Marketing to Gamers: Understanding the Communities

Game Marketing Genie
20-Jul-2018 09:39:05

Marketing in any niche is an extremely vast topic that contains too much information to squeeze into one article. This post is a bit more focused in the sense that it aims to address a specific approach to marketing in a specific niche - gaming. The purpose is to provide enough information to give a solid background and introduction to game company owners looking to target their game marketing efforts better.0

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Gaming Communities

The approach here is developing a marketing strategy based on crucial information focused on game community management. Gaming Community refers to the entire community of gamers as a whole, worldwide or according to more specific demographic features.

The gaming community is an extremely large one and the industry is already very profitable, but it continues to grow. Newzoo's 2017 report revealed that there were 2.2 billion active gamers all over the world. 47% of this number pay to play, adding up to the incredible $108.9 billion revenue generated from the industry through the year. Consider the fact that Statista expects the number of gamers to rise to 2.6 billion by the end of 2020 and it is easy to see the huge potential of the industry.

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Most game developers are people with a passion for gaming too, but it doesn't change the fact that it is still a business for them. Considering the huge value of the gaming industry, it makes sense that more developers are sitting up and paying attention. Attracting gamers and making sales is the end game and this, in turn, makes marketing a priority. From experience, these are three ways by which you can take advantage of gaming communities for marketing and growth:

Tap Into Existing Communities

Social networks, forums, blogs and similar online communities hold a significant amount of influence over the purchasing decisions that gamers make and what specific games become popular. A little research about the existing trends (more on this later on) in these communities and in the industry as a whole will give you some headway with your own game.

Consider the games that are talked about the most and identify the features that these games have in common. Before you even begin production, see if any of these features are applicable to your own game to increase its chances of becoming popular.

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Start Your Own Community

The influence of the internet in the world we live in today cannot be underestimated. It is ingrained in our day to day lives. Consequently, most of the popular games have online communities where players interact with each other on a daily basis. Part of the fun of gaming to a gamer is the experience that is shared with fellow gamers with similar interests. If you can manage to start an online community or contribute to an existing one, you will be increasing the chances of getting your own game to become popular when you do develop one. This is especially so if you develop a strategy around game community management.

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Marketing To And Within The Communities

A well-developed game is great but you need more than that to make the game popular. There are a lot of great games that are relatively obscure to the gaming community as a whole, due in part to poor marketing. In fact, if your game is average and your marketing is superb, you stand a greater chance of success.

You have to be ready to invest in leveraging communities to gain exposure for your game. The most direct approach is to go to the sites of popular gaming sites and focus your marketing on the gamers playing the genre of the game that you're developing.

Gaming communities are a gold mine for marketing your game.

As a side-along, you can also leverage social media. Gaming communities also exist on social networks and here you'll find gamers that are interested in trying something new - which is what you have to offer. You will also get valuable information about the preferences of these gamers and you can use that information in the development of your own game.

Whichever way you choose to go, gaming communities are a gold mine for marketing and growing your game.

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Marketing to Gamers

A rookie approach to gaming app marketing is waiting until your game is developed before thinking about a marketing strategy. It's a mistake because there are decisions involving the game design that will have an impact on any eventual marketing strategies that you may come up with after the game is released. Language, monetization, and localization will all be influenced by your marketing strategy, so you absolutely need to create a strategy while the game is still in the development stage.

Every company has its own approach to creating a marketing strategy, but there are key things to cover regardless of what your overall plan is. These things are centered around developing a game that is perfectly designed for its market. They are:

Business Model

Right from development, you need to make a decision about monetization of your game. There are different approaches to this. Your game could be premium (sold for a fee), freemium (free download with in-game purchases for extra content or features) or completely free.

This decision will affect the design of the app, so you need to have a clear picture of what it's going to be from the start. If you're planning to make money from your game, do it from the get-go. Adding a monetization model later on after the game is released rarely goes down well with gamers.

Audience

Absolutely key. Gamers run across a wide demographic range, and each range has their own preferences, so you must develop your game to suit the preferences of your target audience. If your target audience is kids, then a complex game that requires a lot of analytical thinking may not work for them.

Develop your game to suit the preferences of your target audiences

The audience that you are trying to appeal to should influence your game design and overall setup. Additionally, your target audience will have a direct impact on the channels that you use for marketing. A TV company that wants an audience comprising mainly of children on Saturday mornings will focus on running programs that children may find interesting during those hours. In the same way, you use the demographic information of your target audience to decide what channels will be most effective for marketing your game to them.

On a side note, the platform of the game also plays a part in choosing marketing channels. Console games, for example, usually rely on news, events, reviews and other types of high-budget advertising as their major channels. PC, mobile and other handheld games may not necessarily go that far. Online stores, social media and other internet channels are usually enough.

Geography

What's the plan for location? Where is the game going to be launched? Is there a specific area where you will roll the game out for testing before you release it to other places? All of these are questions that you need to consider carefully.

A test run will provide valuable insight and allows you to make a few changes based on new information derived from the responses of the gamers that tested. You may also consider launching the game in the specific areas that are known for contributing a lot to the revenue generated by the gaming industry. Take a look at this top 100 list of countries ranked according to their game revenues (Spoiler alert - China ranks first).

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Current Trends

Nothing better than tried and tested methods, wouldn't you agree? Here are a couple of trends in game marketing at the moment:

  • Influencer marketing has become very important for game companies. Streamers and YouTubers that produce gaming video content are approached by companies to help them market their games. Some of these companies don't even bother to invest in a budget for separate methods.
  • Publishers are offering gamers the opportunity to test games before buying them. It's called "experiential marketing" and the idea is that gamers are more likely to purchase a game that they already have some experience with than one that they do not. Pretty effective too.
  • Some other game companies are using short films to establish a connection with their target market even before the game is released. A backstory with the characters of the game is created in the form of a short film. Users find themselves already attached to some of these characters and they are more likely to get the game when it does get published.
  • Another trend is the adoption of early eSports before the actual release date of the game. Tekken 7, for instance, already featured in its publisher's King of Iron Fist tourney a couple of months before it was released.
  • Some games are achieving a lot of success through a "service" approach rather than the common one-time investment. Games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are given sequels where new content is added instead of creating an entirely new game. Gamers are more likely to get attached to these continuous services too.

It may seem like a lot of work at first, but marketing is actually quite a bit of fun. In fact, it is almost as fun as actually developing the game. The idea of creating a strategy and watching it bring the desired success is fulfilling. All you need is the right amount of information and desire. We've provided the information, so it's up to you now. Best of luck!

Click here for more information on our Gaming Community Management services.

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