65.49 billion U.S. dollars—this is the market size of the video games industry in 2021. And while that number sounds astronomical, it’s a drop-off from the all-time industry high of 66.88 billion in 2020. The video games industry is more competitive than ever, and as more brands compete for a piece of the pie, you need a strategy to stand out. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of a strategic video game PR strategy, and break down some crucial dos and don’ts to help you succeed.
Let’s start with the DO’s.
Goals represent a key starting point when it comes to your video games PR journey; it’s critical to know exactly what you want to achieve before you actually devise the plan around how to achieve it. There are a ton of different metrics to consider when planning your video games PR strategy: sales, downloads, conversion rates, site visits, etc.
Naturally, the metrics you prioritize will dictate how your strategy is structured, and adopting a data-driven approach from the outset will ultimately lead to results you can analyze and use as a learning experience to optimize your future gaming marketing campaigns.
Understand exactly what your audience likes and dislikes through in-depth research. It’s great knowing what your goals are in terms of sales or awareness, but not knowing the wants and needs of your video game target audience will only lead to an alienating PR strategy.
Spend time where your audience interacts, such as online gaming platforms like Twitch and Steam. Pair that knowledge with other online communities like social media groups and forums to begin noticing patterns and similarities that you can appeal to. Put simply, you’re learning your audience as best as you can. This will enable you to create a video games PR strategy that’s the exact opposite of the alienation we talked about; your PR campaigns will feel authentic, engaging, and ultimately help you achieve your goals.
Key pillars of a great video game include mesmerizing gameplay, memorable storylines, impactful art design and graphics, and engaging problem-solving. These pillars are common knowledge, and every video game is striving to achieve them just like you are. To differentiate, really think about how your game puts a fresh twist on these pillars—what makes it unique? Once you determine this, make sure it’s emphasized in your PR strategy. As the video games market becomes increasingly saturated, the importance of standing out from the crowd is something that cannot be underestimated.
In a world where attention is at an absolute premium, you need a great press kit. Think of it as a cheat sheet to help strangers understand what your game is about, the studio behind it, and what you can offer in terms of experience and outlook. Consider trying to answer the following questions with your press kit:
Don’t forget the visual aids associated with your press kit either: screenshots, a video trailer, logos, and artwork can contribute to your overall story.
When you’re confident your press kit effectively communicates the key aspects of your game, you need to think about distribution.
In terms of journalists, think about how you outreach. Don’t spam your game mindlessly with a copy-paste message—personalize how you present your game according to which media company or journalist you’re reaching out to. Tease your game, hint at why it’s worth their time to check out your press kit. Again, it helps to research who specifically in the journalism space might enjoy sharing your game with their audience and target them accordingly.
When it comes to top gaming influencer selection, think about who could genuinely enjoy your game. Do the influencers you’re looking to reach out to have a close association to the genre of your game? Have they played games of a similar creative style before?
Now let’s take a look at the DON’Ts.
You’ve probably set yourself a release date that you’re keen to meet; fans, investors, even your team want a game to release sooner rather than later as anticipation and hype builds. The problem is, things don’t always go to plan.
If you’re getting close to release and things just don’t feel ready (tech bugs, perhaps some new functionality you’d like to add last minute), don’t release your game. While it’s a shame to miss a release date, it’s hardly uncommon in the gaming space. By releasing a game that’s not ready, you risk a PR nightmare. Critics—journalists and fans alike—won’t hesitate to pick up on even slight flaws, and your game stands a much better chance of success long term if you hold off a little.
Don’t underestimate the true cost of effective video game PR. For a PR strategy to genuinely contribute to the success of your video game, you’ll need to dedicate a certain budget to it. And while effective PR will help you achieve your overall objectives we talked about in the beginning, it has to be part of a wider strategy.
When it comes to advertising in video games, look at industry leaders like EA and Ubisoft to see how they employ a multi-channel strategy for their game launches. These strategies are typically differentiated by “paid” spend—such as Facebook and TV advertising—and “earned” spend, which is the category that PR falls into.
An effective PR strategy can undoubtedly separate your video game from the crowd, particularly as a core component of a multi-channel strategy. Having clear, strategic answers around what your overall goals are, who your gaming audience is, and which influencers and journalists you plan to reach out to will set you well on your way. A video game PR strategy should always emphasize your uniqueness, and succinctly packaging key information by creating a press kit will allow you to communicate your PR plan successfully.
Despite all this, there are pitfalls to avoid when it comes to video game PR. PR is a core component of a launch strategy, but it shouldn’t be your only avenue. Leveraging social promotion and other forms of marketing alongside PR allows every element to amplify the other. Crucially, great PR can’t mask a bad game. Make sure your game is as ready as can be when you begin your PR push. If it’s not, delay your launch. Adopting this long-term perspective to your game will help you find success long-term, opposed to something rushed that fizzles out as time goes on.
About the Author:
Polina Haryacha is a Founder at Cloutboost, a gaming influencer marketing agency that helps clients such as Samsung, Sony, and Glu Mobile engage with the gaming audience via Twitch and YouTube influencers. With over a decade of experience in product marketing, user acquisition, and marketing analytics, Polina is a noted marketing expert featured on TechCrunch, AdExchanger, Adweek, and other industry media.