Help! My Game Dev Posts Aren’t Going Viral!
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Welcome Sparks! This week we have a really interesting question from other indie game developers to discuss, and one that’s taken me a while to understand as well.
“Why do none of my game dev posts go viral?”
My hope is that everyone can become more confident in the way they share their awesome indie game dev creations with the world!
The more I continue to post content about my own game, the more I’ve noticed the variety in likes, upvotes, etc… between posts. I would imagine that this is a common struggle for all kinds of indie game developers.
As a starting dev who’s pouring all their passion into their projects, seeing that fluctuation can certainly be disheartening. I think we tend to look at the data incorrectly though, or at least fail to see the bigger picture. We need to learn what our metrics actually represent and continue to show our creative visions to the world in confidence!
With this, let’s explore the following items:
- Viral Is Just That, Viral
- Visibility Is Key
- Use Data As Feedback
- Leverage Community Culture
- Respect The Grind
Viral Is Just That, Viral
When starting out, we tend to set these grand expectations for how our game will appeal to the masses. It’s also easy to compare ourselves to other indie game developers who constantly trend with each post they make. What we fail to see here however, is how much time and energy they took just to reach a “baseline” of views.
Let’s say you have a YouTube channel, and you are getting one single view for a video while having 100 subscribers. For another channel, they may get 1000 views and be sitting at 100,000 subscribers! When you compare your single view to 1000 views, of course it’s going to be overwhelming. Overall though (assuming my math skills don’t fail me!), you’re still hitting the same ratio as that bigger channel. With consistency, you can just as easily hit the same amount of subs and views over an extended period of time.
In terms of going viral then, that same channel may have a viral video, but I doubt every single one of their videos is just as successful (unless they’re super good). You have the same chance of getting a viral video - the only factor is the number of attempts they’ve made. The more content you put out, the more likely it is that one of them will catch on with the masses.
Keep in mind that this does not mean quantity > quality. Instead, simply recognize that continuing to share your work will be rewarded over time. It’s just hard to see that in the beginning when those expectations are not instantly met.
Visibility Is Key
A lot of so-called “influencers” continue to flock to Tik Tok as the platform grows, and for good reason! The all-mighty “algorithm” tends to push content to more people initially. You could have a post with zero likes and still have 200+ views just from that initial push. If your post catches on and gathers additional views, then good job! If not, that’s totally okay too because that minimum number of views is still insanely good!
As a personal example, I have observed this behavior on the Echolite devlog posts I make on the Godot subreddit. Even though they only receive 1-20 upvotes, the number of people viewing each post is usually around 3,000! For reference, whenever I first post a devlog on this blog for Echolite, it will only get 1-10 views. After linking it as a side comment inside those Reddit posts to cross-promote, the blog posts suddenly skyrocket to 100-150 views.
The lesson here is to focus less on how many “clicks” your posts get, and instead focus on the visibility data. More people are likely seeing and interacting with your content than you likely realize!
Use Data As Feedback
When sharing your game dev journey, it’s important to use the performance data of each post you make in order to better inform future posts. For instance, one of my most commented posts on Reddit for Echolite involved a question. This kind of post naturally led people to share their own thoughts because it made them feel valued. In comparing this to my other posts which simply show off a feature, this kind of feedback should push me to use more question-sided narratives with my posts to boost engagement.
Even looking at what communities you post in and the frequency can help show which items resonate the most with your target audience. Consider this - why continue to do the same format for all of your posts if they continue to yield the same limited results? Perhaps the best way to break out of this zone is to mix up the usual formula you use! As long as you approach it in good faith, experimenting with how you share your journey will be positively received.
Leverage Community Culture
Every platform you engage with is completely different from one another. They all have their own established rules and cultures that users automatically expect from one another. Part of the reason why game dev posts can fail in these spaces is because they fail to match that culture. It’s worth taking the time to look at other game dev posts on your desired platform to see what performs best. Similarly, looking at the community guidelines for a site and looking at the language being used can help narrow down what content is preferred.
Through this review process, you can tailor your content to specific platforms. I can understand where this can be difficult on a creative front, as basing your marketing from the successful angles of others may not feel “unique.” The trick here is to not copy what others do - instead, be inspired by the posts that do go viral and add your own unique twists that still feel authentic to your own game.
Respect The Grind
One of the most common replies I have continued to receive across various platforms has been along the lines of, “Wow it’s week 28 and you are still going strong, nice!” Essentially, users will notice over time the frequency and quality of your game dev posts, which show how dedicated you are to your craft. Of course, make sure to take breaks as needed and understand your limits so you can avoid burnout. I do like this idea of “respecting the grind” though, as being consistent alone can already be rewarding in the long run. People may not engage strongly with your first post, but as they continue to see more they begin to connect with your journey more. It’s both a way of building credibility and allowing people to see how far your projects have come along so they feel like they are also a part of the creative process.
If your game dev posts on different platforms are not being engaged with as much as you expected, do not worry! Sharing your creative journey is always a slow process when starting out, but it does pick up the more you stick with it. Even if the likes/shares are not quite there, the views may tell a different story in the number of people you actually reach.
When it comes to strategies for boosting engagement - being consistent, mixing up your format, and matching community cultures can help improve your interactions with others. Don’t give up as we all have amazing, creative works that deserve to be seen!