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Videogame marketing is a relatively new field, but there are lots of important strategies that Riot Games is already implementing to become the king of games. Before the release of their new tactical shooter, Riot Games was the game developer behind the insanely popular League of Legends MOBA. This indie developer from 2009 was formed under the premise that building a game with a limited run of support behind the game limited not only the financial opportunity of the game but the fun that players could have over a longer period of time.
The conventional wisdom surrounding game development (and largely still the same today), is to release games to the consumers at the accepted price tag (at the time between 40 and 50 USD). That price tag with the release of Sony and Microsoft 3rd gen consoles was eventually raised to 60 USD. Riot game’s original developers were determined that the Asian model of 0 up-front costs for the game and supported it with continued development.
This method for developing games was considered “unrealistic” at the time. But after raising upfront capital totaling 1.9 million, Riot Games continued to create one of the most popular Esports titles of all time. In fact, back in 2017 and 2019, more players tuned into the League of Legends Worlds tournament than tuned in to watch the Superbowl!
So how has this model of game development propelled Riot games to the top of the viewer boards?
Riot Games understands that their universe deserves constant maintenance, adjustment, content creation, and creative work to keep it afloat. Many game developers still struggle to understand the value of a constantly updated universe for their games. Activision, the developer of Call of Duty, has struggled to motivate new players to buy their new releases for a few years now and is reported to have delayed the release of COD vanguard due to this development struggle. But if we take a serious look at the way that Call of Duty is developed and financed, we see a hybrid model of the differences between Free-to-play upselling and Pay-Upfront. With their battle-royale Warzone title, COD incentivizes you to buy skins and their monthly battle pass to “upgrade” your aesthetics.
But the content universe from the COD meta is SUFFERING. Content creators across the board found the new campaign to be just average. Part of what makes the campaign difficult to play is the lack of continuity between the different game campaigns. These universes are not connected and the characters struggle from having to stand as a new story every single season. The stories don’t build on themselves, and the stories always have to have a neat and clean ending before the next season releases. We can’t have a half-baked content release between seasons because that results in low sales.
Video Game Marketing Differences Between Activision and Riot Games
Just take a look at the differences between the Activision youtube channel and the Riot Games Youtube channel
If we compare the two brands against each other in the content creation space, Riot games is obviously more diverse in the content they create. Hot off the heels of their Game-focused Netflix release, Arcane is prominent in the display on the youtube channel. They promote, manage and foster the new content surrounding their latest release.
Contrast that against Activision… their content is exclusively game releases, most of which are from 3 years ago! Ok. So who cares? Who cares if one developer is better at creating content for their game? It’s not like everyone likes playing League.
Videogame marketing or Affiliate marketing, the principles are the same.
The point here is riot takes the time to deliver creative and culture-inspiring content that keeps people engaged in their brand. This is a fundamental core aspect of marketing because more than ever, brands NEED to be generating authentic user content for their brand to thrive. A good general rule of thumb is for every post you make on any social platform, you have 4 posts you promote from your users.
Where riot really excels is in their ability to foster a game and environment that encourages users to build and manage their own content.
The general rule of thumb is that your marketing content on social should be 30% paid or advertising content and 70% shouting out user generated, or sharing authentic content.
What does that mean? That means that if all your content is surrounded on sharing only stories about how amazing your product or services are, they will fail. If your social media accounts are constantly at around 1-5 likes and you are trying to break through the noise of all the competition of similar produts or services, take a step back and look at your content from your viewers perspective.
Would you want to click on a post that just talks about how great their product is? Probably not. There are niche situations where social media accounts have become successful enough that they don’t need to share as high a percentage of user success stories but this is the exception… not the rule.
I mean just look at the stark differences between these two social media accounts and tell me which one you are more likely to follow or scroll through the posts.
When you compare these two giants of online, PC, Mobile and Esports Titles, one social media profile is extremely engaging, interesting and prompts a lot of interest in the brand. One doesn’t… I bet you can tell me which one I like better.
The question is, can you replicate the social success of Riot Games in your own marketing? Not if you keep tooting your own horn.
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