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Videogame Marketing – An on-screen competition

With the emerging videogame culture, related start-up businesses that daily upload new free-to-play games or blockbusters are going through hardships to keep up with the competition. Technology keeps going forward within the growing gaming subculture and the release of new platforms became the first communication tool between startups and gamers. The actual market shares are held by French, German and English companies, and in 2015 the free-to- play generated 79% of Apple and Google’s revenue. The American company Activision Blizzard initiated the most expensive gaming campaign in 2014 with a total of 392 million euros for Destiny compared to the French leader Ubisoft who spent 140 million euros for the Watch Dogs campaign in the same year. That is a proof that marketing in the gaming industry is becoming more and more important in the final result of the world’s gaming trade.

No matter how you look at it, this new type of mass communication is a powerful tool used every day in social networks, blogs and on official websites such as Kotaku or Game Informer. League Of Legends is one of the leader in the sector. Indeed, they make short animated motion pictures to give a background to their new characters. Big advertising campaigns are also created to give further momentum to older games that still attract people. For example, the 12-year old MMORPG World Of Warcraft will have its own movie in May 2016. New technologies have blurred the limits between videogames and blockbusters. Furthermore, social networks became some kind of a religion to some gamers who are happy to be selected to promote new games or updates. These so-called beta-testers can enjoy privileges and notoriety amongst the community. Using their own network, the information reach the casual gamer efficiently and smoothly, whilst videos on YouTube are still watched months after they have been released. Main gaming houses like Millennium use this promotion tool to increase their popularity and their influence in the gaming world.

Even if the background, story and sound design are the most important aspects of a game, a game will not be successful unless it has a good marketing campaign. Indeed, the project manager is in charge of giving directions to the staff and community managers take care of the whole marketing process, choosing the best way to promote on TV, magazines and on the main social networks. Conventions are a fantastic way to reach gamers, such as the Paris Games Week Convention held in October in the capital city, one of the biggest conventions of the country. Last year, the sixteenth edition attracted the most talented professional gamer houses of France.

Marketing strategies went through tremendous changes in the past years. Gameplay has changed with the arrival of the Playstation 4 and the Oculus Rift technology in the market, therefore companies are now closer to gamers than ever before. All platforms are now connected to the Internet allowing data analysts to collect information about our habits. Afterwards, project managers will use the data to adapt the product to our expectations. These advertisements feature epic environments and a fast-paced action to immerse viewers and generate appeal for the game. It works like movie trailers, people watch the ad and the most hardcore gamers – who said addicted? – may buy the game in the next 24 hours. Recently, the Call Of Duty trailer has been heavily disliked on Youtube, even if it is still one of the most played games alongside Minecraft and GTA V.

The traditional CD format is being replaced by dematerialised games available from websites such as STEAM, DLgamer and Origin. After purchasing and downloading a game from these platforms, players receive various kind of trophies and are granted discount vouchers that will ultimately increase their loyalty.

How does the marketing work on these platforms?

It is quite simple. Websites collect data about your tastes in gaming and create a wish-list. Surveys are also made to prevent a game from losing its community and to eventually die. E-mails are sent to promote games according to your tastes. This strategy includes a gift system, also called ‘cross-selling’, in which you can send games or vouchers to friends as gifts. As a result, gamers can exchange goods and befriend which is useful to bolster the community. Streaming platforms are also becoming a good means to promote games. Gamers live broadcast their gameplay experience, reactions and reviews when they are followed by viewers all around the world.

This gaming culture has a close connection with the marketing process which gives them the will to play again or to discover a new game that might become a blockbuster in a near future. This battle between gamers and houses has also become a video marketing warfare to settle who is going to release the newest “In Real Life” teaser.

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