Dave has created an amazing game that he knows players are going to love. He is ready to put it on the market and can’t wait for people to play it. There’s just one thing standing between Dave and the submission button: that pesky description box. Dave is eager to submit his game, so he haphazardly throws together a quick description of his game and sends it off into the void. Then he sits back and waits for the sales and downloads to roll in.
But the sales don’t come. And Dave starts thinking maybe he should have spent more time on his game description.
Don’t be Dave.
Instead, use these tips to write a killer game description that will have gamers pre-ordering and marking your game’s release date on their calendars.
Strategies for Killer Game Descriptions
1. Be Creative and Have Some Fun with It
One of the best decisions you could make for your marketing strategy is to let your personality shape it. Overly formal or “professional” game descriptions run the risk of alienating potential players. Customers are more likely to buy from developers who come across as real people they can relate to. Instead of just making them want your game, make them want to support YOU. Think about Martin Sahlin, better known to the internet as the “Yarn Guy” who presented Unravel at E3 2015. There was nothing corporate or scripted about his presentation for Unravel. He was just a developer who was clearly passionate about the game he had made. By the time he finished his presentation, half the internet was ready to buy Unravel just to support the adorable Swedish man who was so proud of it and so excited to be sharing it with the world.
Few strategies sell games faster than leaving potential customers with unanswered questions. When I first heard about Firewatch it was the artwork that caught my attention, but the need to know what was lurking about in the wilderness is what convinced me I HAD to play it. If your game is narrative based and your description doesn’t create burning need for players to uncover it’s secrets, you’re doing it wrong.
3. Dare Gamers to Rise to a Challenge
Gamers are a competitive breed. Why not capitalize on that in your game descriptions? Take Necropolis (which was briefly a top selling game on Steam on pre-orders alone), for example. The Necropolis description promises players an insanely difficult gaming experience. It dares gamers to take on a world where death is not only unavoidable, but permanent, and then taunts them: “Will you find the exit, or die trying? Spoilers: you’ll probably die trying”
You know what gamers hear when they read a description like that? Themselves saying “challenge accepted, take my money.”
Description Mistakes that will Kill your Game
1. Over Exaggerating Game Features
I’m looking at you choice-based game devs. This is so important to remember that I wrote a whole other article practically dedicated to this mistake alone. Over exaggerated game descriptions might sell one game for a little while, but it will kill you in the long run. Players will feel cheated, they will leave very angry reviews, and they won’t trust any of your game descriptions in the future. If you feel like you need to exaggerate game features in order to make your game sound interesting, that should be a big red flag that maybe your game is not ready to launch.
2. Giving Too Much Away
Have you ever watched a movie trailer and felt like you’d just seen the whole film? If so, I doubt your immediate response was to pre-order tickets for its release.
It can be tempting to list off the best and most exciting parts of your game. After all, you want to show off how awesome your game is so people will want to play it. But when you give away all the most exciting moments, you don’t leave much for players to want to discover. Instead, think about how you could take those awesome bits and turn them into the unanswered questions we talked about earlier.
3. Novel Length Game Descriptions
I’ve always wanted to read the Game of Throne series. But I also know that I could read 5 other books in the time it would take me to read one book from that series, because they are just so ridiculously long. Think about that when writing your game descriptions: players looking for something new to play are going to be quickly skimming tons of game descriptions. If they can read the descriptions of 5 other games in the time it would take them to read yours, they will. You need to make an impression quickly and concisely. Bullet lists are your friend. And skip the paragraph describing the beautiful artwork and animation and just upload screenshots and some game play footage instead.
You might be launching the greatest games ever made, but unless you take the time to write equally amazing game descriptions, no one is going to look at them twice. You’ve spent months, maybe years putting this game together; take the extra couple of hours to write a killer description. Your game and profit margin will thank you.