From the days of arcades to the rise of hand-held consoles, the gaming industry has become saturated with many companies, from large conglomerates like Epic Games to indie gaming companies like Mobius Digital. Interestingly enough, public has played a considerable role throughout the history of gaming, even when not intended. Public relations for video games has always been an extension of the art of game design. PR professionals use abstract language and creative thinking to sell audiences on games and immersive experiences that respond to their interactive needs.
When people talk about the gaming industry and the people behind it, they generally think about the game designers, CEOs, artists, and programmers that work to create the best entertainment experience. However, people also tend to forget about the people in charge of delivering the message to gamers around the world.
In this article, we will look at:
1) The Role of Public Relations in the Gaming Industry
2) The Evolution of PR in the Gaming Industry
3) How to Do Public Relations in the Gaming Industry
The Role of Public Relations in the Gaming Industry
Much like any other industry, a PR professional is meant to be an intermediary between the gaming company and the public. If companies have a newsworthy story, then effective public relations is meant to deliver this story to the right audience. Furthermore, good PR should take into account the four main elements: the idea, the message, the channel, and the delivery.
Secondly, gaming companies need to transform their original idea into an actual message. Since it’s easy to alienate an audience with a technical pitch, companies need to focus on writing a good pitch which will appeal to the general public. Public relations helps companies transform industry jargon into a language that individual targeted groups will understand, thus making the pitch more accessible. Once a gaming company has crafted a unique message, they need to figure out what channels they plan to use to reach their audience.
Finally, good PR is all about the delivery. As mentioned previously, a gaming company may have a great product, a good idea for PR, and the relevant channel to present their information. Gaming companies and PR professionals need to be dedicated to delivering the message to the relevant audience in order to create awareness and drive sales when the game is launched.
Choosing the right channel, finding the right time to send it out, and releasing the correct information is quite a process. For this reason, PR agencies like Pressfarm partner with companies to help them understand what type of content is appropriate, how to communicate with media professionals, and how to gain online visibility.
The Evolution of PR in the Gaming Industry
From magazines to websites, podcasts, and blogs, all the content which a company produces is supposed to generate media coverage. As mentioned before, the choice of media also depends on the business and its target audience. For example, if a gaming company plans to sell an online game for a niche market. Then it would be wise to focus on online platforms with targeted websites. This strategy will create visibility with a well-targeted audience.
Additionally, online features on various websites can help their content to rank higher on search engines, drive more traffic to their product, generate earned media, and increase their sales. On the other hand, if a gaming company plans to sell a family-friendly game for the general public. They may not receive the visibility they desire from the gaming websites from the previous example. In this case, they should advertise on TV shows or any other platform that is family-friendly.
Either way, all media can contribute to effective communication differently. Ultimately, the best type of media will depend on the gaming company’s PR wants and needs.
Nowadays, with advancements in technology and the number of hours people spend online, everyone can be a journalist or blogger. They can voice their opinions and write about anything they are passionate about. While that is great for everyone’s freedom of speech. It has dramatically affected the “journalism ethic,” and many issues have stemmed from this. While this change has allowed gaming companies to communicate with their public directly.
How to do Public Relations in the Gaming Industry
While most companies focus on the numbers and the sales they can achieve. They often forget about the impact of their public or corporate image. It’s easy to forget that good public relations gets companies closer to their community, secures more attention from the media, boosts customer loyalty, and influences recruitment.
Effective public relations will allow customers to get a transparent look at the company’s inner workings. This helps in the long run because loyal clients help to build the empire of a gaming company through word-of-mouth marketing. Secondly, having an excellent public image helps a company. When a crisis occurs because they have already established positive long-term relationships with their community and the media. Moreover, a positive brand image can positively impact a company’s sales. This is not to say that consumers will feel obliged to buy the product; it simply means that a positive brand image will encourage them to choose a specific brand over the competition.
Lastly, an excellent corporate image also impacts recruitment by helping managers to hire like-minded individuals for the company. If companies present a good brand image, then they might have an easier time hiring and retaining loyal employees. This is because employees will have incentive to work for a company that shares their values and appreciates its workers.
Now that we have looked at the role and evolution of public relations in the gaming industry. Let us look at how gaming companies can achieve effective PR. Since everyone has a different approach to image-building and PR and there are new strategies daily.
1) Define your objectives
Having a great game is just the beginning of creating a positive brand image. However, even before creating a game. A company generally has an idea of the audience they want to target and how. By clearly defining the objectives of their game as well as their target audience, companies can focus on the end-goal. Moreover, they can amend it easily if need be.
2) Know your public
Once they have defined their audience, companies need to get to know them. They need to understand who they are, what they like. What they do for fun, what social media platforms they use, etc. This is extremely important on multiple different levels. Firstly, it gives companies a first-hand look at the topics their target audience is interested in and where they go to get information. Secondly, by fully understanding every demographic of their target audience, companies can also understand the cultural differences all around the world. Ultimately, this helps companies to tailor their game and their message to fit each person wherever they are.
3) Choose your weapons
Image-building is not just about selling a game and being done with it. It is also about the ability to touch people’s hearts and minds. So that they feel a sense of connection with the game. Rather than solely looking at the benefits for the brand. Companies should also try to win to their consumers’ hearts through charitable initiatives. These days, many consumers gravitate towards companies that share their values. Whether it is protecting endangered species, the environment, or other charitable causes. They want to know that the company they choose doesn’t just care about profit, but also gives back to the community.
4) Be Transparent & Communicate
Communication is a critical part of a good PR strategy; it is a two-way process that helps companies gather feedback from their users on the best way to improve. The gaming industry currently has many communications channels. These platforms all present good opportunities to meet other gaming professionals and enhance the brand image. In fact, the people working in the gaming industry are some of the most passionate people you will meet. They are the community leaders and, with the right platform. They can help brands to make meaningful connections with other gaming enthusiasts.
5) Share & Don’t fear networking
While the gaming industry is competitive with games constantly coming up in different genres. Companies need to find a good balance between protecting their company secrets and sharing news. Gaming enthusiasts tend to form a community with other professionals and users. By simply sharing snippets of information in these communities. A company can emerge into the community as a thought-leader and not be left out when something new happens.
Networking is central to gaming communities, so gaming companies shouldn’t shy away from it. By participating in these communities, companies can access information which is beneficial to them. For example, groups which talk about the latest news and trends in the gaming community can help determine whether their game will work. Nowadays, there are plenty of events where professional gamers test out new products and new games before they hit the market. Submitting their game for testing is the best way for a company to see whether their game needs improvement or is ready to go to shelves worldwide.
6) Use community management
Public Relations and Community Management are complementary to each other when it comes to generating media coverage. Usually, PR is the way to get create a community around a new game. Similarly, community management helps brands to create a bond between the people who join this community. Whether through fansites, or blogs, community websites, and YouTube videos. Community managers keep everyone entertained and up-to-date on any project details.
Along with blogs, forums, and other media, the rise of influencer marketing has also helped gaming companies reach larger audiences. Gamers like PewDiePie and Markiplier are just two of the millions of gaming influencers. Who use YouTube and other social media platforms to promote new games and gaming accessories. Since it may be challenging to gain a prominent YouTuber’s attention. When first starting companies really should consider developing mutually beneficial relationships with influencers to gain more media coverage.
Examples of successful gaming PR
Mass Effect 3
In an explosive campaign which got everyone talking, the makers of Mass Effect 3 brought gaming PR to a whole new level. They launched this new game by tying copies of the game to weather balloons which were linked to GPS devices. With these GPS devices, gamers could control the location and movement of the balloons and catch one or more. Once you caught a balloon, you got a copy of the game.
With this campaign, the launch of Mass Effect 3 turned into a widely-publicized event. In addition to the balloons, the company also aired an ad on TV to reach a wider audience.
Halo 5: Guardians
Since the Halo franchise is already so popular, it’s no surprise that the release of Halo 5: The Guardians was already highly anticipated. Even so, the campaign which they developed created an even bigger buzz among gamers.
The Halo 5 campaign started with a sneak preview for loyal fans. This preview got fans talking about the game before it had even released. Additionally, the game trailer won the makers of the Halo franchise awards for being both creative and captivating.
Lara Croft: Rise of the Tomb Raider
This campaign won the “Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign-Core Games” prize, and for valid reason. The campaign included the “Siberian Bootcamp,” an event where influencers could go and practice the skills which Lara has in the game.
Moreover, the makers of the game designed a photo booth where fans could dress up and take photos with effects which made it look like they were in the game. For example, some photos made it look like they were hanging off a cliff. The makers of Lara Croft also set up an Instagram account where followers could track Lara’s adventures around the world.
With all these elements put together, this campaign successfully generated anticipation for the release of Lara Croft long before the game was launched.
While the campaign for Angry Birds was simple, this is exactly why it did so well. After intensive research, the makers of the game pitched it to Apple, who then listed it as the “Game of the Week” on their UK website. Once this was done, the team created a trailer for the game and hosted this on YouTube. At the time, this was one of the first games to come with such a trailer.
Angry Birds might’ve had humble beginnings, but today it’s more than a game. It’s a well-known franchise with a movie based on the characters in the game and a sequel in the pipeline.
Regardless of what product or service a company is launching, public relations is an essential part of any brand’s overall communications plan. PR professionals play a crucial role in getting media coverage because they are the “gatekeepers” to what information is presented and how. In the past, many companies had to rely on others to get the message out there for them. Today, the rise of technology and social media platforms has allowed them to personally connect with their audiences to figure out what works as well as what does not. The gaming industry can be very competitive and is fully saturated with gaming companies of all different sizes. Even with the best game in the world, a gaming company needs reasonable PR efforts to help set them apart from their competition and gain media coverage.