Social media marketing in the gaming industry
In a previous article, we covered the highlights of this year’s PlayStation Showcase event and the lessons that can come from observing these gaming industry virtual events that are somewhere between video game conferences, Apple-esque launch events and Super Bowl halftime commercial compilations.
But we didn’t have the time to get into the nitty-gritty of social media marketing and the very close relationship it has with the gaming industry. So, how do you market to gamers? Gamers that are feverish, ready for hype, but well informed and outspoken, so aren’t going to be taken for a fool. Read our guide to find out how you can market to gamers online.
Reviews and demos: Everything is permitted
Gaming and affiliate marketing might as well be synonymous. Sure, there are the cinema ads, the billboards, and the mentions in men’s magazines, but the bulk of gaming marketing is word of mouth perpetuated by creators talking about the game – or playing the game.
Creators play through demos of games, review gameplay, analyse narratives and new storytelling techniques, go on missions to complete goals, and otherwise create content around games.
The best part about this is that it is multipurpose. Streams can be edited into videos for YouTube, videos can be edited down to clips for TikTok, and images and captions come from all of it for Twitter and Instagram. There is mass appeal across every social media platform, even the ones that are rarely considered by marketers, like Reddit and Discord.
This is all particularly important to marketing because the new Mad Men rule is not to make the customer covet a lifestyle, but to simply entertain. Offer entertainment with your product in some form and you have successfully marketed with forgiveness. Has the user noticed? Of course, but they’ll tolerate it to be entertained.
Streams and fan edits: War never changes
The creator aspect of the whole set up is important to this concept of entertainment. I hate to break it to you developers, but no game is entertaining enough to simply watch someone play, no matter how many gameplay videos and streams there are out there. Have you ever watched your older brothers play FIFA? Yeah, you’re soon asking for a controller.
What the viewers are really coming in for is the creator. The creator might be playing your game, might be enjoying your game (and might not), might be cracking jokes about your game, might be completing challenges from your game, but the user is there for them. A creator that is simply passively playing the game is no fun whatsoever.
So, encourage creators wherever you can. Offer demos to play, invites to conferences, interviews from developers, etc. There are stories of vengeful developers removing videos because of copyright, or simply because of a bad review. A lot of those stories are in the past now, but it’s worth mentioning that is a bad way to go. The news will spread and a very loyal fanbase will turn.
And on the other hand, don’t start getting up in arms about inevitable fan edits, even if they spoil. They don’t usually because users hate that as much as developers/directors. In fact, you should encourage them because that’s a surefire way to know you’re going viral: ever heard of Pedro Pascal?
Anecdotes and narratives: Would you kindly…?
Once the initial reviews are done, inevitably the analysis will follow. If your game is heavy on the narrative and particularly heavy on the mystery or abstract, creators will pick it apart.
Developers tend to ignore this, but if you’re marketing a game, we say lean into it. A lot of these analysis videos will pose a question they intend to answer, like an essay. A simple picture of the thumbnail and the caption that contains the question being posed, a sly wink to the camera, and a post on social media (with permission, of course) and you’ve got a social post that boosts your game and helps out a creator.
And then there is affiliate marketing. You can always ask creators to make analysis videos the way reviews are sponsored. It’s a good way to keep the conversation going when the initial launch date hype has worn away, which, in the gaming world, is when the price of the game starts to come down.
Competitions and goals: Let’s go bowling!
Now creators are already doing this, but there’s nothing wrong with giving them a prompt or maybe even a sponsorship. Instead of asking a creator to review your game demo, which can backfire after all, you can set them a challenge to complete in your game. Gamers who “take gaming seriously” (i.e. the opposite of a casual gamer), are a competitive bunch after all, so they’re likely to take you up on it. Content for them, a demonstration of the game’s quirks for viewers, exposure for your game.
If you are interested in more affiliate and social media marketing insights, take a look at our blog for all the latest news and advice. Or for a more personalised approach, book a free call with a member of our team.
Or, for the very best advice from industry peers, register to join us for our ELEVATE Summit in July. Elevate aims to bring you the latest affiliate, performance, and partner marketing insights from across the globe and it’s all available to stream from our website.