The gaming industry has changed a lot from the beginning until now. And this means four decades of gaming history. Sure, in the 70s (when it all started) there were not so many games to play, so it was enough for you to release one product and a whole gang of hungry players just jumped on it, ready to start. 40 years later, with an estimated of $175.8 billion revenue in 2021 and 3.0 billion players across the globe, the industry is considered the biggest earning media sector. So, it´s no wonder that we see the gaming startups and industry leaders fighting to get the attention of (more or less) the same target audience.
With almost over 30,000 games just on Steam alone now (without taking into consideration the console or mobile niches), you can’t just launch a game and expect it to be played and sell automatically.
Even if you create and develop a great product, full of personality, heroic characters, and amazing sceneries, your game will be buried by the cohort of thousands of competitors. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a business, marketing, and localization strategy to make your efforts count.
This post aims to be a quick list of dos and don’ts that any gaming startup owner should follow to market his business effectively.
DOs for a gaming startup
Focus on research
Like many other industries, games no longer target a homogeneous public anymore. Technological development, diversification, inclusion, and evolution of the target audience, have led to the massive growth of the gaming community. You can develop a powerful strategy only after you do your homework and know your market very well.
What does it mean?
Basically, you must know your target audience and your competition. Let’s take them one by one.
Creating your player personas – the first step for a gaming startup
Determining your target market is the first crucial and logical step in defining a product, marketing, and overall business strategy.
What are the player personas and why are they so important for your business?
Simply put, player personas (or buyer personas) are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers you created based on research and data. Knowing this information will help you to better understand your customers and potential customers. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, localization, and other services to meet the specific needs, behavior, and concerns of the members of your target audience.
As a result, you’ll be able to attract more valuable gamers for your business, who you’ll be more likely to retain over time.
To create your player personas, can use different templates or a buyer persona generator.
Research your competitors
Researching your competitors is great for seeing what they have done and what their overall marketing, sales, and business strategies have been. They are a good source of inspiration and you can adapt to your specifics what worked well and avoid the mistakes they made. And this research can include from product development to localization for different markets to social media strategies, SEO, and content marketing.
Create your business plan – a solid road map for your gaming startup
Creating your business plan is also a crucial step, not just at the very first beginning when you just opened your company, but along the whole journey. It’s an outline that explains what your business is about, which are your goals, and how exactly you will achieve them.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin).
A good business plan outline will also help you to achieve short-term and long-term objectives, and
- target your problems
- get a better advice
- organize your resources
- approach investors
- and create milestones.
Develop your marketing plan
This is a road map of your marketing strategy for the long-, medium- and short terms. It defines your marketing objectives, shows you how to reach them, and highlights the tactics and plans (and also the alternatives) you’ll use.
When creating your marketing plan strategy, focus on online and consider the following:
Even if developing your website is just a part of your online presence, it’s still the most important one. And this is because all the other marketing actions (social media, engaging in gaming communities, or influencer marketing) are strongly related to your website. Therefore, it must capture your audience and keep your game in their mind, so you should:
- create a good and engaging description and include the applicable keywords to improve your ranking
- the whole design should reflect your game story; include images and screenshots along with a short video about your game
- describe what playing the game feels like.
Spreading the word about your startup project is invaluable. And a blog that includes both news and quality content will promote your game and company while keeping your audience up to date with your current and upcoming endeavors.
Furthermore, including the right calls to action will help attract more users and makes you more visible to search engines. At the same time, they will help you not just manage users’ expectations but also to get their feedback.
Influencer marketing – an important social proof for a gaming startup
Working with gaming influencers is a great way to market your game, as they have a big impact on players and can spread the word about your product. Then why not take the advantage of the relationships they have with their followers and push your game to a wider audience? A single piece of content created by a gaming influencer can lead to thousands of interactions. You can generate good exposure and expand your reach for more sales.
Here are some tips for a successful influencer marketing campaign:
- choose the right influencer: pick a celebrity for your niche, instead of going for someone popular in other games
- personalize your pitch: sending mass emails with a generic message is a huge mistake. Personalize your pitch by addressing the influencer by name, and writing a few lines about your appreciation for his activity, your game, and your unique collaboration
- consider micro-influencers: micro-influencers with adequate followers sometimes work better than the top names in your industry
- allow creative freedom: influencers know what resonates with their audience. So give them the creative freedom to advertise your game in an attractive way to their public.
This is another essential part of marketing for any gaming startup. According to the latest social media statistics, there are 4.48 billion social media users around the world in July 2021. And there are great chances that your target audience be part of the social media users.
Therefore, joining the social platforms and gaming communities is a great way to maintain a relationship with your current and potential users. Take part in discussions, share useful content, and leave comments. This will help you earn the faith of gamers and get some exposure.
Be engaged and updated
Gaming companies and especially gaming startups must provide excellent customer services. Be reachable to the gamers and answer every question they might have. Along with that, release tips and tricks, advice, and walkthroughs of your game. Also, announcing upcoming releases and developments is a great way to keep your gamers in anticipation.
In conclusion, give as much information as possible to get as much attention as you can.
Many game businesses or indie game developers start large projects hoping that everything will go smoothly. But very soon things become complicated, and it seems that nothing works as planned and no deadlines could be met. Of course, it also depends on your team’s experience. But if you want to succeed, start with small steps and accomplish every milestone before beginning the next one. Otherwise, the whole process becomes chaotic, all the milestones make no sense, and you end up spending much more time and resources than you originally planned.
DON’TS for a gaming startup
Don’t fall into stereotypes
There were 2.69 billion gamers worldwide by the end of 2020 and the figures are forecasted to reach 3.0 billion players by the end of 2021. But they don’t play the same games and don’t have the same demographic characteristics; they don’t like the same culture nor speak the same language. Besides, each gamer has his own favorite preferences, genre, and platform. And you have to realize this if you want to attract the right users and potential customers for your game.
That’s why you can’t develop and implement the same marketing and content strategy for everyone.
Common stereotypes to avoid:
- gender and age: most people think that gamers as teenagers, especially boys; but most gamers are over 35 years old, while 48% are females
- gamer’s tag: casual gamers may not even think of themselves as gamers. In a survey by Blizzard, 71% of moms said they play games; but, only 48% identified themselves as gamers
- popularity: games are not viewed as a negative thing anymore. They are now cool, exciting, and fun, especially due to the multiple lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic
- purpose: people turn to games not just for fun, but to relieve stress, pass the time, or relax. It’s no wonder that the gaming industry could be considered the new social media.
Don’t push your game until it’s ready
This is common sense and theoretically, it would seem to be a superfluous recommendation. But too many gaming startups have made the mistake of announcing the launch of a product that isn’t ready yet or, worse, one that isn’t even playable.
Before releasing your game on the market, ask yourself: are you sure it works as it should? If yes, this demonstrates to your audience, partners, and investors that you keep your promises. By showing them the product, you will not just gain their trust, but also have the chance of getting honest feedback that can be used for further improvements.
But if a lot of flaws and bugs are discovered after launch, you will get a bad reputation. It will not just haunt you for years to come, but you will lose most of your audience, partners, and investors.
Don´t forget about financial planning
Some entrepreneurs think that once they have received initial funding, they no longer have to do financial planning. On the other side, there’s also the myth that gaming startups do not need to be disciplined with their finances.
Both these myths are absolutely wrong. It’s crucial for your business to plan every step, especially when it’s about money and other resources; otherwise, you can pretty much expect to fail. However, if this happens and you realize quickly that you’re stuck, then you can limit the damages.
Don´t waste your whole time creating teams
Even if you run a startup, you will want to have the best professionals and people in your team. But bringing the new employees could be a very time-consuming task. Even if you are at an early or late stage of the recruitment process, make sure you have the needed resources and time.
At the same time, don’t forget that team building is a non-ending process, and you should never stop looking for the best talent. But also, don’t waste all your time here.
There are plenty of useful resources out there where you can find lots of useful information. Use them properly, because they cost nothing and will help you get your business on the right track.
These basic things are crucial for any gaming startup project to grow big. And even when you are very limited in your resources (a very common situation for most startups) you can avoid the above mistakes and find the possibilities to implement the good practices we’ve mentioned in this post. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit then you will know how to take advantage of useful information. But it’s necessary to be 100% engaged in what you do to not miss something really significant.
Need more info? Let’s chat today about how we can help your game to perform and reach a global audience!