We fall in love with our eyes. Images are easier for our brains to digest, and we make image-based decisions faster than those based on text.
For this very reason, it is crucially important that your game looks good to potential customers. Their first impression isn’t usually the description or the advertising slogan, it’s a picture. And you won’t get a second chance to make that first impression.
Attractive graphic assets will significantly increase the odds of that customer buying your game. A poor or hastily-done image will reduce those odds. So, let’s talk about graphic assets and what the modern market dictates.
Graphical assets are the materials that allow you to create the desired impression of your project. Depending on your marketing goals, the end result can be anything from enticing users to buy to wishlist products to registering for beta tests, subscribing to your newsletter, or simply clicking a banner.
The ultimate goal is, of course, to make a sale. But there are steps to getting there. The first task of any marketing asset is to get attention. Your goal is to make the player focus on a screenshot or pick your icon from a huge list of icons on a store page.
Here’s what we suggest as a bare minimum of graphical assets for a game:
A logo is a stylized name or symbol that marks an organization or a product.
Logos allow you to stand out from the competition and show the originality or tone of your game with a single word or stylized sketch.
There are generally three types of logos. Text logos are the simplest option. They’re simply the company/product’s name written out and stylized, like this:
Symbol logos use an image to represent a brand. If your game is dedicated to World War II tank battles, a tank silhouette in the logo would be fitting. If you develop match-3 about funny kittens, a trio of furry faces will hint at the game’s genre.
Combined logos mix the above two options. If you’re not sure that the name of your game or company is enough to communicate the right message, consider adding relevant imagery alongside the text.
Whatever type of logo you choose, the following principles apply.
The game icon is one of the most important (and underestimated) graphic elements of your game.
The icon is an integral attribute of the game which attracts user attention in the game store. The icon can even catch the gamer’s eye on their desktop, standing out among a bunch of other icons.
In fact, it has been said that the icon is the visual anchor for your product. It is a small but important element of your brand which should not only look good but also convey the essence of your game.
Before creating your icon, take a look at these simple rules.
The artwork is the ‘’face’’ of your project. It will grace the game page, decorate your presentations, and stare out at the audience from magazine covers if you’re lucky. It will also serve as an invaluable source of material for banners.
It has often been said that artwork that can’t be cut into a couple dozen banners is bad artwork. There are several parameters that game artwork must meet, including the following:
Be sure your artwork reflects the habits and perceptions of your target audience. Bright, rich colors and pastoral motifs are suited for the casual farm games whose main audience is 35+ women. Strict lines and dark tones fit for zombie survival games played by teenagers. Keep these principles in mind when commissioning an artist.
It’s great if you already have a high-level professional artist on your team who can create the artwork of your dreams. In this case, time is the only thing that you will need. Typically, the artwork takes two weeks to two months to complete, depending on the professionalism of the artist, the complexity of the task, and the number of edits.
If your team is devoid of artists, then you’ll have to turn to a third-party. It’s up to you whether you choose one of the numerous outsourcing studios or find an artist on ArtStation. The studios are a safer bet as far as results go but come with a higher price tag. In addition, they are interested in getting the job done as quickly as possible, so each requested edit will increase your budget.
You can find affordable deals by working with freelancers but there’s a risk that you’ll be left without any art or face delays.
Choose your option based on your task and budget. On average, the price of game art starts at $1,200 and can easily go up to $10,000 for complex art from a famous artist.
Break the work into several stages. In the event that you are working with an outside specialist, tie the payment to the completion of project stages, like the ones listed below.
Finally, your art is ready. If you followed the preceding steps carefully, then you should be happy with the results.
Screenshots are one of the most important graphic assets. While the artwork is a visual embodiment of your concept, the screenshots show the world how you have brought that concept to life. Find the most favorable angles and use these in your screenshots.
To emphasize the importance of screenshots, CD Projekt RED made “Screenshot Specialist” an official position when working on The Witcher: Wild Hunt. This specialist had to make the best images to meet the marketing goals of the project. This can be much more complicated than it seems as only one out of 200 images meet all the requirements for a good screenshot.
The requirements are as follows:
Steam and most other platforms require at least four screenshots. However, users are often hungry for many more. Include at least six to eight screenshots to show your project in all its glory and present the most important features of the game.
If the game client allows you to make the so-called staged screenshots, be sure to take advantage of this. Even if the tanks in your strategy game will not be visible from that particular angle, show the game model in all its beauty.
If you arrange in-game objects in an eye-catching way or change angles to show battles in their full glory, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, you should not abuse this. If all the screenshots on your page are derived from cutscenes or doctored to look better than reality, then prepare yourself for negative feedback and refunds from disappointed customers.
Text on screenshots should be used when it’s hard to understand what exactly is being shown. Visual novels will often use this technique to provide the user with brief information about a game’s plot. In most cases, however, the image should speak for itself.
Spend ample time preparing your screenshots. Do your best to find perfect angles and game moments. Keep in mind, these screenshots will provide the user with their first impression of your game so make sure they will like what they see.
Each platform has a set of special assets that are used for your game page. For instance, Capsule Images for Steam and Brand Banners for the App Store. Their main task is to highlight your game among similar games, and in certain cases, to serve as advertising assets.
Special assets are made from artwork such as logos, so the only advice we can give is to follow platform guidelines. Apple has released its guide in the form of a comic strip. Make sure that the style of such assets matches the general style of your graphic assets.
Working with graphic assets can be difficult. Not only are there many of them to develop and keep track of, but they also cannot be released sequentially. You should start working on your artwork two months before you need it and start preparing the logo and screenshots as soon as possible in order to get all these materials ready on time.
To avoid forgetting anything, create a special asset list. This will specify all the graphic assets you’ll need, as well as deadlines, responsible persons, and necessary comments. Some people choose to do this in Excel, others have used Google Docs or a board in Trello. The main thing is to make sure you have a list to help navigate the asset chaos.
The creation of graphic assets is a difficult task at the very beginning. However, you’ll soon grow accustomed to it once you learn the rules and pitfalls. Since you’ll be regularly creating icons and screenshots, you’ll soon learn to craft them with ease. Before you know it, players will be falling in love with your game.