According to VG Insights*, more than 50% of indie games on Steam have never made more than $4,000, but the top 1% make more than $7 million. Whether you are an avid gamer or an interested bystander, youíve probably heard of Steam.

This digital storefront, which launched in September 2003, evolved from a simple portal to a gaming hub where you can review, buy, and contribute to the development of games. To give you an idea of Steamís initial interface, hereís what it looked like 18 years ago:

Image credit: Reddit*

Imagine itís 2003 and you have limited internet access mobile phone list and slow download speeds. Here enters a platform that was seen by many gamers as a threat to PC gaming. On the other hand, some saw this as an opportunity to distribute indie games alongside the bigger players. Fast forward to 2021 and indie games are redefining their reputation with a vocal, enthusiastic following made up of passionate gamers and talented developers.

History aside, the findings from VG Insights donít align with this claim. Despite publications like PC Gamer now having dedicated ĎIndieí sections, the truth still remains: the profit margins for indie games are still small and few indie games have seen commercial success.

Itís been an uphill battle for indie games but in the last five years, studios and freelance developers have utilized advancements to create console bestsellers that rival games produced by bigger studios. This should serve as inspiration for any developers looking to create an indie game this year, but how do you know when youíre ready to market that game?

In this in-depth guide, we outline best practices around App Store Optimization (ASO), working with gaming influencers, and launching dedicated social channels like YouTube. For our full take on indie game marketing, jump down to our infographic that has all the information and takeaways.

What is an Indie Game?
An indie game is a video game created by individuals or smaller development teams that donít have the financial or technical backing of a large game publisher.

One popular example of an indie game: Minecraft. Itís arguably the most successful indie game to date and even earned a Guinness World Record*: the best-selling video game with 200 million sales as of May 2020.

The game was even the subject of a Ph.D study in 2011. According to Alex Leavitt, a Ph.D student at the Annenberg School of Communication, the success of Minecraft was due to free marketing. The survey sample revealed that one-third of the participants had heard about Minecraft through friends while another third learned about the game from YouTube*.

With the internet booting up to change the world, software developers were faced with new challenges and a new industry: video game publishing. The games and experiences that were created in basements and bedrooms suddenly had clout. The graphics had potential, and for the first time, major publishers like Microsoft, Sony, and EA had credible competition e.g. game developer James Schmalz and his company, Digital Extremes.

This later led to developers ó both independent and mainstream ó meeting at a crossroads: collaboration to the left and competition to the right. The moral of the story is that in 2021, a mutual respect now exists. Indie game developers are now able to embrace real opportunities to launch their games for consoles, not just PCs.

Why Do Indie Games Fail? 3 Pitfalls to Avoid
The question still remains: why do indie games fail and how can developers try to avoid this potential fate? Here are three common mistakes made and how to sidestep them.

No Marketing Spend or Strategy
Before you even get started, youíre probably curious and concerned about the allocated budget to market your indie game. First, there is no Ďrightí amount and success is not tied to a specific budget. You wonít be more successful if you have a high budget just like you wonít be unsuccessful with a low one.

Having said this, itís understandable that you will not be flush with cash your first year or even first few years. For veteran indie games like Minecraft, the advantage of being the early bird is likely one of the reasons for their success. The thrill of the new is almost always going to catapult lucky entries to the front of the line. That is the exception to the rule, though. For most indie games, you need to create your own luck and marketing strategy.

Another good tip: use free channels like social media and gaming newsletters to market your game, even when your budget eventually allows you to pay for channels. Regardless of platform ó mobile, console, PC, or all three ó you need to engage in marketing so your audience will understand why your game is worth buying.

No Engagement With Relevant Platforms and Channels
With so many great gaming platforms and channels, how do you know which ones to connect with?

There are two must-have platforms for every indie game strategy: Twitch and YouTube. Hereís how these platfor