An Introduction to Game Marketing

Games tend to be a misunderstood, interactive platform generally regarded as a vertical entertainment channel.

Game marketing is viewed as the modern equivalent of online advertising in the mid ’90s. It’s interesting and worthy of consideration and testing, but it’s rarely given an adequate budget or commitment. It’s a strategy assigned to a handful of specialists in marketing departments and advertising agencies. Or worse, it’s an afterthought reserved for incremental budgets and fiscal-year-end fun money.

Given games’ roots in the U.S., the current mainstream grasp of game marketing is rational and logical. We’ve historically defined games as an entertainment industry comprising blockbuster game titles, home consoles, and retail enthusiast magazines. Games have been perceived as an outlet reserved for game developers and publishers and rarely as a viable message vehicle for consumer advertisers.

Yet games have dramatically evolved and expanded beyond their legacy definition. Gaming has become a blurry hybrid of entertainment niche and interactive engagement tool. Largely because of the Internet, games have morphed into interactive entertainment applications that oddly but comfortably extend to all media, across any subject matter, engaging all demographics.

Most marketers acknowledge the power and passion people have for games, but few realize and capitalize on the numerous opportunities to leverage games in their marketing strategies. Marketers have a sensational focus on in-game advertising but a general failure to connect products, services, and brands with the countless, mass-appeal game applications and initiatives available beyond integration in the year’s top releases.

So this is where we begin our journey. From this point on, I’ll provide insider insight and analysis to chronicle the successes, failures, and possibilities of game marketing. I hope to serve as a valued and entertaining resource as you look to test or enhance your game marketing strategies and tactics.

Before we embark, keep in mind that my observations are based on real events, real players, and intimate details that tease but hopefully don’t require courtroom appearances. My offering to you will at times delight and sometimes offend. If all goes well, my candor and honesty will ultimately have a positive impact.

What can you expect to learn? How gaming can benefit a brand and how games are being employed to engage, entertain, deliver product messages, capture limitless data points, and produce measurable results. Look for blueprints to lift brand awareness, favorability, perception, intent to purchase, and sales through effective game marketing tactics. If all goes well, my insights will help you formulate the ways and means to deliver your product messages through highly visible, relevant, thoughtful, viral, and truly entertaining game marketing initiatives.

In coming months, columns will examine critical trends, strategies, and tactics in the game marketing sector, such as:

  • Consumer advertisers: games to market. The most notable strategies and tactics in which game marketing has been utilized to create a consumer dialogue.

  • Games go to college: game industry courses and their marketing. A study of academia’s use of game marketing for recruitment and the birth of the game art, design, and technology course offering.
  • Soldiers of fortune. A viewpoint on the increasing value of hardcore gamers to the armed forces and the game marketing initiatives cementing the relationship.
  • Consumer-generated game content. A review of the consumer-generated content movement in the game industry and the marketers underwriting and leveraging this sector.
  • Online game enthusiast communities. Standout communities, influential audiences, content syndication, and the consumer marketing budget allocations.
  • Big brands and virtual worlds. A close look at the prime movers integrating brands and marketing messages into virtual worlds and the effectiveness of their initiatives.
  • Game banners, smart marketers, and effectiveness. An overview of game utilization within rich media banners.
  • Digital distribution and its impact on game marketing. An analysis of the impact digital distribution has had on the sales and marketing of video games.

I’m laying out what I have to offer upfront to chart a course and elicit your feedback. Send me your input, experience, agreement, argument, and an occasional invite for drinks. You can officially call me a games expert for the ClickZ Network. It’s a role I’m honored and delighted to fill within an organization that I’ve always admired. I look forward to the discussion about the opportunities and pitfalls that games present to marketers.

Thanks for your mind share.

–KC

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