Marketing

Selling the Game – Getting to Know the Beauty of AIDA

As a gamer, consider the very best board game or video game that you have ever played. How did you discover it? If you heard about the game from a friend, how did they discover it? As a developer, a publisher or the head of an emerging game studio, this is a question that is critically important if you want to get others to play your game or get others to buy your game.

While some may wonder why this post blurs the line between those who develop games (the developer) and those who publish games (the publisher) at Social Games Chicago (SGC) we are first and foremost a community that is committed to helping Chicago game developers to build studios and open markets. While the distinction between developers and publishers is well defined for well established factors in the industry, most hobbyists, indie developers and new studios wear the hats of the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and almost everything in between (look for more on the distinction between publishers and developers in future posts).

Currently around the globe, box office records are falling due to the overwhelming commercial success of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In the realm of gaming, games like 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios Halo 5: Guardians are rewriting everything we know about how massive a great game can be (and making gamers proud to be on XBox). This is due to amazing development and creative teams.

There is also nod for game marketing.

In the classic AIDA model that is attributed to Elias St. Elmo Lewis, the first stage in the process of engagement is “Awareness.” This is just as true in the video gaming or traditional gaming space as it is an any marketing space. In order to get a gamer to play or buy your game they must be made aware that your game even exists. In early gaming, many arcade games even had an “attract mode” that gained the attention and the awareness of gamers when the game was on, but not being played.

“These ARE the droids you did not know that have been looking for.”

Developers that were patrons of the arcade, probably remember the haunting and iconic melody of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong machine. Well before you saw the Donkey Kong machine, you were aware of its presence via its distinctive sound.

Ignoring the past sequels, a full year before the premier of Star Wars Episode VII, fans were made aware that the movie was going to exist. More than a year before gamers could play Halo 5, they had to be made aware that the next chapter in the Master Chief saga would be available to play.  These two success stories began with addressing “awareness” in the AIDA model with a lot of lead time before the experience (the game or movie) was available.

There are tens of thousands of games out there with thousands more added every year. How will gamers discover your game? How will they be made aware that it exists? How much lead time will you need to build awareness?

If you would like to see more in this series, follow us and #gamemarketing to @socgameschi

Selling the Game – Getting the Word Out

Well before last line of code is written or the last sprite is drawn, if a game is going to be sold there must be a plan for selling it. Contrary to popular opinion, games simply do not sell themselves. After spending years in development, the vast majority of games arrive to soul crushing, deafening silence. Teams implode, studios lights go dark and developers give up. Getzaks - Dru Talks Failing at Game Creation

“Is any body out there?”

Very few developers set out with the hope that their game will fail. Even long suffering hobbyists want someone, somewhere to install and play their game. No game has to fail. While there is no single act that can prevent a game from failing, being aware of some key numbers is good way to start.

One year of CTR in computer and video games

The action number for this game marketing post is 0.17%.  This number represents a quantity that a developer that wants to market a game should know. This quantity is the average Click Thru Rate (CTR) for online ads served in the United States (USA) that were in the category of Computers & Video Games (CVG) between November of 2014 and November of 2015 (Source: Google, Accessed 28 Dec. 2015).

Word of mouth is great. Perhaps your game is that magical title that needs no promotion whatsoever because once people play it they are magically enchanted to speak about it endlessly regardless of their save bonus + ability modifier. For most developers some form of advertisement will be needed. If you are a one-man-band or a small game development studio, there is a really good chance that you are the Chief Marketing Officer even if it doesn’t say so on your LinkedIn profile! Congratulations.

The action number presented above means that to reach just one person that might have clicked your game’s ad banner last year, about 590 people would have needed to see your ad. This number does not mean that the one person will install your game or buy your game. This number means that on average it will take nearly 600 impressions before a single potential gamer acts.

Using this action number you can begin to considering a host of things about marketing your game. For example, if you want to get 100 people to visit your game’s landing page you will need to budget no less than 60,000 impressions. If you want to get 10,000 people to visit, you will need to budget no less than 6,000,000 impressions. Looking at the scale of these numbers you can start getting a feel for the kind of resources you might need to harness to start getting the word out.

If you would like to see more in this series, follow us and #gamemarketing to @socgameschi

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