How to grow a community around your indie game

Building a game is tough. Marketing is a skill that most game developers, skilled primarily in art or code, do not come equipped with. Creating a community for your indie title, however, will be surprisingly uplifting, rather than being a tax on the energy and time commitment you have for the game!

Why organize a community?

There are many benefits to a game community, and they cannot be put in order of importance, as every game and game developer is different and has different needs. Having a group of dedicated players ready to playtest every alpha build will help with motivation. Having a discussion group to ask questions about balancing mechanics and to bounce ideas off of greatly helps with development time. Keeping the intended audience of your game close allows you to better cater to that game genre and its players’ desires.

Impossible to forget, however, is that building a community for your game is a form of marketing. While someone who joins your studio’s discord server likely already intends on purchasing your upcoming title, this community serves as a marketing tool for all following games and projects. This is one of many reasons why repeat developers do better on Steam and other platforms than one-hit wonders!

Now, just how do we build it?

A lively Discord community for your indie game is everything!
A lively Discord community for your indie game is everything


The answer to this question depends on the audience. Cozy games, a wide-ranging genre, do not appeal to the same crowd as gritty roguelikes, so posting on forums, subreddits, or Facebook pages of conflicting crowds likely won’t net great results. 

If you have not already done so in previous marketing steps, consider your target audience. Who are they, what is their age range, what social media platforms do they frequent, and what genres or subgenres overlap with your game that you might crosspost to?

If your answer is “all people, all ages, all genres,” you likely are not targeting your game enough, or you have not fully studied the genre you are building this game for! Focusing your attention changes the scope of the game. 

For example, many old-school RPG players complain that modern games lack the complexity of former titles, and are “dumbed down,” while younger players look back at archaic systems before there was a job title of UX Developer in the industry at all with disdain. These are conflicting interests, and a medium does exist, but it is one of many important choices that will determine the nature of your game and its audience!

Players and Where To Find Them

It might be tempting to try and collect as many potential players and corral them all into one discord server or mailing list, but this method of community-building will be ultimately detrimental to its future prospects. In truth, many of these players will be completely new to Discord or unwilling to download a new app just for one indie game they’ve found. Others just might not want to share their personal email!

In the end, some degree of crossposting will exist, creating alternate versions of every image, video, meme, and gif on different platforms to different audiences, old and new. 

Hashtags and SEO

While these two are incredible tools when used correctly, they can also make your posts and community outreach feel robotic or cheap. A post that has a few words and then dozens of hashtags looks like an ad, not a personable developer looking to build a community. 

SEO is a beast of its own, and on the right platforms, its use can bring attention to your posts that would have otherwise gone to even better-performing content, simply because it better targets users. This is highly platform-specific, and many tools exist to understand users and their habits. Shown below is the Keyword Search tool on VidIQ, one such platform that connects to your YouTube channel and assists in content creation with active and personalized suggestions. Using this—or any competing—keyword search will let you find the specific set of words that better attracts users, starting from similar keywords.


Each platform has different strengths and weaknesses, types of media and users, and requirements.

  • Reddit builds longer discussions and is great for researching similar subgenres.
  • TikTok is a powerful marketing tool that treats established accounts the same as new ones. 
  • Twitter requires regular updates and a focus on visual media to be successful but was long known as the pinnacle of community building for a reason. This applies less to indie games, however, and so you will primarily connect with other developers unless your game has striking fidelity.
  • Telegram can build very dedicated and personable communities and is used more in countries that are not the U.S. If this is your target audience for whatever reason, it can be a useful tool.
  • Discord is an inferior tool for finding players for your community, requiring you to post regularly in other discord servers, often falling into #self-promo channels that are rarely viewed.
    • However, building your community on Discord is recommended, as it provides a multi-purpose tool that is popular among PC gamers.
  • Facebook supports longer content and community through pages but has fallen in popularity when compared to TikTok. It is still a significant competitor when it comes to ad buys, however, if that is a deciding factor.
  • YouTube is the crown jewel of publicity, visuals, viral posts, and so on. In all of the above besides TikTok, you will direct viewers to YouTube for trailers, gameplay reels, and new visuals. Your channel community tab will be accessible and viewed often by dedicated fans and is a great place for discussion and polling.
  • You might create a website just for your game or studio, which is a great landing page for all the above, directing users to the content you wish them to see such as an upcoming game or a new video. Creating one does have a barrier to entry, however.
  • Linktree acts as a hub; it can hold only links and as a tool, offers the ability to gather up all these different social media in one link to spread to your many profiles.
  • Lastly, Steam has a community tab of its own, though you would be hard-pressed to find an unreleased game with an active community. At launch, this will come alive with user-generated content; discussions on bugs, tricks, and guides; screenshots of gameplay and funny moments; and even acts as a dispensary for game updates and news!
    • As it is the one place guaranteed to be shared by all players, it is a great meeting ground.


A community around a game will gather naturally if the game is entertaining and performs well, but that requires the game to both be released and to find its way into players’ hands! Fortunately, you can hit two marketing goals at once by collaborating with other content creators or indie developers.


This is not something you want to overdo inside a game, but in your growing community, you might post freely about other games that your peers in the indie-dev community are making. Whether you are developing alone or on a sizeable team, there are hundreds of indie studios all competing for players’ attention! Cooperating with like games and communities will build both games’ followings. 

The increase in your game following is by far more beneficial than it might be harmed by “helping a competitor”. Other indie-devs are allies, not enemies!

If you can build lasting relationships with other indie developers, consider packaging your games into a bundle. This primarily helps the older game in the package, but does boost sales for the newer game as well! 

Influencers – Paid & Free

Most indie developers dream of being played by Splattercat, one of the most popular indie game YouTube channels, and there are hundreds like his. Getting that highlight video requires your game to have a well-made demo and press kit assembled, and even then, these creators get dozens to hundreds of emails a day asking them to play a game.

The returns on even a moderately-performing video, however, will draw into your community followers from the creator’s community… and this will translate to wishlists!

If your game is of greater budget and scale, however, you might consider paid gaming influencers as an alternative to marketing ads. In this scheme, the cost is typically based on views or engagement, and the developer will pay a popular creator to show off their game in a good light. In this case, you are promised a positive review, rather than a candid one. Keep that in mind.

What should you post?

This depends on the target platform; as mentioned before, different platforms have different specialties. You could not start up a new Twitter account to poll your game genre for suggestions, as you would get near zero responses. Reddit or Facebook might offer more results there, but, in turn, would not offer a convenient place for videos to rest in perpetuity, which is best on YouTube or TikTok.

TikTok can be a powerful medium to build your community
TikTok can be a powerful medium to build your community

As for actual content, there is truly no limit! Do stay tangentially related to your game or its genre, however, as some platforms will punish your visibility if your existing followers do not like deviating content. (Such as a Gamedev YouTube channel posting about dropshopping.)

Note on TikTok

This platform is unique in that it caters to an extremely low attention span mode of thinking. A user on TikTok will get recommended random posts based on what they’ve liked before, and when they happen upon a new post, it has mere moments to drag them in with some magnetic hook and keep them there. Either the first frame has to be unique so the video’s loading time (~0.1 to 0.75 seconds) isn’t wasted, or the first second of the video is dramatic enough to keep them there.

That isn’t easy to do! Thankfully, TikTok is also extremely forgiving. Unlike Reddit or YouTube, you will not get many disparaging comments for low-quality resolution or editing skills, and your post will not be deleted from Reddit. There are some simple tricks to keeping users hooked and boosting your visibility there, such as:

  • Keep it under 15 seconds.
  • Make the first frame and the last frame of the video the same, so it loops cleanly and boosts your watch percentage above 100%.
  • Keep content in the center, put text at the top and the title at the bottom. For new users, this is all the editing you will need.


For graphics, thumbnails, and artistic mockups, you could use Photoshop… or settle for GIMP. For trailers, animated gifs, or TikToks, you can use Premiere… or save money and use DaVinci Resolve. There is generally always going to be a free alternative for indie developers to use in their studio’s capacity, but there will always be benefits to the more expensive software, and the free ones might be missing some features.

Except for Blender. Blender has it all.

What to do with the new Community

You’ve posted a hundred videos, sent a thousand tweets, spilled your elevator pitch more times than you can count, and now you have a following. What now?


These are your fans, but also your customers. Standard marketing principles dictate that a potential buyer has to see your product seven times before remembering and buying it. For those who follow every channel they’re interested in, you might only show up in their feed once, so you must frequently engage your community to ensure you’re at least in the back of their minds.

Just don’t annoy them with constant posts or notifications!


Sending early builds, showing raw, uncut gameplay, and even outright asking them questions about what to put in the game, be it abilities or just the color of a sword, the community can help shape the project in many ways. If you’ve chosen your audience and genre correctly, few people will know better how to fit your game into your niche than the players you’ve already gathered.

And for the next game, you’ll already have a head start.


That side-splitting hilarious bug you found, or memes applicable to your game or genre, these are perfect for casual community engagement. While its purpose may be marketing, there’s no harm in enjoying the community you’ve built! In the end, seeing your players’ enjoyment of your game should bring a singular joy, and there’s no reason you cannot partake in that.

After all, we are game developers!

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Fungies helps game developers create their own storefronts or marketplaces to sell directly to players. Web2 and Web3 compatible. helps game developers create their own storefronts or marketplaces to sell directly to players. Web2 and Web3 compatible.

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