Have you ever wanted to promote your game on Reddit, but just couldnâ€™tÂ make it work? Did you post a nice personal development storyÂ and Reddit onlyÂ hurt you for that? Did it crush your fragile hopes and dreams that your KickStarter URLÂ in /r/gaming could reach front page and skyrocket your project to the moon? Or maybe you just canâ€™t get over the fear of millions of people judging you for not choosing the right type of post in the right subreddit?
Take my hand, #gamedev. I have zero experience in marketing as well as no idea what am I writing about, but Iâ€™m going to show your way to the magical place of opportunities, which is (but usually isnâ€™t) Reddit. I hope that was enough of a disclaimer for you to realize that everything youâ€™re going to read should be takenÂ with a grain of salt.
How to post?
With the size and diversity of user base that Reddit has, thereâ€™s no magical formulaÂ to get your threadÂ going up. And there will always be a chance that a â€śself postâ€ť you took an hour to write be downvoted instantly, because someone browsing new posts didnâ€™t like a certainÂ word in theÂ title. But any one of us who has already triedÂ sending out 50 emails to the press only to get a single automated response with information aboutÂ payment options should be used to disappointment. And it doesnâ€™t hurt to try againâ€¦ until you get banned (rare, but happens).
To make sure we’re all on the same page, letâ€™s start this with some terminology. Reddit is divided in to hundreds of thousands ofÂ subreddits,Â created and moderated by the users, and oriented to sharing information about a specific or broader topic.
There are two types of content:
- self postsÂ (title and text)
- link postsÂ (title and link).
Depending on aÂ subreddit, one of those types can be disabled or just generally not accepted as well as another.
After you post something it usually wonâ€™t be visible in theÂ frontÂ page of Â the subredditÂ (unless itâ€™s a small one) because it will need to get more of that magicalÂ upvoteÂ energy. Check theÂ â€śNEWâ€ťÂ tab to see how much (or little) love it is receiving, and if you canâ€™t see it there, wait a bit, check again, and contact moderators asking if it didnâ€™t getÂ stuck in some spam filter (I canâ€™t explain this, it just happens). Silently asking a couple of friends to give your post a bit of a healthy boost is kind of okay, but doing it openly by spammingÂ Twitter might earn a removal or ban in that subreddit.
In the top right corner thereâ€™s a little envelopeÂ symbol. Keep an eye on it: if it lights up inÂ orangeredÂ color â€“ you got either a reply to your post or a message! Maybe itâ€™s someone who loved your game. Maybe itâ€™s a mod explaining why your post got removed. Isnâ€™t that exciting?
Subreddit subscriberÂ count is a pretty important number. Generally, the more of them, the more attention you can get. Once your post has reached a certain position on the front page of a subreddit, subscribers will be able to see it on the front page of Reddit — and you most definitely want that to happen. But it would be too easy, right? Luck in larger subreddits is oftenÂ influenced by the crowd mentality, and is generally harsher. Smaller communitiesÂ tendÂ to be friendlier and hungry for more content. (Surely with plenty of exceptions on both sides.)
So, before you start blasting your download links everywhere, take a bit of time and explore the â€śTOPâ€ť tab to see what kind of content is well accepted, and watch downvoted posts in â€śNEWâ€ť tab to learn from the mistakes of clueless users.
AndÂ always check the sidebar on the right forÂ subreddit-specific rules. Maybe it says â€śno self promoâ€ť, but maybe thereâ€™s still aÂ type of content accepted which you can post and, what a surprise, it is related to your game. Be careful how and where in the post you add a link if you are adding any. Sometimes itâ€™s better to submit a screenshot or a GIF and wait for someone to ask â€śwhat kind of game is this from?â€ť Unfortunately, being honest about your intentions and excitement to share is not the best approach, as I found out the hard way. But I might be doing it all wrong.
One more thingâ€¦ This might be completely wrong, but I think that more casual usernames are accepted better than a studio title with â€śdevâ€ť orÂ â€śstudioâ€ť part. To a certainÂ extent the same goes for Twitter, since people are friendlier towards other people, not studio or game accounts (thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m no longer calling myself RunPigRunGame).
Scary, right? Oh, youâ€™ll be fineâ€¦ Maybe.
What to post?
Now, I wonâ€™t goÂ in to too much detail here (edit: I lied), Â but just to clear things up â€“ you can post anything if itâ€™s in the right place. Â And even in the wrong place, if your screenshot, gameplay GIF or trailer looks good and/or original enough it should gain some interest.
Itâ€™s a common saying that Reddit loves a good story, but then there are plenty of people who are expecting a quick visual fix, not a wall of text, from subreddits they subscribe. So, once again, knowÂ theÂ audience before approaching it!
Of course choosing a good title is also very important, but thatâ€™s a rocket science for me, so hopefully youâ€™re better at it. Check the subreddit sidebar to see if there are any requirements for tags you should add ([Windows], [Beta], [Screenshot], etcâ€¦). â€śDownload my new game!â€ť will not work, â€śDownload game my girlfriend madeâ€ť will work better and â€śMy girlfriend made a game dedicated to our dead cat and promised me sexy times if this gets upvotesâ€ť will work perfectly. Â But donâ€™t do that. Â Reddit is already tired of being emotionally exploited and youâ€™re not that kind of the person, are you?
Jokes aside, ifÂ youâ€™ve already found the right subreddit (see next section) and have fitting content, just adapt the title to that. Make it easy to read and understand. Do not sound like a PR agent. Add a joke or a relaxed ring to it if appropriate for the audience.
Blatant advertising and download/sale fishing will not work and, honestly, when and where did it? I see it this way â€“ youâ€™re in front of huge community, you want their attention, feedback and love, soÂ you have to offer something.
ItÂ should be clearÂ without saying, butÂ being polite, friendly and responding to feedback can go a long way. Donâ€™t just post something and be done with it. Your communication style and reaction to critique will definitely be watched closely.
If youâ€™re posting a screenshot or gameplay GIF, useÂ Imgur. I canâ€™t stress this enough. Imgur was created by a redditor for Reddit and it is loved for that, speed and usability. Also, since the domain of link post URL is visible in the thread list, â€śimgur.comâ€ť notifiesÂ viewer that aÂ prettyÂ picture awaits his attention and going on a click frenzy with all visibleÂ ImgurÂ links is a pretty common â€średditingâ€ť technique. Using TinyPic will bringÂ instantÂ downvotes. Minus.com is okay.
I personally have thumbnails disabled, but many donâ€™t, so keep in mind that linking to an image will add it next to the title. Make sure that a small version of your screen grabÂ doesnâ€™t look likeÂ a colorful mash potatoes.
Where to post?
The first thing to do after joining this horrifying place would be to joinÂ /r/gamedevÂ subreddit. It does have pretty strict rules, but a lot of useful content and also weekly self-promotion targeted threads (FeedbackFriday, ScreenshotSaturday, SoundtrackSunday, MarketingMonday). Utilize them, post about your game, be annoyed that you get no comments, leave feedback for other games, finally get some feedback, yay!
If youâ€™re working on a bigger and interesting (well, of course) game and you have a story, experience, solution to a problem or home-made development tool to share â€“ that might work inÂ /r/gamedev. Also, success or failure Â storiesÂ with some details are generally well accepted too. You can always message mods and ask approval or guidance, I think they would like that better than having to remove another ill-fitting post.
Another big place would beÂ /r/indiegamingÂ which, for some reason, is pretty dead despite having 50k subscribers. Maybe because they chose an invisible font for their thread titles. Anyway, it seems like a nice place to post almost anything and get zero attention. Although, some can still get lucky.
One post inÂ /r/indiegamingÂ was an amazing find –Â list of indie game related subreddits. Use it wisely if a game youâ€™re making is similar to or inspired by one of them.
If you write a game development blog, submit your postsÂ /r/DevBlogsÂ for those couple of visits it could get from there. Doesnâ€™t hurt.
I could go and on and on about specific subreddits I have tried, but Iâ€™m getting a bit tired and Iâ€™m not sure if this post is going anywhere, so Iâ€™ll just add this crazy huge list of gaming related subreddits for you to explore and try luck in –Â http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/wiki/faq. Grouped by type, sorted alphabetically, has subscriber counts â€“ all what you’ll need to find that perfect place you can post about The Game Youâ€™re Making.
For example, if you accidentally messed up gravity and recorded a hilariously glitchy gameplay â€“Â /r/GamePhysicsÂ might like it. Have a gorgeous, high quality screenshot of a landscape you just built? Go toÂ /r/GamerPornÂ (itâ€™s not what you might think it is). Â Or if you ordered sexy Â underwear with your game logo, thereâ€™s a subreddit where you can post pictures of yourself, if youâ€™re in to that. Youâ€™ll find it in the list above.
And maybe one day youâ€™ll get enough mental strength to post inÂ /r/gamingÂ and, who knowsâ€¦ Maybe that thread will be upvoted by thousands and seen by millions in the middle ofÂ all those gaming-related memes, nostalgia posts and gameplay GIFs from AAA games. I wish you that.
TL;DR: a bit of research, choosing right time and right approach, correct subreddit, fitting content, friendliness and spamlessness (itâ€™s a word now). Try it.
This article originally appeared on the blog of Aurimas, a solo hobbyist game developer from Lithuania making small, mobile-oriented games under the name SnoutUp. He has previously done a lot of web, Android & iOS app development. Has an unhealthy obsession with piglets and will definitely buy a miniature pet pig one day. You can download his games Crisp Bacon and Shurican on Google Play.