ROBLOX Game Marketing 101

November

30, 2013

by Andrew Haak


Archive

Games Page ImageSo, you’ve made a game. Maybe it’s your first attempt. Maybe it’s the first thing you’ve created that you’d deem “acceptable for public consumption.” Maybe it’s the next big thing. Whatever the case, you need to get it in front of people – real, authentic gamers – and, at the very least, collect some feedback. You’re in the right place: ROBLOX has millions of active members, many of which are happy to try something new and eager to discover something great. You just need to capture their attention.

Low-level

These things won’t make or break you, but they will make a difference when it comes to attracting the casual passer-by.

Create an eye-catching game thumbnail. This is harder than it sounds, primarily because what looks good in your graphics editor at full resolution may not convey much information when it’s on ROBLOX’s Games page, surrounded by several competing games. Choose an interesting image that’s in synch with the aesthetic of your game, and don’t clutter it with too much text or text that is unreadable at the smallest thumbnail size (which is, on desktop, 192×108 pixels). Here are a few game thumbnails that are well optimized for display in the many contexts they may appear:

Apocalypse Rising Thumbnail

Apocalypse Rising’s thumbnail accurately represents gameplay and the feeling of danger, and still manages to convey the title with easy-to-read text.

Darkness Thumbnail

The simplicity of gameplay and the environment’s lack of light is conveyed via Darkness’ thumbnail.

The Hunger Games by Ozzypig

The Hunger Games by Ozzypig features bold imagery and text that is readable at any size. The trademark blood splatter is a nice detail.

The Stalker Thumbnail

The Stalker captures the essence of the game with a unique, cartoon-style image.

Write an exciting, but succinct description. Get the reason someone should play your game up front. It’s tempting to tell your game’s back story or ramble about the minutia of each future you spent hours developing, but keep the player in mind. Why play your game over any of the others on ROBLOX? What makes it unique? What makes it better than the competition?

And remember, someone who knows nothing about your game might stumble upon it at any time. You might want to give them some context before you list every keyboard command or dive into the update log. Here’s a well-rounded example from Dungeon Delver:

A project by Gl0in and Gl0in2. Explore through randomly generated dungeons with your friends! Beat a dungeon by finding keys, killing hordes of enemies and collecting treasures, and kill the boss at the end of the dungeon. * Random dungeons and loot! * Play one of the 5 classes: Warrior, Mage, Hunter, Paladin, or Necromancer!

It’s not the first thing you see when you visit the game’s page, but it tells viewers what the game is and lists some of the most enticing features.

Mid-level

If making it to the top of the Games page was as easy as a nice picture and well-written description, everyone would be at the top. It’s time to start thinking deeper about how you can get noticed.

Create a video trailer. Making a compelling 30-second video, like an effective thumbnail, is not that easy. In order for it to be worth your while, you need to hook potential players. That could be by telling the story of your game – what it is, what the gameplay is like, why it’s fun, etc. – or, on the other end of the spectrum, doing something so bizarre or funny or risqué (within reason; we’ve got young minds to protect) that players just can’t leave without seeing what’s inside.

Uploading a cool trailer won’t magically bring your game traffic, but it is a way to get potential players to convert.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQZs5ii140U

I now want to play this game.

This one, too.

Add badges to your game. While badges may only seem like a way to keep players hooked longer, they also have the effect of giving players a reason to start playing. Think about it from an outsider’s perspective: they land on your game’s page, and see a list of challenges they can complete and ultimately boast about them to friends. You’re dangling another carrot in front of potential players, while simultaneously conveying that there’s some gameplay depth.

Just try to mix genuine challenges in with any giveaway-style badges (e.g., badges awarded to anyone who simply joins the game).

Advertise your game. Being a successful advertiser on ROBLOX is a topic for a separate article – and one that we’ll be publishing in the near future. However, it’s worth mentioning in this context. Using our user advertising system, you can get an ad for your game in front of as many people as you want – as long as you have the money to do so.

The trick is walking the line between communicating what your game is and capturing the imagination and interest of the common gamer. Many developers have used a comic-style approach to convey the essence of their game and entertain potential players. Apocalypse Rising developer Gusmanak notes that the following ads, both by PKThunder, helped get his game to the front page.

Apoc Rising ad 1  Apoc Rising ad 2

Another interesting case study is that of um3k, creator of BattleBoats and Zombiesdale, who recently ran an experiment to test the effectiveness of two ads. He found that the comic-style ad performed more than three times as well as the “zombies” ad, and more than twice as well as any previous ad he had run.

Zombiesdale ad 1 Zombiesdale ad 3

Sure, you could go the meme route and just get people to click, but you want clicks that are going to help you reach your goal: get people to play your game (not just see where the ad takes them). The humorous comic-style approach has worked for many games and might work for yours, too.

For more background on how the user ads system works, see this previous blog post. It’s old, but most of the information holds true to this day.

High-level

These techniques are more abstract than anything covered up to this point, but they can be valuable.

Leverage your social network (or start building one) and “influencers.” Establish connections with influential members of the development and building communities. Participate in forum discussions, join groups and exchange private messages to show established members with followings that you’re serious about making a good game and improving your craft. Having a few prominent developers interested enough in your game to visit it and perhaps provide feedback not only looks like a stamp of approval, but could cause their following to take notice, as well – especially if they “favorite” it. Then you have a chain reaction of visitors.

Networking

Side note: many popular ROBLOX developers get more private messages than they can read. You might have better luck getting noticed using alternative communication channels, such as Twitter or forums.

If you’re a member of a group that would be interested in your project, make sure to let them know what you’re working on and ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to tell people about it and get a discussion going. If you have friendships with prominent community members, ask them a favor. Just be tasteful about how you do it – nobody is going to feel much empathy toward someone who spams a link to their place five times a day.

Create a perfect storm. Something that would be hard to miss.

Get the visual content – thumbnail images and video trailer – right where you want them. Write a good description and add badges, if desired. Then start your advertising campaign – both leveraging our user advertising system and networking with prominent ROBLOXians. With timing, this approach could add up to be more than the sum of its parts.

This is a high-level overview of techniques you can use to spread the word on ROBLOX. Of course, the most effective thing you can do is build a good game. What other options are there? Don’t hesitate to chime in with your own experiences.