While gaming may have once been considered a solo experience, those days are long past, with massively popular online games and social media becoming a place to share your interests with millions of other people. Similarly, how studios can market and grow their audiences has changed. Community management has become more critical to engage with fans, and players themselves can connect with others more freely.
In this guest post, we hear from Gameram’s chief partnerships manager, Valeriia Diu, on how traditional marketing methods may no longer be the best way to grow your audience. Instead, Diu shares that the socialisation of your game could be the key to an increased player base and revenue.
The mobile gaming industry is currently facing challenges in the post-IDFA era, the effect of the recession, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
An underestimated approach - socialisation, is a key direction that can restore the industry, as it has a significant positive impact on mid-term and long-term player retention and monetisation, in addition to providing a new efficient way of user acquisition. At Gameram, we prioritise cultivating community engagement within the mobile mid-core and casual gaming sectors. This is because there is a big difference between active communities in social networks for hardcore esports games and those for mid-core and casual games.
What is socialisation?
In the context of mobile games, socialisation refers to how players connect based on their shared interest in gaming. This connection is fostered through sharing user-generated content (such as screenshots, videos, fan art, and other game-related content), streaming, blogging, and creating groups or clans in hardcore and social mid-core games and groups for casual games.
Now is the perfect time for mobile game developers to invest in the casual gaming community, which is both vast and expanding.Valeriia Diu
While socialisation has been a growing trend in the casual mobile gaming sector, which accounts for 86.9% of all downloads and continues to experience growth, it still faces challenges in terms of community development. Unlike hardcore esports or multiplayer PC/console games, the casual sector lacks an engaged audience within social networks. At Gameram, we specialise in providing a new user acquisition channel for game studios while also encouraging creators and communities within the mobile mid-core and casual gaming segments. Gameram bridges the gap between community socialisation and gameplay by offering content creation tools, an algorithm that encourages community engagement, and a global community of like-minded individuals with similar gaming interests.
Now is the perfect time for mobile game developers to invest in the casual gaming community, which is both vast and expanding. In the past, limited resources and budgets may have delayed such ambitions. Fortunately, Gameram offers everything they need to start or continue growing and building a strong and active community.
Why is it underestimated?
The underestimation of socialisation in the casual mobile gaming sector can be attributed to several factors.
Firstly, the focus has traditionally been on more competitive and multiplayer-oriented games, such as esports or PC/console titles, where the social aspect is highly emphasised. Casual games, on the other hand, have been viewed as primarily single-player experiences without a strong need for social interaction. However, this underestimation overlooks the potential of casual games to provide a form of escapism where players can connect with others, share their experiences, and find a sense of community. The growing popularity of social features in casual games is gradually changing this perception as developers recognise the importance of socialisation in improving player engagement and retention.
Secondly, there needs to be more platforms and resources specifically designed to foster socialisation within the casual gaming community, particularly for games that predominantly appeal to a female audience. It is worth noting that the female audience represents 60% of the casual mobile sector.
Furthermore, the perception that socialisation is less significant than other factors like gameplay mechanics or graphics may also contribute to underestimation. However, the growing popularity of social media and the increasing demand for connected experiences indicate that socialisation plays a crucial role in enhancing player engagement, retention, and monetisation.
How to make your community work for you through UGC
The initial casual mobile games were primarily single-player experiences due to the lack of internet connectivity. They had limited resources and development possibilities compared to PC games, and their user interface and user experience were relatively simple. However, with the emergence of the internet and the transition to free-to-play models, these games aimed to reach a wider audience.
Building a community that actively posts user-generated content (UGC) and makes it go viral requires significant effort. Here is why:
- It is crucial to measure the impact of community management on retention, monetisation, and user feedback to demonstrate the importance of allocating resources to this department. Additionally, considering solutions like deep linking, promo codes, and plugins can further enhance the community experience. At the same time, the industry is currently in a state of denial regarding the fact that traditional marketing methods and user identification through attribution channels will no longer be the same.
- Another crucial aspect is to educate users about the importance of regular posting, finding like-minded individuals, and sharing their emotions with friends through user-generated content (UGC).
- Offering in-game content that facilitates the generation of post ideas, such as customisation options (new skins, leaderboards), capturing funny moments, regular content updates (new maps, events, heroes), dialogues, and memes can also yield positive results.
By implementing these strategies, game developers can cultivate a passionate and engaged community within their casual mobile games, ultimately improving the overall player experience and driving long-term success.
Invest in socialisation. Here’s why
1. Socialised players pay and play more
According to a Newzoo Report, socialised players (active in the community by sharing screenshots about the game, recommending the game by posting gameplay, connecting with other players etc.) demonstrate a 2% increase in spending and a 9% increase in gameplay. This showcases the critical importance of socialisation for the survival and growth of the gaming industry in the current landscape.
Developers can increase user engagement, monetisation, and brand recognition by developing the social aspect of games.Valeriia Diu
2. Social features are changing the game
The Unity Report indicates that 54% of companies already implement social features in their games. This not only confirms the prevalence of socialisation as a current trend but also highlights it as an opportunity for those yet to explore its potential. Developers can increase user engagement, monetisation, and brand recognition by developing the social aspect of games. Moreover, social features play a crucial role in motivating players to pay and play more. While some developers may hesitate to invest resources in community management, the benefits of leveraging social features are significant and can position them as true disruptors in the gaming industry. So, take action now to maintain your competitiveness and excel in your genre.
3. Acquire users for free
Marketing in the mobile gaming sector is facing a real challenge. The 2023 Mobile Growth and Monetization Report by Unity reveals an 88% increase in CPI on iOS from Q1 2021 to Q4 2022, reaching $3.75 per install. This data highlights the urgent need for mobile games to diversify their revenue sources and improve player retention.
User-Generated Content (UGC) as banners is the future of game development marketing. UGC serves as an effective banner for games, promoting IP and brand awareness. It is a viral and unique method of native advertising. Word-of-mouth recommendations have always been powerful, and a post from a friend featuring genuine gameplay and enthusiastic emotions about a game is undoubtedly more impactful than any misleading advertisement that leads to disappointment. This is backed by statistics from the Google Mobile Insights Report, indicating that 34% of players discover new games through recommendations from friends and family.
It is now up to you to decide where to allocate your resources: towards outdated marketing methods, such as TV advertising, which are losing effectiveness over time, or towards supporting your game’s fanbase and encouraging them to freely and actively share their emotions about the game. Embrace this new and more efficient form of native marketing, and enjoy the positive results it brings.
Edited by Paige Cook