If you are a typical game development brand, you probably have a highly-skilled group of developers who can design and program an addictive and challenging game. However, despite these strengths, it is unlikely that you or your team have much experience in marketing your games. Just as the world of gaming is continually changing, so does the best way to undertake digital marketing. Gaming and other digital marketing agencies have the necessary skills that your team probably lacks. It makes sense to let the experts create a strategy to market your game.
Of course, much of the work performed by a specialist gaming agency will be the same as that done by any digital marketing agency. And many of the tasks they perform are little changed from what traditional marketing agencies have always done. The main difference here is that the needs of the online medium are distinctly different from television, radio, and print marketing.
Why Your Brand Needs a Gaming Agency (plus 5 Top Gaming Agencies):
Traditional Marketing Agencies in the Gaming Sector
In the past, traditional marketing agencies produced television, radio, and print advertisements designed to sell products for companies. Indeed, the gaming industry is old enough that many conventional agencies produced old-style ads – particularly for magazines. Thirty years ago, there were many specialist gaming magazines, many of whom were full of full-page ads for the latest video and computer games.
Nowadays, however, gamers have moved online, and so the marketing agencies have had to follow them.
Online advertising is very different from traditional advertising, however. Back in the 80s and 90s, a typical gamer would rush to his book or gaming store to buy the latest issue of Computer and Video Games (UK) or Electronic Games (US). He would flick through the pages and notice the colorful ads for the latest games. These ads were, of course, predominantly produced by the prominent advertising agencies that most gaming companies used.
The gamer had no choice – if he wanted to learn about the new and upcoming games, he had to buy the magazines, and a half or more of each magazine contained print ads. He may not have been forced to read the ads, but they were there in his face, enticing him to try the new shoot-em-up, puzzle, or platform games. Thanks to these full-page ads, our young gamer would know all about Lara Croft and Tomb Raider, or how to fight in Street Fighter.
What are the Essentials of any Digital Marketing Agency?
Online marketing is different, however. Consumers, including gamers, can avoid it if they so chose. So modern digital marketing agencies need to work on developing campaigns that draw people in, that engages their natural curiosity. Traditional marketing was outwards-focusing – brands broadcast their ads to the public. Modern online marketing is inwards-focusing – it aims to attract people to come to the brand, via websites, apps, and social channels.
However, the core marketing essentials are similar enough for some large agencies to cover all aspects of marketing, both online and offline.
The modern consumer is much savvier than previous generations. He or she is highly cynical about marketing messages. Therefore it is the job of a digital marketing agency to break down that cynicism so that the consumer will let the brand through their natural defense.
The heart of digital marketing is data. For this reason, digital marketing agencies, whether they be gaming-specific or any other product sector, need to be data-focused. They are continually testing the success of their campaigns, modifying their campaigns based on the results they discover.
Most digital marketing agencies focus on buyer behavior. This is one of the advantages of a specialist gaming agency (or a gaming division within a large agency). They can understand gamers as consumers and can adapt their marketing to reflect gaming behavior.
Some everyday essentials of any digital marketing agency include:
- Developing appropriate content for the brand’s target audience
- Redesigning websites and apps to reflect the behaviors of the consumers
- Working with clients to establish campaign goals, creating matching campaigns, and then continually testing the data using analytics
- Extensively researching to find the best, most targeted up-to-date client data
- Ensuring that the clients' digital assets are written and designed in such a way that they appear in high positions in the search engines and other relevant databases
Typical Problems Faced by Game Developers
“The barrier to entry is lower than ever, but the barrier to success is higher than ever before” - Jason Della Rocca in the “State of the Industry” panel at the QuoVadis 2016.
The greatest challenge faced by game developers is gaining visibility in a crowded marketplace. While genre leaders, like Fortnite, earn millions ($2 million a day from players on iOS alone at its peak), many games disappear, virtually without a trace. Apple receives 500 million visitors to its App Store every week, a good many of whom download games. In March 2019, app users could choose from 2.6 million Android, and 2.2 million iOS apps, with gaming being by far the most significant genre.
This means that many game developers struggle to have a sufficiently large marketing team with enough depth of experience to make their mark.
Game developers sometimes struggle when they work with generic marketing agencies who don’t understand practices and features inherent to the gaming industry. If your agency doesn’t understand your requirements, you can’t possibly have the campaign you desire.
Why Choose a Gaming Agency?
As with any partnership, any gaming company needs to ensure that its marketing agency makes a good fit. Its marketing agency needs to understand its vision and help present that to the world. Marketing is changing and is certainly not a one-size-fits-all industry. Marketing a mobile game is very different from marketing a physical product, for example.
Some marketers probably still think of gaming as being an industry where you go to a gaming shop or chain store and spend $100 on a game that comes nicely packaged on a CD, with an instruction booklet enclosed. Things have changed since they grew up, playing Crash Bandicoot on their original PlayStations. Some older marketers in more general agencies may still think of gaming as playing Space Invaders and Pacman in the arcades.
Gaming is a fast-changing industry, and specialist gaming agencies, usually staffed by marketers who regularly play games themselves, keep up-to-date with industry trends and understand the subtle differences between marketing games to Generation Z versus selling to Millennials.
What Points Should I Consider When Selecting a Gaming Marketing Agency?
Ideally, you will want to work with a company whose employees are passionate about both gaming and marketing. They should know the right questions to ask you and quickly gain a clear understanding of your vision and goals.
Unfortunately, too many agencies create websites that emphasize style over substance. However, you should be able to gain a good idea of their capabilities from what they highlight on their site. Many will include examples of their past work which you can peruse carefully.
You will want to examine some of the strategies each gaming agency has used with its clients. What ways have they sold games in the past? You will want to quiz them about the general direction they might consider taking your campaign.
5 Top Gaming Agencies
Although Kairos Media is an all-purpose influencer marketing agency, covering a broad range of niches, the company runs a specialist gaming agency, Kairos eSports.
They are a full-service gaming and eSports agency, backed by more than ten years of experience ranging from professional players to eSport organization owners.
Kairos eSports produces campaigns both for gaming companies and for businesses in other genres who want to use gaming to reach their target audience. For example, while many different types of people eat KFC, gamers are a sufficiently large sub-genre to warrant specialist gaming campaigns. Kairos eSports runs KFC’s entire gaming and eSports strategy in the UK. KFC gave Kairos eSports the task to help them enter the gaming space in as much of a genuine and authentic way as possible and build a rapport with the gaming audience. The agency achieved this through larger scales activations with influencers and eSports tournaments.
Black Shell Media is a full-service digital marketing agency for the games industry. They help gaming startups grow and engage with their audience. Through community management, audience engagement, and marketing strategy consultation, they build brands.
They focus on indie game publishers, and their portfolio consists of more than 20 titles with 2M+ players. They have worked with key gaming companies, including Razer, Alienware, Twitch, Humble, and Discord.
They split their services into social media growth, digital marketing, and strategy consultation. They focus on providing genuine value to their clients, and the gamers who play their games and take notice of the content made by Black Shell Media for its clients.
Although AMP Agency is not solely a gaming specialist, it acknowledges the importance of that sector. AMP brings together number-crunchers, strategists, analysts, geeks, and creatives with one goal in mind: to connect people and brands in more meaningful ways.
AMP Agency has five offices America-wide, with its headquarters in Boston.
The company highlights its extensive experience of working in the gaming sector. Some of the gaming brands with whom they have worked include 2K, Activision, Microsoft (and Xbox), Riot Games, and Sony PlayStation.
Their relevant expertise covers many areas, including:
- Launch Campaigns
- DLC Strategy & Development
- Social Media & Influencer Campaigns
- Creative & Content Development
- UGC Acquisition
- Four-screen Experiences & Apps
- CRM / Registration
- Apps & Programs
- Social PR and Reputation Management
PocketWhale is a video game creative and marketing agency focusing on mobile, PC, and console games. They have offices in the USA, Germany, France, and Japan. Their team designs tailor-made creative assets, including video advertisements and TV commercials.
Their marketing activities include PR, influencer marketing, digital advertising, TV advertising, and events. They partner with platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Snapchat, to maximize the impact of their campaigns. They also work directly with top gaming influencers on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to create exciting and targeted content to capture both new and old audiences.
Game Marketing Genie offers full-service digital marketing solutions. Their services are truly comprehensive and include:
- Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Advertising
- Programmatic Advertising
- Influencer Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Tag Management
- Mobile Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- App Store Optimization
- Audience Segmentation & Retargeting
- Adobe & Google Analytics Optimisation
Game Marketing Genie can prepare an end-to-end high-level marketing strategy for your business or focus on a specialized area to complement your in-house marketing efforts.