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Video Game Marketing and Discoverability by Design

Kudos and Bravo for “Discoverability by Design”

A video game marketing practitioner, I felt my heart racing.  A sense of validation washed over me.  In his June 24 Gamasutra post titled “Discoverability by Design: rethinking how video games get noticed” Simon Carless stated my mind.  Simon said something those of us in video game marketing and video game publishing have known for decades.  Hurray for when making video games and publishing video games unite!

Discoverability is hard and needs to be thought-out and designed-in, from the start.

Consumers have choices.  In fact, lots of choices.  The world has come a looooooooooooooooooong way since the days of single-player FPS games like Duke Nukem, even if that IS still the Video Game Greatest of All Time.  Although my mind is permanently numb from visions of kicking ass and chewing bubble gum.

In his blog, Simon mentioned the 4 keys to “Memetic Shareability.” What are they exactly?  These are: Quirky Hook, Stunning Art, Gif/Replay Exports and Genre-Like Signifiers.  A few examples quickly come to mind.

GAME-CHARACTER COLORATION:  In Heroes of Dragon Age, the Twitter-featured character tier progression for Saboteur Hawke

HODA Saboteur Hawke character tier progression
HODA Saboteur Hawke clear character tier progression: material, gear, costume, etc

Visually contrasting and storytelling.  The clear Character Tier Progression (headware from None to stylized Hood; Armor from leather to iron to steel to gold-trimmed steel; matching weapon evolution) were classic RPG attributes, where color and fabric connotes Rank, Defense, Damage and more, not to mention visual appeal. What does this mean?  Simply encouraging player “Peacocking” and sharing on Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

AUTO RACE IN-GAME VIDEO CAPTURE: Gameloft’s Asphalt 9: Legends features plenty hair-raising, heart-pounding road and aerial maneuvers.

What about in-game item or collectable porn?  A player can admire and share his hard-earned achievement and progression inside the game.  A video comparison of  Supersonic’s garage – over the course of 2 years, with zero in-game spend – is proof of achievement and beautiful collection of in-game content earned.

Racing Game Video Image for Shareability, Video Game Marketing and Discoverability
Racing game Video or Image Capture shareable for Video Game Marketing and Discoverability and video game marketing via user generated content

Whereas a hard-won, come-from-behind race in an 8-Player Multiplayer showdown, won by fraction of a second, can only be appreciated and showed off, in full 1080P or 4K video mode.  To be relived and shared. Again and again.  Over and over.

Designed-In Shareability for Discoverability

Simon also points out the Intrinsic Shareability built into the design of many games.  Candy Crush Saga’s “Ask a Friend for Help”  This too is nothing new.  Even Zynga’s original FarmVille was full of “Ask a Friend to Raise a Barn” mechanics, with rewards of in-game currency and items, to reward the player who opts in to become a referral agent for the game. A simple mechanism to maximize discoverability by sharing among family and friends.

Designed-In Discoverability and Re-engagement

Of course, more sophisticated cross-promotion and shareabilty exist across different platforms. Take for example Twitch Prime.  Twitch Prime gives exclusive content to existing players of games – from RuneScape (Premium Currency Pack) and Tera (Starter Pack).  FIFA20 Ultimate Team (Player Pick Packs.)

And who can forget “Go Big” video game marketing campaigns to drive Discoverability?

In a beautiful marriage between game team-developed “exclusive content” and the video game marketing partner (Twitch Prime in this case.) On the one hand, this drives limited-time trials of Twitch Prime. On the other, this creates Awareness and Discoverability for Apex Legends Season 5 on Twitch Prime.  Hammered home by exclusive “Twitch Prime Apex Legends Season 5 Content Drops” which includes a total of 12 content drops.  Assuming the content drops are highly valuable to players of Apex Legends, this further drives re-engagement with Apex Legends on Twitch Prime, while creating subscription loyalty for Twitch Prime.  Can you say, win-win?

Illustrates regular content drops in Apex Legends for Video game marketing and re-engagement
Twitch Prime Apex Legends Season 5 Content Drops for video game marketing and re-engagement

Almost a carbon copy of what EA Sports did with FIFA 20 Ultimate Team. Again, with Ultimate Team Packs that drop over time, this creates fresh Discoverability for FIFA 20 Ultimate Team over time.  To what end?  And further creates stickiness to Twitch Prime among players who look forward to the content drops.

EA Sports FIFA20 Ultimate Team content drops for Twitch Prime and video game marketing
EA Sports FIFA20 Ultimate Team content drops exclusive to Twitch Prime

Again kudos and praises for Simon’s piece.  Thank goodness video game developers recognize that Discoverability can be designed into the game.  The same way that Stickiness and Engagement can be designed into the game.  Discoverability by Design?  Indeed…

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