How to Advertise Your Video Game in 2020

Thomas Carton
04.05.20 05:07 PM Comment(s)

How to Advertise Your Video Game in 2020

Why I am An Expert in This Field

Over the past 7 years I have been an influencer on YouTube for the video gaming industry. I have grown my channel to over 120,000 subs and get over 1.4 million views per month. Over the last 5 years I have spent over 7 million dollars on advertising for clients, pulling in over 18 million dollars in revenue. 

I am in the unique position of having transformative experiences as a member of the industry as well as from the point of view as a professional marketing expert. I know what influencers in the gaming industry look for in a video game promotion offer. I know what consumers are looking for in video game content. I know what marketing firms can deliver and what they can not deliver for gaming developers.

Shareable Content Is Key

Game developers know that content is key for getting information on your game out to prospective audiences. The content must be accurate to the game, directed towards its audience, but most importantly shareable. Shareable content is how you incentivize the smaller gaming influencers to pick up on the media and share it with their audiences. It is free organic exposure and it is overlooked by many developers. 

Ori the Game posts beautiful game art and encourages their fan base to tag a friend who could get access to a few game codes in return.  This approach combines an aesthetic interest with a reward to encourage engagement.

How to Create Shareable Content

Ask your friends, family, current player base to share with you what it is they find most interesting and unexpected about your game. Gamers tend to build expectations of a game as they progress, making it more difficult to give them a jump as they go along. I have heard it called “Gamer Intuition” and it refers to their ability to rapidly pick up on game mechanics in a game by drawing on their previous experiences. Show that you can break that intuition and you have got their attention.

Fortnite made waves with their Battle Royale gameplay trailer when they showcased a standard third person battle royale gamestyle before adding in terrain destruction and building concepts that turned the gaming industry on its head.  The unexpected aspect of building your way out of danger was the perfect way to gain attention.

Gamers also like competition, pit them against each other in the comments section of your latest YouTube video or Facebook post, let them argue their position on a specific gameplay mechanic, or the aesthetics of an art decision. Make them defend their answer. This will draw additional “players” into your social game and get their eyes on your work.

Stay on Top of Social Media

Social media is the first step for outreaching to potential players. It is often neglected by video game developers who are far too busy building their game to put proper attention on the promotion of their product. For game developers, social media is a tool to make more money as well as get better feedback. Why are you spending so much time wondering how to make your game appeal to an audience when you can simply ask an audience?

It is easy to get distracted away from building a community for your game, but that would be a mistake. Games that build strong communities are building a place where future sales can be made, future decisions can be outsourced, and an entire army of free promoters are waiting for your next call to action.

Terraria has spent years building its Facebook community with active posting and promotions.  Now they are in a position to advertise future DLC, follow up games, and also merchandise like in this photo.  Having a group of dedicated fans is critical for long term marketing.

Pay REAL Influencers

Influencer marketing is ridiculously hot right now, and it is one of the most powerful tools available for developers looking to increase their player base size. I know what you are thinking though: “Why should I have to pay someone to promote my game to their audience, shouldn’t it be popular on its own merit?”  That is an incredibly happy thought right there, that your game is so good that it will naturally attract eyes to it by sheer force of will. Paying to get people to see your product is what companies all over the world do, why should yours be any different?

How to Find Good Influencers

They key to influencer marketing though, is finding out who the REAL influencers are and how much you should pay them for their audience. Truth be told, it is all a negotiation. Let me show you some questions you should use when deciding on whether you want to partner with an influencer to promote your game.

1.  Does the influencer play a similar game, or games from a similar genre?

2.  Is the influencer willing to provide me with demographic data of their audience so I can determine their fit for my game?

3.  Are we thinking of a quick 1 min integrated clip or a full gameplay video?

4.  What is the average viewership per video/post of the influencer?

5.  Has the influencer done promotions before?

If the influencer in question plays a remarkably similar game, provides demographic data that matches with your target market, and has done promotions before, expect to pay a hefty (but worthwhile) price per thousand for their viewers attention. If you want to pay for a full gameplay video, expect to pay an even higher price per thousand. If they have not done promotions before, you might be able to lower that number by a bit.

The following is a graph that I use to determine what CPM I should be around when getting paid by developers to play their game.

Get Reviews, It Is Their Job

Submit your game to review website along with some press assets to make their job as easy as possible. Sweeten the deal by highlighting something your game does differently or better than others.  Use social proof if you have it, a review by an early tester that explicitly states their amazement at the game’s potential. Video game review websites need traffic, so they need a game that will be able to drive attention to their site, give that to them in your opening paragraph. 

Pay Per Click Campaigns

Paying the big media companies to promote your game (Facebook, YouTube etc.) is not to be missed. Although prices have changed and brushed many developers out of the market in recent years, there is space for pay per click campaigns when done correctly. They key for proper Pay Per Click management for video games is knowing your break-even point per acquisition and leveraging social sharing to maximize your reach.

Knowing your maximum cost per sale in order to make profit is a requirement for making good pay per click decisions.  I recommend building out a sheet containing at least this information for yourself.  In this example I choose a few cost per sales I could aim for, a budget, the price of the game, Steams 30% take, the cost of paying a professional (I used my own costs from Atlas Advertising for this purpose) the expected revenue and net profit.  I can play with this spreadsheet to see what sort of budget and cost per acquisition we would need in order to make profit.

Hope this guide helps you figure out how you can help your game find success through creative marketing in 2020.

Thomas Carton

Atlas Advertising, LLC


Phone: (570) 290-4577