How to Find a PR Model That Fits in the New Era of Gaming

This is a guest post by Craig Corbett, an editor and writer at Publicize.

mobilegamingThis is a guest post by Craig Corbett, an editor and writer at Publicize.

Once written off as a niche pastime for middle-aged nerds and spotty teenagers, the video games market is emerging as one of the most profitable sections of the entertainment business. Gaming revenue is set to jump to $91.5 billion in 2015, more than three times the annual revenue earned by the electronic home video industry—like Netflix, HBO and Hulu—and 18 times the U.S. silver screen movie revenue record of 2015.

Rapid developments in mobile technology over the last decade have created an explosion of mobile gaming, which is set to overtake revenue from console-based gaming in 2015. This huge shift in the gaming industry towards mobile—especially in Southeast Asia—has not only changed the social aspects of gaming, but has also changed the way gaming companies conduct their PR campaigns.

Traditionally, well-established gaming companies had their own PR departments and chose to keep publicity in-house or work solely with gaming-specific PR agencies. Nowadays, independent game developers who don’t have the resources or staff to follow suit with the gaming oligarchs are being forced to enter a more “do-it-yourself” relationship with the PR industry.

In this article, I’ll break down the differences between the old and new models of gaming PR and explain how the changes in the market effect the way developers are marketing their products.

A distinct breed with specific PR needs

One of the key factors that distinguishes gamers new and old from fans of other forms of popular entertainment is their level of interaction with the gaming world. Whether it be on forums, magazines or web pages, gamers actively keep up to date with news and announcements.

“Gaming public relations is notably distinct from other forms of entertainment PR primarily due to the incredibly dedicated and passionate fan base, which generates a need for extended product campaigns that help bring fans and game makers together,” said Brandon Smith of Maverick PR. “Few other industries experience neither the breadth nor depth of this admittedly very cool phenomenon apart from movie cult-followings like Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings trilogy.”

Ever since the early years of gaming in the 1980s, a die-hard fan base has existed. In the pre-internet days, gamers kept up to date with gaming news, games tips and cheats, and announcements via magazines. Nowadays, gamers use blogs, websites and gaming-specific social media sites to follow gaming news and interact with other gamers.

As a result of this change in gaming media outlets, PR campaigns for the gaming industry have traditionally taken a different course from other forms of entertainment PR.

Product promotion and interaction with the media often begins up to 12-18 months in advance of a release, something which is almost unheard of in the world of public relations where announcements are very time sensitive.

Due to the amount of receptive channels available in gaming magazines, and more recently the 24/7 news cycle offered by gaming websites and forums, gaming companies have traditionally been able to make frequent announcements about almost any milestone—from game updates and hidden levels or characters, to hints and leaks about the future—and receive coverage.

Keeping gaming for gamers – the traditional PR model

For decades, leading games companies like Nintendo, EA or Blizzard games tended to keep PR “in-house” with their own PR departments, or outsourced to PR companies who specifically marketed themselves as gaming specialists.

When looking for a PR agency that fits the bill, early gaming companies look for companies with experience with gaming campaigns, or contact influential gaming journalists. Companies prefered to work with one agency and build a long-term relationship with them.