Marketing in the Age of Microtransactions


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This presentation was given at the Evolve 2011 conference in Brighton and is focused on the best practice to market and promote free online games funded through microtransactions.

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  • Pre-launch for Pre-Orders and to maximize the launch. Focus on the « launch effect » because of the limited retail space. Then do nothing, except sometimes on DLCs.
  • « Launch effect » is usually negative : at « launch » (Open Beta), a game is rarely stable enough to properly retain and monetize users Userbase is built over time, on the long run
  • Bumps for expansion launches and specific push Marketing spendings grow along with the revenue Requires ongoing optimization and testing
  • Anybody can organize events, but it’s up to the studio to make them newsworthy through assets, creative communication, etc.
  • Marketing is a lot of money to put in the hands of the wrong people Young people with no preconceptions might be more effective than expensive old-wolves with the wrong habits
  • Can be interesting for communication and visibility, but shouldn’t be a focus, and will only represent a very small share of your userbase.
  • Marketing in the Age of Microtransactions

    1. 2. Marketing in the Age of Microtransactions Julien Wera - ICO Partners
    2. 3. Who is speaking ? <ul><li>Julien Wera </li></ul><ul><li>You ? </li></ul>
    3. 4. Free-to-Play Model <ul><li>Over 10 years old in Asia, significant for about 5 in the West </li></ul><ul><li>More profitable than traditional business but… </li></ul><ul><li>… also more difficult to get right </li></ul>
    4. 5. Free-to-Play vs. Retail Model <ul><li>Online F2P </li></ul><ul><li>Direct to Consumer </li></ul><ul><li>« Indie »-friendly </li></ul><ul><li>Game as a Service </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>Game evolution (10+ years lifetime) </li></ul><ul><li>« Niche is Rich » </li></ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul>Retail Intermediaries Dominated by publishers Game as a Product Launch effect Sequels/Franchises Blockbuster-driven Etc.
    5. 6. Free-to-Play Model <ul><li>Two main challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User Acquisition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most online free-to-play titles can’t benefit from the added visibility given by retail channels </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Requires skills that are difficult to find for now </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User Monetization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not the focus of this talk, but not to be forgotten </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 7. Free-to-Play Marketing : The Plan <ul><li>Marketing/Advertising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data-Driven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Built for the long term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PR </li></ul><ul><li>Community Management </li></ul><ul><li>And also : Talent management, Retail, etc. </li></ul>
    7. 8. Marketing/Advertising <ul><li>Marketing in the age of microtransactions must be : </li></ul><ul><li>Data-Driven </li></ul>
    8. 9. Data-Driven Marketing <ul><li>Digital distribution allows for data collection and gives more control over the user acquisition process </li></ul><ul><li>Metrics allow risk reduction, but do not remove it, nor replace creativity </li></ul><ul><li>USE METRICS RESPONSIBLY </li></ul>
    9. 10. Uncreative Data-Driven Marketing Without creativity : it works, it’s relatively safe, but it won’t differenciate you from the competition.
    10. 11. Creative Data-Driven Marketing Data-Driven + Creativity : Data gives you the foundation, of your marketing, creativity brings this little extra that will make you special.
    11. 12. Data-Driven Marketing <ul><li>Favour direct marketing channels that provide detailed metrics (digital) </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful with « Premium » partners </li></ul><ul><li>Use the data provided to you </li></ul>
    12. 13. Ex : Marketing Budget PC F2P
    13. 14. Marketing/Advertising <ul><li>Marketing for a free-to-play game must be : </li></ul><ul><li>Data-Driven </li></ul><ul><li>Built for the long run </li></ul>
    14. 15. Marketing in Traditional Model
    15. 16. Free-to-Play vs. Traditional Model
    16. 17. Free-to-Play vs. Traditional Model
    17. 18. Long-term Marketing <ul><li>No game is « mature » at launch </li></ul><ul><li>No marketing campaign is optimized at launch </li></ul><ul><li>THERE IS NO « QUICK WIN » </li></ul><ul><li>(But there is a « Quick Lose ») </li></ul>
    18. 19. Marketing/Advertising <ul><li>Marketing for a free-to-play game must be : </li></ul><ul><li>Data-Driven </li></ul><ul><li>Built for the long run </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul>
    19. 20. Evolve… or else
    20. 21. Flexible Marketing <ul><li>Experiment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data can only tell you what has already happened, experiments will allow you to discover new opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learn from your failures </li></ul><ul><li>Inertia is your worst enemy </li></ul>
    21. 22. (Not a valid business strategy)
    22. 23. PR for Free-to-Play Games <ul><li>Good for long-term brand and community building </li></ul><ul><li>Direct, aimed at relationship-building </li></ul><ul><li>Requires regular newsworthy content </li></ul>
    23. 24. Ex : League of Legends
    24. 25. Ex : Battlefield Heroes
    25. 26. Community Management <ul><li>Even more important than in traditional business </li></ul><ul><li>Can initiate and/or support PR/Marketing rather than drive it </li></ul><ul><li>Requires ongoing coordination with marketing/advertising and PR </li></ul><ul><li>Can reuse most advice and best practice from other business models </li></ul>
    26. 27. Talent is Key <ul><li>Unrelevant old habits (ie: Senior staff coming from retail world) can be counter-productive, expensive, and dangerous </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term strategies are best led in-house </li></ul><ul><li>Your company’s destiny is in the hands of your staff : Take care of them . </li></ul>
    27. 28. And also… <ul><li>Don’t translate : localize </li></ul><ul><li>Small improvements can lead to large revenues in the long run </li></ul><ul><li>Retail can still be of use for visibility, but will only represent a tiny portion of your userbase </li></ul>
    28. 29. Ex : F2P Titles at Retail
    29. 30. Conclusion <ul><li>Players invest time and money in your game, you need to invest time and money to attract them </li></ul><ul><li>Work is never done : Always experiment, iterate, improve </li></ul><ul><li>Evolution doesn’t stop or wait </li></ul>
    30. 31. Thank you! <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul> @icojul