Videogames and Marketing: the best advertising strategies ever

Videogames and Marketing: the best advertising strategies ever

Videogames and Marketing

“ Where people don't enjoy themselves, they rarely produce good work “

― David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertiser

What Makes a Video Game Unique ? There is no single answer, and over the years we have talked about it several times and from many points of view. A video game is a tool capable of educating, of transmitting values ​​and of understanding what society is today, but also a simple form of entertainment in which we can all take part.

In short, there are many forms taken over time by this singular medium, and many of these clearly derive from a strong feeling of affection on the part of the public. Playing is in fact something capable of uniting people like few other activities, in a cultural explosion that has never stopped in recent decades: only time will tell us where we can go, even from this point of view.

If the video game has however become a key element of popular culture, the merit is also of the coverage in terms of communication that it has managed to obtain over time: the writer has been working in the marketing field for some years, and that's why this piece is going to feel somehow very, very personal. In short, what I want to do is take a look at what, over the years, have been the best strategies implemented to promote the video games that we all know: let's start with a small step back in time, just to begin to contextualize a little the whole.

Videogames and Marketing: where to start?

Sifting through the rich history of video games, it's not difficult to find some brilliant advertising campaigns and others that, for a thousand reasons, are better left on the back burner. We will dedicate a piece to these in the coming months, while today we want to focus on those cases worthy of honorable mentions: in short, those moments in which the video game has really emerged, once again, as one of the most important mediums of the last decades .

Let's not forget that the video game was born in the middle of the last century as an academic project, and therefore with a totally different identity from the one we all know today. The goal then was not to entertain, but to demonstrate how technology could make giant leaps and, much more simply, to teach the principles of physics through a new and consequently surprising medium.

Little by little, this medium began its ascent towards the mainstream scene, in a process resulting from many small revolutions carried out over the decades. Let's start with a vintage advertising campaign, going back to the end of the eighties: we are in 1989, and SEGA is preparing to launch the highly coveted and highly ambitious Genesis (also known as Mega Drive) on the market. A product that certainly needs no introduction, but which was having to contend with a no small opponent who responded to the name of Nintendo.

The Japanese giant had in fact dominated the second half of the decade with NES and, in followed, with that prodigy that was the Super Nintendo: how to compete with a superpower of this kind? SEGA opted for a marketing activity with a tone of voice perhaps a little too bombastic, but which communicated a clear and precise message properly. “Genesis does what Ninten-don't. ” was the slogan of the campaign: a clear stance behind which we find the desire to accentuate and underline how and how much yes, SEGA could absolutely have its say against the competition.

The response from the public was immediate, not only in terms of sales but also under the aspect of what is called buzz in marketing: the noise, the chatter that is generated when something new arrives, surprising and shocking in its own way. In short, from a certain point of view, we can almost say that what we have come to know as console war over the years was starting.

In short, getting people talked about is the main objective, and even an established company like Riot Games has understood this very well. Over the years, League of Legends has become a real phenomenon of custom, as well as one of the greatest examples of how the video game can influence and become an integral part of pop culture. With virtually no limits.

Riot's journey has gone from a thousand different promotional activities, all aimed at the composition of that single mosaic which is the finished strategy. In fact, if we think of League of Legends, the huge tournaments that take place all over the world come to mind: events of incredible importance, both in terms of audience and media resonance. At the same time, an aspect related to the game itself should not be underestimated, with each major update accompanied by a promotional video that… It always manages to be a show, capable of impressing even those who only know League of Legends by hearsay.

Arcane set the record for most-watched series on Netflix within a week of its debut, ranking No. 1 in the platform's Top 10 in 52 countries. Without forgetting the collaboration with Fortiche Production, from which an animated series capable of captivating millions of viewers all over the world was born. Arcane is not in fact a simple show on a visual level, but rather a real gateway for anyone who wants to discover a world to be told which is League of Legends.

Videogames and Marketing: present and future

Sometimes the push that is needed, even at a promotional level, comes from a "problem" that needs to be solved as quickly as possible. This is the case of Sony which, in the second half of the 2000s, found itself having to give a worthy successor to that timeless success which is still the PlayStation 2 today.

PS3 was another incredible console, but the initial sales were not as exciting as one might have imagined: the competition was in fact represented by Xbox 360, a product with a decidedly more captivating design and which had also arrived on the market a few years in advance. The new Sony console, according to many, had the defect of being… Ugly, precisely from an aesthetic point of view.

The solution came in 2009, coinciding with the release of Uncharted 2 . Sony launched a brilliant advertising campaign, which simply told how PS3 could basically do everything. "It Only Does Everything" was the claim of the campaign that we leave you below, to underline how much the console could play games that looked like films, and how the protagonist of the commercial could play, leaving his partner to believe he was watching a really good movie. Brilliant, right?

So here's how a "defect" is transformed into something secondary, compared to what are the real characteristics of a console that will then be able to enter history. Moreover, Sony is not new to truly commendable marketing initiatives, which often turn out to be even spectacular. Let's take for example what was done for the launch of Horizon: Forbidden West, with a giant statue of Aloy with an impressive level of detail camping in one of the most important squares in Florence.

A real event across the board, which not only thrilled and made fans even more impatient but certainly managed to hit even those who may not have known the Sony exclusive. The work was, among other things, also exhibited during the last Milan Games Week, attracting the curiosity and admiration of the many patrons.

The statue of Aloy at Milan Games Week 2022. We close with another series of spots that need no words to be commented on. Robin Williams was an incredible actor, capable of expressing himself at his best both in dramatic roles and playing lighter and more light-hearted characters. An all-round artist that we all miss, and who with his passing has left a void that is really difficult to fill.

The most loyal fans know how much the actor was not only an exceptional showman, but also a great video game enthusiast... So much so that he called his daughter Zelda, after the princess of the famous Nintendo series. The Japanese giant therefore decided to contact Williams to create a series of commercials, which involved him with his daughter Zelda.

The end result is something unique and moving, where the strong love of a father for his daughter emerges and for the idea of ​​sharing such a great passion with her. In short, not a simple series of commercial messages, but a real legacy that will always manage to elicit at least one smile from each of us.

What we have told you about are just some of the most interesting marketing campaigns in the history of video games and, as always, we invite you to tell us your opinion in the comments before concluding. Tell us about the ones that struck you the most, which left you something and which perhaps even influenced your way of conceiving the videogame medium.

The future of video games, from a point of view strictly linked to marketing and communication, seems to return a curious scenario full of ideas of all kinds. This is because the various pieces that make up the whole - the video game, technology and marketing itself - are proceeding by leaps and bounds, and now practically every day we are faced with new things that are always difficult to predict and often even accept.

Let's think of concepts such as the much-talked-about metaverse, which video games have been treating to be honest for several decades: an ideal that can very well also be used as a promotional tool, and what has been done for example by Fortnite (I quote example, the Travis Scott concert) is only one of the many cases that will now become increasingly popular.

We will undoubtedly find an increasingly massive use of now consolidated technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, also from a promotional point of view and no longer simply for fun. And how can we fail to mention gamification, to which we dedicated a piece not too long ago, or the many social platforms that are born and develop at incredible speed? In short, the future is all to be discovered, and just as ten years ago we could not have had an idea of ​​what marketing would have been like today, today we cannot even imagine what the future will really hold for us. After all, that's the beauty of it, isn't it?

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