Video Game Jobs and Careers
If I only got a nickel… A former Head of Marketing and Brand Director for an AAA publisher and indie game developer, I’m asked these questions a LOT. In short, what kind of video game jobs exist? And can ANY of these become long-term video game careers? Here are the top FAQs I hear and answer… Sometimes over and over and over again.
- Do you get to play games all day?
- Do people really pay you money to do video game marketing?
- What kind of jobs exist in video games?
Without ado, let us address these one by one.
Do you get to play games all day?
Short answer: NO. Yes, I played a lot of games and still do. But realistically I worked twelve hour days, with about one hour for playing. As a Brand Director working on strategy and RPG games at an AAA publisher, I did play a TON of games. That said, I was and am still paid handsomely to do two things:
Build Brand Awareness and Positive Trial and Play Intent
First and foremost, I rarely got to choose which games I played. This might come as a shocker. But in order to build brand awareness and positive consideration for my video games, I needed to first understand my competition. Know thy enemy, they say. So when I was working on a MMORPG, I played a lot of competitor’s games that were (you guessed it) MMORPG’s.
Take for example, I was working on an Open World MMORPG with fantasy characters. To understand my competition, I played a LOT of similar games. The process looks roughly like this.
Identify My Targets.
I would identify a range of MMORPG’s with an Open World or Sandbox style of play. A portfolio of competitors? For our example let us sat the closest competitor is Black Desert Mobile.
Finding Comparable Competitors.
If my game were on iOS, I could easily do a Keyword search for “Black Desert Mobile.” The first 6 to 10 results would mostly fit the bill. These could range from Evil Lands: MMORPG and Perfect World Mobile to Lineage 2.
Consider the Recommendations.
Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have powerful engines. Engines would recommend “You Might Also Like” After taking a quick look at their App Store descriptions, I can decide. Let the App Store Optimization and consumer insights lead. Whether to include them in my analysis and tracking. Or Not.
So technically the answer is Yes and No. Yes, I got to play a lot of games. Admittedly these are not all games of my personal choosing. Rather they are directly comparable and competitive to the games I marketed.
When playing these games, what do I do? I pay special attention to a few factors. In particular Discoverability, Pricing, Paid Media Strategy, and User Generated Content.
Discoverability: How are these games promoted? Namely how are they marketed organically via App Store Optimization.
Video Game Pricing: Are these games all priced FREE with purchasable In-App Purchases? Is there a Subscription component via Apple Arcade perhaps
Paid Media Strategy: Does a particular competitor rely 100% on Organic App Store Featuring? Alternately where do their ads show up? And what do they look like? Also, how have they evolved over time?
User Generated Content: User-generated content (UGC) is a critical part of a game’s marketing. How does a competitor’s game or app allow players and customers to express themselves? What about showing off a new Level-Up, or unique gear or costume?
Create a Large Funnel of High-Quality Players
To create a large funnel of players, I look to two main sources. First, organic avenues such as App Store Optimization (ASO) and App Store/Google Play Store featuring. To a mobile marketer like me, well-executed ASO or App Store Featuring is like Manna from Heaven. Take a look at the below example if you’re not convinced.
Do people really pay you money to do video game marketing?
Yes, they DO. Without going into much details, video game marketing and video game publishing are highly performance-based. If my efforts can result in App Store featuring and partner marketing, then a developer-publisher has no problem paying for my services.
Say for example I launch a video game marketing campaign. Let’s further say that results in a 1-week Editor’s Choice featuring on the App Store in the Racing category. The value of one week of featuring, you ask? For a genre like Racing, it could literally mean 5 to 10 million organic downloads or installs. That the developer got for FREE. Had it had to pay for it via Facebook or Google UAC? Most likely would have cost $2 per download+ .
It follows that the equivalent “Media Value” is between $10 million and $20 million dollars. So that explains why standout video game marketing professionals command healthy compensations. Go Marketing!
What kind of jobs exist in video games?
In short, there are a LOT of jobs in video games. But do you need a college degree and applicable experiences? Most of the time, Yes.
These jobs can range broadly. To better explain the KINDS of video game jobs that exist, I like to use an analogy. Three major classes of characters exist in Dungeons and Dragons and countless RPGs thereafter. There are the races of Mage (or Wizard), the Warrior, and the Rogue.
Simply I think of the video game careers in these simple terms:
The Mage (the Makers of Video Games and Game Content)
The Mage as I like to call them are…the select chosen ones. The ones paid handsomely to make video games. These are the Producers, Product Managers, Engineers, Artists, Illustrators, Game Designers, Writers, and Video Game Testers whose jobs are to create fun, engaging video game content. Easy job? Hardly. They balance their own personalities and creativities, with the needs and demands of the video game they work on. The end goal isn’t to create games THEY love. Rather it is to create games that GAMERS would love, and pay for. Period, end of story.
The Warrior (the Athletes who Compete for Our Entertainment)
The competitive gamers are the athletes of our industry. They compete in live-streamed tournaments either in large, overcrowded arenas. Or they compete in front of their PCs in the comfort of their own homes. Premier athletes like Lebron James and Lionel Messe are paid handsomely to perform superhuman feats of athleticism. So too are these competitive gamers. Just as there are NBA GOATS and NFL GOATS, so too do we have Call of Duty GOATs and LoL Goats. For good reasons.
The Rogue (the Professionals, Consultants, and Agencies that Do the Rest)
Last but not least come the Rogues. I call them the Rogues, because they are frequently overlooked. As the state of the video game industry has evolved, the demand for outsourced marketing, design, development, testing, localization has only increased, not decreased.
These professionals often work outside the game studios. Yet their contributions are felt deep and wide. Why? They fill a range of roles, to do what the game teams can not compete or execute on its own.
Like the Navy Seal Team 6, the Rogues must be versatile. They (we) fill a range of functions. These include Consumer Insights (to test the concept of games before they created, and again to ensure gameplay meets the standard of quality for gamers worldwide.)
These also include Creative and Media Agencies. Should the game team run out of artist and illustrator resources before shipping an Alpha or Beta? The Creative and Media Agencies say “Sir, Yes, Sir” and get it done. On budget, one time.
To get the game fully localized into French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese? With four weeks remaining for all the caption, dialog, packaging, web copy, ad copy, and more? The Localization agency has it covered.
Is the game team launching a game onto a new platform like the Playstation 5? What if the game team doesn’t have the in-house experts to create the Paid and Organic marketing activations? Let the external marketing agencies and consultants handle the learning curve, and deliver the performance promised.
The next time you wonder what types of video game careers exist, just think of the trio of the Mage, the Warrior, and the Rogue.
Hopefully this post gave you a sense of the types of video game jobs and long-term video game careers that exist. And NO, the Mage, the Warrior, and the Rogue are not just terminology used by the nerds. Rather, think about the brains and hard work that’s gone into making your favorite video game titles. Consider also the competitive eSports gamers. The professional athletes who must train six to seven days a week, ten+ hours a day, to put on exhilarating competitions. For you, EVERYTIME. And last but not least, the unspoken agencies, consultants, researchers, and marketers who bring it all to you.