Why MMO Ad Campaigns Are Important

By Jeff Francis
Why mmo ad campaigns are important

There's an old saying that goes it's not what you know, but who you know that's important. There is a grain of truth in that old axiom as while a person can be extremely knowledgeable, actually knowing others that are willing to help you out is usually far more beneficial to you getting a foot in that door. Such a sentiment is applicable to mmorpg games as well in a certain manner. One can create an incredible online game that has every feature that gamers dream about, but what good does such a game do for its developers if nobody knows about it? This is where advertising comes into play. In order for a game to be successful, customers have to be aware of its existence and get excited about playing it. Let's conjure up our inner Mad Men and discuss why mmo ad campaigns are important.

The most important consideration when discussing mmo advertising is getting eyeballs on the commodity in question. The more people that are aware of the game, the likelier it is that they may try it. This is true for everything that's sold to the public, whether it's mmo games, movies, fast food, cars, clothing, and even music. Movies are a perfect example of the need for advertising. While a movie may have a huge star in it, movie companies don't take chances on the film losing money, so they'll advertise and hype the movie by releasing trailers, TV commercials, and by sending out the actors and the director on promotional tours.

All of those actions serve two purposes. First, it gets people's attention and makes them aware of the product. Second, the hype built will hopefully get individuals excited about the movie and see it, as well as perhaps motivating them to discuss the film with their family and friends. While similar in nature, an mmo ad campaign is usually far less in scope than your typical Hollywood advertising campaign. The reason being that most mmos don't have very large advertising budgets. That's why you'll see most mmorpg advertising done by having their developers give interviews to gaming websites. Such advertising is relatively inexpensive when compared to buying print or online ads. Another use of mmo advertising is done by giving out beta keys to eager players in order to promote awareness and generate hype.

A crucial reason why an mmo ad campaign is important is that online gaming is relatively new. It hasn't been ingrained into our culture like major sports or specific fandoms (such as Star Trek). Smart advertising raises awareness of not only the specific game but that of online gaming in general. One of the more effective uses of mmo advertising was done by World of Warcraft. That mmo ran a series of amusing TV commercials featuring famous people, such as Chuck Norris, Mr. T, and William Shatner. While nobody believed that those people actually played the game, the commercials were funny and exposed mmo gaming to a broad audience that was totally unaware of it. The only other game that has come close to such effective mmo advertising was Star Wars: The Old Republic. That game ran a number of TV spots, put out incredible cinematic trailers, and had a lot of interaction with the G4 cable channel. They really ramped up the interest in the game to a fever pitch by the time it launched.

Ad campaigns for gaming may be costly, but they do work. The perfect example of this is the Kate Upton ads for Game of War: Fire Age. Those ads have pushed that game to financial heights that other mobile games are trying to reach. In fact, mobile games have been very aggressive advertising on TV and other mediums. The last Super Bowl featured a number of ads, costing millions to run, for mobile games, but, sadly, there were none for regular mmo games. In this regard, mmos do have a disadvantage against mobile games. While most mmo games today are f2p, they're no longer the money pits that they used to be. The same cannot be said for mobile games, which are known for nickel and diming players to death. While most mmo games have stopped advertising on TV, there are still some who do. The most recent example is Forge of Empires. The publisher, InnoGames, is doing a global push for that mmo and Tribal Wars 2, running the commercials for the two games a total of 25,000 times. I do also occasionally see an ad for Battlestar Galactica Online on the SyFy channel.

When I speak about an mmo ad campaign, I'm talking more than just TV commercials. While the cost of those may be too high for many companies, there are plenty of other avenues that can be used. Online advertising seems to be the preferred choice, especially as companies can track how effective it is. Developer interviews, walkthroughs, and exclusives with gaming websites and magazines are also highly beneficial. Social media is also being tapped by mmo companies as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit are all being used to promote the game to players. While the chosen method may differ, the important point is that as many people as possible are exposed to the game. The more people that know about the mmo, the greater the number of potential players. As the online gaming field is getting even more crowded, mmo advertising is essential to building brand awareness and separating a game from the rest of the pack.


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