Path of Kami Post Mortem Part 3: Marketing
This blog is part 3 of a series of blog posts for the Path of Kami Post Mortem. Here’s a link to the first and second parts if you’re interested! Each one covers a specific topic and can be read on its own. This blog will cover the efforts put towards marketing Path of Kami Journey Begins, what worked, and didn’t work, along with some helpful resources.
Welcome to the marketing portion of this post-mortem series! I’m excited to share this part of the post-mortem because it came with some interesting challenges. Being a small team, I had to wear many hats for Path of Kami and one of them was being in charge of marketing, social media, and public relations. I'm excited to share what helped me and pass it on. Stay tuned for the resources section at the end. It has lots of goodies!
Game Marketing Stats
Launched Nov 9, 2022
Wishlists at launch: 9,268
Very small marketing budget!
Sales numbers at the time of writing this (8 months after release)
Lifetime Steam revenue (gross): $5k~
Lifetime total units: 1,202
Lifetime total DLC units 176
What worked for us
Created accounts and showed progress early on
We created accounts pretty early to grab the usernames under Captilight, we also showed work-in-progress shots early on. This helped us to slowly build a community and following around us and the game. We decided to make accounts for the studio instead of the game itself so we could have a following for when we released future games.
Created a marketing plan
Once we got to a point where we were ready to post our Steam page we put together a marketing plan. This was a living document we used to plan out marketing efforts such as:
Marketing Beat Roadmap
Competitor Analysis (market and player research, Steam page, etc.)
Platforms (including common Steam tags used for similar games)
Launch Day Prep Checklist
This was super helpful to track what needed to be done and track performance, we surprisingly got pretty accurate with our wishlist projections which helped a ton.
Localized game led to more marketing opportunities
We localized our game into 10 different languages which led to having more press on non-English websites, we got a considerable amount of press in Japanese, Spanish, German, and Russian sites. One of the Japanese articles was on a popular site and it got us 500~ wishlists in a day and brought in lots of traffic to our Steam page! The article continued to get us wishlists and traffic for a few months afterward.
This also gave us a chance to be featured by content creators around the world who didn’t speak English. We also got to attend a variety of events as well like Megamigs (which encouraged having games in French), and MAG Erfurt.
Partner with Game Round for Global Playtesting
We were able to do two rounds of global testing with Game Round to test the game, getting player feedback and finding bugs. This also helped with giving us marketing beats and something to talk about before the game launched.
The Game Round team is wonderful to work with and have its own marketing team that will promote your game during testing. Depending on the stage your game is at you can also opt into their content creator program where content creators can give feedback and play your game on their channels. We did this and it helped introduce our game to new audiences.
Participated in events
We entered into several events that helped boost wishlists and bring traffic to our socials and Steam page. Some events that helped were Steam Next Fest (for showcasing a demo), Devgamm, and The Game Development World Championship. We did quite a bit of in-person events as well but they didn't perform as well as online events. Highly recommend doing all the free online events if you can! Steam Next Fest was the best for getting traffic and wishlists.
What didn’t work
Ads on socials
Traction on ads were ‘okay’ not sure if it was worth paying for, for us at least, and would be something we research a bit more on our next game. This was my first time setting up ads and I used recommended settings from backerkit. Ads on Twitter didn’t give any traffic or engagement to our steam page, Facebook was okay. Instagram ads performed the best for our game. We figured out that people tend to be more willing to sign up for newsletters than wishlist a steam page on an ad. So towards the end we used ads for our newsletter to learn more about a Kickstarter campaign we were planning for the game in the future. We pushed wishlisting the game and when it was launched on there.
Too long of a marketing push and ‘hype’ period
We worked on the game for three years and we marketed the game for the majority of the time. Although we got pretty creative with having constant things to talk about, by the time the game released people thought it was out already or was tired of hearing about it haha. The hype for the release wasn’t as big as some of the marketing beats we had during development despite the support from content creators, indie press sites and ad promotion. Next time, we plan on cutting down on the marketing ramp up time and balancing marketing beats so once hype is all time high for the game, we’ll release shortly after.
Releasing steam page before game had ‘final’ art
We were so focused on putting up our steam page early on we didn’t have final art for our character and were still working on tweaking the game shaders/lighting. Our initial Steam page images looked a bit prototype-y. I think this hurt us a bit, I feel if we waited a bit to launch it with final art it would have made a bigger impression and would have gathered more wishlists on launch day. Next time, will make sure main character is final and art is in a good spot before putting the page up.
Here is a marketing template I put together that can be used to help plan out your game
Chris Zukalous Marketing Blog, he also has an amazing steam page setup class!
Gross Revenue Forecasting: This tool estimates your game’s Steam revenue over a few years based no your week 1 sales. Note: This is a range of what COULD happen.
Game Data Crunch: Great for market reserach!
SteamDB: Also great for market research!
Helpful sites for social & community events:
Launch Day Checklist by David Wehle, Developer of ‘The First Tree’
Unit Sale Estimates for Pitching by Digital Owl
Template: Budget, Cash Flow & Projections by Richard Atlas at Clever Endeavour Games
The GameDev Business Handbook - Budget Supplement
Steam Trends 2023 by evlko and sadari