digital marketing

Marketing video games in an evolving landscape

With our recent piece on Roblox, I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back and discuss marketing and the video game industry. With technology constantly evolving and changing, what does it mean to be a Marketer in the video game industry? In this post, I will go over the challenges facing marketers in this industry and how they go about maneuvering in this evolving landscape.

What is so special about marketing for video games?

Marketing video games in an evolving landscape
Marketing video games in an evolving landscape

With the video game market growing at a steady pace since the COVID-19 lockdown, I think it’s important to understand the steps marketers take in a marketing campaign, in order to successfully market a game. Typically, in a video game marketing campaign you will have the following steps; setting a budget/price, determining a target audience, selecting media, developing your content, and measuring your result. I will go and break down each of these to understand where the video gaming (specifically console and P.C. games) industry differs from any other.

Setting your budget/price

Setting a budget and or a price in the video games industry can be quite difficult.  For large companies that produce “blockbuster” video games, more specifically for consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox, we can see an average price of around $69.99 according to Statista. On the other hand, there are thousands of Indie game developers. Along with blockbuster games, they will typically sell several versions of the game that boast in-game add-ons for around an extra $15-$50. Indie game developers are smaller, less financially backed companies who have much smaller budgets and typically sell games from a couple of dollars to around $30.

An exception to the norm is video game publishers who produce games and put them out for free and rely on in-game sales of content to players for revenue. Most notably Epic Games‘ Fortnite and even large game publisher Activision Blizzard let out a free, limited version of their game Call of Duty: Warzone. This is an interesting business model, which can be seen in mobile apps and online games but only recently broke out into the gaming console industry.

Challenges for publishers

For publishers, this can be challenging, with the emergence of games that are free to download. Publishers are in tight competition to set the budget and price of their games. Just like any industry projects are able to fail. Setting the price too high, not setting a high enough budget, or just bad quality can all lead to a game failing.

Companies need to keep an eye on competition, technology, and price to make sure they keep a competitive edge over competition.

Determining a target audience

While most people think of video games as being reserved for adolescence; that doesn’t appear to be the case. In this study done by Statista, you can actually see that the majority of PC gamers fall within the 30-39 age group.

With this being the largest age segment it’s easier to identify your goals in the market and how to better achieve them. So using this data combined with another study through Statista, you can see that Shooter and adventure games are the most popular within the 20-29 and 30-39-year-old categories. Using this you can start to target those specific categories.

Selecting media to target your audience

With all research done, finding out the best way to target your audience is crucial. Typically the first step after development has begun is to make an announcement. This usually includes a cinematic trailer of the game, which is a high-quality video that is more to grab the attention of the audience rather than show off gameplay or functions within the game. These announcements can be done over social media but they can also be done in a press conference at large events like Comic Con or other various conventions.

Here is how Midjourney imagines a video game press conference. It’s actually not too far off.

When making and putting out these cinematic trailers you have to be careful. Putting out trailers too early can lead to a die-down of hype before the game is actually released. Putting out too many trailers can annoy audiences and also cause a die-down of hype. But, putting out the right amount of trailers at the right time can lead to major success. Of course, on top of having good trailers, you need to have a good idea behind them.

Developing your content through beta testing

An interesting way game publishers create hype along with gaining feedback, is to release a beta version of their game. A beta version of a game is a pre-release with limited function following an internal alpha testing of the game. This type of release is not exclusive to video game marketing, similar to how Adobe has released beta versions of their new Photoshop app.

Releasing a beta is a good way for game publishers to also receive feedback on their work before they fully release the game. It allows them to have users test the game and return feedback ensuring the final product delivers the most value to consumers.

Publishers can release two different types of betas; an open beta and a closed beta. While open betas are as they seem and open to everyone, closed betas are released to a small group typically by invitation. With a closed beta, publishers typically release the game to various influencers in the industry. This tactic is also done so that influencers can make content using the beta, furthering the hype of the game. Influencers in video games also typically provide better more accessible feedback on the beta allowing the publisher to make their game better in the end.

Measuring the market

Publishers use many different ways to measure their market. Initially, publishers use social media tools to measure initial impressions of the release. Publishers then collect feedback through the release of their beta to help understand where they are lacking in their content and campaign. Following the release of their game publishers collect data on initial sales and impressions. Publishers also follow up on the release of the game by tracking various metrics. These include daily active users, average revenue per daily active user, the number of sessions opened, in-game metrics, and a ton more.

Using metrics to understand how many players, how much money, and how often people are playing is crucial to the continuation of success post-release of a game.

Evolving your game with the market

Using in-game metrics and user feedback, publishers can release updates for released games. Updates for online games typically involve balancing of the game, fixing bugs and glitches, and it can also be used to release new content. Balancing the game typically comes from a mix of user feedback and in-game metrics to level the playing field for all users or make certain aspects easier or harder.

The release of new content in video games is used to keep users playing once the initial game has become slightly outdated. One form of content released following the initial release of the game is DLCs (downloadable content). Some DLCs are free to play, but there are also paid-for DLCs. Paid DLCs are a way for publishers to get an influx of revenue once the original hype and sales of the game have died down. DLCs offer a refreshing new opportunity for players to play something different than the original game, without publishers needing to create an entirely new game.

Forecasting challenges with technology

With incoming tech and evolving technology, game publishers are expected to invest and implement new technologies into their games. Trying to expect which emerging technology to back can be a slippery slope. A good example of this is publishers that released VR games when the technology was still new.

Currently, PlayStation is releasing a second version of its VR setup and is not expected to live up to the hype. Because of the infancy of VR technology in terms of gaming, and the cost of setup for users, VR technologies in the gaming world tend to be a poor investment.

Another example where a risk paid off was Nintendo’s Wii. Despite the high cost of setup for users and some technological issues. The console seemed to click with users and is still used quite frequently.

Conclusion

While the video game industry slightly differs from others, marketing games incorporates many aspects of all other industries. Marketing video games and the emergence of new technologies will be interesting to watch as it happens, from PlayStations VR to Roblox and generative AI, all eyes are peeled as we watch this industry continue to grow.

 

Matthew Ryan Nielson

Matthew Ryan Nielson

Matthew is a student at Ohio State University currently working as a junior content writer at Visionarymarketing.com Matthew est étudiant à Ohio State University et travaille actuellement comme rédactreur junior de contenu chez Visionarymarketing.com More »

Comments

Back to top button