How Publishers Advertise Video Games - The Art of Deception (Topic)

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How Publishers Advertise Video Games - The Art of Deception


Unlike us, it's more interesting to be a gamer on the American continent. You watch TV, and there Netflix is spinning a series based on your favorite game Castelvania. It is interrupted by an ad for AC Odyssey, a smart speaker from Amazon styled after Alexios. I turned it off, went outside for a walk, and there were banners with art from the new game on buildings and on public transport. In general, in America publishers approach advertising of games on a very large scale. But how good is that, and are there any downsides to aggressive and large-scale game marketing?

Continuing the topic of our article on why developers need publishers, we will understand this in more detail.

Not a cheap hobby

Not too long ago, sometime between the late eighties and late nineties, the video game markets for consoles and PCs were very different. The set-top boxes were simple. If a new game has come out, buy a cartridge, and when you insert it, there will be no problems. For this reason, publishers have not hesitated to pump a lot of money into advertising. On the other hand, advertising for PC games spread from gamer to gamer.

The first computers were very expensive, technically weak and few could afford them. Therefore, if you wanted normal framing in the game, please fork out for the latest technologies. Then, in 95% of cases, PC gamers were only men, most often programmers and their children or very wealthy citizens who could afford a computer.

video game advertising

This led to the fact that few people wanted, and could not particularly be interested in PC games. And for what? Everything works fine on consoles! For this reason, early PC games did not score very well.

Word of mouth is the key to success

They spent very little on advertising for PC games, because they were afraid to burn out. New projects received publicity only in game magazines. On the other hand, several hundred thousand dollars, which were cosmic at that time, were spent on development. But even so, no one could guarantee the success of the game, because the tastes of gamers changed like winds in the sea.

However, what worked great was word of mouth, which did better than marketing. The funny thing is that then the financial success of the game is 10-15 thousand copies sold. Today this figure is ridiculous.


This continued until the end of the nineties, when the computer ceased to be an elite "artifact" and became available to a larger segment of the population. It was then that marketing opened up access to an audience that had not even been thought of before: women, children and the older generation. Since then, game advertising has entered a phase where everything is done to sell you a pig in a poke.

Learn Zen and learn how to pump money

All this has grown into our reality, where, due to access to technologies and upgrades, and a huge number of platforms, gaming is a massive phenomenon. For example, in the United States, about 60% of the population of all genders, religions and ages are gamers.

Nowadays the consumer audience is simply huge. Previously, buying a game was comparable to a detailed analysis: before the purchase, different reviews and reviews were read, the inscriptions on the disc cover, screenshots were studied - after all, there was no other information. Now, thanks to the Internet, any information, including gameplay, can be found with a click. This led to the fact that today marketing must fight for the attention of the buyer.

video game advertising

Huge sums are spent on advertising, which may exceed the game's budget itself. If the development costs 30-50 million, 60 million could be spent on advertising.

Because of this, dishonest advertising passes off wishful thinking, and does it so beautifully that it takes your breath away. America's advertising campaigns cover all media. Large-scale presentations and exhibitions are also arranged.

Global Marketing

So why are publishers promoting games so heavily, spitting on filmmakers? The devil is that if going to the cinema costs $ 10-20, the game costs the average person $ 50-60. By investing a lot of money, the publisher wants to get 3-5 times more super profit. The price tag of $ 60 includes: development, distribution, production and delivery of discs, advertising, as well as a seller's margin, because he also has to earn something. Take it all away and the game will cost, like a movie ticket, $ 10-15.

video game advertising

Advertising of games is so large that it can be in the form of banners, promotions, TV ads, etc. The main thing is that the buyer has at least three contacts with the brand, so that he will stick in his memory.

A lot of money is thrown into TV ads, which are shown in prime time and in cinemas. It features world-class actors, most recently Sean Bean in the trailer for Hitman 2, or Chuck Norris and Ozzy Osbourne in a World of Warcraft commercial a few years ago.

video game advertising

On the Web of Advertising

Publishers throw a lot of ads on social networks. So, EA has invested 3 million dollars for advertising of the third Batla on Facebook, and received a profit from sales of 12 million from this audience alone.

The second dirty trick is selling materials, reviews and reviews, only about this no one is divulged. In the West, games are paid attention not only to specialized publications, but also to ordinary media. Studies prove that positive reviews affect the consumer's brain and sales increase 3-4 times. The death of this scheme should be expected only in one case - when the entire distribution goes to online stores like Steam.

video game advertising

Fuck Globalization

Unfortunately, when buying a game, you can most likely buy several cats in one bag at once. After all, if earlier all games were mini-masterpieces not only on the pages of advertising reviews, today the situation is diametrically opposite.

Publishers parasitize on their past large projects or engage in outright copying. Today the trend of copying is battle royale. Advertising companies do not differ in variety and sell us old formats in a new cover.

video game advertising

An example of clever trailers lies is our great and terrible EA. According to American McGee, whose games are especially close to my heart, the trailer for the sequel about Alice was fabricated by the publisher, and the game had nothing to do with it, and besides, for the sake of sales, they removed the branded horror of the series. A rougher example is Brutal legend, which according to trailers was purebred action, but turned out to be an isometric near-strategy ...

And this is very bad. On average, up to 20 expensive AAA projects are released per year, and it is in them that advertising resources are invested, and as a result, every year gamers buy only them. Because of this, middle-class games run the risk of losing publisher funding altogether. The breakup of THQ and Atari is proof of this. And don't forget how the greed of the super ad campaign and the disregard for the consumer led to TellTale's death. These are the consequences of globalization.


What to do, advertising is information. It does not change the essence of the universe, but it remains an intrusive thing. However, critical thinking and a certain taste in the choice of games are what distinguishes the gamer from the consumer. But which is better - a powerful information flow like in the West or its partial presence in the capital and almost complete absence in our regions? Well, we have a lot of talents, but the main thing is to change people's minds and their attitude to games. Publishers may keep trying to squeeze ads into every millimeter of space around us, but we know where this is going and won't buy it.

The Topic of Article: How Publishers Advertise Video Games - The Art of Deception.
Author: Jake Pinkman