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How To Write Your Game’s Blog or Newsletter
They may seem old school, but blogs and newsletters play an essential part in game marketing
If you don’t keep reminding players about your game, most of them will forget it and move on to something else.
This is why AAA game developers spend millions of dollars on marketing their games with trailers, billboards, private events, showcases, interviews, giveaways, and sponsored content, and why savvy indie developers use their considerably smaller budgets to post constantly on social media platforms. With the plethora of other games and distractions available, it’s easy for players to completely forget about something they were once giddy with excitement for.
Fortunately, there are two incredibly inexpensive, effective, and often overlooked tools for maintaining engagement, building excitement, gathering feedback, and increasing sales: blogs and newsletters.
Blog vs. Newsletter: Which Is Better?
A blog is a website where an individual or group posts public articles about a subject. Blogs are usually not beholden to a schedule or set format and are written in a casual, conversational style. The major advantage blogs have over newsletters is that they exist online indefinitely, allowing new readers to stumble onto them years after publication.
A newsletter is a publication that is periodically sent directly to members of a community or organization via email. Newsletters are usually sent at regular intervals following a consistent format and branded writing style. The major advantage newsletters have over blogs is that they are sent directly to subscribers, making them more likely to be consistently read and engaged with.
Which format is best for you depends on your preferences and goals. For maximum discoverability and consistency of engagement, I recommend a blog with the option for readers to receive emailed notifications of new posts.
No, Social Media Isn’t Enough
I imagine many of you are reading this and thinking “I already use social media for keeping players updated and engaged, so I don’t need a blog or newsletter.”
While it is possible to perform many of the same functions of a newsletter or blog using social media platforms, and social media platforms allow you to market for free with a chance of going viral, they also possess many drawbacks:
You’re at the mercy of broken reporting systems. Your content and your entire account can be reported and/or taken down for any reason. Even if you manage to sort it out and get everything back online, you’ll have wasted valuable time doing so.
You’re entirely dependent on the algorithm. Sure, the algorithm might help you go viral, but it can also prevent huge groups of people (subscribers included!) from seeing your big announcement if something else takes up their feed that day. This is partially why an account can have thousands of followers and yet have its content seen by only a few hundred people.
Your reach is limited to people with active accounts on that platform. By only using social media, your message is limited to potential fans that also use that platform. Furthermore, if a fan of yours decides to stop using the platform (or is banned, loses access, etc.) that you rely on for engagement, they’re now out of the loop.
You’re at the mercy of the platform’s whims. Every time a social media platform makes a big change, somebody suffers. Either their engagement or reach suddenly drops, they’re no longer allowed to post the same type of content, or something free is now locked behind a paywall. You simply cannot afford for this to happen to your primary medium of communication.
However, with a blog (not hosted on a social media platform) and an email list, you’re almost completely immune to all of these problems: your account and content cannot be easily taken down or removed by accidental or vindictive reporting, your messages will always go directly to subscribers’ inboxes, your only limitation is to those with access to the internet, and even if your blog host suddenly makes a change that’s detrimental to you you can simply move to another host while retaining all of your posts and subscribers.
That said, you should still use social media. However, instead of relying on it to communicate with your fans, think of it as a tool to catch the interest of new fans and direct them to your blog/newsletter where they can learn more and stay engaged.
Tips for Writing Your Game’s Newsletter or Blog
While the topics, writing style, and format will depend on personal preference and platform, here are some of my top tips to write a great newsletter or blog:
Topics: Always keep your audience in mind when selecting topics. For example, while other indie developers might enjoy reading a lengthy post detailing your process of identifying and fixing an annoying bug in the code, potential players probably only care to learn that the bug is fixed. When used as a marketing tool, aim to select topics that will remind players of your game and incentivize them to keep coming back. Some topics that can keep players engaged include:
Story and character teases
Important date announcements
Sales and discounts
Cross-promotions and shoutouts to other developers
Tone: In addition to keeping your audience in mind, also consider the tone of the game you’re developing and your company/brand as a whole. For example, if you're a solo developer, feel free to inject your personality into your articles to make them feel more personal. Likewise, if you’re developing an intense horror game, you could lean into it with cryptic messages and spooky imagery (perhaps even written from the perspective of a character from the game) to make the articles feel like a natural extension of the game. Once you’ve defined the tone you want to use, be consistent with it.
Length: This can vary quite a bit between posts/newsletters depending on the topic(s), but I try to stay between 500 and 1000 words to ensure there's enough content to make reading worthwhile without demanding too much time. That said, the topic should dictate the length and not the other way around—if your topic can be summed up in a short paragraph, consider pairing it with other topics or simply sharing it to social media instead, and don’t remove vital details just to cut down your word count.
Format: If your post/newsletter has more than one topic, always start with the most interesting one at the top and funnel down to the least interesting topic at the bottom. Use a combination of text, images, and lists to break up the text and make the post/newsletter more visually interesting.
CTA: Make sure to include a call to action (CTA) to tell people exactly what it is you want them to do after reading your article, explain why it helps you, and include relevant links (e.g.; “buy me a $5 coffee to help me keep HTWG going!”). Always direct new readers to subscribe to your email list. If there's a single most important destination (like your game’s store page), link to it multiple times—in the text, on any relevant images, and as buttons.
How To Write a Game is a free publication written by Ryan Matejka, an organic human who loves to write. If you like this, please consider making a small donation.