How to Market your Indie TabletopRPG

As I mentioned before, I had the opportunity to participate in BrigadeCon 2014! I ran a panel about Marketing your Tabletop RPG. It went extremely well, considering that my webcam quality was terrible, and my mic kept cutting in and out.

Here is the youtube video, with comments and discussion listed below:

And here is a link to that powerpoint, which contains most of my notes and main points.

As I mentioned above, I was surprised that it went as well as it did. If I every get the chance to participate in anything online again, I will definitely have to purchase a better mic and camera setup. Because that was just shameful.

As to the topic, a lot of great questions and discussions came up, and everyone who tuned in got to ask questions, clarify my points, etc. I was so happy to be a part of it, and I hope my advice was able to help some people.

I saw some posts on reddit/r/rpg that helped me realize that I do have some helpful things to say, even though I don’t consider myself a professional, or anything more than a hobbyist. Here’s the post in question:

Hey Redskygames, as a fellow indie tabletop game designer myself, I’d like to give you some advice to market your game. If you don’t care about what I have to say, please ignore, but you may find it helpful.

Length – If your RPG is longer than 10 pages, you will need to work VERY hard to convince people to read it. Most users, especially on reddit, are seeking entertainment, funny pictures, and short video clips. Reading 50+ pages of rules and backstory, and digesting them are a significant time and thought investment. With that in mind, here are some ways you convince people to read your games:

Tagline – Whenever you post about your game, include a tagline. an extended sentence is a good length. Something that contains a lot of keywords and let’s players know what to expect or look forward to from your game. These keywords should point out what is unique, interesting, or exciting about your game. And if you can’t come up with a good tagline, that MIGHT be a good sign that your game needs something more interesting to grab people.
“d20 mechanics set in medieval Russia” “Tactical Science Fiction Horror Survival where you play as the monsters” “Narrative-driven story mechanics using the objects in your house to build your character” “A game of psychotic horror mixed with standup comedy”

Your website includes a short tagline, but you should have included that in your reddit post:
“Paradigm Shift is a traditional table-top role playing game set in a magical, post-apocalyptic universe!”

Which neglects to include a few things:

  • What makes this game different from all of the other post-apoc RPGs?
  • What does “Traditional” mean? Is it crunchy? Narrative focused?
  • Demo – If most of your rulebook contains setting material, if can be helpful to offer a shorter preview of the game, story, and mechanics. Have a few paragraphs describing the world your game takes place in, and then spend a page or two describing the core mechanics. Most people want an intro or a into the entire game.
  • Pitch – This is your biggest problem. Where’s the pitch?

Every game needs a paragraph or two short paragraphs that explains your game, what makes it interesting, what you need to play, and what players will get out of it. This is REALLY hard, and like the tagline, is essential to convincing players to read your game.

You don’t have a pitch anywhere. Not in the reddit post, not on your website, and not in the first few pages of the game. Why should I read your game? What will I get out of it? Here’s an example for my games:

Here is the front store page , where all of my games are listed, along with their tagline. If you click on a game, you’ll be taken to that game’s page, that contains the pitch and links to buy it.

I spent a LOT of time on my pitch, and it will determine who is interested or bored by your game. Your goal is to convince people who might like that kind of game to take a closer look.

I only read the first 10 pages of your game before I stopped and left for work. You didn’t do anything to convince me that I should spend the next 2-3 hours reading and digesting your game, much less that I should play it and offer feedback. That made me so sad that I decided to type this up during my lunch break to try and help you get your game out there so that people will read it.

Even though your game is free, you still have to sell it. It’s really hard to get your stuff out there and stand out from SO MANY other rpgs .

My last piece of advice: Read more RPGs. Read a LOT! Everything you can get your hands on, from every genre. See the mistakes that other games make, and focus on what other games do right. Then apply what you’ve learned to your own game.

You got this bro, and I’ll try to read more of your game tonight, when I have the time. Good luck! Message me if you have questions, and ignore this if you think I’m a moron.