Why Aren’t There Any Marketing Strategies in Online Games?

If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re either playing an online game or have an interest in playing one. If not, then maybe it’s time to consider playing a game on vacation, instead of at home!

Marketing in games is often considered an afterthought — something that happens after the gameplay is optimized and the product is launched. While it’s a bit disappointing, it’s not exactly a secret that marketing in games is difficult. It typically takes some of the same strategies as marketing in traditional media, but it also requires some gaming-specific elements that make it harder. Let’s dive into why marketing in games is tricky, and what you can do to make sure your marketing efforts are successful.

Traditional Media Versus Online Gaming

There are many similarities between traditional media and online gaming when it comes to marketing. You’re both constantly bombarded with advertisements for products you don’t need and don’t care about. You have to contend with banner ads, pop-ups, and billboards to get your attention, and then you have to fight your way past all the junk to get to the content you actually want to read or see.

The main difference is that with traditional media, you’ve got other options. If you disagree with the way something is represented in a given media channel, you have the ability to change the channel or the remote control to avoid it. Not so with online gaming. If you don’t like the way a game is marketed, you’re pretty much limited to disliking the game or the company that created it.

Product Launches

Product launches are tricky in games, too. You don’t want to ruin the excitement of the game by telling the world too soon about it, but you also don’t want to keep it a secret either. This anticipation builds up a lot of interest and excitement around the game, which is why you want to be careful about what you say about it before, during, and after its launch.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a game called “My Game.” You know it’s going to be released at the end of the month, but you haven’t told anyone else yet. What do you say about the game?

“My Game” is going to be released on the 27th. Can I play a bit of it now?

“Not yet. It’s not finished. But it’s almost done. If you’re really interested in playing it, you can find out more about it in a few days.”

By waiting to announce the release of your game, you give the impression that it’s bigger and better than it really is. You don’t want to do this, especially if you’re trying to get some press or interest in the game. This is something that can be seriously damaging to your product. Why? People want to be surprised!

When the 27th comes and goes with no “My Game” announcements, people will start to get a little (or a lot) suspicious. Especially if you haven’t talked about the game at all before the 27th.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re working on a game called “My Game.” You know it’s going to be released at the end of the month, but you haven’t told anyone else yet. On the 27th, you do a press release about the game:

“It’s been a long time in the making. Finally, we’re happy to announce the release of our game, ‘My Game’ by Company Name.’”

“Wow, that was fast. So, what is ‘My Game’?”

“It’s a game that we’ve been working hard on. And it’s finally going to be released at the end of this month.”

By saying this out loud, you’ve created a situation where you’re advertising the game. But because you hadn’t yet told anyone that it was going to be released, you didn’t break any rules. You also don’t technically have to tell everyone that the game is going to be released. You just have to let everyone know that there’s a chance it could be released. The most you have to do is make sure that your customers know there’s a chance they could play the game, if they purchase it. This is all you have to do to market the game, legally.

User-Generated Content

Another thing that makes marketing in games different from marketing in traditional media is all the user-generated content out there. When was the last time you saw an advertisement that wasn’t placed by a professional marketing agency?’

Since we’re all bombarded by ads in our daily lives, it’s not hard to be aware of the fact that a lot of the content you see online has been paid for by some very clever people with a lot of money to spend.

This is why a lot of the content out there is so good! User-generated content platforms like YouTube and Twitter allow creators to showcase their talents and have the opportunity to show their skills to the world. This content can be shared across other platforms like Facebook and Reddit, expanding the potential audience way beyond what the creator could have originally intended.

The issue is that this content is typically seen by millions of people, so it gets a lot of attention. And since a lot of this content is highly targeted towards a specific audience, it also means that it’s highly relevant to that audience — they already know what it’s about and may have an interest in the product or service being advertised.

Here’s an example. You’re a game developer and you notice that some of your fans have started creating videos showcasing the different ways they play your game. Let’s say one of the fans creates a video showing him playing the game while eating cheese puffs. You might see this video and think “Oh, these are cute and fun to watch. I wonder if they’re paid for by the company that makes the game?”

Now, you have to decide whether or not you want to engage with this audience. If you do decide to interact with them, how do you want to do it? Facebook’s popular “Like” button was designed with this type of situation in mind. When you “Like” a product or service on Facebook, you’re not actually saying that you’ve tried the product or used the service. You’re simply expressing an interest in it.

Because of the way the “Like” button works, it’s an easy way to show that you have an interest in something without actually having to spend the time to find out more about it. But, you also need to be careful about what you “Like” because you never know what information the company that made the product might collect on you.


Finally, let’s not forget about money. Games are typically monetized through some combination of ads, microtransactions, and free-to-play — all of which can be turned off through privacy settings. So, while you won’t always need to think about marketing, you will always need to think about the money.

Since this is the case, it’s important to find ways to monetize your game without hurting your brand. Some ideas include: