At the time of writing this blog post, I’ve made videos on almost 100 Homebrew games for the Game Boy! But you might be wondering, how do you get your game noticed by a YouTuber or a news outlet that focusses on Homebrew and indie content? In this post I’ll be able to share just a few ways that you can improve your chances of getting recognised in the increasingly competitive Homebrew scene. This will be tailored to Game Boy games in particular, but the same advice can be applied to any indie game, Homebrew or otherwise.
Let’s begin with a bit of context around what gets played and what doesn’t. For me at least, i’m contacted all the time by devs making new Game Boy games. There’s so much out there now that unless something really impresses me, it’s impossible to showcase everything I want to! There’s also loads of really impressive games out there on itch.io and other sites that I just don’t have the time for, even though I do see them, and think they are all worthy of my time!
The quality of releases has skyrocketed in the past few years and it’s getting increasingly competitive! I’ll share some ideas for how you can get seen, get your game played online and hopefully in turn, build your own audience up and get more sales / downloads…
So, what can you do as a Homebrew dev to get seen and played by a YouTuber or Streamer, or to get featured on a gaming website? First, keep sharing, whether that’s screenshots, ideas, gifs etc, just keep posting interesting snippets of your game on social media, forums, or wherever you think the audience for your game will be.
Include the right hashtags, post regularly, and I can guarantee that if your game is good enough, people will begin to see it and take interest! Some examples of hashtags to use include #GameDev #IndieDev #PixelArt #Homebrew #ScreenShotSaturday – this last one is really useful for sharing screens and gifs from your game, there’s always a good set of game developers looking to like and retweet posts with that tag on Saturdays! Also, always be sure to include the name of your game in a post in case it does take off, and better yet, include a link to your website or blog if you have one too!
Don’t panic that youre not getting the engagement you think you should be, I guarantee a lot of people see your posts and just choose not to interact, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. I may not like every tweet you put out about your games, but I do see them, and every time I see a new tweet, whether I interact or not, it’s always reminding me of the game! If you do consistently post enough, if the game is interesting and polished enough, then there’s a bigger chance that it will get added to my list to do a video on in the future!
So, don’t be disheartened if your posts aren’t getting the engagement you’d like, and more importantly, don’t compare yourself to bigger developers, who get more engagement. They were in your situation once, and have built up a well deserved following over time. (It’s the same with YouTube!) You will definitely find your audience eventually if you keep posting and keep working on what excites and motivates you!
If you are struggling to promote you game and work on a big, multi year development project at the same time, try making a few smaller experimental games first and get those up on your itch.io page. By building up a library of interesting titles first, you’re not only gaining experience in the game engine, but you’ll also be building up an audience who like your style of games. When you do begin working on that dream project, you’ll already have a strong and engaged audience ready to support you! It will take longer, but it will be worth it in the end to have more than just one project to show for yourself, plus when you do get round that that big project, the whole thing should go a lot smoother too!
Discord is another good option for sharing progress. I have a good community of game developers on mine (Link here) who all share updates on their games and get feedback, so that can be a good place to post, but as most people there are devs themselves or just fans, don’t expect any videos or blog posts to be made from sharing there, just some good new relationships and useful advice from other people in the field, all with the same struggles that you’re experiencing already.
Reach out to YouTubers and streamers, but be aware that they may already have many other people doing the same, so keep it short, include a rom to download, and don’t expect anything in return, at least not in the short term. Try to use their business email and write up a proper introduction and explain why they might be interested in your project too, rather than just a quick DM on social media. A lot of bigger creators might have DM’s turned off too, or not appreciate being reached out to without warning. I know it can be disheartening, but you have to understand that from a growth point of view, a homebrew game for an old console really doesn’t bring in many views. Personally, any Game Boy games I play on my channel have to be either very unique or interesting, ones i’m personally attached to in some way, or ones i’ve agreed to review thanks to a publisher or someone sending them over physically. (Even then, don’t expect anything, as there’s so many releases being sent to me now, I already can’t keep up!)
Talking of publishers, that’s another great way to get seen if you’re serious about getting your game out to as many people as possible! Of course you’ll loose complete independence and some of the revenue, but by partnering with a publisher, they will help you out a lot with the marketing, and even help produce some amazing high quality packaging if you’re planning on a physical release, which can also be really good for engagement! The same applies to doing a Kickstarter if you are serious about making a physical release, but want to maintain full independence over the project.
Hopefully that helped answer some questions, and gave you some advice to take away and try for yourself! Good luck with your game development, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions or want to elaborate on anything!
Good luck with your games!
Here’s a playlist with all my Game Boy Homebrew videos!