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Guide to video game marketing for PC and Console

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Alex Moyet, Marketing Director, Curve Digital
Video game marketing can be a daunting task for many developers. In this session, I will break down the fundamentals of marketing for PC and Console from finding an audience for your game to getting noticed on social media.

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Guide to video game marketing for PC and Console

  1. 1. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital A GUIDE TO MARKETING FOR PC & CONSOLE Alex Moyet Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital
  2. 2. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital
  3. 3. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital GOOD REVIEWS ≠ GOOD SALES METACRITIC SALES
  4. 4. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Market Saturation 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017* Steam games released per year Source:steamspy.com
  5. 5. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital The Basics of Marketing 1. WHAT is your game’s USP 2. WHO is your target audience 3. WHERE can you reach this audience 4. WHEN to engage them 5. HOW to get your message across
  6. 6. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital The Basics of Marketing 1. WHAT is your game’s USP 2. WHO is your target audience 3. WHERE can you reach this audience 4. WHEN to engage them 5. HOW to get your message across
  7. 7. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital • Define key features of the game • Be selective • ‘Translate’ these into messaging pillars & themes • Have a clear (U)SP Key Features vs. Messaging Pillars
  8. 8. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital The Basics of Marketing 1. WHAT is your game’s USP 2. WHO is your target audience 3. WHERE can you reach this audience 4. WHEN to engage them 5. HOW to get your message across
  9. 9. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Target Audiences • No such thing as a homogenous target audience • Engage different audiences with targeted assets/messaging • Make sure you’re targeting gamers active on chosen platform. Few non-AAA games are ‘system sellers’
  10. 10. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital The Basics of Marketing 1. WHAT is your game’s USP 2. WHO is your target audience 3. WHERE can you reach this audience 4. WHEN to engage them 5. HOW to get your message across
  11. 11. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Channel Selection • No ‘one’ target audience = no ‘one’ perfect channel • Combine paid, owned and earned media where possible • Only invest in channels you have time, budget and content to support • Experiment as long as you’re monitoring/analysing
  12. 12. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital The Basics of Marketing 1. WHAT is your game’s USP 2. WHO is your target audience 3. WHERE can you reach this audience 4. WHEN to engage them 5. HOW to get your message across
  13. 13. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Release Timings
  14. 14. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Marketing Budget 10-15% Total Development Budget
  15. 15. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Paid Media $25,000 Asset Production $10,000 PR & Events $10,000 Contingency 10% $5,000 TOTAL $50,000 Budgeting Example
  16. 16. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital ANALYSIS PLANNING EXECUTION
  17. 17. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Invest in Community
  18. 18. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital Cross promote
  19. 19. A Guide to Marketing for PC & Console Alex Moyet – Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital THANK YOU! Alex Moyet Marketing Director, Curve Digital @AlexMoyet @CurveDigital

Editor's Notes

  • Hi everyone. My name is Alex Moyet and I’m currently the marketing director of Curve Digital, one of the world’s biggest indie publishers. Before I start I would just like to thank the DevGamm team for organising a really fantastic event and for inviting me to talk to you today about one of my favourite topics: video game marketing! So before diving in I want to give you a little overview of my experience to give a bit of background to this talk.
  • I first started my career working on the European advertising account for Xbox where I helped create marketing campaigns for a variety of first party games and services. I then moved on to PlayStation where I was privileged enough to work as the product manager for some of my favourite games studios in the whole world including Media Molecule, Naughty Dog and Guerrilla Games. After a few years with Sony I was recruited to work in-house at Media Molecule as a commercial strategist before setting up my own consultancy and I have now been the marketing director at Curve Digital for the past 6 months. Over my career I have been lucky enough to work with over 30 different studios, AAA and indie, across everything from console to mobile and PC to VR, and I’ve seen first-hand how increasingly difficult it is becoming for everyone to get significant attention for their games. The competition presented by the sheer number of titles being published every week, particularly on PC, is getting bigger and bigger, marketing budgets are shrinking and I’m sure you find it just as frustrating as I do that amazing games get lost in the noise.
  • Everyone in this room I’m sure will at some point have worked on a product that didn’t do as well commercially as they would have hoped and as much as we’d all love the games market to be a complete meritocracy, good Metacritic scores don’t always equal good sales, so being able to market your video games effectively has never been more important.

    Video game marketing in 2017 means budgets are smaller, competition is higher and consumers’ attention is being pulled in more directions than ever before. And I’m sure you’ll have all seen this next slide or something very close to it.

  • …which is an overview of the quantity of individual titles published on Steam in the last ten years. As you can see almost 7000 titles have already been published so far this year, and this growth shows little sign of slowing thanks to the advancement of more accessible games making tools and software.

    In short the job of video game marketing has never been more difficult and this isn’t just limited to PC and mobile. Discoverability is becoming increasingly difficult on console, especially for non-AAA games. So onto this talk. My main objective for this talk is to guide you through the principles of video game marketing, offering tips on how to optimise your output along the way.

    To do that I’d like to start with the 5 basic principles of any marketing strategy.
  • Being extremely reductive, any video game marketing campaign boils down to 5 key elements What is the most unique or interesting thing about your game Who is your target audience Where you can reach this audience and finally when and how to tell this audience about your game to convince them to buy it, play it, share it, talk about it, keep spending, whatever your particular objectives may be
    So let’s start with the what.
  • What are your game’s key features and what is its USP
  • For those who have engaged in writing marketing plans before you’ll know that the standard beginning point is formal and in-depth product analysis but this shouldn’t just stop with defining a few key features. Some of the biggest value the marketer can add is not only being able to condense what can be a 10-20 hour experience into 4 or 5 bullet points, but also knowing exactly which features to select to message your game.
    Oftentimes you’ll see people using the exact key features of the game as their marketing messages, but just because something is a core design feature of the game doesn’t mean it’s going to be clear, interesting or even appealing to your target audiences. There is definitely a lot of overlap, but being able to take the key components of a game and channel these into consumer-focused messages and talking points is one of the biggest challenges for the marketing team.

    One example I’d like to use is one of the most recent campaigns I devised which was for Bomber Crew which launched on PC a month ago, broke even in 36 hours, generated a million dollars of revenue in 2 weeks and continues to break all our records at Curve Digital. One of the core components of the game doc was a unique crew with procedurally-generated names, skills, talents and backstories. When drawing up the communications pillars for the campaign I pivoted this to ‘emotional attachment to the crew’ as not only was this more interesting but it was also a unique point of difference from other war simulators which focused more on the equipment and combat than the crew behind them.

    And finally – have a clear selling point. Having a truly unique selling point is becoming increasingly difficult in the games category as it is so saturated, but finding one clear selling point to anchor your marketing campaign around, as well as giving consumers something to latch on to, is absolutely key.
  • Now onto who is your target audience – or rather target audiences
  • Because essentially, and this is something that is easily overlooked by development teams, there is no such thing as a homogenous target audience all identically into the same things, everyone has various interests, and there are plenty of people who wouldn’t consider gaming their primary interest but still absolutely own a PC or a console and play and enjoy video games. Consider the features or themes of your games – if it’s a racing game it could be just as fruitful to market your game to car enthusiasts and motoring magazines as to traditional racing gamers, or if you’re making a cooking game, you could try and promote the game with food bloggers interested in tech. As long as these audiences are open to buying and playing games on your chosen platform then targeting different audiences even with completely different assets and messaging is a really solid strategy. To put this into context for one of Bomber Crew again, we had the primary target audiences of both fans of key war game franchises such as War Thunder, and fans of PC strategy sim games such as FTL and Prison Architect. Our secondary audience was WW2 aficionados who also own a PC, ensuring we’d be targeting not only fans of the genre and similar titles, but also of military history. Knowing this we were not only able to tailor our messaging accordingly but also ensure we were reaching out to the right press, streamers and influencers across all these groups.
  • Now let’s consider strategies to reach where your audience is
  • As we’ve just discussed, there is no one target audience. As such there can never be one perfect channel to find and communicate with this audience. I’m often asked what the best channel to invest in is and the short answer is you need a solid, and well thought out blend of paid, owned and earned media channels in order to ensure you’re building up a community prior to launch. It is, however, critical, to not overstretch, not just in terms of spreading budgets too thin, but also in terms of time you have to invest in these channels and ultimately, the content to support it. You should only be present on channels you have the time and resource to support. This is particularly true for social media, which is a key part of any PC or console marketing plan from indie to AAA. If you’re a small studio and you’ve only got a few hours a week to work on your social media channels for instance, pick one channel and do your best to grow your community there. It’s better to have one highly engaged channel rather than dividing your time between 3 or 4 and not being particularly impactful in any of them. Also make sure you’re selecting channels with a clear view of their demographics and with full consideration of the content you’ll want to produce to be effective, not just the channels you personally use or prefer. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that what works well on facebook or Instagram will also work on twitter or snapchat. All social channels have different audiences, different ways to engage with community and content that does better than others, so do be selective and don’t overstretch because it’s a waste of your time.
    Another key piece of advice I would give is, within reason, just put yourself out there and see what sticks. As long as you’re not doing anything offensive, or illegal, there is no harm in experimenting with new channels or content ideas, but do make sure you’re constantly monitoring, analysing and most importantly applying these learnings to your future work to ensure the best return on investment.
  • So back to our points 4 and 5. When to engage your audiences and how to get your message across. A key part of when and how you’re going to be able to find and communicate with your target audiences will be release timings and campaign budgets.
  • The announcement and release timings for your game can be dictated by external forces such as publisher and platform deadlines for example getting a launch title ready for a new console, but more often than not you’ll have a lot of flexibility with when you can release your game. Particularly if you have a limited marketing budget it can seem like there’s never an ideal window to release your game in, and this can be true if you’re looking at releasing anything from September to December, but there are certainly worse weeks than others and your decision would usually depend on what other games are due for release, or indeed if there are any other big cultural or entertainment events coming up that could sink your players’ time and money as well as the space for games media to cover your launch.


    Once you’ve found your ideal release date, work backwards to your announcement date. I’m often asked what the ideal length for a video game marketing campaign is. Whilst the real answer to this is far from short and fast, the general rule should be you only leave as much room as you can maintain consumer interest – which usually translates to how much content you have to reveal. If you’ve got a short, single-player, narrative-led experience it might be difficult to keep talking about your product without producing either spoilers or consumer fatigue where players no longer feel like they need to actually buy and play the game in order to experience it. Conversely if you’re working on a AAA console game with multiplayer you’ll need adequate time to build up a community and platform support.
  • So let’s talk marketing budgets.

    As a general industry rule of thumb about 10-15% of the total cost of developing the game should be spent on marketing. There are a few examples of games that have sold extremely well without any traditional marketing spend, PUBG, Minecraft’s original release and puzzle series The Room are a few, but these are definitely the exceptions not the rule, so whatever budget you do have, do make sure you put some aside for marketing as this can be what makes or breaks the success of your game. So where do you spend your money?
  • Obviously every marketing campaign is unique. As such every budget needs to be tailored but let’s just look at one way to split a hypothetical budget of $50k.

    Whilst you can expect the majority of the marketing budget to go on paid-for media, in this example half, it’s essential to invest early on in good marketing assets, specifically your key art and your trailers. If you’re going to spend any money, these are the two assets you should be concentrating on. If your branding is unappealing it will always impact the success of your campaign, so getting the basics right and investing in them is key.
    AAA studios have dedicated teams and often years of time to create extensive suites of assets, but regardless of how many assets you’re creating, and whether you’re making these assets in house or outsourcing to design and video agencies – it’s so vital to make the most of everything you make. For example, one trailer can be used in a variety of ways – from that single asset you can create stills, gifs, teasers and cutdowns for social media, and then maybe you can update it with press quotes or player reactions for another post-launch beat. Regardless of how much money you’re spending, use your budget efficiently.
    If you can afford to, being present at the right events, where preferably you have access to a good balance of press and interested consumers, can be really effective. And finally, something that I like to personally do is hold around 10% of the marketing budget back for contingency. This isn’t just in case other elements of the marketing budget overrun, although this is a handy safety net, but quite simply because opportunities that you haven’t budgeted for always present themselves.
  • So with my time nearly at an end. I will quickly summarise:

    Once you understand your game, who you’ll be targeting it towards, what you’re saying to your audience as well as how, where and when, congratulations you can now plot your activity into a master schedule and start executing the marketing. If it sounds like a lot of work before you’ve even done a single tweet or saved a single screenshot, then good. It is, and it should be. When it comes to marketing, planning and preparation is everything. The better researched and targeted your plan and timings, and the more you analyse the results of your work for future improvement, the more effective it will be, guaranteed.


    So that’s a very quick guide to marketing planning optimisation for PC or Console, but before I leave I’d like to give my top 2 underrated marketing strategies for breaking through the noise and making your mark with gaming audiences on these platforms.
  • We talk so much about community in video games that the term almost becomes a bit meaningless. Community management isn’t really integrated as much as it should be into central marketing planning and not really given the credit it deserves in a lot of cases and this absolutely is the wrong approach.
    It goes without saying that a social community, offline or online, needs to be maintained, you need to start and build conversations, be active, be interesting and most importantly interested. One of the most impressive examples of this on social media at the moment is an indie title called Ooblets. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out it’s one of the games I’m most looking forward to, a bit of a cross between pokemon and animal crossing, it’s really adorable, and it’s generating a huge amount of hype for a title of its size because they’re doing a great job of content generation and building engagement with their community. But whilst it’s absolutely essential to build and show your appreciation for your community as a whole, the best community managers spend a lot of time identifying and building relationships with specific individuals. These active and influential community members in turn help generate a lot of engagement with your game, and there are a huge amount of ways to show your appreciation for free. On the more obvious end of the scale you have all of the standard responding to any social media messages or fanmail, maybe posting out the odd bit of studio merchandise etc. but engaging with your community in a more personal way can prove huge bang for buck. Consider inviting your most loyal community members for a tour of your studio or jump on a skype call for a friendly Q&A for those fans you can’t meet with physically. If you’ve got a spare ticket to an event like PAX or E3, invite a fan to join you on your booth or put the names of your biggest supporters in your game credits. All of these are just quick, free ideas but they’re all good examples of “money can’t buy” experiences which reward and nurture your community and help generate conversation as well as good will.
  • This is potentially the biggest opportunity to grow your audience even with no budget. I can almost guarantee every one of you here is or will be working eventually with a larger partner in some form or another. PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, Facebook, Steam, Apple, Google, Amazon, Unity, Unreal, Autodesk, Samsung, HTC, Oculus etc etc all these brands have their own marketing teams tasked just with working with developers and their games to promote their own brands and services. They will I’m sure be keen to find and curate the best quality content regardless, but if you can also find a way that your game benefits their business objectives you are much more likely to get big support from their channels. For example maybe you’re making an addictive group couch co-op game that could help hardware teams sell additional controllers, or perhaps you’re making an educational or social game that can help platform holders grow and expand their install bases beyond just traditional gamers. These are just quick examples, but if you do anything today, have a think about the additional roles your game could play in the wider objectives of your partners and how you can help each other. And if you’re not sure what their objectives are, just read and watch their latest presentations to gain some insight. And finally depending on the title you’re working on and what country you’re working from there may also be endless other local opportunities, you just have to start having these discussions, it costs nothing but the return is potentially massive.
  • So that’s my time pretty much up. Hopefully you’ve found this short session a useful guide for building your PC and Console marketing plans. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to me today, you’ve been a really attentive audience. I’m now happy to take any questions you might have.
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