You’ve done it. What started as an idea in the back of your mind has turned into a full-fledged video game ready for people to purchase and play.
But wait! How will people know that your game is available and ready to play?
That’s when video game marketing and PR come into the picture.
Video game marketing and PR are essential parts of promoting your game and ensuring that people can find it and play it. But marketing for video games can become tricky if you don’t know exactly what to do.
To help you launch a successful video game, we have pulled together this video game marketing and PR checklist that you can follow to ensure success!
Clueless about video game #marketing and PR? If you are a developer, you’ll want to grab this helpful checklist to make your next game launch a success!
If you’re an indie developer but don’t have a marketing team to get the ball rolling, follow this guide to get a better idea of how to plan out your video game marketing and PR campaign.
What is Video Game Marketing and PR?
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of video game marketing and PR, let’s talk about what it is.
The goal of video games marketing is to get information about your game out to the general public. That way, you can target the right audiences and let them know about your game’s release.
When developing your campaign, you must consider how to position your game, what the hook is, and how to get the public interested. You want tons of buzz around your game before its release and after, keeping gamers engaged and leading to sales.
Find Success with Our Video Game Marketing and PR Checklist
As a video game marketing and PR firm, we know exactly what it takes to promote a new video game, so it gets a lot of buzz. So take this checklist we’ve created to sketch an effective video game marketing strategy and plan out killer video game PR.
1. Identify Key Development Milestones
Knowing your development milestones will help you determine when to activate certain components in your marketing timeline. For example, you don’t want to announce a game too early in the process, especially if it’s still in the ideas phase.
A perfect example of when timing went awry is with the No Man’s Sky launch. Players felt that the game didn’t deliver what was promised to them during the marketing campaign and that the game didn’t meet specific milestones. This resulted in the game receiving terrible ratings at launch and was investigated for false advertising.
Another reason why you want to create a timeline of your development milestones is to plan your announcements.
You can use press releases and trailers to announce new game features that haven’t previously been released, like a new level or multiplayer. Keeping a strong cadence of news leading up to launch is important to keep the public engaged.
To stay on track with milestones, create an outline for each major beat that you know of and when they’ll happen. Some common questions to ask yourself include:
- When will the game be ready for alpha testing?
- Will we run a Closed Beta test?
- Will there be an Open Beta phase?
- When is a realistic launch window/date?
As you get closer to the game’s launch, you’ll want to think about additional milestones that could occur in the future and track those.
2. Develop A Well-Thought Out Steam Page or Digital Marketplace Landing Page
How many times have you browsed the new releases on Steam and found a visually compelling game with fantastic key art, but then scroll down to the game description only to find it rife with typos, grammatical errors, and completely boring descriptions?
That’s a BIG mistake if you want to launch your game successfully. Don’t minimize the impact your Steam or other digital marketplace landing pages have on potential users.
Many platforms allow players to add upcoming titles to their wishlists. Even if it’s months before the game launches, you want to create an attention-grabbing page that gets people excited and results in them remembering the game at launch.
Other than Steam, additional digital marketplace landing pages you’ll want to update include:
- Nintendo eShop
- Microsoft Store
- PlayStation Store
- Xbox Store
When updating your pages, make sure your copy, images, and videos are professional and consistent across all platforms.
You’ll want to make sure you get your landing pages set up well in advance of the launch to give you peace of mind and avoid scurrying around at the last minute trying to throw together a page. We often see developers miss this step in the video game marketing process, and it can have a huge impact on your overall impression on players and success at launch.
3. Assets and Branding
A picture speaks a thousand words, and that old saying applies to the images you use to represent your game. The quality of your branding, including logos, screenshots, trailers, and key art, will be the first thing potential customers notice. On the flip side, it can also turn them away if it’s bad.
When pulling screenshots for your video game, capture only the most dynamic, high-quality images that reflect the game’s tone. Single out the best ones and use them on your store pages, on social media, and in your ads. Eye-catching logos and stunning key art will grab players’ attention.
Additionally, when press releases or media alerts are issued about your game, your key art or logo will be included at the top of the document. That’s the first thing a member of the press sees, and you want to hook their attention as well. Press also receives an asset pack that includes additional screenshots and possibly a video. Make sure that you showcase the best aspects of your game so the press gets excited and writes an article about your game.
For video game trailers, make sure they are exciting and build hype. Think about how you feel when you watch a movie trailer. Does it leave you wanting more, or do you walk away uninterested? Apply the same thinking when creating videos. Consider the music, pacing, narrative, and quality of voice acting and gameplay used. All of these components come together to create a powerful video.
4. Social Media and Community Building
Without a strong social media presence, it’s unlikely that your game will build a strong community.
Gamers expect their favorite video games and studios to have a relatable and approachable social media presence. People want to know the humans behind the brand instead of feeling like they’re communicating with a robot.
There are several ways you can build your video game community.
One approach would be to take Wendy’s route and post memes and playfully poke fun at your fans.
(Video Game Marketing Tip: Discord is a great platform for connecting with players.)
Perhaps your horror game warrants a spooky and creepy vibe on social media. It’s really up to you but always look to your favorite brands and games with a successful social media presence for ideas and inspiration.
When creating the persona of your social media accounts, think about the theme and style of your game. You can totally embrace it, even making posts as one of your game’s characters. With any post you make, you want it to be sincere and not come across as trying too hard or pandering.
The sooner you start building your video game community, the better. Not only does this give you a large pool of potential gamers to communicate updates to, but you can also ask them for feedback after Closed Beta tests and implement that feedback into the game as it’s being developed.
5. User Acquisition
User acquisition stems a lot from the community you build. But, you’ll also need to target players beyond that reach.
Here are some ways to go about it:
Create Buyer Personas
Research the types of gamers who are most likely to play your game. Think about the types of people you’re targeting and what they’re interested in and create buyer personas.
Determining these things ahead of time will help you tailor your marketing messages to your specific audience.
Find Where Your Target Audiences Are
Knowing where in the world your potential audience is located is also important. Make a list of what global regions are your priority. Then, figure out how you can access players in those specific regions.
Another way to extend your reach is with ad buys and promotions.
You can connect with major media outlets like IGN to inquire about partnerships and social media promotion. However, don’t discount media sites with as large of a following as the big guys. Working with some B and C tier outlets with an avid follower base can bring extra interest to your title.
Research Your Competitors
During the research phase, you’ll also want to look at who your competition is. Evaluate what their tactics are and think about what worked well and what didn’t.
You’ll also want to figure out how to make your game stand out from the rest while still tapping into some already existing communities.
6. Developing Your PR Campaign
It’s never too early to consider when and how to build publicity for your game. Of course, this will go hand in hand with your development milestone plan, which will dictate major beats that have news value.
It will also dictate when you can start outreach to media members about “first looks” or previews of your game. A preview is an unrated review written by a media member after playing through your game and interviewing you.
Before you allow previews, you want to ensure that your game is stable enough that the media member has a good experience playing. The last thing you want is for them to see a game that’s rife with bugs and glitches.
Previews typically start to hit at around six weeks before launch, so keep that in mind when planning your PR timeline.
Think about if you want to handle PR activities on your own or outsource to a professional video game marketing and PR agency. You and your team likely have a lot on your plate dealing with game development, so it can be beneficial to offload some tasks to people who are experienced.
Before you decide to go with an agency, research to find the right fit for you. You want an agency that will listen to your needs, provide strategic advice, has a lot of experience, and produces notable results.
7. Influencer Marketing
Video game influencers are everywhere. Accessing an influencer’s community is a great way to build interest, tap into an already existing audience, and increase your video game marketing sales.
As you research influencers, look at ones that can reach the target audience for your game. A good start would be looking up ones that play similar titles to yours.
You’ll also want to consider setting aside a budget for a sponsored campaign. To approach a larger channel, you’ll need to have some money to spend since they rarely play a game for free unless they’re super hyped about it. Some of the smaller channels will play a game in exchange for a free code, but typically the channels with larger followings will require payment.
Sometimes you can get the interest of an influencer by sending them a merch pack. It can be branded sweatshirts or water bottles with your key art on them or something more creative based on the theme of your game. If you can encourage them to post about it on social media or wear the clothing items while they stream, that is the type of marketing and PR that will help bolster your game.
As you create your list of influencers to pitch, think about when your game will be ready to preview. Will you have a demo for “first looks” or a solid, virtually bug-free vertical slice to send them? Just like when you show your game to media members, you want the influencers (and their audience) to have a good experience with your game and not be turned off because they can’t play through it.
And finally, think about how you can include influencers in your community. By having them engaged in the community, you’ll increase overall engagement and awareness for your game.
8. Tradeshows and Events
Tradeshows and events are an awesome way to create visibility with consumers eager to discover the next big game. When evaluating events, think about who will be attending those events. You don’t want to take a single-player puzzle game to an esports-focused event.
If you participate in a video game tradeshow or event, you want to make sure that your game will be ready to be seen by consumers. You’ll also want a bug-free demo or vertical slice to show consumers or have them play through in your booth. Media members are used to playing early builds that are buggy, but consumers are less forgiving.
The timing of attending an event is also key. You don’t want to go to an event and have people excited about your game but unable to purchase it for months. By the time it launches, they’ll have already moved onto something else. You’ll need a strong call-to-action to get consumers excited, so it pays off in your favor.
You will want to keep in mind that attending events can be expensive, so work that into your marketing budget. Consider buying a space on the show floor as this gives you access to consumers and media and invest in a vibrant booth that stands out from the crowd. Think about having merch and/or branded takeaways for players. You’ll also have to budget for staff, travel, accommodations, and other items.
If getting a booth at a trade show is out of your budget, another option is reserving a hotel room close to a major trade show. For example, this is a common strategy used by developers at GDC (Game Developers Conference), typically held in the spring in San Francisco. You can reserve a room and invite media members to come and play your game.
Whether you go with show floor presence or a separate space ultimately depends on your goals and where you’re at with your game’s development.
9. Thought Leadership
There’s no better way to lend massive credibility to your company or studio than generating thought leadership content among the executives. When those at the helm of your organization are regarded as thought leaders, people in the industry and beyond are going to come to you for your compelling insights, opinions, and anecdotes. Thought leaders bring new ideas to the table, and their ideas create conversation by being an authority figure in the industry.
For example, if you’re creating a horror game that you feel is cutting-edge and a solid 10, you may want to generate thought leadership content about what it takes to create a horror game. For example, an article titled “How to Create a Tasteful Horror Game When Our World is Already So Horrifying” could share things like what genre elements are most important or even something relevant to current times.
Thought leadership is typically achieved through a combination of strong social media presence, organic content such as blogs, videos, and newsletters, guest posts on larger outlets, and podcasts.
If this sounds like something up your alley, UberStrategist will soon offer bespoke thought leadership packages, including blog writing, podcast interview placement, and social media auditing and consultation. Reach out to us if you’d like more information.
Don’t Forget About Video Game Marketing and PR When Launching Your Game
While we’d all love to send our video game out into the world and have it get all the attention it deserves, that rarely happens.
Marketing your video game takes time, money, and a lot of effort. There are multiple moving pieces that hinge on one another. Building hype about your game and getting people to buy it is essential to its success, and effective video game marketing and PR play a key role.
We hope this marketing checklist comes in handy and helps you achieve more success.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of developing a video game marketing and PR campaign? Then, contact UberStrategist, and we’ll create a comprehensive plan to build up hype for your game.