2. Networking is king. This is a staple of any conference you attend. Yeah, it’s important to keep up with trends, listen to industry leaders, and check out the big players’ and up-and-comers’ booths, but the heart of any conference is connecting with people (vendors, key influencers, developers, and anyone else in between). And don’t forget the business cards!
3. Be everywhere to be relevant. One of the biggest announcements leading up to E3 was from Bethesda Softworks with the launch of Fallout Shelter on iOS. Upon release, Fallout Shelter was an immediate hit and topped the iTunes charts for the first couple weeks. Bethesda was able to piggyback on the popularity of its Fallout franchise of console and PC games to quickly build an audience. They’ll be releasing the Android game soon, just in time for the Fallout 4 release later this year. In short, cross-platform gaming along with a strong brand presence (see #８) can really boost awareness and popularity of your game.
4. Booth appearance is a big deal. This one isn't necessarily a tip for indie gaming companies attending conferences; it's more a point for those showing at them. Over the course of a few days, we saw a LOT of booths. Which ones stood out? At E3, it was those with the most interesting displays and engaging layouts that brought the game to life. The ones that allowed for cool photo ops. But it's not just about big budgets; it's also about the folks manning the booth. Nothing’s worse than having a sloppy, bored, "I'm just here to get paid" staffer representing your company.
5. Marketing and user acquisition is just as important as development. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. That’s a mistake that a few of the indie developers who had a few games under their belt mentioned – that they failed to focus on how to gain users. In mobile, the barriers to entry are so low now that there are millions of apps competing for users’ attention. Indie gaming companies (and companies in general) can’t forget about marketing. After all, making sure your game works and has cool features is important, but it's worthless if your audience doesn’t know your game exists.
6. The first 7 days an app goes live are critical. This was a point made by virtually all the user acquisition experts at Pocket Gamer Connects. It also reinforces #5 – without a marketing strategy, your potential users won’t be able to find you. If you think you can build your app, release it, and build an audience over time, think again. The mobile space doesn’t work that way. After the first 7 days with no social or viral traction, your app will get lost in the abyss of the app stores.
7. Talk with your customers, not at them. It’s essential to listen to your customers on the platforms where the conversations are happening to understand what’s working and what’s not. Pushing content to your audience through email newsletters or blog posts alone, as helpful as it may seem, is not enough. It’s important to find the social media networks and forums where your audience is talking about your game and your brand and engage in these conversations when your customers are talking about them, not when it’s convenient for you.
8. Live the brand. Case in point: Being attacked by Walking Dead zombies at E3. One of the memorable highlights of the conference.