Not long ago, the gaming industry was largely thought of as a playground for work-shy dreamers and social outcasts-meaning; it was typically ignored. Today, this is but a stereotype because as more people have embraced gaming. Gamers can now be lone rangers, athletes, older women, and everything in between.
Even though the world is slowly turning into a gamer’s paradise, there is a challenge. This is how to effectively put their work out there, especially with video game publishers and developers. There are numerous amounts of games out there today. These range from online offerings to digital downloads, free to play games, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and even mobile games.
The marketing challenge has been a puzzle that many industry players have found hard to crack. This is considering the audience that is growing by the day across different platforms. As well, the infinite selection of games and constant need to stand out from the rest.
However, that era is over because video game developers and publishers no longer have to struggle with appreciating the value of video game marketing, or all the efforts channelled towards PR. The biggest challenge now is how the gaming industry can maximize brand visibility.
SEO in the Gaming Industry
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital for marketers in any sector looking to improve their brand’s visibility and user engagement. This is perhaps even more strongly the case in the gaming industry where online and networked games are increasingly the norm.
The general principles of SEO apply to gaming as well. This is to improve the quantity and quality of traffic to your website by organic (rather than paid) results. A focus on distinctive content, knowing what drives your users, and the integration of specific keywords are all important strategies. Although the user-base has become more diverse in recent years, the core gaming community is a discerning and committed group.
Gamers will typically be driven to websites for several reasons like they want news of the latest releases and updates. Or, they want to share tips and tricks for their favourite games and recommendations from trusted sources. Video content is very popular here. Consider creating walk-throughs or previews of new games. Add links in the video to drive traffic back to your site. Forums are also a great way to penetrate the gaming community. Again, make sure content is relevant and interesting, and use backlinks to increase traffic. Of course, don’t forget social media! Facebook and Twitter are vital resources for gamers looking to stay up to date.
In addition to these more standard SEO techniques, also look into SEI (Search Engine Innovation). For example, if you know the latest developments in Google’s search mechanisms, you can deploy these to your advantage. You could make use of Google’s Featured Snippets to promote a powerful section of text drawn directly from your site. Also, look at Google Ads Keyword Planner. Using search trends earlier than your competitors can give you a great advantage. Look for topics with high searches and little competition. This allows you to figure out how to integrate these into your content.
Above all, remember your content must be distinctive and relevant to your community to keep them coming back.
Another opportunity opened up by the increasing presence of gaming in everyday life is in-play advertising. This is the presentation of promotional material into the game itself, targeting users when they’re most engaged. Games are now frequently played in social situations, and competitively for serious prize money. In-play advertising can, therefore, target a larger market than simply the active player.
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In-play advertising material may be integrated at the level of the initial software coding, which is known as SIGA (Static In-Game Advertising). Or, ads may be dynamically inserted into pre-placed banners or boards according to geo-specific or other user-targeted factors. This is known as DIGA (Dynamic In-Game Advertising). Also worth considering is Advergaming, which is the development of bespoke games to meet the requirements of a specified product or brand promotion. This approach is, however, typically more expensive, and maybe best-suited to smaller mobile apps or embedded flash games where the cost will be significantly lower.
Major Challenges Facing Marketing in the Gaming Industry
Understanding where the problem lies is one of the best ways to move forward. You have to understand some of the prevailing challenges in order to create strategies. This will not only help you get by but succeed in this competitive industry. Here are some of the major challenges to take note of:
Consumers spend most of their time on digital or mobile platforms
Even though household budgets are increasing by the day, people are spending less on gaming. This is mostly based on the fact that people are getting out more and finding alternative forms of enjoyment. This has seen the rise in the need for convenience and is why people end up spending more time on digital and mobile platforms. Thus, the growing threat is coming from the online, web, and free to play games in terms of pricing and timing.
New doors are being opened for exploration for video game developers and publishers. This poses a real challenge in terms of reaching players, and this is new territory developers may not be accustomed to.
Convenience over scale and size
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People choosing digital and mobile platforms opens up doors to the problem of convenience. Developers continue wrestling with the issue of the ‘rightsize’ titles. This is as more are opting for games that are more convenient to them, rather than putting so much on the size and scaling of the game.
In most cases, developers go through a lot to deliver just the right amount of design features just to match up with their pricing. People now opt for games that are cheaper and more convenient. As well, those that are styled to par with similar games that are highly-priced, but equally satisfying their gaming urge.
Dynamic player habits
As the years go by, it’s evident that there is a rise in the number of casual consumers. They are increasingly fragmenting across platforms and devices and becoming more fickle. This makes their needs, interests, and play styles a bit tricky to satisfy. Players may squeeze in a few minutes to play games on their phones, or at other times sit down and enjoy games on their consoles.
Gamers and fans are more informed
Growth of social networks, websites, access to user reviews, and word-of-mouth. These have all played a part in making the gaming demographic more informed than ever before. You cannot easily measure just how much information about a product can travel. If users find your game to be below average, the word will go around in just minutes, and that will be it. Better yet, if a rival developer chooses to go ahead and release a similar but better game, you’re done for. Therefore, it’s important that marketing professionals in the gaming industry up their game. They need to focus more on exciting, engaging and empowering end-users to capture that population dynamic.
Leveraging Marketing in the Modern Gaming Industry
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With such deeper insights on some of the core challenges in the industry, it now becomes relatively easier than before to manage such challenges and to work to ensure you effectively connect with your audience. Now that you already know some of these challenges, you can now leverage your knowledge and gain a competitive edge over your competitors. Here are some key secrets to help you with that.
More women are gaming
Long are the days when serious gamers were lone male rangers in basements. Today, it’s just as likely to see a woman enjoying some serious gaming sessions. About 45% of the total gaming population is female. This means that there has been a serious paradigm shift. Gaming brands need to consider these numbers while making partnerships and brand deals to capture a larger percentage of the gaming population effectively.
As a video game developer or publisher, it’s important to understand the value of social consciousness. According to studies, approximately 90% of gamers can decide to switch in between brands depending on the connection a particular brand has with charitable efforts. Understanding that more users gravitate to such inspirational partnerships makes you gain the upper hand in the gaming industry if you act accordingly. Partner with some influencers to get your intentions out there and let your target audience feel that you relate with them.
Take advantage of video content marketing
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There is an increase in the video content industry, and it gives the gaming industry a chance to also ride in the glory. Video content tends to enjoy more engagement and influences the gaming patterns of consumers. A survey by Smart Insights in 2019 shows that about 78% of the world’s data traffic is through video content. It’s smart to notice that such numbers could mean a lot in terms of marketing for gaming developers and publishers.
Several gamers have admitted to enjoying watching other gamers play. Note that they don’t just watch anybody play, they watch their favourite influencers play. They get to learn new tricks and discover more games from such influencers while appreciating the games played more.
Track, test, and reiterate
Always have your games installed with a tracking tool if you don’t already. This gives you a chance to get some analysis of how your games are performing in the market. While tracking your games’ performance is important, it’s also important to make your games fun and enjoyable. Consumers should feel the thrill of playing your games. To achieve this, you need to collect feedback, work off the feedback, and incorporate the necessary changes. Reiterating helps keep your game engaging yet refreshing. Analyze your consumer behaviour with analytic and tracking tools to give them an enjoyable experience.
Share on gaming boards
The heart of marketing is sharing. All you need to do is share your game on different gaming boards. At the very least, you’ll have some bits of feedback. Gaming boards are a great place to share your games because numerous gamers congregate on different boards. These include TouchArcade, GameFAQs, and Reddit, among others.
A good number of congregants on these platforms are honest. Yet since they don’t want intolerable games, they will be brutally honest with you. Don’t let the negatives weigh you down. Rather, be wise and deconstruct their feedback to find the best ways you can make improvements on your game and let it sell itself. Since a greater percentage of gamers appreciate novelty, try and use that to your advantage. Always strive to be respectful on these gaming boards, and you’ll get the most of them.
The marketing industry is a niche industry, but that doesn’t apply to the gaming industry. In this industry, you need all the help you can get. Therefore, the smart move is to be crafty, inclusive, and more appreciative of brand identity. This will help your games capture a bigger audience while boosting your sales.