Like many other industries, video game marketing has had it’s fair share of both great and terrible campaigns and strategies.
The bad examples remain more prominent in the minds of gamers, so I’m not looking to highlight those. Instead, I’m going to share some of my favourite examples of modern video game marketing!
Before I begin however, I’d love to hear your favourite examples (for science), so please do leave a comment down below. If I like your suggestion, I’ll add it to the post and credit you!
ROCKSTAR GAMES – SUBTLE GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS AND GRADUAL HYPE BUILD
A titan of the video games industry, Rockstar Games are the developers behind many popular games including Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne .
The reputation of Rockstar Games alone is enough to generate hype for their upcoming games, however the developer also amplifies their game announcements by releasing vague teaser images prior to the new game’s announcement.
Their most recent example of this is the following teaser image of Red Dead Redemption 2, shared on the Rockstar Games social media platforms on the 16th of October, 2016.
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) October 16, 2016
As you can see, it doesn’t give away much, but gamers are well aware of how Rockstar make their game announcements and thus, this post also made the front page of the gaming subreddit within minutes of the announcement.
Rockstar Games then officially announced Red Dead Redemption 2, two days later with this this tweet that makes another tease, this time at the release date of the below trailer.
This tactic of slowly teasing your audience to generate hype isn’t something that many companies can utilise, but if you’ve for the reputation for it, it’s worth considering.
DEAD ISLAND – CINEMATIC ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER
Generating a buzz for a product that doesn’t yet have a reputation or audience can be extremely difficult, especially in the video game industry.
With that in mind, Deep Silver’s Dead Island (developed by Techland) managed to jump this seemingly massive hurdle with a fantastic cinematic announcement trailer.
Whilst many felt that the trailer overstated the quality of the game itself, the effectiveness of the trailer to generate hype is undisputed.
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK-OPS: ‘SOLIDER IN ALL OF US’ TV AD
Before the reputation of Activision’s Call of Duty became a joke of the gaming world, they actually marketed their games in some creative ways!
One of which was the “There’s A Soldier In All Of Us” TV Commercial. In addition to just appealing to gamers that were already aware/fans of the franchise, this commercial was created to also appeal to those less acquainted.
This was achieved by having a multiplayer Call of Duty match being played out by real ordinary people, with the use of some CGI and a backing track of Gimmie Shelter by The Rolling Stones.
WITCHER 3 – CINEMATIC TRAILERS
Whilst I have already included a cinematic trailer mention in the form of Dead Island above, I had to include the Witcher 3 cinematic trailers as well.
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher franchise (based on a series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski), you simply have to appreciate the quality and scale of each cinematic. I’ve embedded the Killing Monsters cinematic below, but also check out “A Night to Remember”.
These incredible cinematics are unrivalled in their ability to create and amplify hype. They also tend to stay relevant for many years after the fact, attracting new fans time and time again.
TEAM FORTRESS 2 – CHARACTER VIDEOS
Having launched in October of 2007, Valve’s Team Fortress 2 is nearly a decade old, yet still has a very active community that enjoy the game!
Keeping the game alive for this length of time cannot be accredited to a single element of marketing, however the highly popular “Meet the…” video series garnered some outrageous views!
One of which was the “Meet the Medic” video as seen below, which has been watched over 49 million times! Creating content that adds value and context to what already exists in the game is certainly a great way to give more to current fans, whilst also attracting new ones.
BORDERLANDS 2 – ULTIMATE LOOT CHEST EDITION
The first of our two special edition mentions, the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest!
Including a wide variety of merchandise and having been styled after the iconic in-game Borderlands (Gearbox Software) loot chests, this limited edition version of the game was highly sought after.
Few games are as stylised as the Borderlands series, and fewer manage to translate their style so well into a limited edition bundle. With the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest, the box and the contents within were all designed to perfection.
Limited edition versions of a product, in this instance video games, can be used to great effect as a marketing element whilst also providing value to the fans hardcore enough to purchase such a product.
SAINTS ROW IV – 1 MILLION DOLLAR LIMITED EDITION
Moving onto our second limited edition mention, Saints Row IV’s (Deep Silver) “THE SUPER DANGEROUS WAD WAD EDITION”.
With it being marketed as having only one available and costing 1 million US dollars, the package was comprised of some pretty outrageous stuff such as:
- Saints Row IV: Commander in Chief Edition
- Virgin Galactic Space Flight
- Full-Size Replica Dub-Step Gun
- Plastic Surgery
- 7 Nights at the Royal Suite at the Burj-Al-Arab, Dubai
- Hostage Rescue Experience
- Spy Training Day
- A week for two at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington DC
- Lamborghini Gallardo
- New Toyota Prius +1 Years Insurance
So yeah, it goes without saying that this limited edition version of Saints Row IV was pretty unique…
It’s uncertain whether or not anybody actually purchased this edition of the game. Regardless, as a PR stunt, this was a massive success!
Almost all of the large video game journalism and media websites wrote articles about this limited edition offering and it also went viral on various social media platforms!
This tactic, like others mentioned in this article, is highly contextual and largely possible for the Saints Row franchise due to it’s humorous and extravagant nature.
MEDIA MOLECULE – ALL THE THINGS
It’s probable that you’re heard of LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, or perhaps even Media Molecule’s current project, Dreams.
With my other mentions in this article, I focus on a specific aspect of their marketing, however I struggled to focus on a single element with Media Molecule because they have so many great examples!
Instead, I’d like to draw your attention to one of the most quirky, charming and innovative game development studios out there. Everything they seem to do demonstrates their profound passion and talent, from their amazing video games, to their exceptionally awesome website.
I’ve been following their story since my days of being enamored with the original LittleBigPlanet and Media Molecule has it well documented on their History page.
Media Molecule has also helped to nurture one of the most creative communities in gaming, with numerous fan sites existing based around their games.
FALLOUT 4 – SHORT TURNOVER PERIOD
Kieron Mills suggested via Tweet, an excellent example of great video game marketing in the form of Fallout 4’s short turnover period!
@trendjackers Interesting piece! there’s also the opportunity to have a short turnover period e.g Fallout 4, with it released 5 months after announcement!
— Kieron Mills (@KieronMillss) April 3, 2017
When Fallout 4 was revealed for the first time at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015 (E3 2015), nobody expected Bethesda Softworks to announce a release date of November 10th 2015, just five months after the reveal!
To give you an idea of just how short this turnover period was, Grand Theft Auto V was revealed on the 25th October 2011 and then wasn’t released until the 17th of September 2013 (it was delayed a few times, however).
By breaking the mould and only announcing Fallout 4 when it was close to being complete, fans were met with a pleasant surprise. On the topic, I’m personally surprised that this tactic isn’t utilised by more developers and publishers! Instead of allowing the buzz to die out, expectations to rise and fans to become impatient, why not follow Fallout 4’s example? Yes, I’m looking at you, No Mans Sky!
Thanks for reading! As I mentioned in the intro, if you have any awesome examples of video game marketing, leave us a comment down below.