At some point during development, the little creature you’re nursing will want a name. Having already bled you dry and likely deprived you of some much needed sleep, the project once more asks for additional efforts on your part. How you decide to go about naming your indie game has the power to make or break its success!

Despite the stress associated with it, that step should never be taken lightly. With hundreds of new experiences seeing the light of day every week, first impressions are vital. Screw this one up and your sales may never recover!

Your game’s name becomes much more than just a pointless mass of words. For all intents and purposes, what you choose shall represent both your product and the company behind it. Before you go ahead and buy a domain for your upcoming brainchild, here are some details you may want to consider!

Be Creative; Innovative; Memorable!

Whenever I browse the Google Play Store or the indie section on Steam, I’m baffled by how similar some titles sound. Even with the right keywords in mind, it may take multiple tries before I find what I’m after. Banners and pictures help, but only if you already know what they look like!

While anybody working with games can spend a few hours rifling through these lists, most potential customers won’t.  Ideally you want them to find you within minutes, if not seconds. The longer it takes,  the higher the number of people who’ll give up.

naming your indie game column

Did someone say “Tale”?

You don’t need years within this industry to realize how overused some terms have become. Words such as LegendHistoryTale, Guns, and Warrior dominate the scene; especially on mobile platforms. Throwing one of these in means drowning your customers in an ocean of related results.

I’ll spend some time discussing keywords placement and ranking later but the idea is that competitors divert your buyer’s attention. As a general rule, you should always keep away from generic titles! Instead of following the rest of  the pack, put some actual thought into  it!

Naming your indie game isn’t only about being descriptive either! Your FPS adventure will sell even if you don’t call it Guns of Boom. There’s a good chance that it may actually perform better! Be creative and come up with something that people find easy to remember. You’ll thank yourself when the word starts to spread!

Analyze and Understand The Market Around You!

Do you know what an Ephemerid is? A quick Google search could answer that, but what you’re looking for won’t be at the top of the page. I want to spare you the hassle and tell you myself: an ephemerid is a mayfly; a small insect that only lives a few days.

Before the guys at SuperChop Games picked that title, they likely spent some time studying the market they were targeting. Their musical adventure indeed tells the story of a mayfly, but the well-known word never shows up in promotional material.

To get why, you’ll need to understand how Google works. Whenever they receive a request, search engines will return the most relevant results. It’s a bit more complicated than just that but – to put it briefly – pages also rank according to the number of visitors who get there following a specific set of keywords.

naming your indie game ephemerid graph

Searches volume for Ephemerid in the last five years. Peak is a few months before release.

The more popular this phrase is, the more people will use it in searches. The problem is that not all of them want to find you. A term that is too common may do more harm than good. Considering which keywords you’re going to rank for gets you a full picture of your niche. After all, like it or not, naming your indie game remains an important part of your marketing strategy.

Meyer and friends clearly knew that. Ephemerid was a low traffic term until their product came along. Exotic enough to stick, this word soon became the perfect solution to the problem!  They didn’t go with “tales of the mayfly” nor “mayfly’s journey” but with “Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure”. Social media and the press did the rest: three years later, their game still shows up at number one.

Is Naming Your Indie Game All You Should Care About, Then?

Obviously, finding a suitable name shouldn’t be your only concern. No matter the words that describe it, a negative experience is still unlikely to sell much. All of the research we went through before is indubitably effective, but only when your product can stand on its own feet.

At the same time, completely ignoring this important part of the creative process is a huge mistake.  An amazing concept with a mediocre title will often be considered unworthy of one’s attention. You spent years crafting what you thought would be the next classic, why fling it all out of the window just because you feel tired?

The key here is experimenting across multiple releases. As you gain more experience, you’ll eventually learn the secrets to effectively naming your indie game! Practice makes perfect, someone would say!


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