A teaser, trailer or game release announcement is not a small thing. It’s something that can change the course of the game production or even your own life depending on how it succeeds. If a lot of people see your video you maximize the chances to have coverage by influencers. Even if influencers are not as powerful as before, they still can help you on the way to success. That’s why the announcement process has to start early to be prepared enough and well executed. There are no defined rules but it’s preferable to start the communication process at least two months before for a video and six months before for a game release. Of course, you have to find the right strategy and tools to fit your needs and adapt to use them the best way possible. Will you use a mailing list? If yes it means you must already have an audience curious enough to have subscribed to it. Will you create a Press Kit? If yes it means you must create enough screenshots and media content to link them into it… All these mandatory things take time. Announcing something is never a simple thing to do. You always have to act early enough to be capable of doing all the unsuspected but required tasks that come with it.
When you need to announce something, you probably want to tell it to as many people as possible. If you’re not a gigantic company with an already established audience composed of millions of people worldwide you may want the word to be spread on several platforms and media.
Creating a Facebook page, writing the first post about your announcement and sharing it to your 32 Facebook friends is wasted time. You need more than that. You can’t only rely on your family and close friends to make your announcement the thing that you want it to be. Even if you make it on several social media at once, it will largely depend on how many people will be reached by your news. You must create an audience before any announcement. Talk about your work. Show how capable you are when the time comes to do great and important things. You can even tease your announcement. The idea is to gather enough people ready to discover what you have to show them. This communication game deserve its own blog post, but the key idea is to get the biggest audience possible before any announcement. The more people will see your new shining thing, the more potential retweets and shares you may get. People are not all gathered on Facebook. They are not all gathered on Twitter. They are not all on Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit… And all these platforms have their own mechanisms you need to understand if you want to use it the best way possible to leverage more attention.
Sending your announcement directly to the influencers (press, youtubers…) is also highly recommended. Gathering contacts and sending them a short note linking to your content add some chances for it to be seen and talked about. However, spamming influencers with your news is not a great idea. If they don’t want to talk about what you do, sending them the same announcement a thousand time might not change their mind…
Let it go
It’s easy to fall and lose yourself in the limbo of eternal preparation. You have to prepare yourself early and understand that it’s more than probable that your video or announcement event might never be perfect enough. You can always make it better. You can always make it bigger. And you will probably try to always make it better, and bigger, and finally let the release date slide to the end of times. Don’t do that. You need to fix yourself a threshold where it’s ok to let it go. As a creator, you will probably only see the things that are not as awesome as you want them to be, and underestimate the ton of content that is already there and pretty great. Show your content to your family, friends and relatives. Even if you can’t 100% trust their point of view, if they don’t see obvious ugly things, it’s probable that your announcement is already good enough for the world. Don’t put it and your game release in danger because of perfectionism. It is not worth it.
Quality is important, but preparation is even more. Being prepared and confident in your announcement strategy will always overcome the potential flaws that you are the only one to see anyway.
When the announcement day is finally here, even if you know what to do, it’s easy to lose yourself and forget things. Any tiny details that were not anticipated can ruin your announcement flow and make you lose precious hours. Things usually need to be done in a specific order to be sure that the very first people to see your content will have everything they need at their disposal to know more about what you’re announcing. If your video ends with an URL to your web site, you probably want to release the web site before launching the video. And if your web site contains a link to a Press Kit, you probably want to release the Press Kit before the web site…
Here is an example of a checklist that was used for the announcement of Night Call.
Everything checked in this list was prepared days before the announcement day, and done in the order defined in the list. Because it was prepared, the announcement took less than 5 minutes to be executed.
Again, you can’t always be sure that you will be in good conditions to unlock everything without being disturbed by external, non-anticipated, things1. Preparation will help you to do it smoothly.
Write a checklist. Order it to fit your needs. And use it like an astronaut uses hers before going into space.
Don’t take it personally but understand what happened
As for everything in the video game business, your great announcement, the one you spent 3 months to build, might not reach a large audience. Before announcing anything you need to estimate what would be considered as a communication success. If this point is not reached after your news has been sent to the world you need to take a moment and try to figure what happened.
Was the timing good?
Announcing something when the news, journos, and youtubers are busy talking about something bigger than you is generally not a good idea. You need to avoid announcing something during the E3 or Gamescom or the week after GTAVIII is released.
Was the message clear enough?
When you work on something for long enough you tend to know it so well that everything is obvious for you. But you have to think as someone who is discovering it. Don’t overestimate the understanding and patience of regular watchers. They don’t know your game, they probably don’t want to know your game. That’s why you must avoid them to have to watch your teaser twelve times in a row to understand what it’s all about. The content must be clear and straight forward. Test your content as you play test your game.
Did it look professional enough?
Looking professional as nothing to do with the game content. You can make a game that is all about penises and crude humor and make it look professional in the way it’s cut and produced. It’s very important that people watching your news don’t feel like you don’t know what you do, or that you won’t manage to keep all your promises.
Was it accessible enough?
If it’s hard for people to find your content, don’t count on them to spend hours trying to reach it. They will not. You must maximize the platforms where you content is available and make sure people can have access to it with a simple search on the Internet.
There are thousands other reasons why your announcement may not reach the success threshold you were expecting. Finding these reasons will help you do better next time. Learn from your failures and adapt your strategy.
In the end
Announcing something important for your game is always stressfull. Be wise, and prepare yourself to do it the best way possible for the world to discover all the good stuff you have for it.
When Night Call first teaser was released I was in an expo surrounded by 1000+ persons, a lot of noise, and a very bad headache. Not really the perfectly calm situation that I wanted to announce this game. ↩