pope’s!
A lot of news sites like RockPaperShotgun are keeping an eye on GIFs and turning them into articles. “But Hardcore Gamer is not a big site!” you say. Yeah, it’s no PCGamer, but look at what happened next:
Alpha Beta Gamer found Roguemance either through Hardcore Gamer or from me also posting the same gif on Reddit (r/indiegaming):
Could also have been the feature on Cartrdge, a small site with lots of quality gifs. The point is – I got over 3k new email subscribers from this gif, having had only 500 previously. I had to disable email notifications because they wouldn’t stop.
The point is, cool content propagates on the internet. It hits people and echoes to places you didn’t even know existed and couldn’t have reached alone.
So, how can you make your gif echo?
How To Gif
Gif us a PRETTY gif
People are shallow. When your game is pretty, gifs are easy. Just record yourself playing and you’re good. For example, Joymasher’s Blazing Chrome:
Gif us a UNIQUE gif
Powerhoof, the people behind Crawl, used gifs masterfully to market their game.
They went beyond gameplay gifs and used them to make cool announcements such as this one:
Gif us a gif that is YOURS
In their Reddit post, the artist explained how he created the behavior for the crows.
Get follows, likes or emails
Getting views is nice, but you really want to create a permanent link between you and the people who like your content so you don’t lose them. It can be Facebook likes, Twitter followers or whatever. In my previous game, Painters Guild, I neglected this. With Roguemance, I’ve set up a mailing list which is helping a lot.
You can tell people your game is going to be on Steam, but it’s better if you give them a link to wishlist it.
Respect people and communities
Don’t just spam everyone. You need to think of how you say things and know the rules of the community you are sharing your content with.
Not only did the folks behind Nimbatus get views from imgur, they also told r/IndieGaming about it to get even more:
They also helped other indies with their marketing by suggesting imgur. And now they’re on this article. Echoes!
GIF Recording Software.
Places to share GIFs
- TIGSource’s “GIFs of games being worked on” forum thread
- IndieDB (inside an article)
- GameJolt Devlogs
- imgur (good to both host and share)
On Twitter, I use the hashtags:
- #screenshotsaturday (Saturdays)
- #indiedevhour (Wednsedays)
I hope you learned something cool about GIFs today.
You can follow me on Twitter to see my gifs, games and articles, or contact me about this article.
Good luck with your game!