The Ultimate Guide to Game Marketing: Everything You Need to Know
by Game Marketing Genie, on 25-Jan-2021 12:07:39
Game marketing isn’t an easy business, especially if you don’t have a lot of expertise in it. With a sea of competitors, and only more getting released every year, as a gaming studio or developer you might find yourself struggling to see a future for your video game.
Luckily, we’re here to help. Take a journey through our ultimate guide to everything game marketing to get yourself ready to make your game a success!
- What is game marketing?
- Game marketing in 2023
- Making a good game marketing plan
- How and where to market your game
- Understanding the marketing funnel
- Understanding your competitors
- Game marketing strategies to use (more than 20 strategies!)
- What your game marketing strategy needs
- Successful, profitable and results-focused game marketing campaigns
- Influencer marketing
- Seasonal marketing strategies
- VR and mixed reality
- Cloud gaming
- The subscription economy
- Microtransactions and you
- What to do (and what NOT to to do) when marketing to gamers
- Generating brand trust
- Game design for growth (inc. game narratives and educational games)
- Game marketing research
- Steam game marketing
- F2P game marketing and revenue
- Making your game go viral
- The right team for the job
- Getting the right game marketing manager
- Game funding and investors
- Time to launch your game
- Working with the game marketing experts
- A little bit of inspiration for your strategy
- ... All that's left is to get started!
What is game marketing?
The gaming industry is continuously expanding, and is set to grow to an outstanding global value of more than 200 billion US dollars by 2023 (source: Statista). With numerous games being introduced to a variety of different platforms and genres every year, there are an increasing number of choices for players. This means that without an effective strategy in place, your game will be lost in the sea of forgotten games.
And game marketing is your opportunity to position your game for success in today’s ever-growing gaming industry. Identifying key target markets, creating well-crafted and customized messaging, developing ads that deliver the right message at the right time, ensuring that your website is optimized and more are your keys to game marketing success.
Find out more in our blog, What is Game Marketing?
Game marketing in 2023
Gaming is only going up! Now one of the biggest parts of the entertainment industry, game devs need to do a little more than release a game on Steam to make it.
And they also need to step up from the gaming trends of the past. Much like any form of technology, gaming is evolving — meaning that your marketing strategy needs to as well.
Find out what trends to follow in 2023 here: 15 Game Marketing Trends for 2023.
And get your modern game marketing guide in Mastering Modern Game Marketing With Game Marketing Genie.
Making a good game marketing plan
Many games fail because developers often treat marketing as an afterthought and not a crucial part of their development process. The commercial marketplace is big and noisy, and the gaming industry is noisier than most, with thousands of developers and publishers all competing for players' attention.
So if you want your marketing to succeed, then you need a plan. But what is a game marketing plan? This is a report that outlines your marketing strategy for the next week, month, year - any chosen period that you wish to set a campaign for. It captures your marketing objectives, tells you how to reach them, highlights the tactics you’ll use to build a following for your brand, and shows you how to popularize your game on different platforms.
When marketing your game, digital strategies are the best since the target consumers can be reached easily through these mediums. It’s also more affordable than traditional advertising as it allows developers to target specific audiences with creative marketing campaigns.
Our blog, What is a Game Marketing Plan and How Can You Tweak It for Your Game?, tells you more about what a game marketing plan means for you.
For an in-depth guide into making a game marketing plan work for your needs, check out our blog How to Make a Game Marketing Plan Work.
How and where to market your game
There are billions of gamers across the world, but not all of them will enjoy playing your game. The gaming market isn't a small one either, with thousands of companies constantly trying to prove to their audiences that their games are the ones they should be playing.
Of course, strong game marketing is your ticket to convincing your audience to buy, download and play. When you start your game marketing process, there are two things that you need to know: how to do it and where to do it. These are quite broad, but essentially boil down to these two questions:
- What strategies will I use to market my game?
- What outlets will I use to reach, engage and convert my audience?
If you want these questions broken down in a bit more detail, check out our guide: Video Game Marketing: How To and Where To Do It.
Knowing your audience
You may think you know what type of people make up your game's audience, but do you know them in detail? Let's test you out! Answer the following questions:
- Can I separate my audience into different groups?
- Can I create detailed groups that every single one of my audience members will fit into?
- Do I know what kinds of material will connect with each group?
- Do I know how to reach each group?
- What do members of my audience's lives look like outside of their game preferences? (i.e. what they do for work, if they have children, their lifestyles etc.)
- Do they have the budget to purchase your game and/or in-game assets? (e.g. no ads, items, skins etc.)
These are just a few of the questions you'll have to answer before you get started with game marketing, and chances are that you might have had an idea for each rather than a fully fleshed out answer.
This is why you need buyer personas as an essential part of your game marketing strategy. But what are they, and how do they help you make actionable, informed marketing decisions? We've got all that and more in What Are Buyer Personas and Why Are They Key For Your Game Marketing Strategy?
Understanding the funnel
What makes a game marketing campaign successful? There are a lot of things that do this, but one of the best tactics is to have a strong marketing funnel that tells you where your players are, what chance they have of buying your game, and the tools you get use to encourage them to do so.
A marketing funnel is a type of model that notes the path that potential customers will take - from finding out about your brand all the way to becoming a loyal purchaser that is retained.
Want to learn more about what a good marketing funnel can do for you? Read more in our blog here: How to Create a Successful Game Marketing Funnel.
Understanding your competitors
The video game market is full of triple A developers, indie studios, and everything in between. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of game devs out there who all want their games to become the next big thing.
As we mentioned earlier, there are also billions of video game lovers out there. Unfortunately, they are not all part of your target audience, meaning that you'll have a distinct set of competitors to come up against. You will have to have a strong understanding of your competitors, their products, what they're doing, and what's not working for them. Having this information will help you optimize your marketing strategies for success.
Learn more about the market in How Competitive Is Video Game Marketing?
Game marketing strategies to use
So, your game is ready to launch and you’re set to make your game marketing plan. Now what? Unfortunately, you’ve only done half of the job. Using the right strategies is an essential part of releasing your game to the market and attracting the thousands or (hopefully) millions of customers that you’ve been dreaming about.
There are several different ways to go about game marketing but without any insider expertise, knowing what to do can be an overwhelming experience. If you’re unsure where to begin, we’ve compiled a guide that’ll give you the best video game marketing strategies that you can use to make your game rise to the top right now!
Don't wait to get started! Your quest starts today with 11 Video Game Marketing Strategies You Can Use Right Now.
And it continues with 11 MORE Video Game Marketing Strategies You Can Use Right Now!
Or, check out our 10 Starter Pack Video Game Marketing Strategies for Game Creators.
What your game marketing strategy needs
The perfect strategy can be hard to come by, but great games are backed up by great marketing efforts, so you need to make sure you make it count.
If you’re a developer with several marketing channels to choose from, it is easy to become confused when you’re designing your game marketing strategy. After all, knowing how to create a good game marketing strategy is one thing, but knowing exactly what you need to do so is another. Putting a great strategy together with the right assets, understanding and ideas is your formula for success.
A great way to ensure that you stay on track is to follow a checklist which tells you what you’ll need to consider. This will help you stay on track of your goals and timelines, heighten your brand’s power in your industry, and employ the best marketing methods that are set to work wonders for you.
To create your own, check out our guide here: Crafting Your Video Game Marketing Strategy!
Successful, profitable and results-focused game marketing campaigns
You’ve got your basic game marketing plan, you know what strategies you’re going to use, and so you’re ready to go now, right? Wrong! There’s still more you need to know.
A good game marketing strategy has a lot of components, and understanding the ones you need to have can be hard. Getting this component mix right is crucial for a winning marketing campaign, as we see that 10% of all published games generated over 90% of the revenue.
There are six essential components of a successful game marketing campaign that you need to ensure that you understand before you proceed. These are as follows:
- The audience
- Your communication strategy
- Brand loyalty
- Your game’s genre
- What makes your game special
- Your delivery method
Using this knowledge well will ensure that your marketing campaign is unique, engaging and well-informed. But importantly, it also means that you’ll get the results (and profits!) that you desire.
But what do you need to know about each? Our blog, The 6 Fundamentals to Running a Profitable Game Marketing Campaign, will teach you what you need to know!
And check out our sequel to this article in Profitable Game Marketing Campaigns: 6 More Things You Need To Have.
There are a multitude of marketing strategies you can choose from, but we recommend that you stick with just a few to start with.
With all the competitors in the gaming industry, you’ve got to make sure your marketing isn’t generic, that it is able to reach your target audience with the right message, and ultimately that it is able to convince them to engage with your game. One of the best ways to get your game noticed is to use influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is the practice of advertising products and services through endorsements (and other methods) from well-known personalities - usually on the big social media platforms and video services. These personalities are usually involved in a similar niche as the brands they work with, and have a dedicated follower base that love to engage with their posts.
Influencer marketing is a major player in the video gaming industry, as it is flooded with high profile streamers, YouTubers, game reviewers and more. We cannot recommend this strategy enough, especially if you need you game to break into the market.
If you want big names to play your game, then you’ve got a few platforms you can choose from. Check them out in our blog, 6 Livestreaming Platforms To Use For Video Game Influencer Marketing.
Or, if you want to skip all the hassle and be connected to influencers in a fraction of a second, head over to our platform at Atisfyreach to find out more.
Every season presents the chance to use some unique opportunities to make your marketing a success. Even if your business and games aren't season-based, your customers will react to different events and sales in ways that you can use to your advantage.
With people tending to spend more in seasonal events, especially those heading up to the Christmas period in December, you've got to understand how to connect with your audience at this time.
Luckily, we've got a guide that explores seasonality and how to develop a killer strategy that'll get the purchases you desire. Get all the information you need to know in Your Guide to Video Game Seasonal Marketing.
VR and mixed reality
The gaming industry has moved beyond PC, console and mobile into the next frontier of video games. Because this industry is so new, it means that marketing it is not completely understood - which means that you need to do it exceptionally well to succeed.
There is a lot of scope for VR to take over the gaming market, and the number of VR titles and tech is only increasing. So what does the industry hold for VR, and for marketing these games? With the right technological advancements and immersive content, there is no reason for VR not to capture the hearts of gamers everywhere.
Check out our VR gaming blog, VR Game Marketing: The Present and Future, to learn more!
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are two of the most common new gaming styles. From PC to mobile, these new ways to play games have revolutionized the gaming industry and offered us a new way to engage.
But what about mixed reality (MR), which offers the best of both worlds (physical and digital) to create a dynamic new gameplay style? Mixed reality combines a player's actual surroundings with intelligent virtual objects, allowing users to feel like they’re interacting with both environments at once. This makes the gameplay feel more realistic, and helps bring once-fantasy worlds to life right before our very eyes.
Sound interesting? It is! Check out our blog that answers this question: What Does Mixed Reality Mean For the Video Game Industry?
But it's not just the style of games that's changing, it's also the way we access them and the variety of options we have. People around the world have jumped onto streaming services including Netflix to get a range of great content available at one affordable monthly price. So, who's to say that this wouldn't work for the gaming industry?
This is called cloud gaming, and we're heading to a future where discs, downloads, and even consoles may not be required for people to stream their favorite games as easily as they can watch a movie by logging onto Netflix. Cloud gaming isn’t a new concept, and it has been around for a while but has failed to take off because of a various constraints. However, as technology gets more powerful and our love for easy access subscriptions grows stronger, we see this as a major part of gaming's future.
Find out more in Is Cloud Gaming the Future of the Video Gaming Industry?
The subscription economy
The subscription economy describes the trend in which buyers are increasingly opting for a recurring payment over an outright purchase. This payment gives them access to a catalog of content at a set (usually monthly) price, and this content is often updated.
There are many outlets with which you can join this economy, including Humble Bundle and Xbox Game Pass. But this doesn't mean that you cannot simply launch your game at a set price on game stores like Steam or Epic Games.
So, what does the future hold for you? Read more in The Subscription Economy: Powering the Next Era of Gaming.
Microtransactions and the gacha system
By now you probably know what microtransactions are. But if you don't, they're small in-game buys that players can make within the game that can include anything from skins to powerups. These purchases are usually not required to continue playing, but offer a heightened quality of play.
If you look up microtransactions in the gaming industry, you'll notice that there has been a lot of opposition to this over the years. But if implemented well, the revenue them can overtake that generated from a one-time purchases. Gacha is just one system that provides high revenue using the power of FOMO. Players are incentivized to purchased through their need to continuously reroll in order to win an exclusive item/character/prize. But this is just one method!
Find out how to get your game making money in Game Monetization: Are Microtransactions Helpful In Increasing Your Game’s Revenue?
Or learn more about gacha in The Impact of the Gacha System on Video Game Monetization.
What to do (and what NOT to to do) when marketing to gamers
Gamers are their own breed of audience. You cannot use the same strategies that you would for other industries. Why? Because even if you make an amazing game stacked full of incredibly deep characters, mind-blowing scenery and rich lore, you'll be lost in a sea of unplayed games without an incredible marketing strategy.
But there are a few things you need to know about marketing to gamers. Don't fall into stereotypes, and remember that the gaming industry is a niche with its own nuances and implications.
Learn more about what you need to know about marketing to this audience in The Dos and Don'ts of Marketing to Gamers.
Generating brand trust
Brand trust is an essential asset that every business needs if they wish to establish themselves as an authority in their industry. However, this takes a long time to generate and can be lost in an instant.
With such a large audience, the gaming industry requires careful consideration to navigate. Don't worry though, there are a set of steps that you can take (and start on immediately) to start generating trust for your gaming studio. These include:
- Being consistent and reliable
- Being real and actively avoid insincerity
- Creating good quality content
- Keeping your promises
- Being transparent
- Being honest
Interested in learning more? Check out Game Brand Trust: 6 Strategies to Get Gamers on Your Side.
Game design for growth
Before you even begin to market your game, you need to consider your game design. After all, this is the first step to creating something that your audience will want to engage with.
From accessibility, layout, design and your story to purchase platforms, challenges and micro-transactions, you need to ensure that you have everything the way you want it - and the way your audience will want it - to be before you even start your game marketing plan.
While the gaming universe may be fragmented into hundreds of genres, some principles hold true regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the game. That's why we've created this guide that will tell you what you need to consider when creating AND marketing your game. Learn more here: Video Game Marketing: Game Design for Growth.
Game narratives and marketing
But it's not just the look of your game, it's also the feel - and part of this comes down to the way you tell the story of your game. Why? Because it helps players connect with the game and characters, while helping you find opportunities to market your game.
So, let's take a journey through what you need to consider to create a good story in 10 Things a Good Game Narrative Needs.
Why educational video games are key
How do you develop an educational game that has the power for both enjoyment and learning? Successful learning based games are able to both improve the gaming experience and contribute to learning in new ways.
If you want your game to be a success, you'll need it to have clear goals, a level of problem solving, some strategy and chance, a good theme and story, and a pleasant reward for playing.
Learn more about these factors in 5 Factors Behind Successful Educational Video Games.
Game marketing research
We’ve told you that you need to create plans, strategies and more, and this is sounding like you’ll have to do a lot of research, right?
Every marketing guide will tell you that you need to be research-heavy to understand how to make your campaigns succeed. This is because the marketing industry relies a lot on it. It’s all about looking at your niche and churning through data to gain insights about market trends, potential audiences, competitors, and more.
As a game developer, you might be thinking that you need to research everything. But will this actually serve a purpose, or is it pointless? This all depends on what you choose to look at.
Our guide, Video Game Marketing Research: Data Shows It May Be Pointless, walks you through why some traditional marketing research methods will not help your brand and what you need to look at to ensure that you aren’t wasting your time.
Steam game marketing
Steam is the most popular video gaming catalog on the market. As such, it comes as no surprise that it is a competitive marketplace.
So, what does this mean for you? It's easy - putting your game up on Steam and waiting for people to find it is not enough to succeed. The process of marketing may seem difficult, but it doesn't need to be. There are many different Steam game marketing strategies you can use to help your game achieve higher heights.
However, you need to remember that what works for others may not work for you. You need to alter and adjust your marketing strategies to suit your game, audience and goals.
Check out Steam Page Optimization: How to Get More Video Game Downloads to optimize your page for success!
F2P game marketing and revenue
Ever heard of Pokemon GO or Roblox? Of course you have. They're some of the best selling free to play video games the world has ever seen. The F2P model seems to be the go-to model for mobile games nowadays, but most of them don't get the revenue they dream of.
So, how do you monetize your F2P game then? All you have to do is give players a reason to spend more time and money on your game. Sounds simple, right?
It can be, if you check out our guide - How to Generate Constant Revenue From Your Free to Play Game.
Making your game go viral
Okay, you’ve done all your research, you’ve made your plans, you know what you want to do with game marketing, and you know how to do it. Your next step is to measure, track, analyze and optimize to ensure your marketing campaign performs.
So, what do you need to get started? Data and analytics lie at the heart of marketing, and are an indispensable secret to the success of most viral game marketing campaigns. As a game developer, there are many diverse metrics that you can watch, understand and use to get results.
Finding the right metrics to look at can be difficult. There are a multitude you can choose to work with, but not all will work for or be appropriate for a game marketing campaign.
That’s why we’ve compiled the 20 essential metrics that you can measure for success in our blog The Mathematics Behind Any Viral Game Marketing Campaign.
The right team for the job
Fundamentally, marketing is a time-consuming task. With the constant rise in new gaming technology, including VR and AR, your game has a lot to compete with in order to capture your audience’s attention. With the space getting more competitive, gaming companies continue to grind in the pursuit of going viral among a sizable fan base.
If you want your marketing to succeed then it is essential that you have the right marketing team in place. At Game Marketing Genie, we have a powerful team of professional digital marketers, detailed content creators, growth hackers, data science specialists, detail-oriented managers and more. Our team is built from only the leading figures in the marketing industry, and we are confident of their ability to consistently deliver excellent results. To build up marketing expertise like ours, you’ll need a few key figures in your team.
Learn about the team members needed for exponential growth in our blog, Game Marketing Awards Winner Reveals Ideal Team Composition for Viral Growth.
Getting the right game marketing manager
Your development team has created an incredible game that’s ready to be released. You know that countless games fail every year, but you’re sure that your game will be fine. Why? Because you’ve started to think about what talent you need to market it.
Most games fail because there are too many options for players to choose from and because they haven’t been marketed properly. You know that you will probably need a little bit of help with this, especially if you don’t have any experience in the industry. But you’ll need someone to lead this team to ensure deadlines are met, objectives are completed and results are made. You need a game marketing manager.
Choosing the right manager isn’t an easy task. You need someone who has the marketing experience, can drive projects, has strong organizational skills, has excellent communication, and is focused on delivering results. Even better if they have knowledge of the gaming industry!
Find out how to pick the best person for the job in our guide, Game Marketing Manager Guide: Job Description, Requirements and Questions.
Game funding and investors
The global gaming industry was valued at $162.32 billion in 2020, and is anticipated to grow at an incredible annual rate of 10.5 percent until 2026. If you don't have the funds to make your game and marketing strategies amazing, then you'll fall short and be lost in the sea of unplayed games.
This is why we recommend that you save some of your budget for powerful marketing strategies that give you the ability to connect with investors all over the world and secure the funding that you need to make your game incredible.
Getting funding doesn't have to be difficult, if you've got the right game marketing strategies. Find out more here: 14 Game Marketing Ideas to Attract Game Funding.
Or, get an investor to help out how with our guide: Find the Best Video Game Investors With These 5 Easy Steps.
Working with the game marketing experts
If you don’t already have a dedicated marketing team, creating an excellent game marketing strategy will be difficult. And sometimes you won’t be able to hire a whole team of marketing staff. Fortunately, you don’t need to have the resources to develop a fully-fledged set of marketers yourself, and can instead choose to let the experts handle it all for you.
Still not convinced? Get our 10 Reasons You Should Work With a Game Marketing Agency.
Forbes Agency Council stated that, “Choosing the right marketing agency to work with your business is as important as picking the right partner. They need to be a good fit and mesh with your personality. They need to see your company vision and be able to execute your ideas with ease.”
This may sound like finding the perfect game marketing agency is easy, but unfortunately it can be difficult to find the right one that ticks all of these boxes.
Check out our guide to help you find the right game marketing agency for your needs here: How To Choose the Right Video Game Marketing Company.
And for more information on choosing the right one, check out our follow up post, Choosing the Right Video Game Marketing Agency: The Sequel!
What do you need to know?
It's not as simple as just finding a game marketing agency. You need to ensure that they're the right fit. But how do you determine that?
It's simple, like anything you want an answer to, you must ask the right questions.
Get your footing with our guide — Game Marketing Agency: 5 Key Questions to Ask to Find the Right Fit.
A little bit of inspiration for your strategy
Gaming studios spend billions of dollars on game development every year, and much of that goes into developing amazing marketing strategies to get their games the hype they deserve. And many of these campaigns are successful - we’re sure you’ve seen some of them yourself!
In fact, looking to the gaming industry to see what works, what doesn’t, how they leveraged their marketing strategies, and what you can work on is a great way to gather a little inspiration for your own campaign.
While we do not recommend that you copy other studios’ game marketing strategies, we do think that understanding how and why they did what they did is the perfect way for you to get started.
That’s why we’ve compiled 12 amazing game marketing campaigns that you can check out to guide your own! Read more here in our blog, 12 Game Marketing Examples That Will Inspire You.
Also check out our list of five brands that used video games as part of their marketing strategies! This shows you that anyone - whether they're part of the gaming industry or otherwise - can make their business boom with gaming! Learn more here: 5 Game Marketing Examples That Brands Used in Marketing Campaigns.
... All that's left is to get started!
So, you've come this far and it seems like you're ready. Your game needs its audience, and you're pretty sure about how you're going to reach them. What's your next step? It's the biggest one of all - getting started!
After all, you've put all your time and effort into developing an amazing game with hours of fun to be had. You know the video gaming industry is competitive, and understand that you need a comprehensive marketing strategy to kick you off and get the results you deserve.
It might seem tough, but we're here to tell you not to be scared - you're in the right hands and you've got the right guide.
Get into getting your latest game out there with our beginner's guide that tells you how to start marketing it! Find out more in our blog, How to Start Marketing a Video Game.
There’s a lot to take in from our guide to game marketing, but here’s what you need to remember.
- Your game won’t stand out by itself, unless you’re a major video game developer, and even then, they invest hugely in marketing.
- Video game marketing is your tool to stand out from the sea of competitors, but you need to do it well
- Having a strong, well-considered marketing plan is key to the success of your campaign
- You need the right expertise to make it count, and it’s okay to ask or help
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about achieving instant global recognition. It’s measured and constant growth that will make your game and company stand tall above the others.
How will you know when you’re standing tall? You’ll know - it’s when your customers help hold you in that position with their brand loyalty.