What Video Games Taught Me About Marketing

August 24, 2012

By Victoria Khaze

Most people think playing video games is just a way to unwind and relax and most of the time it’s true. While I was discussing some games with a friend of mine I realized you can learn a lot about marketing from video games.
So here is what video games taught me about marketing:

Give Stuff Away for Little or No Work

I grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog and if you’ve ever played it you know the great feeling at the end of each level when you see you have a huge number of points from all the rings you’ve collected. Like in Sonic small gifts like 10% off to your visitors just for being there. Most games also have what is called a boss fight, where you fight a real bad guy, and if you win you get rewarded somehow. This can be applied to situations where you might give something away only if they fill out a form.

Make Sure Your Visitors Care

One of my favorite games is Portal. Portal is interesting because the entire game is like one big tutorial. They provide their player with valuable information that makes the users life easier. One aspect of online marketing uses this concept of providing valuable information to your viewers as a way of keeping their interest. If you’re not giving your viewers a reason to read your content then they won’t.

Less Is More

Games like Mirrors Edge that are very minimalist and simplistic in their design allow for the player to focus on the play rather than getting distracted by the nearest shiny thing. Mirrors Edge uses two to three colors for their setting, usually white and another color like red or orange, to keep your eye on the prize. Your blog, website, and anything else you can customize should follow suit. Keeping the design simple allows your readers to focus more on your brand.

Using Your Data To Enhance The User Experience

Video games are filled with programs running in the background that record your every move. Video game companies gather tons of stats on their gamers in order to see where problems arise and how to make it more user friendly. In Half Life 2 the data they received on a particular section that involved an elevator and a shootout showed that it was too difficult for most gamers so they catered to their audience by making it easier.

Genuinely Engage

Games like World of Warcraft and Farmville use a reward schedule that is designed to condition players to continue playing long after the novelty is gone. This is the equivalent to Black Hat SEO. No gamer likes to be played and no one likes to spammed. Fortunately the same way we can create more genuinely engaging games is the same way you can genuinely engage your audience.

Mastery

Give users a skill to master that they can then apply. Substitute the word “give” with “help” and apply that philosophy to your marketing plan. This technique is used in games like Rock Ban and Street Fighter. It allows the user a sense of achievement and guess who get the credit for helping them get that achievement? Yup, your business.

Mental Challenge

Believe it or not most of us don’t get enough mental stimulation throughout the day. Video games, like Myst, apply means by giving players a problem to solve. But you can create the same effect if you ask a controversial or hot topic question. This will stimulate your audience mentally, engage, and make your brand more memorable.

Novelty

Humans like new things. We’re curious about them. In games this can be an expansion pack or secret level. In marketing your brand this can be a special promotion, new design; anything different than the norm really.
This final point is the most important part of your marketing campaign. Everything else before this is great on its own but with this one aspect included it can benefit your business 10 times as much.

The final point that some of the big boys in the game world, like Xbox or PS2, seem to have caught onto is what I call “Share-ability”, how easy it is to share something with others. The easier it is to share the more people will share it. This will drive more traffic to your site and spread the word about your brand.

So after you’ve applied these gamer tactics I recommend starting up some Team Fortress and doing some more ‘research’ on how to market your brand better.

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