The gaming industry is one of the most revolutionary and innovative fields around, and with the competition being so fierce, it has no choice but to be. Looking at some of the gaming giants, here are four lessons brands can take away and implement in their marketing strategies.
Create a community
Fortnite’s evolution over the past year is one that marketers should definitely be keeping a close eye on. The game has transitioned beyond its status as another battle royale game and become a social space, one where players can share, experience and even dance together. (Don’t knock it until you try it.)
A perfect example of Fortnite’s marketing evolution would be their live virtual concert with Marshmello. The introduction of the Showtime mode meant that no one could attack during the performance, shifting the game’s focus from a solo experience to a moment shared with over 10 million people worldwide.
The importance of creating a community doesn’t stop there, either. Take a look at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. With $30 million up for grabs, more than 2 million people tuned in to see the best compete in a three-day live event, bringing its gamers together in one place at the same time to celebrate its talent.
Audiences are not only much more receptive and willing to engage than ever before, but they now expect it. In order to keep growing, brands need to accommodate this shift in engagement and find ways of creating a community that people want to be a part of and will advocate in the long term.
No content stands alone
In the digital world, you need to think about long-term strategy, and in particular, the three key stages: lead up, launch and post-launch.
Trailers, bespoke edits and social videos are no longer additional elements, but a necessity, and gaming brands have hit this nail on the head. Before a launch, trailers, graphics and scenes from the game are released, creating a user journey with video at the start.
However, the journey doesn’t stop upon the game’s release. The launch of Battlefield 5 last year published three additional chapters in the four months after the launch, offering a new map, story and customization tools in addition to weekly events and rewards.
Video isn’t just the main event. It can and should be used throughout every stage of a content strategy. Brands need to consider a long-term distribution plan for their content and think about what they want their audience to do before and after they’ve watched the film.
Engage with the good and the bad
According to Google, 87% of gamers surveyed that have recently bought a consumer electronics product or service say they typically recommend what they’ve bought to people they know, with 69% of those also being very likely to rate and review their purchase online. This sort of engagement is what marketers crave, yet it can turn sour very quickly. Just check out the review-bombing on the launch of Metro Exodus.
Be reactive, diplomatic and anticipate these responses before the content launch. There’s no rule book on what to do if you receive a negative comment or how you should respond (if at all), but it’s essential to maintain your brand voice and prepare as much as you can.
Don’t be afraid of change
Anyone remember Pandemonium? No, but you’ve probably heard of Battlefield or Call of Duty. Some games maintain relevancy more than others simply because they grow and constantly innovate with their audience, which is also growing and changing.
Acknowledge and embrace your ever-changing audience. Your audience will undoubtedly grow older or change their habits over time, and as a way of maintaining their loyalty and interest, you will need to adapt and grow with them. If not, then there’s a chance you’ll follow in the same footsteps as Spyro and remain locked in an era where your audience outgrows you.
So, what does this mean for the future of branded content?
Consumer trust and loyalty are the foundation of every successful marketing strategy. The key is not to be the most advertised brand and create video just for the sake of it but to find the best way to communicate your brand’s values and purpose. If the gaming industry shows us anything, it’s that once you’ve cracked the communication barrier, there are no limitations on what your marketing efforts can do.