9 essential tips for marketing to gamers
This year, we launched our newsletter and podcast to discuss what’s happening in the world of games. Along the way, we spoke to experts in everything from interactive TV to indie game development. Even though their backgrounds varied, we asked them all for advice they would give to brands and marketers looking to reach gamers. We’ve gathered all their pieces of wisdom below so that you can enter the new year with a better grasp of video games and marketing.
1. Don’t think of people who play games as a monolith.
“I think we get a lot of marketing to only a certain kind of gamer. Think about car commercials. Every kind of car tells a different story, right? The sedan is always a gift for Christmas. The truck is for someone who wants to do some heavy-duty lifting. These car commercials are talking to different kinds of people, but they’re both people who want to buy a car. With a majority-gamer society, companies need to start reaching out to different kinds of gamers.” —Jamie Klouse, moderator for r/girlgamers
2. Do your research.
“My biggest lesson so far has been to really do your research. We spend so much time watching streamers, talking to people, and attending events to make sure that we deeply understand a space, a person, or a community before we do anything because we want to make sure that we’re always adding value to the community.” —Breanne Harrison-Pollock, cofounder of esports apparel company Ateyo
3. Remember that everyone games.
“By creating these more accessible interactive stories, people will begin to not only realize that gaming is fun but that they’ve been gaming this entire time.” —Juan Vaca, Netflix’s first narrative designer
4. Nostalgia works.
“Branding and visual aesthetic are big in marketing. Showcasing an old logo can immediately spark memories. Out of the five senses, visual is probably the first and best way to go. Logos, fonts, symbols, and patterns of color are easy ways to immediately tap into nostalgia.” —Kyleigh Parker aka Captain Dangerous, Nintendo brand ambassador, influencer, and photographer
5. Hop on product placement.
“One thing that’s been pretty successful is product placement. The most famous example is Cup Noodles—a few months ago, all of a sudden a bunch of streamers were eating Cup Noodles on their streams.”
“Of course, gaming peripheral companies have been doing this a long time, making sure that streamers were wearing their brand of headset or keyboard. I anticipate we’re going to see a lot more mass market brands move into that space to try to get placement during streaming activities. People like Ninja are on the forefront of that, so it’s fun to watch. It’s like the dawn of a new era of media, and we’re seeing it all develop in real-time.” —Mat Piscatella, a gaming industry analyst for NPD
6. Reach an untapped market.
“One of our other goals is to try and reach a market that’s been untapped. So, we don’t run any more ads, but when we did, we would target on like Facebook and Instagram, all the groups who are not necessarily the escape room demographic. We market more to the Coachella audience, the younger kids that don’t know exactly what this is or think it might be geeky until they read about it. Then they’re like, ‘Oh, maybe we should check this out.’ —Don DeLeon, co-creator of the Stash House escape room
7. To make a good branded game, you’ll need time and other resources.
“No matter how much leeway that you think you’re going to need to give a developer as an artist, you’re going to need to give them more. It’s going to take longer than you want—no matter what. If the game is time-constrained, then there is no guarantee it’s going to be good. And you’re going to need to be there, sitting on them the entire time to make sure that it’s exactly your vision. Of course, there are places that mitigate that risk, right? Like when I was working at WayForward, we were like, ‘Yeah, we can make your game for you,’ and you can hit that movie date no matter what. But sometimes, the quality would suffer.” —Sean Velasco, a game designer and one of the founders of Yacht Club Games
8. Reality is overrated.
“What is going to be the differentiator [with virtual influencers]? How fun is it to engage or interact with that character? A lot of people would rather follow a fake influencer who is fun than a boring influencer who is real.” —Peter Rojas, co-founder of Gizmodo and Engadget and an investor in synthetic reality at Betaworks Ventures
9. Get involved in gaming through charity.
“There are multiple ways brands can get involved in charity livestreaming, either by supporting a streamer, reaching out to the charity, or hosting their own event. If a company or brand is looking to host an event, they can always reach out to a charity to see if they may have any recommended streamers that may fit to support the stream or more information that may help spread the mission of the organization. When it comes to supporting individual streamers, a brand can provide products or codes as giveaways or raffles. When a streamer does a giveaway in their channel, it usually brings in a lot of extra viewership and donations.” —Craig Kaufman, program director of AbleGamers
The gaming landscape is always changing, and to stay nimble, we need to continuously analyze, explore, and adapt to what’s happening in it over the next year. Stay tuned for more insights from experts and our agency in our newsletter and on our podcast.