Gaming is big business. The video game industry generated over $180 billion in revenue in 2021 and is projected to surpass $200 billion in 2023. With so much money to be made, competition is fierce among game developers and publishers. Successful marketing can make or break a new game’s launch and determine its long-term success.
What are some of these strategies? We linked up with our marketing and gaming expert Michelle Thomas (check her profile), who shared the following.
What are some of the key marketing strategies and secrets used by top gaming companies? Here we break down the most important elements for effectively promoting games and engaging players in today’s crowded marketplace.
Top Secrets to Marketing in the Gaming Industry
Catch the Attention of Your Target Audience
The first step is understanding your target demographic and what motivates them. Most major game releases today are aimed at core gamers who are knowledgeable and passionate about games. To grab their attention, emphasize what makes your game special in terms of features, story, graphics, gameplay mechanics, or development team.
Use striking visuals and exciting imagery in your marketing materials. Trailers and teaser videos are essential for showing off the look and feel of new games. Partner with influencers and media outlets popular among core gamers. Attend gaming conventions to debut footage and build buzz. Your goal is to make a strong first impression and get core fans excited to try your game.
Build Hype and Momentum Leading Up to Launch
Savvy marketers begin promoting new games months or even years before release. Offer enticing early looks through press previews and beta access. Slowly reveal details through social media, interviews, and events.
Time major announcements to key industry dates like E3, Gamescom, or PAX. Give fans chances to sign up for info and incentives like beta access. Generate speculation and anticipation. You want a crescendo of buzz leading up to launch day.
Leverage Streaming and Influencers
Live streaming and influencer marketing are powerful ways to give potential players an authentic experience with your game pre-release. Top YouTubers and Twitch streamers can showcase gameplay footage and share honest reactions with millions of loyal followers.
Seek out influencers who genuinely enjoy your game genre. Provide early review copies, exclusive content, and other perks in exchange for coverage. Pay close attention to feedback during streams and videos. Address any pressing concerns or bugs before launch. Positive influencer coverage translates directly into sales momentum.
Optimize Your Store Pages
The product pages on digital storefronts like Steam, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop, and Xbox Marketplace are where many players first encounter your game. Ensure every element on these pages conveys quality and excites customers.
Craft an intriguing product description that highlights key features and sells people on trying your game. Choose representative screenshots and trailers that paint an accurate picture. Monitor user reviews and frequently asked questions, responding promptly to issues. Keep store pages updated with new assets and info leading up to and post-launch.
Support Streamers and Content Creators
Influencers don’t stop being important after release. Continually provide content creators with assets and info to produce videos, guides, reviews and streams about your game.
Share news of updates and DLC to spur renewed interest. Run contests and giveaways through influencer channels. Collaborate on charity events. Anything that keeps your game visible and encourages players to engage with it longer. Offer creator referral codes so influencers earn rewards for sales driven through them.
Understand Each Platform’s Marketing Opportunities
Successfully marketing games requires tailoring promotions for each platform’s unique ecosystem.
On PlayStation, utilize seasonal sales events, ads on the PlayStation Store, PlayStation emails, and the PlayStation blog to reach customers. Provide marketing assets like custom themes and avatars. Participate in their partner programs for additional promotion.
For Nintendo, publishing games physically on Switch cartridges helps visibility in stores. Submit demos for players to try during livestreams and events. Cross-promote with other Nintendo titles. Leverage their influencer program.
On Xbox, take advantage of visibility through Game Pass and their subscription services. Partner with them for custom console bundles. Join their marketing programs to gain additional exposure.
Every platform has its own pathways and best practices to learn.
Optimize for Influential Review Sites
Reviews from major gaming sites like IGN, GameSpot and PC Gamer make a huge difference in launch sales. Provide early review copies several weeks pre-launch to allow proper evaluation. Brief reviewers on key elements to focus on.
After reviews hit, amplify positive excerpts through social media and ads. Address constructive feedback. Reviews are most influential right as games launch, so timing review copy distribution is critical.
Maintain Community Engagement Post-Launch
Launch day is just the beginning. Regular community interaction keeps players engaged for the long term. Communicate news of patches, expansions, events and new content through social media, email lists, and your game’s website.
Share fun assets like wallpapers and GIFs. Run polls and contests. Closely monitor forums and reviews. Provide stellar customer service. Quickly address issues and ban toxic players if necessary. A responsive, friendly community team retains players and builds brand loyalty over time.
Availability of free to play games
Do you know anyone who does not like freebies or reject them when offered at online stores? Only a few would do that, but the majority of the people like freebies. They are primarily through bonuses and discounts to the customers. Some Canadians will think that it’s a way Canadian businesses show their love to them. Yet, it’s a way of encouraging them to buy more, invite other customers, and stay loyal.
That’s the same case with the casino industry. If you have been keenly following the gaming industry statistics, you will notice that both new and established Canadian casinos understand the magic of giving out freebies. That’s why Canadian sites have lots of bonuses and other amazing rewards such as free spins that they give their customers.
The bonuses are a way of enticing new customers to join the platforms and play more games. It also encourages the Canadian players to keep playing and remain loyal to the companies. That enables them to add more customers and also grow their revenue through sales and other gaming services. Availing free to play games is a secret used by the few Canadian gaming companies that want to stay ahead of the rest.
Top online casinos are increasingly taking that advantage to satisfy their users’ needs. They have downloadable applications that are compatible with the common operating systems of the majority of the phones.
Track Performance and Optimize Accordingly
Marketing campaigns should be iterative processes. Closely analyze performance metrics for ads, influencer posts, events and assets.
Determine what is resonating best with your audience and double down on those areas. Cut elements that underperform. Refine messaging and visuals.optimize store pages. Operations never stop. Use data to continuously improve marketing and exceed sales goals.
When used strategically and in combination, these techniques allow gaming companies to break through the noise and succeed in today’s crowded, competitive marketplace. Marketing is just as important as development in making a great game reach its full potential. Master these methods to effectively engage players, build sustainable buzz, and grow a devoted fanbase.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some key gaming conventions and events for marketing?
Some major gaming conventions and events include E3, Gamescom, PAX, TwitchCon, PlayStation Experience, Nintendo Direct, and Xbox E3 briefings. These events generate substantial buzz and are ideal for announcing games, premiering trailers, and building hands-on hype.
How early should you start marketing a new game release?
Start building marketing momentum for a major release 6-12 months prior to launch. Have a website, social media, and basic info ready even earlier. Big brands can even start teasing games 2-3 years before launch. The longer run-up, the more hype you can build.
What makes an effective games influencer or streamer partnership?
The best influencer partnerships are with streamers or content creators who genuinely enjoy your game genre. Give them early access and be supportive of their content. In exchange, they will showcase your game authentically to their loyal fanbases.
How often should you communicate with your game’s community post-launch?
Strive to communicate with players at least weekly, if not daily. Share updates, content, sales, polls, community spotlights, etc via all your game’s social/community channels. Frequent engagement retains players.
What metrics are most important to track for games marketing?
Critical metrics include sales data, website traffic, ad performance, influencer content engagement, reviews scores over time, social media growth, app store ratings/reviews, and player retention post-launch. Analyze this data to optimize.
Marketing is essential for making games succeed amid stiff competition. Savvy developers and publishers promote early, build pre-release hype, leverage influencers, optimize store pages, support content creators, customize platform plans, court reviewers, and stay engaged with players post-launch. By following these best practices, your game can break through noise and fulfill its potential. Use every tool at your disposal, track key metrics, and keep iterating. With strategic marketing, your game can build an passionate community and marketplace success.