This page describes the process of marketing a game. Presumably the goal is to achieve maximum *user* popularity. The forces that power it are cultivated - they build up over time. It's never too early to start thinking about marketing efforts.
Marketing can begin before you've even made a game. Simply making the right kind of game or adding the right kinds of features can give you a marketing boost.
1. Does the game have a target audience in mind? Can the game be modified to hit a wider segment?
2. Is the game easy to get running? See Placement for more detail on this.
3. Is the game polished? Use PolishChecklist.
If you're open-source, you're probably also free-as-in-beer. If you have another model in mind, it goes here :)
In retail products, gaining shelf space is of utmost important. Online, distribution takes on a somewhat different nature, and with games, it has to do with how quickly and easily people can run the game. This can be a powerful force to harness. The possible distribution methods, in order of ease:
2. Dedicated consoles: power on, insert media, etc.
3. Package manager or similar "click to play" system(ex. Steam, Gametap)
4. Downloadable with installer
5. Downloadable, binaries, dependencies included, no installer
6. Downloadable, requires additional dependencies
7. Some compilation required
Generate some promotion materials to help sell the idea of the game. This could include screenshots, videos, a web site, and "marketing copy." (Bullet-point featurelists and amped-up descriptions of gameplay)