I have just finished my first game and am now in the process of promoting it. From what I gather, if I were promoting a flash game the process would pretty much involve submitting the game to the many gaming portals and hopefully land a sponsorship or licensing deal. It appears (when it comes to flash games) that as long as you have a reasonably decent game you have a reasonably chance at getting accepted into one of these portals and making some profit. As for HTML5 games, things are completely different. HTML5 is a new technology and there is not yet a whole industry built up to cater to the indie game developer. There are no huge gaming portals (that I could find at least) looking to license/sponsor games done in HTML5. I do believe that HTML5 is the future and will eventually replace flash, but we are not there yet, so I have to come up with a different strategy.
Initially I was trying to promote my game the same way you would promote any other website by trying to get my link in as many places as possible. I was visiting every blog that had anything to do with HTML5 games and trying to spam my link in a comment somewhere. However I came to the realization that doing this is probably is not an incredibly efficient way to go about getting more traffic. My target audience does not go to blogs about HTML5 games and then look through the comments for links to playable games. It is true that links may help improve my search engine rankings a little (maybe) but once again, I am not sure if this really will lead to more visits. When a casual gamer wants to play a casual game they usually are not sure what they want to play and are looking for site where they can browse and try out lots of games easily, kinda like an arcade (hence the popularity of the large gaming portals). They are probably not looking for a site with a single game on it (like mine).
This line of reasoning has led me to conclude that instead of trying to improve my organic search engine rankings for the game(i.e. getting a massive amount of backlinks), My strategy should be focusing on trying to get my game on sites that already have users looking to play games. Below is a list of some of the ideas I have come up with on how to go about doing this.
Social Bookmarking/Sharing (Facebook, Twitter, Google +1)
How many things have you looked at because one of your friends facebook ‘liked’ it? It kinda seems like this may be were the web is heading and I think it wise to try and tap it.
I already put the game in the Google Chrome Store. So far I have seen almost no traffic come from the listing, but I do know there are likely a lot of users there looking for games. Beyond the Chrome Store I know that there are many other apps sites/stores that I need to get listed in.
Submit the game to the HTML5 portals that do exist
There are a handful of smaller gaming portals out there specifically for HTML5 games. They are small and just starting out, but who knows what they will become in the future. I already have gotten into one of them and they send me a few visitors each day.
Start my own HTML5 portal site.
I am realizing that the is a need for more HTML5 arcade type sites, so why not try and fill it. I am planning on creating more games in the future so it might be a good asset to have to promote future games.
Update: my HTML5 portal site is now completed. You can submit your HTML5 game here.
HTML5 Design/Promo sites
Due to the newness of the technology there are lots of sites out there which are showcasing HTML5 examples. I think that this is a great way to attract visitors who are looking to try something out. I already made it onto one such site and it has sent me hundreds of visitors.