Marketing video games requires appealing to two entirely different types of audiences: the new players and the hardcore veterans.
Video game designers are already familiar with the difficulty of designing for a wide variety of knowledge and interest. Too easy, and the game isn’t interesting to the veteran players. Too hard, and the newcomers won’t enjoy it. It’s a tricky divide to bridge.
If the game’s marketing team isn’t putting just as much thought into overcoming the divide, then you are setting yourself up for lost sales.
There is a temptation to simplify the marketing by appealing only to the newcomer, wooed by the large numbers they can bring. However, ignoring the hardcore gamers means ignoring those that can be the most vocal supporters of a game. It’s not the newcomers that will evangelize on behalf of your brand: it’s veterans.
So how do you broadly appeal to both halves of the spectrum? The short answer: you don’t.
Just like in game play, the marketing that attracts newcomers to a game won’t be the same things that appeal to veteran players. So take a page from game design and put the newbs and the hardcore gamers on two different tracts.
While the gorgeous cinematic trailer, with short clips from the game and a teaser for a storyline may whet the appetites of both types of fans, in neither case can you stop there. And what you serve next needs to be tailored.
Newcomers want to know they can start playing your game and not immediately die. Veterans want to know they can start playing your game and be fighting for their life.
The challenge is creating marketing that can convey both messages.
For the newcomers, pique their interest and soothe their fears. Interesting content around the game that also has appeal outside of game players can help bring interest to the game. Funny videos can introduce the game to a wide audience that isn’t necessary reading video game magazines.
Once you have attention, make sure that the barrier to entry is low. If the first introduction to the game requires $80 output, then you will lose many potential players. Social games to introduce the universe can help set up the story and style of the game, while allowing a much lower barrier to entry.
Make sure that the newcomer feels that the game is meant for them as well as established gamers. When demonstrating some of the in game mechanics, include focus on systems designed to help new players learn the world and how to play the game.
Unfortunately, making newcomers feel welcome can make hardcore gamers feel as though the game isn’t designed for them. Often times, hardcore gamers compose the social core of a game that can pull in more casual gamers, so you don’t want to lose them. Make sure you have marketing that appeals to the veterans as well.
To capture the interest of veteran gamers, demonstrate the higher levels of gameplay available. Offer more than just short clips of gunfire and explosions: show the meat of the game play. Demonstrate some of the challenges gamers can seek out, the skills that will need to be honed.
Veterans know the value of well designed game, so make sure you show off everything you have. Layers of strategy and gameplay experience all contribute to fanatical devotion to a game. In short, show the hardcore gamers that the game is for more than newbs.
If you want your game to have crossover success, make sure you are marketing to both levels of gamers.