Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PCs Are Diving, Tablets Climbing

Looks like PC sales have had their worst quarter since sales tracking began in 1994, according to IDC, dropping 14% in the last quarter. IDC blames some of that on poor adoption of Windows 8, which seems like a pretty good guess to me.

Tablets, on the other hand, are still growing strongly. The 7 inch size seems to be the most popular one, whether it's the iPad Mini or one of the many Android tablets in that range. Every game maker I talk to (and I talk to a lot of them) has their eyes on tablets as the Next Big Thing.

Still, we're still in the early days on tablet games. Designers have to figure out ways to get around the lack of physical controls, and there are still many innovations to be found in designing for a touch interface, all the different sensors, and all the various means of connection.

For game marketers it just means things are changing even faster. You'd better be re-examining your marketing plans frequently as the market changes. Demographics are shifting, platforms are shifting, business models are changing, marketing channels are opening and closing... It's like trying to navigate through the breakup of an icecap. What looks like clear water ahead may turn out to be a dead end, then the ice closes in and you're trapped.

On the other hand there's a chance for new players to break through the noise and find a market. It's encouraging that new games and new publishers continue to make the Top Ten list of the highest-grossing games on iOS and Android. That means there's not complete dominance by large companies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Marketing Games in 2013

Try not to have your marketing resemble this.
At the threshold of 2013, the year looks like a transformational year for the gaming industry. This year will likely see revenues from digital game sales outpacing revenues from physical game sales; the increasing globalization of the game industry; several new console introductions; myriad new mobile hardware introductions; and many more changes and attempted changes.

It's not at all clear what publishers, genres, platforms or business models will emerge victorious in the midst of all this change. Overall, the game industry looks to hit some $50 billion in revenues worldwide; but for individuals and companies, the key knowledge is exactly how that revenue will be distributed. The number of gamers will continue to increase; who they are, where they are, the platform they're playing on, and the type of game they're playing will continue to diversify.

How do you create an effective marketing campaign in the midst of such a chaotic, changing marketplace? First off, you have to abandon the idea of a standard marketing plan. Oh, there are standard things to consider, but you can't expect a single plan to work for all games. Even if it did work now, it would need tweaking in a few months... and perhaps wholesale changes in six months. Things are too fluid for business as usual.

Creativity in marketing is more important than ever. Look for the unique selling points of the game... and if it doesn't have any, why did development even begin on that game? Take those unique points and get creative... can you make an interesting video? Is there a compelling story the press might be interested in, perhaps about how the game was created? Does the game connect in some way to famous person, a news item that's hot, a fan base that's large and active? The marketing has to be compelling and creative, and it's best begun when the game is first being designed.

What's going to be happening this year? We'll see a continued drop in physical retail sales, an even greater rise in digital sales, an even bigger flood of mobile games... and the competition among games will only get fiercer. New consoles will be duking it out for mind-share and dollars... and it's not clear that any of them will do very well. Tablets, though, are a damn good bet, as are smartphones. So are markets in China, Russia, Brazil and many other countries.

It's going to be a very exciting year.