In the early days of gaming, publishers usually advertised new games in print newspapers, on TVs, and on billboards. These days, a publisher can create and launch games without marketing the game via traditional news media.
Digital marketing is such a powerful tool in 2023 that every business is recommended to have an Internet presence. It’s also essential for startups to learn effective marketing techniques.
In this article, we’ll review the most popular marketing strategies gaming companies have been using in the last four decades. Let’s get started.
TV and Print Media
Video games have been around since the 1950s. However, online gaming became a thing in the 1980s. The first game, called MUD, was created by two university students from England in 1980.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, more video games came out. Many of them were simple games. But they needed marketing nonetheless. And since the Internet was still in its baby steps, publishers at the time preferred these marketing channels:
- TV & Radio
- Print Media
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Online game creators still use some of the marketing channels mentioned above today. They will often encourage new customers to market their games via word of mouth. Sometimes they also advertise these games on TV.
That being said, the number of gaming companies that market their titles on traditional media has reduced drastically in the past 15 years. Internet marketing is a lot cheaper and more effective.
The ’90s was the decade of the tech bubble. It was also a time when the only way you could market your business online was through online directories. Yellow Pages was the most popular business directory at the time.
In 2019, the famous business directory shut down its print operations. It now offers its services exclusively online. It’s not the only business directory out there, though.
As mentioned, online directories have been an important marketing channel for online game publishers since the industry started. Unfortunately, they haven’t always supported every gaming niche.
Many online directories in the ‘90s and ‘00s wouldn’t accept adverts related to online gambling. This made it challenging for online casinos and sportsbooks to thrive online.
Bonuses, Freebies, and Promotions
The biggest online casino sites all share one thing—they’re generous with bonuses. They give you free spins immediately after you create an account. They give you an even bigger bonus after you complete your first deposit.
Online gaming sites love bonuses as a marketing tool. The explanation is that their customers love freebies. If a casino gives one customer a nice bonus, there’s a strong chance the player will spread the word out there.
Beyond casinos, video game publishers use freebies and promotions to market games frequently. Look at any successful freemium game. You receive free coins, weapons, and skins immediately after you download the game.
Publishers give out freebies as an incentive. If you unlock a top-quality player for free in FIFA 2023, you can easily spend money to unlock another player. Likewise, you can spend money on expensive skins after you realize the benefits of the free versions.
Before social media exploded, Reddit was the go-to website for announcing new games. The platform has 400M+ users, about 55M of whom use the website daily.
Although Reddit now faces a lot of competition from social media and other platforms, it still plays an important role in the gaming community. Most major video games have a thread on Reddit. These threads unite people who play a specific game or games from the same genre.
Reddit aside, there’s a forum for almost every gaming niche. Some people like Discord because it operates a lot like Reddit. Others prefer forums created to discuss online casino games.
Forums are successful marketing channels because they consist of people with the same likes. If a software developer launches a new slot machine, there’s no better place to release the news than a forum about slot machines.
It’s true—more and more gaming companies are avoiding conventions in favor of online marketing. Before the pandemic, though, conventions were annual events with millions of gaming enthusiasts.
Conventions are like forums, except people meet just once a year. This makes every convention a big occasion. All the major news networks attend these events. Sometimes conventions are also broadcasted online to increase the audience.
The reason why gaming conventions are great marketing platforms is that organizers don’t invite everyone. Knutepunkt welcomes publishers from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
BlizzCon takes place in California, while UK Games Expo takes place in—guess this—the UK. In the usual style, conventions aren’t always about major video game brands.
Online casinos have conventions. There’s ICE London, IGB, and BiG—Betting and iGaming Africa. Beyond networking, conventions also give out awards to performing brands. And they provide a platform to launch new products.
Social Media, Influencers, and Blogs
If you play an online game whose creator is not on social media, it’s probably not a popular game. Everyone who wants to market their game in 2023 must be on social media.
Twitter is the ideal social network for gamers. Lately, TikTok and Facebook have become popular gaming platforms thanks to their live-streaming options. Then there’s Twitch, which is unlike any other social network.
Although it’s now popular with non-gamers, Amazon-owned Twitch was created exclusively for gaming. On the site, you can broadcast your gaming content to millions of fans and make money.
You can also supplement your income by posting your content on YouTube or on your website. Because Twitch is more of a TV than a social site, it’s arguably the best place to promote an online game in 2023.
All you need to collaborate with a famous streamer. You may need to pay them a lot of money. But having your game marketed to millions of gamers through their favorite website is a recipe for success. To increase your odds of success, work with popular gaming websites and blogs.