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Powerful PR: How great comms can boost your game's success

ZiMAD’s Anastasia Zaiceva explores the importance of communications in the gaming industry and how success can depend on the quality of your comms
Powerful PR: How great comms can boost your game's success
  • “The more unconventional and exciting your PR campaigns are the more likely the product will be successful”
  • “Communication should meet the company's business goals it can help increase brand awareness attract new users and expand the loyal audience”

Developing a game that becomes a success depends upon numerous factors. From having a great concept to your budget and the skill and experience of the developer who helps bring that idea to life. However, one aspect that can often be overlooked is how the communications teams involved help to generate attention and nourish a game or, in fact, the entire studio's public image.

As the gaming industry evolves, so to do the expectations of its consumers. Today's players are not just looking for a game, but a connection with the studios and the titles they create. This growing demand for audience engagement underscores the importance of strong communication strategies within the gaming industry.

ZiMAD, the developer and publisher of mobile games such as Magic Jigsaw Puzzles, Puzzle Villa, and Domino Online, are no stranger to the powers of PR to ensure that the right partners, players and investors are attracted to their brand. In this article, ZiMAD’s chief communications officer, Anastasia Zaiceva, explains the important role of communications and how it can impact a game's success.

The mobile gaming industry is a fast-growing, dynamically changing, and innovative market that is gaining more and more influence in the modern world every year. For a long time, it was assumed that most game company employees are men and that skillful development is the main component of a game’s success. However, this opinion is rather stereotypical.

Women conquering IT industry

Despite the fact that most IT workers are men, research data confirms that the number of women is growing yearly. In large foreign technology companies, female employees range from 29% (Microsoft) to 45% (Amazon). In addition, women hold 26.5% of executive and management positions in S&P 500 companies.

In traditionally technological departments, such as development, 9 out of 10 employees are men. Women are more likely to build careers in areas such as PR, business analytics, and management. It may seem that these areas are not so important for the development of a company. In fact, this is not true.

Even if you have created a unique game that the world has never seen before, it will not be in demand unless it is talked about.

For example, the success of a new release on the market is only half dependent on how well the code is written, and the virtual space is designed. The second component of popularity is the audience's perception of a brand or product, therefore communications play a vital role in properly presenting it to the market.

External communications

Even if you have created a unique game that the world has never seen before, it will not be in demand unless it is talked about. That's why it is necessary to thoroughly build and follow a communication strategy at every stage, from development to announcement. A well-thought-out communication will attract the attention of relevant media and create a buzz on social networks and the community, making users eagerly await the release of the new title.

The more unconventional and exciting your PR campaigns are, the more likely the product will be successful. In addition to the common tools, such as publications in the media or social networks, you can also use other methods, such as working with influencers or offline promotion.

An example.

The PR campaign for Mass Effect 3 caused a lot of fuss during its time. The creators tied copies of the game to balloons equipped with GPS sensors. With their help, gamers could monitor the location and movement of the balloons to catch them. Everyone who retrieved a balloon received a copy of the game.

Such an unusual way to make a statement spread very quickly within the community due to the word-of-mouth effect, and, on top of that, the related media actively talked about this promo.

But perhaps the prize for the best marketing communication goes to the campaign announcing the release of  Lara Croft: Rise of a Tomb Raider. In addition to its creators holding an event where all participants could practice the skills that the heroine possessed in the game, they also developed a special photo booth. Everyone who went in there could try on the game costumes and become a participant of the game scenes. The developers also created an Instagram account, the followers of which could track Lara's movements around the world. All this allowed a stir to be created long before the game's release.


Crisis PR

In addition to attracting attention, properly structured communications can help solve crisis situations and reduce reputational risks. A qualified PR specialist knows their market, its trends, the specific social and cultural features of a particular region, and the failures that other companies have made. This helps them avoid problem situations or smooth out some sharp edges so that it does not cause upset and a cancellation effect from the market.

For example, a couple of months ago a gaming company published a vacancy for a concept artist for its new project. One of the requirements for the candidate was to have experience working with neural networks. This condition caused a flurry of unexpected criticism from the gaming community.

Some say that neural networks are trained based on artists' creations, so the studio is acting unethically, and others say that AI cannot create something original. The studio tried to justify itself by saying that neural networks would be used solely for additional concept work and for speeding up some internal processes. However, people didn't like this either - they accused the company of preventing aspiring artists from gaining experience and simply wanting to save money.

This proves how much the industry needs skilled communicators who can smooth out the rough spots, detect statements that cause negativity in the audience, and realign their opinions to be more positive.

Levels of communications

However, external communication is not the only factor that influences how highly players will appreciate a product - it's also essential to maintain communication within the gaming community, help users understand the game, ask for their opinion, and consider it when developing the project.

It is safe to say that well-built communication is one of the key elements of a company's success.

Communication plays a crucial role in establishing and strengthening a close connection between game developers and their audiences. When it comes to communication, technical people think it's much easier than writing code or testing it - you just talk, and that's it. There's nothing complicated about it because everyone can talk…

But in the process of communication, it is important not just to speak but to convey meanings and to achieve objectives through these meanings.

Communication should meet the company's business goals. It can help increase brand awareness, attract new users, expand the loyal audience, and retain it. The conversion rate and attitude to the product depend on the right choice of words. Building communication can take place at different levels.

For a company with an extensive, developed, and loyal community, great comms can greatly help its development. This community includes both brand ambassadors and active players, who are usually the first to evaluate the product, notice its shortcomings, share their impressions, and give feedback, which is essential for game development. Analytical data is great and useful in many ways, but it is not always possible to understand how people make certain decisions based on it.

The communications department can also help monitor the market. Reading articles and analyzing competitors' messages allows us to understand what new things they are cooking up, in what directions they are developing or planning to develop, and what words and messages help them stand out more effectively from other competitors and find a common language with their audience.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that well-built communication is one of the key elements of a company's success. Not only does it help to improve the interaction between developers and players, but it also greatly influences the formation of the game community and increases the level of user engagement and satisfaction.

Edited by Paige Cook