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Video Game Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

Video Game Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
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If you’re a video game publisher you know you need a strong marketing strategy to get your titles in the hands of gamers. Video games ]]> represent a $30.4 billion industry ]]> that employs more than 220,000 people and ]]> sells nearly 25 billion games per year]]>. In fact, more than ]]> 155 million Americans play video games regularly]]> – 48 percent of the U.S. population.

All this to say: The video game industry is thriving and opportunities abound, which means competition is fierce. Great marketing is a surefire way to ensure your video games are noticed, purchased, and downloaded, and is a critical aspect of developing video games for profit.

Ready to build your video game empire with a powerful marketing strategy? Let’s get started.

1Video game creator startup information

Wondering what it takes to get started in the video game business? Startup costs, operating expenses, and potential profits vary by the type of video game creator you are: freelance developer, indie game development team, or publisher, for example.

Business opportunities in the gaming industry include:
  • Video game developer/studio
  • Video game publisher
  • Video game template reseller
  • Video game retailer (online and off)
  • Physical software manufacturer
  • Video game development software
  • Hosting/delivery platforms
  • Video game wholesaler/distributor
  • Video game retail accessories
  • Console development and manufacturing
  • Video game graphic designer and videographer/animator
  • Video game composer and audio engineer
  • Video game writer
  • Translator
  • Game tester
  • Video game producer
  • Tech support
  • Sales and marketing specialist
How much does it cost to develop a video game?

Your expenses are largely dictated by the cost to develop your product: a video game. Development costs depend on the type of game you’re making and the platform you’re making for: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, for example.

Major studio productions can cost hundreds of millions – “Grand Theft Auto V” ]]> reportedly cost $265 million to develop]]>; on the other end of the spectrum, a small independent developer can ]]> purchase a game template for $50 on Chupamobile]]>, spend a few hours customizing it, and have the ]]> potential to publish a number one game app]]>.

Codementor offers a ]]> broad estimate of $6,000 to $250,000 ]]> to develop a gaming app, while Sixty Second Shooter Prime developer Jamie Fristrom details ]]> how you can build an Xbox One game for $5,000]]>. Top console games can ]]> cost in excess of $60 million to develop]]>, and massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) can ]]> cost more than $150 million]]>. Running an MMO studio for 12 months can ]]> cost more than $600,000]]>.

Cost to develop a video game
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    Simple video game from template Less than $100

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    Gaming app $6,000 to $250,000

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    Console game: $5,000 to $60 million

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    MMORPG $600,000 to $150 million

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    Most expensive game to develop (Grand Theft Auto V) $265 million

In addition to development, you need to consider whether your game will be released via digital download, DVD, or cartridges – all of which have their own expenses. You’ll also need to consider marketing fees. An indie game, for example,]]> could cost $50,000 to market]]>.

The best way to determine how much it will cost to develop and market your game is to create a business plan. Your business plan will guide you through the necessary research to arrive at accurate estimates.

Free video game business plan advice and templates can be found at:
How much do video game developers make?

Your profit potential is dependent on the popularity of your games, how many games you make, your business setup (solo independent developer versus large-scale studios, for example), your overhead, and more.

Generally speaking, a solo independent developer might make around the same as a freelance developer, which is a ]]> little more than $92,000]]>. Large-scale studios can turn enormous profits – “GTA V,” for example, reportedly ]]> earned $800 million in sales the day it was released ]]> – more than $500 million more than it cost to make.

Of course, how much you can make is largely tied to your ability to effectively market your video games.

GTA V First-Day Profit
  • First day sales: $800 million
  • Cost to develop: $265 million
  • First day profit: $535 million, less marketing investment

2 Video game marketing: branding and design

Despite its moniker, the video game industry isn't all about fun and games. If you want to truly find success as a video game developer, you need to work hard - and intelligently - to help your customers identify with your products.

Branding your video games goes a long way toward doing that. When you consider some of the top-selling video game brands - "Halo" and "Call of Duty," for example - it is important to recognize that these are not only great games, they're great games with great brand efforts behind them. The following details what you need to do to brand your video game for success.

Importance of a branded image

In business, a branded image is your logo, tagline, colors, fonts/type sets and other attributes that visually represent one's company. But it's also so much more: it is the ideas and emotions that these elements convey.

Twenty years ago if you heard the world "halo" you would have thought of a bright ring above an angel's head. Today, the video game probably comes to mind first. That is the power of branding. A branded image is a powerful identity for your video game that allows you to connect with customers. Without it, you have just another video game; with it, you're primed to take over the world of video games.

How to identify your branded image

To identify your branded image, think about what genre your game falls into and consider the types of people who play them. It is important to know what your customers value, what they like and dislike, what their passions are, and what they respond to.

What goes into a brand?
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    Company mission
    and philosophy

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    Brand colors and font
    /typography style guide

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    Logo and other
    graphic assets
    (including video game characters)

As a video game developer, you know your video game inside and out so you can take your key features and turn them into benefits for your customers. What is it about your game that your customers will love the most? What makes it different or better than all the competing video games on the market?

List the results of your research and describe your benefits in shorts bursts of text. Carefully study each phrase until you come up with one, or a combination of more than one, that accurately describes what your customers will experience when they play your video game. That is your tagline, which will form the foundation for all your other branding efforts.

Branding through design

Every great game needs a great logo – the symbolic visual representation of your brand. It's important to make sure your logo aligns with your branded identity - your tagline - for a cohesive marketing effort.

When customers see your logo, they should feel whatever it is that your tagline says. In this fashion, a skilled graphic designer turns your branded identity from a written concept into a visual motivator. And visual motivation means you've developed a powerful video game brand identity.

3 Video game marketing tools

Once you've developed a powerful video game brand, it's time to get your message in front of your targeted audience: your customer base and perhaps large video game producers. The following details what marketing materials you need to successfully market your video game for both.

Must-have video game marketing tools

There is perhaps no better way to announce your video game launch to the masses than with posters. Video games by nature are graphically impressive, so you can take graphics right from your game to awe potential buyers in a crowd. Or, you can create custom artwork. Print premium posters to send to video game stores and place them in prominent locations your audience frequently visits.

Business cards

If you're a small video game developer, you might have aspirations to climb the ladder and sell the rights to your game to a large, mass distribution company. Professionally printed business cards will help you lend a professional impression. Consider printing ultra business cards , which feature a band of edge color on triple-thick paper stock, to make a stronger impression.

CD/DVD covers or sleeves

Your video game needs to attract attention on the shelf just as much as it needs to in online venues, so make sure you have well-designed (branded) CD/DVD covers or sleeves (depending on your format) to promote your video game in retail outlets. Remember that customers do indeed judge video games by their covers.


You'll need to print an instruction booklet that goes along with your video game. Whether you're developing for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or the PC, your customers need to know how to play your game. In addition, there are likely certain FCC compliance statements you'll need to include, which you can do with a paper insert or in your booklet itself. If you have a highly complicated, popular game you can make more passive income by publishing a game guide/cheat code booklet as well.


Postcards are a cost-effective way to get news of your video game out to a well-targeted customer base. This is especially true if you have had success selling one video game already, and you can get your postcard to likely buyers and past customers. Include a time-limited discount coupon to facilitate sales. You can also mail postcard announcements to video game dealers. Make a splash with ultra postcard printing.


Print stickers that promote your video game logo and characters. You can print specialized stickers for laptops, gaming consoles, bicycle helmets, and just about any other application. Think about your customers’ other pursuits to come up with creative sticker placement ideas.


It's hard enough to compete in the video game industry today. Put up a website that includes trial levels, features and benefits, industry awards and testimonials, and, of course, where to buy your video game.

Digital advertising

purchase ads on gaming ad networks, app stores such as Google Play, on video game review websites, magazines, and blogs, and relevant sites your audience frequents. Engage in email marketing. If you don’t have an email list, partner with someone who does and offer an affiliate program.


Send press releases, advance copies, posters, and other materials to video game journalists, bloggers, and influencers. Follow up with a phone call and work to get press coverage that promotes your game.

4 Video game marketing: copywriting

Together with your brand image and sales graphics, copywriting plays an integral role in motivating customers to purchase your video game.

Simply looking cool isn't enough; you need to tell customers how awesome your game is in language they can understand and appreciate. Your video game copy should reveal a taste of what your customers will experience when they play your game. Here's what you need to know about copywriting for video game marketing.

Four steps for writing winning video game copy
Step 1
Craft a powerful headline

Your headline should introduce a premise or relay your experience, and not just tell customers to try your game. Compare "Play Battleground Zero Today" to "The War Is Over ... But No One's Coming To Get You Out." Which one is more compelling as a headline?

Step 2
Highlight your benefits

Again, this is about highlighting the experience of playing your video game, along with control or other game features that will make it new and unique to your customers.

Step 3
Develop an incredible offer

Include a time-limited, money-saving offer that your customers won't want to refuse. Your headlines and benefits have created desire, and your offer will tell them that now is the time to satisfy that desire.

Step 4
Motivate with a call to action

Your call to action will tell customers exactly what they need to do to take advantage of your offer.

The War Is Over ...But No One's Coming To Get You Out

The war is over, and you're left in a barren flatland crawling with insurgents with a huge vendetta ... they want your blood. If you're going to make it out alive, you'll have to use your wits, your cunning, your strength and the full 360-degree cannon blaster powered by your point-and-shoot remote.

In Battleground Zero, it's every man for himself.

SAVE YOURSELF A COPY TODAY for just $49.95, a 20% discount, by visiting www.battlegroundzerofakevideogame.com.

5 Video game marketing: distribution

Spreading the word about how awesome your video game is takes dedication and intelligent distribution. The following tips will help you get news of your video game to potential customers.

Direct mail

Direct mail is one of the best ways to get in front of your target audience. One reason is that surprisingly few video game developers take advantage of the proven power of direct-mail marketing, so there's far less competition to get in your way.

Send your campaign to past video game buyers and others who fit your targeted demographics. The 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing states that 40 percent of your success is dependent on the quality of your mailing list, so invest in a great list or hire a list broker to find one for you. The other 40 percent is contingent on your offer, and the remaining 20 is everything else (design, copy, etc.).

Here's a sample direct-mail marketing campaign for video games:
Week 1:

Send a postcard that lists a URL to your website offering a free sneak peek or sample trial of your game.

Week 6:

Send a flyer or brochure disguised as a newsletter, touting your video game as one of the hottest of the year.

Week 12:

Send a flyer or brochure disguised as a newsletter, touting your video game as one of the hottest of the year.

Week 18:

Send a flyer or brochure disguised as a newsletter, touting your video game as one of the hottest of the year.

Week 18:

Send a flyer or brochure disguised as a newsletter, touting your video game as one of the hottest of the year.

Following up

Test, track and tweak: These three T’s will help you develop winning video game print marketing campaigns.

The Three T’s

Remember that video game development is a business, and if you treat it as such you'll vastly increase your chances of building a sustainable customer base that opens many doors for profitability as you grow.

6 Video game marketing ideas and resources

Try these creative video game marketing ideas and resources to boost your marketing efforts this year:

Creative ideas

Host an event

Tech seminars and conferences, trade shows, publicity stunts, video game tournaments and leagues, and charity events all provide great opportunities to earn free press and gain a ton of exposure for your video games. Since you're running the event, you get all the free advertising you want.

Have a contest

Challenge players to compete in your video game, or hold a tournament or start a league, and offer cash prizes and awards to the winners.

Be always visible

Make sure you have posters, flyers, banners, and other materials placed in high-traffic areas so you can brand yourself 24 hours a day. Ever notice how a celebrity's power seems to increase when they're always on display? Same goes here.

Get endorsements-

Get celebrity endorsements to pack power into your marketing punch. Reviews from well-known video game bloggers and influencers will convince customers to buy.


Full-service printing, direct mailing and mailing list generation.

If you want to sell your video game on a massive level, you'll have to get it in the hands of retailers. This group can help you figure out what they're looking for.

A group dedicated to video game and other electronic entertainment software publishers. As a member, you can get marketing tips, advice and other valuable resources that will help you grow your video game business.