Tips for Marketing Visual Novels in 2024

Social media and algorithms are changing weekly. It’s hard to keep up, and it’s my job to keep up, so how are regular creators supposed to understand all of the nuances that change all the time?

I could make new posts about updates to strategies for Twitter or TikTok or whatever, but that wouldn’t cover the full scope of things visual novel developers should be aware of when tackling marketing in 2024. So today I want to try something new- think of it as a collection of tips and mini advice for marketing visual novels going into 2024, ranging from social media to Steam to best practices and more.

social media

TikTok is still wildly successful for visual novels

TikTok is still extremely successful for marketing games and visual novels are not an exception to that. The platform is (currently) still oriented to give users posts from people they don’t follow, making it the best way to gain awareness without a budget.

You don’t need a fancy set up. You don’t even need to show your face. You just need to record a bit of your game and make something people want to watch.

@twoandahalfstudios it's called A Date with Death and the best way to support is to wishlist on Steam! #otome #gamedev #interactivefiction #datingsim #visualnovel #adatewithdeath #indiegames ♬ Lil Boo Thang – Paul Russell

I always recommend it for studios because it can be such a cost-effective way to establish an audience. You can read my guide on TikTok marketing and Two and a Half Studios’ guide on how they market their games on TikTok.

using Instagram without Reels is pointless

Alternate title- if you’re going to make an Instagram account, make a TikTok account.

Most social media platforms are or have already pivoted to video content, whether it’s Tumblr’s failed livestreaming feature or YouTube adding the shorts option. Instagram has its own TikTok clone in the form of Reels. These are exactly like TikToks—don’t overthink them.

There are some articles that point out nuanced differences in the audiences on each, but from my experience indie devs will be fine reposting their TikToks to Instagram (as long as they don’t have the TikTok watermark on them). It’s extra views for content you’ve already created.

This was a video we made for TikTok that I reposted on our Instagram account and gained at least 25 followers from it.

On the other hand, Reels are about the only way to get views on Instagram now. You can get a lot of views with Reels, but that’s because you will get hardly any views on regular posts. If you’re going to make an Instagram account, use the Reels feature. Otherwise it’s kind of pointless nowadays.

Twitter is still (somewhat) useable (but not really viable)

Kind of like Tumblr, Twitter was not put down but rather has been put on life support indefinitely. The website is still (somewhat) useable for sharing updates if you already have an audience, but engagement has gone down a lot and spam/bots have gone up a lot. If you don’t have an audience on Twitter already, I wouldn’t bother. TikTok is much better and easier to create an audience from.

general best practices

stop thinking of marketing = advertising

The biggest rut developers can get into regarding marketing is thinking that it’s just advertising. Marketing is a means of communicating to others—do whatever you want!

Don’t want to use social media? Don’t. Want to share your creative process for making VNs? Do it. Afraid of sharing any artwork because it might be spoilers? Do it anyway, people will forget by the time the game is out.

Marketing is a creative process—one of the worst things you can do is get stuck trying to do something you hate and not getting any results out of it (because you’re stuck in that mindset that marketing is advertising and “you have to do things a certain way”).

My last advice on this part- if you still truly hate marketing, ask yourself if you need to do it the way you’re pursuing it. If you’re trying to make a commercial game to establish your studio then yes, you need to do marketing and probably need to hire someone for it. If you’re just trying to make some visual novels during game jams…don’t stress yourself out so much. Do what you want to do.

pick up blogging

You need somewhere to post long form announcements, devlogs, news, whatever. It can be on your Patreon, on your Tumblr, on your own website, on your, but it needs to be somewhere. If you haven’t started, start now. I recently started a side blog/website where I share unheard of doujin fangames on Neocities—it was free to set up and took me a few hours to get the site how I like it. With sites like Tumblr, Neocities,, Weebly, etc. you can start a new site completely free.

Eventually you’ll have announcements to make or want to talk about the designing your game or something and you’ll need somewhere to post it. Long form content (think blog posts) has a long tail end, meaning it won’t gain you followers but rather it’s meant to retain the audience you have and keep them interested. You’re not making a devlog exploring the art process for your character sprites in order to gain 100+ followers overnight, you should be making it to give you existing fans something to read about the project and keep them engaged.

I also recommend having these devlogs in at least 2 places, even if you just copy-paste between them. That way if one of the websites goes down—for instance if your Tumblr account get deleted—you’ll still have the devlogs saved somewhere. Personally, I post my devlogs on my studio website, my, and sometimes my Tumblr and Steam pages.

make it easy to find out what you’re making

No matter if it’s your social media, store pages, websites, wherever, you want people to easily be able to tell what kind of game you’re making. Not just that it’s a visual novel, but what kind of story is it? What’re the aesthetics? Does it have gameplay?

I’ve seen some taglines that are something like “romance visual novel” or “mystery visual novel”. If you have the room, give us more than that! What is the time period? Does it have specific aesthetics? Something like “a modern otome about beach fun” is a lot more descriptive than “a romance visual novel”. “A thrilling corporate satire death game visual novel” is much more impactful than “a death game visual novel”.

Steam best practices

enter festivals

Steam festivals are some of the best ways to get wishlists on Steam. Basically, they’re events held on Steam, either ran by Valve or ran by a group with Valve’s permission. Some of these events even get on the front page, like the Storyteller’s Festival, a visual novel centric Steam festival hosted by Two and a Half Studios.

You can find official Valve-ran events here in the Steam documentation (you must be logged into a Steam developer account). Developer-ran events are much harder to find—you have to be on the lookout for them. There are some places like Chris Zukowski’s newsletter that inform you about some of these events, but in general you have to follow the people who run the events.

do not submit your builds last minute

Steam is the largest platform for PC games—they’re not going to just let anything be downloadable there. Before you can launch your game, your demo, or even your page, the Valve employees have to review it. For Steam pages this usually takes a day or two, sometimes a little longer. For game builds (demo or full release), this can take several days. If they send it back to you with changes (such as they found a bug), then you have to fix it and resubmit it for review. This whole process can take over a week.

So, in general…

  • allow 2-5 days for your Steam page review
  • your Steam page must be public for at least 2 weeks before you can launch the game
  • allow minimum a week for game build reviews (preferably at least 2)

Some things to note…

  • you aren’t “penalized” for “bad reviews”, you can keep submitting builds for review
  • you can update game builds and your page as many times as you want after the initial review and it won’t need to be reviewed again
  • Valve doesn’t work weekends

use the events & announcements section

Similarly to how you should start blogging, did you know you can post devlogs on Steam? Steam has a special section called the events & announcements section found on the backend for each store page you make. It allows you to post, well, events & announcements related to the game. This can include game updates, release announcements, stream notices, crossposting other games, talking about IRL conventions or events, and more.

These posts get shared to anyone who owns the game and can show up on the store page of the game, which shows people that you’re actively working on the game. My last announcement for Canvas Menagerie on Steam was just a repost of the devlog I wrote for my website. best practices

tag your games as closely to your niche as possible

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about various visual novel-related tags on and which were better to use. This guide is still fairly accurate although new tags have cropped up since then such as the josei tag, a tag for games intended for women audiences. If you’re new to tagging things, check it out.

make the itch page appealing

The thumbnail for your store page is one of the most important assets you’ll have, but it’s also very important to make sure the store page is appealing as well. For, you’ll want several things:

  • several good, varied screenshots
  • pitch of the game
  • genres / further explanation of what to expect
  • accurate and specific tags

For more examples on how to set up an appealing page, check out this article I wrote.

add embeds to your other similar games

If your have more than one game on or that game has DLC on, embed that onto your other pages! The embed widget is a great way to show off your other games or any DLC a game might have.

A lot of my referring links to some of my lesser-known games are from these widget embeds on my more popular games. People clicked on your game because they were interested in it, so they want to see more games like it.

use the devlogs section

Like I said before in the blogging section, you need to have a place to do longform posts. offers a way to post devlogs not only to each of your game pages but also to your account (without it attached to a specific game). These are a great way to provide updates for your games and keep people interested.

Make devlogs!!

Most of these points are things that people ask me about, so I felt it’d be best to compile them here. If you’re new to marketing visual novels, be sure to read up on my big guide for marketing visual novels and my talk about marketing fundamentals for indie games. Marketing isn’t a side topic, it’s an entire field!!

Speaking of marketing, you may notice I moved some tabs around on my website and now have a Consultations page. I’ve done marketing consultations for VNs before but now they’re “officially” open—in the future you can check on that page to see if they’re open or not. I offer general marketing consultations for VN devs as well as consultations for VN crowdfunding campaigns.

I don’t really have much else to say here, I’ve mostly been reading the past month (currently on a manga kick, though I can feel the visual novel kick coming back). Like I mentioned above I took a bit of time to look at Neocities (yes, they’re still around!) and set up my own mini website there for my current fixation—finding old doujin fangames that got physical releases. My Tumblr is where I post a lot of my VN takes and such but like I always say, you need to have backups and keep your stuff in multiple places. Don’t rely on one social media!!

— Arimia

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