Picking the right games to promote
Promoting new product launches has become increasingly complex, with marketers forced to contend with an ever-increasing range of titles and a drip-feed of new compliance controls. First Look Games’ Tom Galanis sets out the issues to consider when selecting games to put marketing dollars behind
One of the greatest challenges faced by chief marketing officers is deciding which games to promote and when and how to promote them. While five or six years ago there was just a handful of studios producing games, today there are more than 250.
With some developers releasing out a new game every week, this means there are literally thousands of new slots and casino games rolling off the production line every year. Picking just a handful to back with marketing dollars and resources is a tough task.
In addition, chief marketing officers are having to work with and around new compliance controls. This is changing the requirements of the role and making the task of promoting casino brands and games much more challenging than it was in the past.
So just how can CMOs zero in on the games to promote based on their brand values, target audience and geographical reach?
Backing the right horse
The increasing number of game developers, and the thousands of new titles launched each year, are undoubtedly a big win for players. However, this does cause CMOs and marketing teams no end of headaches.
It is simply not possible to effectively promote every single game that is launched, so operators and their marketers have to pick and choose the games that work best for them, their brand and, most importantly, their players.
This requires a cross-team effort. For example, marketers should speak with the operator’s affiliate team to learn which games are the most popular among players, and to flag any differences in preference from market to market.
They should also liaise with game developers to learn as much about each game as possible. Which market a game has been designed for, whether it is aimed at high rollers or casual players, and whether it includes any new features or mechanics can be key in selecting the right games to promote.
As a general rule, branded and sequel games are usually worth supporting with a major marketing campaign. In most cases, these titles will come with a network promotion that allows the developer and the operator to share the cost of promoting the game.
But for some operators, particularly smaller brands with smaller budgets, it can make sense to allow developers and tier one operators to market the blockbuster games, and instead promote titles from lesser known developers.
With all the major operators backing chart toppers such as Dead or Alive II and Opal Fruits with big-budget campaigns, it can be tough for those without hefty marketing budgets to be heard above the noise. They may be better served putting their resources behind other titles.
Regardless, it is important to promote games that will convert and ultimately deliver the best return on investment. That is why it’s important to also consider things such as whether your platform allows you to run free spins bonuses around new games or not.
Other factors to take into account include the financial agreement you have with the game developer, as well as whether there are any exclusivity options available.
The CMO sits atop of the marketing machine, but to be able to determine which games to back then devise and deploy effective campaigns, they need to work with the entire team and with other business departments within the business.
For example, affiliates remain a powerful marketing platform for online casino operators and the affiliate team will know what sort of information and collateral publishers require to effectively promote new games and offers on their behalf.
This needs to be fed back to the marketing team who can then create the necessary logos, graphics, banners and so on. It is about breaking down the silo and creating an open and collaborative environment to ensure the campaign is as impactful as possible.
Compliance first and foremost
This is particularly important, given the increasing need to be compliant in regulated markets around the world but especially jurisdictions such as the UK and Sweden. Marketers must be fully aware of any restrictions in each jurisdictions, and working with compliance officers is key to this.
For example, while Marvel-branded slots are hugely popular with players in the UK. However, they are very difficult to market because they have the potential to appeal to underage players who are big fans of Marvel films such as Iron Man, Spider-Man and The Avengers.
Indeed, it could be argued that it is no longer the case that marketers have free rein to promote brands and games at all costs in order to drive player acquisition and retention. Instead, it could be argued, the focus is on promoting brands and games as effectively as possible within the guidelines set.
Game developers could be doing more
Regulation and compliance is a good thing, but it does require operators and developers to work more closely together. I’d actually go so far as to say that developers could be doing more to promote their games instead of just relying on operators to do it for them.
They should consider creating dedicated landing pages for big releases and filming short trailers that can be posted on social media directly to players. At the moment, most game marketing is B2B so there is a huge opportunity to target consumers directly.
Of course, affiliates are one of the best channels to target players directly and both operators and game developers could and should be using this powerful marketing channel more than they currently are doing.
About First Look Games
First Look Games establishes a link between game developers and affiliates, providing game information and content about latest releases and full game libraries before anybody else. First Look Games enables affiliate readers to download Affiliate Packs - full of game assets and information - for a variety of the games featured here to enhance reviews and to build content.