Speaking at today’s F2P Summit in London, Bossa Studio’s senior marketing manager Richard Earl shared a series of key tips for building attention around a game as it is developed and released.
London outfit Bossa has, with its games Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread, enjoyed significant positive attention from high-profile YouTubers, built significant and vocal fanbases, and seen its games flourish and secure attention over relatively extensive time periods, including before full release.
Earl’s tips for accessible methods for marketing games and building hype included:
• Remind your audience that you are working on what they care about, as well as new products. Open videos promoting a brand new title by making clear that the studio is still working on and maintaining existing games. “Let your players know you still have a separate teams working on the games your fans love; that’s important," said Earl.
• Do not discount the potential of things fun and silly. “You will be surprised by the reach,” offered Earl, detailing the potential of playful, humorous and eccentric content on social media, demonstrating that one of the most successful posts promoting Surgeon Simulator focused on a pun about action figures in medical outfits and ‘plastic surgeons’.
• However, be professional, thoughtful, and avoid using serious news stories. “Double check your hashtags,” recommended Earl, showing cases where non-gaming companies had used tags already claimed by charities handling sensitive topics. “Check things before you retweet them,” added Earl, who also suggested staying away from any controversial news stories; particularly deaths and accidents, demonstrating some organisations have, surprisingly, done just that.
• Celebrate your fans, and the content they create. Earl recommended commenting on and sharing fans’ input, fan art and perspectives, stating that the effort, while potentially demanding of staff resource, can be hugely impactful. “Reply to all the tweets and Facebook messages you can too,” Earl said, admitting that while you have to be selective, the effort can be surprisingly meaningful.
• Respect you ‘super fans’ with particular effort. Making the biggest YouTubers that enjoy your output feel special can be particularly powerful, recommended Earl. Bring them into your game world. Bossa have made good of this approach by, for example, naming an element of Surgeon Simulator after prolific YouTuber and early fan of the title, Youtube sensation PewDiePie.
• The personal touch is a powerful tool. For example, use your development staff as promo staff at events. “They will be more genuine, and more knowledgable about your game than anyone [external] you could hire,” offered Earl, who joined the I Am Bread developers in meeting the public at recent UK games event Rezzed.
• React positively to the inevitable critics. “Haters gonna hate,” said Earl. “Don’t get angry with them publicly or privately.” Earl recommended responding positively on social media to even the most aggressive and unpleasant criticism, showing a case where a furious Facebook commenter berating Bossa was turned into a fan by responding in a friendly manner providing a free Steam code.
• Be practical and use social analytics tools to communicate. Schedule tweets to consider global markets, and be aware of emerging patterns, national days across the globe and similar.