5 Things Game Developers Must Know About Marketing

by Game Marketing Genie, on 09-Jul-2020 10:01:21

In the final moments before launching a game, marketing is usually the last thing on most developers’ minds. The truth, however, is that it should be first.

Without proper marketing, a game dies before it gets the chance to shine. A whopping 95 percent of games are not profitable, and by 2013, only 25 percent of iOS indie game developers had generated more than $30,000. The few successful developers had to make the jump to marketing to make their games shine.

With the gaming industry crowded as it is right now, you need to prove to players why your title is worth their time and attention. A good game launch strategy allows you to communicate your game’s USPs in smart and innovative ways. As you plan on how to get your game noticed, here are some of the essential aspects that you need to know as recommended by game marketing experts. 

1. It’s all about being real

Authenticity is one of the most crucial elements of game marketing. It represents the connection between ideas, the brands developing the games, and the users playing them. Gamers value authenticity and they look for it in the titles they play. With players able to interact with each other seamlessly in their communities, they are more aware of what they are being offered.

When you create a meaningful game that has value, they will reward you with more downloads, social shares and loyalty. But it becomes a problem when they realize you’re not authentic. Gamers are very sensitive because they have been slammed with a great deal of marketing for multiple games (including AAA and indie titles) across various platforms - including the games themselves. They are also notoriously loud and demanding. They can easily tell when an idea is not real, and this can be very damaging to the reputation of a brand.

Being real entails creating genuine content for your consumers. You cannot just copy an idea, slap your logo on it and hope to gain favor with the gaming community. Gamers have good senses, and they will catch your inauthentic nature right away and cancel your game for ripping off another. The cancel culture is huge in the gaming industry, and this is what awaits you when you don’t create a unique gaming experience that gamers can get behind.

Another important thing about being real is to own everything about your game. Own your brand, its theme, the visuals, and how your game plays out. Don’t pretend it’s something it isn’t. Genuine passion from the developers is at the heart of perceived authenticity from the consumers’ end. When gamers can see how passionate you are about your game, they will be excited to try it out, and this will go a long way to make your title popular in the gaming sphere.

We have covered the topic of branding comprehensively in our blog Designing Your Brand Image to Grow, Engage, and Retain Players.

"Do something great" neon sign

2. It’s not about you, it’s about your audience

Your audience is the most valuable resource you have. Without them, the time and effort you spent developing your game won’t be worth it. If they don’t feel valued, they will abandon you and choose games from developers who take care of their needs.

Learning how to play a game for the first time can be difficult, and you’d know this yourself from your own gaming experiences. Players should be suitably guided to make the adaptation process as simple as possible. As a developer, you should provide appropriate content that will nurture the new players as they take their first steps into your gaming world. The players will have a lot of questions, and you should be available to provide all the answers.

Users in the consideration stage require even more attention from you. Just like any other enterprise, the goal of your marketing campaign is to convert as many prospects as possible into active clients. Developers need to provide the players who have shown an interest in their games with all the information they need to help them make informed decisions. Pick your best marketers to guide players through their buyer’s journey to get more of them to commit and download your game. Go the extra mile and give incentives for a successful download such as new player bonuses or a sample of your premium currency. Players will feel valued, and this is what you need to make them loyal to your brand.

People playing with their phones

3. Research is key

You cannot enter the game marketing world without first conducting a great deal of research into how you want to approach it. Your marketing strategy should be based on real facts - not guesswork - and this is why you need to take your time to research thoroughly on these critical issues.

First, you need to know your audience. A clear understanding of your target audience will make it easy for you to market your game as you will know what appeals to them and what doesn’t. You don’t want to waste your marketing spend promoting your game to the wrong people, and this will make your marketing efforts more successful.

You will also need to check out the competition. Competitor analysis will help you figure out how to reach your audience better with your marketing initiatives. Find the campaigns that brought your competitors great results and see what tactics you can borrow to boost your own campaign. Don’t copy everything entirely as you still want to ensure you pass the gaming community authenticity test.

You will need enough money to market your game on different platforms, and as such, you should find out how much other developers used for marketing and how much you can allocate.

Don’t forget to research the marketplace when trying to figure out the best way to market your title. Try and find out how many players are in your niche and the average earnings for games like yours. This information will let you know what you are up against when you launch your game, thus helping you prepare appropriately.

Developers should also identify the best platforms to release their games. For a game to gain recognition, it has to be released on a platform that offers easy access to its specific target audience. Developers should find the cost and maintenance requirements of publishing games on their preferred platforms. It is advisable to work with a game marketing agency to help you plan out your strategy and select the ideal channel for distributing your game.

Lastly, find the best social media channels, influencers, and branding scheme to deploy for your marketing campaign. Social media is for engagement with players, whereas influencers will help you reach a wider audience while the right branding scheme will ensure your game is received warmly by players.

Sticky notes with research tips

4. You’ve got to allocate a good amount of spend

You have allocated the time, effort, and money to make your game as good as you could. Now you need to allocate a marketing budget to ensure it was all worth it. Don’t assume that your game will go viral. You can make the best game or trailer ever, but if you are not allocating a reasonable budget to get it to your audience, then you’re wasting your time.

How much you spend to market your title revolves mainly around your goals. If you are a part-time developer looking to sell a few thousand copies to pay for a small family vacation, then you can do it with a small marketing budget.

But if your goals are commercially-oriented, then you need to factor in a good marketing spend. The figure you will settle on will be determined by factors such as available investment, operating costs, and the predicted game revenue. Most successful developers seem to choose a budget that’s around 25 -50 percent of the amount used to develop the game. Triple-A publishers sometimes have marketing budgets that match or even exceed their production costs, and this shows just how important marketing is if you want to get your game before a lot of people.

Setting a small budget limits your game launch strategy to small-scale campaigns that will not get you anywhere near your commercial goals. You will not reach and engage enough players, and your download and sales figures will remain low.

Finance planner and notebook

5. Take a risk

The marketplace is crowded, and if you’re not doing anything different from other developers, it will be difficult for your game to stand out. Don’t be afraid to take risks that will make your title unique. Go out there and see what your audience wants and what’s worked for your competitors – even when your brand hasn’t tried it before.

Doing the same old thing as everyone else won’t get you anywhere. You will not get noticed by players, and the press will refuse to write about your game. Your game needs to be story-worthy for you to attract enough players for organic growth. You have to be innovative and listen to your testers to ensure you release a title that your target audience will fall in love with.

Selective focus of red flower among bulbs


Why waste all the time, effort, and money you spent developing your game only for it to go nowhere. Marketing is an important aspect of your game development cycle, and you need to partner with the right game marketing agency to ensure you reach your target users effectively. Game Marketing Genie are experts at making your marketing matter. We use smart and innovative ways to prove to players that your game is worth their time and attention. Get in touch to talk to our marketing strategists today.

Need more info? Let's chat today about how we can make the most of your marketing opportunities.

Topics:Video Game Marketing StrategyVideo Game MarketingDigital Marketing StrategyTargeted Audiences

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