Have you noticed something about games lately? Doesn't it seem like the talk surrounding them is bigger lately? Like people are getting more dynamic and exuberant about them? What's going on? Are the games themselves getting better? I'm not sure that's it. Rather, I think it could be that the people making the games are becoming slicker and more effective.
Look at some of the ad campaigns for games. The people making them aren't content with YouTube ads or paper print-outs in the last few print magazines left. They are doing more and more unconventional things. Epic Games did such a thing for Fortnite. During the fifth season of the game, where there were rifts appearing, a Durr Burger showed up in Llano, California. It was a huge spectacle, and it worked! Everyone went crazy for it!
One incredibly effective, recent ad involved a huge billboard in New York City. Red Dead Redemption 2’s John Marston was up there on the big board, larger than life. For people who aren’t gamers or may not be aware of this particular title, seeing a stylish red advertisement with cowboys might get their attention and make them want to learn more. For people who know of the game, seeing Marston on an ad instead of this sequel’s main character, Arthur Morgan, could get them excited about the part an iconic character will play in this installment. Either way, people are talking.
The Marvel’s Spider-Man train car Sony put together for the game is another great example. To promote the PlayStation 4 game, Sony actually created a themed car for a New York City train. It has Spider-man art on the outside, is entirely red, has copies of The Daily Bugle inside, there are themed advertisements based on in-game organizations, and even the seats have the white spider logo on them. It is a masterpiece. It is also incredibly effective. People are talking about the train and the game. When they use the train, they are sitting and staring at the propaganda. It gets attention.
Then, there are the Nintendo mall tours. During the 3DS and Wii U generation, Nintendo started organizing these promotional events across North America. These stop in major malls across the country, giving people a chance to try out the latest and biggest Nintendo games. Sometimes, it served as a way for folks to get an early peek at items like the NES Classic Edition or Super NES Classic Edition. Occasionally, there would be giveaways or tournaments. It was a big deal, because it got people enjoying games in a major hub. You could actually try them out. It is far easier to hook someone and make them justify a purchase when you have them test out a thing firsthand.
Companies need to be innovative to reach people. This isn’t like the 1980’s, when people could pick up a copy of Cheat Code Central, Nintendo Power, or Tips & Tricks, then look at the amazing full-page ads. Also, normal pandering isn’t going to work anymore. People are clever. By doing things like putting up huge ads on buildings, decorating a train, or putting together a tour, folks’ attention can be better captured. Even if they aren’t getting better at it, companies are getting more creative!