Tom asks, and so shall he receive. Over on the Evolve PR twitter feed, the following question was posed:
How can video game PR improve in 2014? We want your feedback! http://t.co/f1wePSIwBg
— Evolve PR (@evolve_pr) January 7, 2014
For those who don’t know, Evolve is one of the top PR firms whose focus is on video game developers and their titles.
I started thinking about what trends I enjoyed from last year that I think will increase exponentially in 2014. In addition to traditional marketing and promotional practices, there are a few things to consider when trying to increase your awesome with regards to Tom’s question on Twitter.
Diving into the world of the kickstarter:
Last year was a big year for crowdfunding. Through services like (but not limited to) Kickstarter and GoFundMe, developers of all kinds were able jump start production on projects that likely would have never seen the light of day through traditional corporate funding
pleas drives. I mean, hell, VERONICA MARS is being made into a movie through such means. But even Forbes reports that the popularity and power of crowdfunding is likely going to continue and increase in 2014.
For a PR firm whose focus is video games, increasing awareness of fundraising efforts not just for client titles, but ANYTHING in the gaming industry you like is an opportunity to boost street cred. One who becomes a champion of supporting the gaming community as a whole will likely garner closer and more meaningful relationships with clients in the long run when the client sees the people behind the firm care about what affects the community.
For client titles, award genuinely lasting rewards for tier levels to include credits, tangible items, and one-on-one interactions. Most Kickstarter projects offer these things, however these are often the responsibility of the developers. Combine such offerings with the representing firm to increase award pool at earlier tiers which equates to a more memorable investment experience. For a title in the fundraising stage, the combined efforts of developer and firm will increase likelihood of seeing the game into fruition.
Lastly inviting those who pledge to share their experiences by stimulating and moderating an online conversation via social media means people can communicate through the firm their ideas, anticipations and curiosities in front of worldwide audience with the intention of garnering increased awareness (especially if you do something in the ballpark of a Twitter hashtag town hall-esque kind of conversation).
Making a splash through live video media:
Increase presence on video streaming services like Twitch. YouTube is excellent for trailers and most play-throughs. However, people want to make a connection with their gaming experience. That connection is stimulated through interactions with people and not just the content.
A regularly scheduled Twitch stream allows you to preview client content in addition to general gaming content (again, supporting the community). The key is to show ALL forms of gaming and to allow you to talk about it. People feel better about their decisions when other people state their opinions about something whether they agree with it or not – this has been a founding principle for critical review of any kind for as long as people have had the freedom to express such opinion. Also, when gamers see a REAL PERSON playing through a game they can instantly connect to it, especially if that person running the live stream is vocal and answering questions coming from the channel viewers.
Live programming also gives you the opportunity to put the developer in front of potential customers to ask questions and share concerns or build expectations.
The trick would simply be gaining viewership, which can be accomplished through normal promotional and incentivized means which is something a PR firm should be well versed in.
Increasing Post Launch Information:
For AAA titles, it’s pretty clear that people often want to see how their game is doing. They refer to the gaming media for this information, which is good for objective statistical numbers reporting.
With clients you often provide this service through research, sales tracking, etc and offer the results through meetings and conference calls. All run-of-the-mill procedural stuff as one would expect. Why not expand that information sharing to the community as a whole, but most especially with the people you likely spent months trying to engage to purchase said titles?
I can say as a gamer, and especially as one who watches for fun, cool, and/or quirky indie titles if I end up buying and completing a game I like I often want to know how it did. Performance results to a customer means that they’ll likely see further content to the game (some games are all about the DLC) or other content from the developer.
The point is transparency to potential consumers in development and promotion should also extend to the post-launch analysis when said potential consumers become actual ones.
The overall theme to these suggestions is truly embracing the image as champions of the gaming industry. PR professionals are expected to promote and sell, but they are people just as well. The gaming community bonds through its likes and dislikes and to sell to them means you have to share yours as well. You are not just selling to them, you’re bonding with them. And in the digital age, that bond is as strong as oak.
If one were to explore the idea that playing video games means an opportunity to interact with character(s) or an avatar that represents who we imagine ourselves to be in the world of the fantastic and unattainable, then one would be remiss if he or she thought such connection didn’t extend into the real world. Thus, it becomes a powerful tool if you can connect with such people on their level, customer and client alike. Community managers and superstar influencers (especially the ones who put themselves on camera or lend a voice to popular gaming podcasts) are what REALLY sell games these days – so why not become an influencer or gaming industry hero yourself?