Failbetter Games' Haley Uyrus walks us through every step of being a marketing manager and explains why it's a more creative job than it sounds
What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day?
I’m the marketing manager for Failbetter Games. I currently look after all three of our games: Fallen London, Sunless Sea and our upcoming title Sunless Skies.
In games marketing you tend to work on a lot of tasks concurrently, unlike programmers or artists who will work on one task for days or even weeks. That means that my typical day can vary a lot. That being said there are definitely bits that are done consistently.
Each morning—after I’ve started my coffee—the first thing I do is check in on all our social media platforms and forum pages across all our games. This lets me tune in to the general player sentiment and also alerts me of any problems (ie. server lag, major bugs, problematic community members, player questions, issues with content etc.).
After that, I’ll switch to any tasks I have that require a lot of brain power because I know that I work best in the morning. That could be anything from writing development blogs to planning campaign strategy to market research.
The rest of the day will often be spent zipping in and out of things, like arranging events to showcase our games at, sending feedback to the vendor creating our next trailer, or posting Fallen London announcements for in-game events.
Failbetter is thankfully very meeting-light, so I’m not usually too booked up with those but occasionally I might be sit in an analytics meeting or the devs’ sprint planning meetings.
I also am the one tasked with creating any of the marketing assets for our games, and if I have anything like that on my plate I typically save it till the end of the day so I can switch off my tired thinking brain and switch on my mellow artsy brain. I love the days that finish in Photoshop or Illustrator!
What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land this job?
In the indie sphere often degrees aren’t necessary as there are plenty of totally brilliant and completely competent self-taught people, especially in something like marketing. I’m a bit education-obsessed though and have a BFA in Communications Design, an MA in Game Design and an MBA in Creative Industries Management.
For people wanting to get into games promotion though, I’d be looking skills like: highly organised, problem solver, excellent writing, ability to research, ability to find patterns (analytical), an understanding of people, brilliant communication, and of course a love and passion for games.
It’s incredibly difficult to get your first job in games, so any real-games experience you can get is tremendously helpful to have on a CV. For marketing or PR roles I’d recommend volunteering at game conferences like Develop, or seeing if you can do part-time work helping devs with their social media or working their booth at consumer events. Also feel free to show any community work you’ve done in a game you love. Try to find companies that will pay you for your time—you shouldn’t have to work for free!
If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?
Definitely the skills and possible experiences above. At the end of the day though, I’d be looking for someone that can see a game, understand what makes it fun and interesting to players, and then be able to be creative in ways to shout about that to the players that will be most enticed by it.
A common test would be to give the interviewee an example of a game and a specific campaign we’d want them to plan. In the plan we’d expect them to specify: who is the target audience for this game, what platforms or places does the audience exist, which aspects of the game are they going to be most excited about, and what can we do to achieve our campaign goals.
One of the mistakes I see a lot during tests like these is people letting their creativity and excitement run away with them. Of course it’s great to hear ideas about the super-huge very trendy viral campaign you have in mind that involves sending someone dressed as characters from the game on the Tube, or creating a massive London-wide scavenger hunt full of puzzles, but we also want to hear about your very cost-effective ideas on how to build momentum day to day.
And of course, I’d be looking for someone who is willing to work hard, someone who fits in well with the ecosystem of our company, and someone who is willing to keep learning. If you can do extra things like video editing, graphic design or streaming, that’s also a huge plus.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
Plenty! It totally varies depending on what size and type of company you join, as a marketer at publisher or an indie studio would differ drastically. However, most people start as something akin to a marketing executive, helping with the pieces of a campaign like finding specific journalists for reviews, tracking articles about the game, handling social media and helping at events. After that you might gain control over the marketing of one of the games at your company and work your way up towards becoming a campaign Manager, then a full-blown marketing manager.
The end goal may be communications director, especially if it’s a smaller studio, but if you end up somewhere larger you may branch off into something like a brand manager or a product manager depending on your skills and interests. This may also lead you to specialise in a certain area of marketing such as digital marketing, community management or client relationships.
Want to talk about your career and inspire people to follow the same path? Contact Marie Dealessandri.