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The Role of a Video Game Marketer and How to Break into the Field

After a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, when video games surged in popularity due to lockdowns, cracks started to show in 2022, and the situation has worsened since. Starting in 2023 and continuing into 2024, the video game industry has faced significant layoffs, losing over 20,000 jobs by June 2024. These layoffs have profoundly impacted established studios and emerging companies, affecting employees, projects, and the overall industry landscape. 

In this challenging environment, video game marketers play an essential role in driving the industry's success. Their ability to craft compelling campaigns, analyze data to understand player behavior, and adapt to changing trends is crucial for the survival and growth of game studios. This article will outline the necessary steps to build a successful career in video game marketing, including different roles, educational pathways and current career trends.

Understanding the Role of a Video Game Marketer

A video game marketer plays a crucial role in ensuring the successful launch and continuous promotion of video games. Your mission is to generate awareness and interest in your game, making it appealing to players. While it sounds simple, achieving this requires handling numerous complex tasks. Here are the common key responsibilities:

  • Brand Definition and Strategy: Collaborate with development and marketing teams to define the brand identity, establish franchise roadmaps, and set marketing goals. Your goal is to create a cohesive and compelling brand that resonates with your target audience.
  • Go-To-Market Planning: Develop and implement global go-to-market strategies, including market research, competitive analysis, pricing strategy formulation, channel identification and optimization, game positioning and messaging, launch planning and support, and post-launch analysis and strategy refinement. 
  • User Acquisition: Work with digital experts to run paid campaigns aimed at attracting consumers to download and interact with your game. User acquisition is a big part of any game marketing strategy and can be achieved through different marketing channels, including social media marketing, paid social, Google ads, ad networks, search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, and more.
  • User Retention: Focus on keeping users engaged and coming back to play the game. This involves striking a balance between short-term monetization and long-term user retention, ensuring that players remain invested in the game over time.
  • Team Coordination: Lead cross-functional marketing efforts, working closely with product management, community, influencer management, creative, and PR teams. Ensuring all teams are aligned and working towards common goals is crucial for a successful campaign.
  • Market Insights: Partner with customer insights teams to understand global audiences and trends, guiding product development for commercial success. This involves analyzing data and feedback to inform marketing strategies and product enhancements.
  • Financial Oversight: Manage the marketing budget in collaboration with franchise leads. This requires careful planning and tracking to ensure that marketing activities are cost-effective and within budget.
  • Agency Coordination: Direct and manage outside agencies to execute marketing activities, including negotiations, creative direction, and goal tracking. Working with external partners requires clear communication and project management skills.
  • Content Creation: Work with creative teams to develop cross-media IP and support visual identity and asset creation for integrated marketing placements. High-quality content is essential for engaging your audience and promoting your game effectively.
  • Community Collaboration: Engage with the player base and incorporate feedback into marketing strategies. Building and maintaining a strong community is key to a game’s long-term success.

Different Roles in Video Game Marketing

The field of video game marketing encompasses various roles, each with distinct responsibilities and skill requirements. Here are some common roles:

  • Brand Manager: Brand managers maintain the integrity of a company’s brand by building brand awareness and reputation through general messaging, events, experiential projects, and customer interactions.
  • Product Marketer: Product marketers focus on defining a game’s genre and positioning it in the marketplace. They work closely with the sales team to track game sales and ensure that salespeople and retailers align with the product’s messaging for a successful launch.
  • User Acquisition Manager: User acquisition managers develop strategies to attract new players to a game. They analyze data, run campaigns, and optimize acquisition channels to maximize player base growth. 
  • Community Manager: Community managers engage with the gaming community, fostering a positive and active environment. They manage forums, social media channels, and in-game interactions to build and maintain a loyal player base.
  • PR Manager: PR managers handle public relations efforts, including managing press releases, coordinating with media outlets, and crafting the public image of the game and company. They aim to secure positive media coverage and handle crisis communications.
  • Influencer Marketer: Influencer marketers in gaming find and negotiate deals with influencers to promote games, downloadable content (DLCs), and major updates at key times, such as release or pre-release periods. They leverage influencer reach to maximize game visibility.
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These roles require a combination of creativity, analytical skills, effective communication, and a deep understanding of the gaming industry to execute successful marketing strategies and campaigns. Each position offers a unique contribution to the overall marketing efforts, ensuring that the game reaches and resonates with its intended audience.

Essential skills and attributes

A successful video game marketer must possess a unique blend of skills and attributes to navigate the dynamic gaming industry and drive impactful marketing campaigns. Here are the essential skills and attributes:

Creativity:

  • Innovative Campaigns: The ability to craft campaigns that stand out in a crowded market is crucial. Creativity enables marketers to develop unique and engaging content that captures the audience's attention and differentiates the brand.
  • Guiding Creative Development: Experience in guiding creative input, development, and execution from concept to completion ensures that all marketing materials are cohesive and compelling.

Analytical Skills:

  • Market Understanding: A deep understanding of market trends and consumer preferences is essential. Marketers must use analytics tools to monitor campaign performance, identify emerging trends, and adjust strategies accordingly.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Experience using data and metrics to drive improvements and make informed decisions is critical. Proficiency with tools like Excel or Tableau for data manipulation, creating macros, charts, and pivot tables is beneficial.

Effective Communication:

  • Clear Messaging: The ability to engage with diverse audiences through clear and persuasive messaging is vital. Building rapport in vocal gamer communities and managing public opinion through feedback is essential for maintaining a positive brand image.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are necessary for collaborating with cross-functional teams and building partnerships with stakeholders at all levels.
  • Multilingual Skills: Possessing multilingual skills can serve as leverage within the video game industry. Mastering localization nuances adds immense value when catering gaming content across diverse territories.

Project Management:

  • Campaign Oversight: Overseeing campaign development from conception to completion requires strong project management skills. Marketers must balance schedules, resources, and team interactions to ensure successful campaign execution.
  • Leadership and Team Management: Experience managing teams and driving direction and alignment with cross-functional groups is crucial. This includes developing partnerships with partners and tech teams and operating at leadership levels.

Understanding Gaming & Industry Experience:

  • Cultural Alignment: Brands that align culturally with their audience can gain loyalty. Understanding the gaming culture and preferences is essential for creating marketing strategies that resonate with gamers. The Gamer Segmentation Report indicates that 41% of gamers favor brands that demonstrate cultural fluency.
  • Games Industry Background: A strong background in the games industry, with experience supporting title development, release, or live operations, is invaluable. 

Educational Pathways

Pursuing a career in video game marketing requires a solid educational foundation, and several educational pathways can set you up for success in this dynamic field. 

Professional Degree

As with many positions within the gaming industry, having a university degree is advantageous, though it doesn’t necessarily need to be focused solely on marketing. It is important, however, to have studied marketing to a degree or professional level at some point in your journey. Typically, a Bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement:

  • A degree in Marketing provides comprehensive knowledge of marketing principles, strategies, and practices. This degree develops skills in market research, consumer behavior analysis, digital marketing, and campaign management, all of which are essential for understanding and executing effective marketing campaigns within the gaming industry.
  • A degree in Communications focuses on effective communication strategies and public relations. It enhances abilities in clear messaging, media relations, and audience engagement, which are crucial for engaging diverse gaming audiences and managing brand reputation.
  • A degree in Business Administration offers a broad understanding of business operations, management, and strategic planning. This degree equips students with skills in project management, financial planning, and organizational leadership, which are important for overseeing marketing projects, managing budgets, and leading marketing teams.

Online Courses and Certifications

While it is possible to land a career in marketing without formal education in the field, building a successful career in video game marketing often requires a combination of practical experience and continuous learning. To further enhance your skills and stay competitive in the industry, you can take advantage of the numerous online courses and certifications available.

Courses dedicated to digital marketing, advertising, and branding offer invaluable resources for building a strong foundation in video game marketing. Interactive online learning platforms are becoming increasingly commonplace. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy promise students hands-on experience without the need to leave their homes.

Another path to bolstering one's credentials is pursuing professional qualifications such as Google Analytics certification or HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification which provide hands-on knowledge and industry recognition.

Additionally, there are specialized game marketing courses that focus on the unique nuances of video game marketing, providing targeted knowledge and skills essential for success in the industry. A good example is the courses offered by Chris Zukowski, a game marketing consultant and strategist who helps gaming companies understand their audience and communicate with them in a more personal way.

Book, Blogs and Other Resources

For those looking to deepen their understanding of video game marketing, there are numerous books, blogs, and other resources available that can provide valuable insights and practical advice. Below are some recommended materials to help you stay informed and enhance your marketing strategies in the dynamic world of video games.

Recommended Books:

Freemium Economics: Leveraging Analytics and User Segmentation to Drive Revenue. This book presents a practical, instructive approach to successfully implementing the freemium model in video game publishing by integrating analytics from the earliest stages of development. Author Eric Seufert provides clear guidelines for using data to maximize conversion, boost retention, and deliver revenue. 

Crossing The Chasm. This essential, best-selling marketing guide for marketing in high-tech industries explains how to successfully bring innovative products to larger markets. For video game marketers, the challenge is to bridge this gap and accelerate adoption across all customer segments.

For more ideas and recommendations, check out the top 10 best books for video game marketers.

Recommended Blogs:

  • Sergiy Galyonkin’s Blog: Insights and analysis on game marketing and industry trends from the creator of Steam Spy.
  • Mobile Dev Memo is a leading blog on mobile marketing and advertising, offering deep dives into data, strategies, and market trends.
  • The GameAnalytics Blog provides resources and articles on game analytics, player behavior, and marketing strategies.

Other Resources:

  • Best GDC 2019 Marketing Talks: Curated by Thomas Reisenegger from Future Friend Games, this collection highlights the top marketing talks from GDC 2019.
  • Marketing Plan Template: Created by Andrew Pappas from RenGen Marketing, this template helps you structure and execute effective marketing plans.
  • Video Game Pitch Decks: A curated collection of presentations from game creators around the world, showcasing successful pitches and their outcomes. This resource provides valuable examples for crafting your own pitch decks.

Gaining Experience

Breaking into the field of video game marketing requires practical experience and a proactive approach. Here are several ways to gain the necessary experience and build a strong foundation for a successful career in this dynamic industry.

Internships and Entry-Level Positions

Internships are a critical step for aspiring video game marketers, providing real-world experience and valuable industry connections. To land an internship at a video game development studio, you need to be proactive and strategic. Internships are typically available to college or university students and can offer on-the-job training, although they are often unpaid or low-paid and temporary.

To find the best internships, start by searching job boards like Indeed, Jooble or Gamasutra.com which often list opportunities from large companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft. These companies have the resources to offer structured internship programs. Additionally, check the corporate websites of game companies near your location for internship listings and application instructions.

For smaller studios that may not have formal internship programs, you’ll need to drive the process yourself. Apply through their standard job application forms, specifying your interest in an internship. If that’s not possible, contact the studio directly via email or phone. You can also use LinkedIn to find hiring managers and reach out to them about internship opportunities.

Roles in Marketing Agencies Specializing in Gaming

Marketing agencies that focus on gaming offer another pathway to gaining relevant experience. These agencies work with various game developers and publishers, providing a broader view of the industry. Entry-level positions in such agencies can help you build a versatile skill set, covering aspects like influencer marketing, campaign management, and social media strategy. This experience is invaluable for understanding the marketing side of game development. Here is the list of top marketing and PR agencies specializing in gaming.

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Offering Marketing Services to Indie Developers

Indie developers often look for marketing help but may not have the budget for full-time staff. Volunteering your services or working on a freelance basis can help you gain practical experience. You’ll be able to see the direct impact of your efforts on game sales and player engagement, which is incredibly valuable when applying for future roles. These opportunities may not always be paid, but they offer hands-on experience and can lead to valuable industry connections.

Building a Professional Network

Establishing a strong professional network is crucial for anyone looking to break into the video game marketing industry. Networking can help you learn about hidden job opportunities, build confidence, and gain valuable insights from industry veterans. Here are some effective ways to build your professional network:

Joining Industry Associations and Groups

  • IGDA (International Game Developers Association) is the largest non-profit membership organization dedicated to serving individuals who create video games. Founded in 1994, the IGDA aims to support and empower game developers around the world, advocating for their interests and fostering a global community. Joining the IGDA can connect you with a global community of game developers and marketers. This organization offers networking events, resources, and support to its members.
  • Women in Games is a leading organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the presence and progression of women in the gaming and interactive entertainment industries. Founded in 2009, Women in Games operates with the mission to cultivate an environment where women are represented, included, and influential in all areas of the gaming world.Joining Women in Games can provide valuable networking opportunities, mentorship, and support.
  • Amir Satvat's community stands as a beacon of support and resourcefulness in the gaming industry, especially for those facing the turbulent seas of job loss. Spearheaded by Satvat, currently the business development director at Tencent, this community has grown exponentially since its inception in late 2022. It began as a response to significant layoffs at Microsoft, inspiring Satvat to create a network dedicated to helping displaced professionals find new opportunities. Satvat's community spans LinkedIn, Discord, and his dedicated website, creating a cohesive network that offers both permanent resources and real-time support. 

Attending Industry Events and Conferences

  • GDC (Game Developers Conference): GDC is one of the largest and most important industry events, offering numerous networking opportunities, workshops, and panels with industry leaders. GDC serves as a central hub for game developers, artists, producers, designers, audio professionals, business leaders, and others involved in the creation of interactive games and immersive experiences.
  • Gamescom: Gamescom is one of the world's largest and most significant events for video games and interactive entertainment. Held annually in Cologne, Germany, Gamescom serves as a premier platform for game developers, publishers, and enthusiasts to showcase the latest in gaming innovation and trends. It attracts a global audience of industry professionals, media, and gaming fans. It’s a prime opportunity to network with industry professionals.

Engaging on Social Media and Forums

  • LinkedIn: Building a professional profile on LinkedIn and connecting with industry professionals is essential. Join relevant groups, participate in discussions, and reach out to people working in companies you’re interested in.
  • Reddit Gaming Communities: Engaging in Reddit communities focused on gaming can help you connect with like-minded individuals, stay updated on industry trends, and participate in valuable discussions. Examples:

r/gaming: One of the largest gaming communities on Reddit, with over 42 million subscribers. This subreddit is a great place to observe general gamer interests and trends, which can inform marketing strategies.

r/games: A subreddit focused on in-depth discussions about the gaming industry, news, and game development. Ideal for staying updated on industry trends and understanding the broader market landscape.

r/gamedev: A hub for game creators, covering various aspects of game development, including programming, design, writing, art, game jams, postmortems, and marketing. This community is valuable for gaining insights into the development side of the industry and networking with developers.

Navigating the Job Market

Breaking into the video game industry can feel daunting for recent graduates or mid-career professionals looking to shift into a new job. With numerous game companies, including giants like Activision, Blizzard, and Riot Games, there is plenty of room to enter the business. Here are some strategies to help you navigate the job market:

Crafting a Compelling Resume and Cover Letter

  • Tailoring to the Gaming Industry: Ensure your resume and cover letter highlight your passion for gaming and relevant skills. Focus on any experience related to game marketing, or relevant internships.
  • Showcasing Skills: Emphasize your technical and creative abilities, and include examples of projects or campaigns you’ve worked on. A strong portfolio showcasing your best work is essential.
  • Importance of a Cover Letter: A well-crafted cover letter can set you apart from other candidates. Use it to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and how your skills and experiences align with the job requirements.

Preparing for Interviews

  • Researching Companies and Their Games: Before your interview, thoroughly research the company and its games. Understanding their products and market position will help you tailor your responses and show genuine interest. 
  • Practicing Common Interview Questions: Be prepared to answer questions about your experience, skills, and how they apply to the role you’re applying for. Practice your responses to common questions to build confidence.

Writing a Blog or Starting a YouTube Channel

As you build your knowledge and skills, creating a blog or YouTube channel can help you connect with others and showcase your expertise. Use your platform to discuss your game marketing journey, share your portfolio, and review current products or trends. This approach not only demonstrates your communication skills but also highlights your passion for gaming culture. By sharing your experiences, you make it easier for industry leaders to notice you, enhancing your visibility and credibility in the gaming community.

Leveraging Job Search Resources

  • Amir Satvat’s Games Jobs Worksheet: Amir Satvat has created an incredible games jobs worksheet with thousands of open game industry roles and details about the respective employers. His comprehensive guide simplifies job hunting in the gaming industry and includes help from professionals across the field, breaking down hundreds of roles into 20 common categories to make job searching more accessible.
  • Game Developers Jobs is a job board praised by hiring managers for finding top entry-level talent. It's wise to explore and apply through Game Developers Jobs early, given its reputation for connecting candidates with prominent game companies. 
  • Google and LinkedIn: It's simple, but it works. Search for open jobs on the web pages of the companies that interest you, or get inspired by scrolling through all open game industry roles on sites that aggregate job ads, such as LinkedIn and Google.

Analyzing Current Industry Trends

Understanding current career trends is vital for video game marketers to navigate the fast-paced and evolving industry effectively. By staying informed, marketers can identify emerging technologies, platforms, and consumer behaviors, allowing them to adapt their strategies and develop crucial skills like influencer marketing expertise and data analytics proficiency. 

Rise of Digital Content Creators: The gaming industry has experienced a significant transformation with the rise of gaming content creators, individuals who produce and share game-related content on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok. These creators, ranging from casual gamers to professional streamers, have amassed large followings and have become influential voices in the gaming community.

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Technological Innovations: AR/VR technologies are transforming gaming experiences, offering new ways for marketers to engage with players. PwC forecasts that VR/AR technologies will contribute $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, making it essential for marketers to stay ahead of these technological advancements.

Integration of Gaming and Hollywood: The overlap between gaming and other entertainment industries is increasing. With successful adaptations like "The Last of Us" and "Super Mario Bros.," 2024 will see more game-based TV shows and movies, such as the Fallout series and Sonic the Hedgehog sequel. This trend reflects the rising cultural acceptance and relevance of video gaming, creating more opportunities for cross-media marketing.

Portable Gaming Dominance: Portable gaming devices are becoming more popular, with anticipated releases like the new Nintendo Switch console and mobile gaming advancements. This shift towards accessible gaming on-the-go provides marketers with more avenues to reach players anytime and anywhere, making mobile gaming the largest sector in the industry.

By understanding and adapting to these trends, video game marketing professionals can stay ahead of the curve and effectively navigate the evolving landscape of the gaming industry.

Conclusion

Navigating the job market in the video game industry requires a strategic approach and dedication. Stay persistent and passionate throughout your journey. The video game industry is highly competitive, but your dedication and enthusiasm can set you apart. Keep honing your skills, expanding your network, and seeking out new learning opportunities.

As an aspiring video game marketer in 2024, remember to stay adaptable and open to new trends and technologies. Continuously update your knowledge and skills, engage with the gaming community, and don’t hesitate to reach out for mentorship and guidance. With persistence, passion, and the right strategies, you can build a successful career in this dynamic and exciting industry.

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