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Marketing highlights from this year’s Sony PlayStation Showcase

Haven’t you heard? The Sony PlayStation Showcase has dropped. Launched on May 25th, countless reuploads have prompted millions of views – 4.6 million of them on the official PlayStation YouTube channel alone.

So, what can we learn from this latest gaming conference showing the biggest games to come out in the coming years? Take a look at our guide to marketing in the gaming industry.

Trim the fat: the loss of E3

You might have noticed there that we’ve zeroed in on one gaming company, rather than covering the famed E3 conference that used to be the highlight of the gaming year, bringing together Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and PC gamers across the globe. Well, the sad fact is that E3 doesn’t exist anymore.

After a string of cancellations due to everything from Covid to dwindling footfall, E3 has given up the ghost. A contributing factor is the fact that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo each started launching their own conferences, like PlayStation Showcase.

But there’s a marketing lesson to be learned in that. These “conferences” are now extremely trimmed down. The entire PlayStation showcase is a series of gaming ads and a speech from CEO Jim Ryan, which no doubt was skipped over. Easily consumed at home on a YouTube video in the same vein as Super Bowl commercials.

E3 had demos to play, expensive food to eat, expensive merch to buy, and cosplayers, yes, making up one big conference, but to a global audience, an event in LA wasn’t going to appeal, as its falling physical audience numbers proved. Give the audience what they want, what they’re here for, and step back.

Exclusivity: oddly lacking from Sony

Sony is a company famed for its exclusive games. Spider-Man, The Last of Us, God of War and many other household names came to the PlayStation and the PlayStation only over the years. Therefore, it was a bit of a headscratcher to see that the only announced exclusive this year is the Spider-Man sequel.

But Sony was well aware of the importance of this game, which fans don’t need an ad to voice their excitement for. The company showcased a 12-minute-long ad at the end of their conference like a crescendo.

Maybe red tape got in the way of more exclusives, but marketers should take a lesson from Sony on the power of exclusivity. Even if you can’t guarantee it, you can promote it in other ways. When it comes to gaming, sneak peeks are the best way to do this. Use affiliate marketing to send “exclusive” demos to creators to get the word out. The creators obviously share their game-centred content with their audience, but they are one of a few who have access to it.

Star power: highlight actors

Acting in games is no longer the lowest rung on the Hollywood hierarchy. It used to be the case that if you couldn’t be a film star, you’d be a TV star, and if not that, a voice actor, and if not that a gaming actor. That’s all changed. Names like Troy Baker and Nolan North are the Marlon Brandos of their industry, and it’s gotten to the point that big names are now moving into gaming. Kit Harrington/The King in the North has starred in a Call of Duty game, Shameless’ Ian, or Cameron Monaghan to his friends is leading the Star Wars gaming resurgence and this year, you can spot Gina Torres in the Immortals of Aveum trailer as the badass commander she always is.

The point is that this is another angle already used by movies and TV shows. Whether the film snobs of the world want to accept it or not, there is something comforting in the already known, so if you’ve spent your life loving a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, you’re going to see another Leo DiCaprio movie, if only to see his face. The same rules apply to gaming. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare had, shall we say “mixed” reviews, but everyone was playing it to see the famed hero Jon Snow turned modern war villain.

Going viral: gaming SSM hits different

Marketing games is a relatively hands-off experience, but also an industry that lends itself spectacularly to affiliate marketing. For the most part, gamers market to themselves. This is a demographic that is very diverse even between games, but the thing they have in common is an appreciation for tech and narrative: two things prevalent in content creation.

So, this means there are a lot of bloggers, vloggers and live streamers all reporting, reviewing, critiquing, demonstrating and otherwise talking about your game. It’s very much an industry fuelled by user-generated content. The best thing you can do is work with content creators, and learn from developers in the past who have tried to work against them.

We go deeper into marketing gaming on social media in another article.

If you are interested in more affiliate and social media marketing insights, take a look at our blog for all the latest news and advice. Or for a more personalised approach, book a free call with a member of our team.

Or, for the very best advice from industry peers, register to join us for our ELEVATE Summit in July. Elevate aims to bring you the latest affiliate, performance, and partner marketing insights from across the globe and it’s all available to stream from our website.

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