Video game marketing continues to employ tried and true methods like demos and pre-order bonuses, but here are ten emerging trends that are shaping consumer engagement.
Creators Are King (Or Queen)
Gaming video content—livestreams, how-to videos, trailers, etc.—has become a $4.6 billion market, according to SuperData Research.
“The biggest trend we’re seeing right now is the rising importance of streamers and YouTubers in game marketing and PR plans,” SuperData senior analyst Carter Rogers told AListDaily. “In a recent talk, PUBG‘s community manager revealed they had virtually no marketing budget and relied on gaming video content creators to promote the game.”
Rogers went on to say that creators on sites like YouTube are already more likely to influence the purchasing decisions of US PC and console gamers than traditional game critics, at 38 percent versus 23 percent, respectively.
To promote Sonic Forces Academy, Sega enlisted the help of popular YouTube creators Matthew Patrick (MatPat), Jirard Khalil (The Completionist) and Tom Cassell (Syndicate) to navigate a parkour gym. The campaign included a video, cross-promotion across each creators’ respective channels and the Sonic-inspired obstacle course was made available to the public.
The Voice Of Engagement
When Microsoft introduced the Xbox Kinect, several games including the remastered version of Halo: Combat Evolved allowed gamers to use their voice, gestures and controller in a synchronized effort.
That concept has now evolved with the prevalence of zero UI in the home. Beginning with Destiny 2, Activision introduced voice integration with Amazon Alexa. Gamers can use Alexa to open menus in the game, change load outs, get information and more.
Activision is continuing that trend with Call of Duty: WWII. A newly introduced Alexa skill was designed to help gamers improve their first-person shooter skills.
Play smarter, not harder.
Level up through personalized training with the new Call of Duty® Alexa skill. Works With Call of Duty®: WWII. Start by saying, ‘Alexa, Open Call of Duty". Available now: https://t.co/x6SpsyTycD pic.twitter.com/YTzeStINeW
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) April 18, 2018
Experience Equals Emotion
Other publishers are offering hands-on time inside a video game world through experiential marketing. Bethesda has been a major player on this front, offering scavenger hunts and a Dishonored-themed dinner party.
To promote Rise of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix hosted a survival course that included building survival shelters and making a survival bow.
Fun With Film
Destiny 2 trailer, directed by Kong Skull Island‘s Jordan Vogt-Roberts look more like a film promo than one for a game.
Several brands like Bandai Namco aren’t waiting until a game is published to promote its competitive potential. Tekken 7 was featured in the publisher’s King of Iron Fist Tournament several months before the game was released.
Gran Turismo Sport hosted an esports tournament a full year before its retail release, selling out the Copper Box Arena in London.
While not all tournaments make the mainstream headlines, Newzoo sees the benefits of early esports adoption.
“Some publishers host a big esports event quite soon after releasing a game,” Newzoo head of esports Jurre Pannkeet told AListDaily. “These events almost never generate a lot of viewership and buzz, but mostly get picked up by the media and community platforms. Despite the low impact, in a way it still works as a marketing tool to generate awareness.”
Short Films, Big Impact
Short films have become a growing trend in video game promotion, serving as a prequel or offering backstory for key characters that players will encounter later. Sega released three live-action video shorts ahead of Yakuza 6: Song of Life that provided insights into a character named Kiryu.
Games Get Chatty
To promote Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision created an interactive chatbot on Facebook Messenger that offered tours of outer space.
Famous And Familiar Faces
Whether they are voicing a main character or starring in a Super Bowl commercial, video game publishers have gained a reputation for unique celebrity team-ups. On Tuesday, action star Danny Trejo lent his voice, name and likeness to a campaign for mobile shooter Guns of Boom.
Showing Off With Sports
To promote God of War, PlayStation took over the halftime of a basketball game between the Golden State Warriors and the Spurs, where a 3D gameplay presentation was projected on to the hardwood.
Keep Them Coming Back
By consistently adding new content, games like Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Black Ops II continue to stay relevant long after their initial release dates. Treating a game as a service rather than an initial investment helps publishers market the game to new and existing players while enjoying a continuous revenue stream.