SIEGE 2020: Marketing Your Games in Your Local Community
Diego Lizarazo Rivera
Sr. Developer Evangelist
Game development can be an arduous and lonely path for most indie developers and studios. A perfect solution is to join a game developer association or local community. In this post we explore some of the most interesting possibilities and benefits of working with your local game developer community, based on our participation in 2020’s SIEGE (Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo) where we introduced the new design of Samsung's Galaxy Store.
I have participated in SIEGE a few times before, usually leading workshops that helped participants get a glimpse on how to get started in game development. I was happy to return this year, especially because I was curious to see how the virtual focus of the event affected the sense of community that the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA) has cultivated over the years.
Since its inception, the GGDA has brought together professionals, academics, executives, government officials and more from across the region to celebrate the world of gaming in the state of Georgia. It continuously offers its members forums and opportunities to promote the growth and success of game developers. Since 2007, the GGDA has produced the largest video game industry trade show in the southeastern United States.
If you are a member of the GGDA, you can participate in their monthly meetings, seasonal events like their Spring College Fair, and have the chance to network with developers abroad during the Global Game Jam.
Samsung at SIEGE
During the first day of SIEGE, I had the opportunity to lead a presentation focused on the opportunities for game developers to publish their games in Galaxy Store. You can watch the recording here.
Perhaps the most interesting part was to virtually connect with event’s participants and answer their questions during the live-streaming of the presentation. The GGDA members are always interested in learning about how to reach new audiences and promote their games.
Being involved with your local communities
Now that we have talked about our example community, let’s talk about how you can connect with them to market your indie games. Here are some of the best opportunities you have working with a group like GGDA:
In different monthly meetings you have the chance to mingle with seasoned professionals who may be willing to take a look at your game and give you their professional opinions. Depending on the stage of your game and their focus, you may even find one or two veterans who can mentor you on improving, publishing, and marketing your games. You can watch some of GGDA’s monthly meetings here.
From time to time, you may be able to meet that game designer who inspired you to go from a player to a developer, that sound designer who influenced your entire career, or that developer who has worked for the best 3A studios. This year, SIEGE had Will Wright (from The Sims and SimCity) as their keynote presenter.
Local events bring together gaming veterans who live in your area and international talent who share their hard earned knowledge with you. Do not miss the chance to listen to the event’s speakers and connect with them.
Sometimes it is hard to find a professional game tester, but many members of your local community may be starting their game development careers as testers. And, as you should know, it is not just about playing games. Check out some sessions about QA and playtesting here.
Access to local media
Sometimes having the right review, even if it is in a local magazine or news media, can be the first step to create the necessary buzz for your game. By networking during the different events in your community, you can connect with game reviewers, entertainment reporters, and tech bloggers. Through their reviews, you could reach thousands of people who may be your first dedicated players.
Participating in relevant contests can also help you to get useful recognition in the area and, perhaps, the opportunity to promote your game as a winner of an important prize. Like previous years, SIEGE offered many opportunities for attendees to show off their best work and win prizes. You can check out this year’s winners here.
Technology is always changing, and you can always find new topics, techniques, and trends that other community members can teach you, if you attend game development workshops, talks, and panels. Even better, share your own developer journey with others, cement your own knowledge, and get feedback on your own accomplishments.
Game jams are interesting beasts because, depending on their format, you may not be able to use your game and have to create one from scratch. But you still have the chance to spend a few days with like-minded individuals and even find the right team to help you develop your own games. This is certainly one of those experiences that are great to have under your belt, because you are so focused on creating something playable that you are reconnected with many of the small things that made you create games in the first place.
Word of mouth
Even before your game is launched, you should try to create buzz around it and build interest and a budding audience. And this is where old-fashioned networking and word of mouth works. If you keep showing the ongoing development of your game, you can obtain timely feedback and be in the minds of the community. By the time you are ready to launch, they know what to expect and, with some luck, are ready to help you promote it everywhere.
During our presentation at SIEGE, we talked about the global reach of Samsung, how Galaxy Store allows you to publish your game in over 180 countries, and how global success is the goal of any game developer. But you should never forget to connect with your local communities and start promoting your game, long before it is available to millions of people.
Connect with us
We would love to hear how you are working with other local game developer groups and meetups, and what kind of advantages and strategies you have implemented during your game development. Let’s have a nice game dev conversation: request a quick chat with us by filling out this form.