How next-gen consoles will affect video game marketing in 2021

Every next-gen console release is an exciting time for all members of the gaming industry. Journalists eat up the opportunity for new coverage, players anticipate the future of their hobby, and indie developers and studios dive right into the new tech. At least, that’s what we see on the surface. Beneath the obvious thrills and exhilaration of a new console release lies another aspect that benefits indie developers and publishing studios quite a bit — new video game marketing opportunities. 

Below, we’ll discuss the marketing opportunities presented by next-gen consoles. After reading, you should walk away understanding:

  • How next-gen consoles reflect evolving gamer demographics
  • Next-gen opportunities for indie developers
  • Things to keep in mind when approaching next-gen video game marketing
Next-gen consoles and games reflect an evolving gamer demographic

Next-gen consoles and games reflect an evolving gamer demographic

When next-gen consoles get released, the changes they bring with them become a central part of their marketing. Gamers are promised visual enhancements, improved gameplay mechanics, and interconnectivity that wasn’t possible in previous generations. However, those aren’t the only changes that come with new console launches

A new console creates a new persona, and as we’re quickly finding, the gamers that we once knew — the stereotypical youthful male binging on pizza and Mountain Dew — are no longer the norm.

The new gaming persona

When people aim to disparage video games, they do so depicting sloppy, rambunctious male teenagers. However, new console developments have expanded the market and have encouraged a larger female playerbase. It’s not just gender that’s evolving. Players are becoming more and more casual, thanks to the growing popularity of mobile games like Pokemon GO!

As the concept of the stereotypical gamer starts to dissolve, next-gen marketing must change to appeal to new generations of consumers. To that end, game developers and innovators also need to alter how they approach creating next-gen games.

How the most innovative game creators have approached next-gen

Long before 8-bit pixilation was replaced by complex textures, video game publishers were selling simplistic products to a very defined market. Next-gen consoles have since forced innovators to define new approaches, leading to the push for cloud gaming and streaming services that make gaming more accessible and affordable. 

By focusing on delivering products via Xbox’s Game Pass or PS Now, developers are pushing their new games out to millions of subscribers. As it turns out, next-gen consoles and their online services are a welcomed alternative to Steam’s oversaturated library of indie titles, which was once the only go-to method of release.

With the growth of Twitch and the advent of other streaming platforms, developers are also utilizing the ease of streaming from next-gen consoles to amp up their video game marketing. It takes one button press for a creator to launch into a stream, and all an indie developer has to do is find the right individual to showcase its game through. A game key costs nothing, making this the cheapest form of video game marketing available.

Even the “not-so-innovative” developers have been presented with incredible opportunities thanks to the advancements of next-gen gaming.

The opportunities next-gen consoles present to indie game developers

The opportunities next-gen consoles present to indie game developers

Along with presenting them with a new and exciting platform to develop for, next-gen consoles offer indie developers a host of other opportunities — and the most prolific developers will latch on quickly to boost themselves ahead of the competition. 

While there are ample video game marketing opportunities created with the release of new consoles, we’ve laid out three important ones below.

Opportunity 1: ID @ Xbox and PlayStation Indies Initiative

When Xbox 360 first allowed indie-developed games onto its platform, they were shuffled into a sloppy UI and often forgotten about. Programs like ID @ Xbox and PlayStation Indie Initiative encourage indie developers to bring their new titles to home consoles. These options allow new ideas to flourish across mediums they may otherwise skip out on due to inconvenience. 

Opportunity 2: In-game brand marketing and strategic collaborations

Players talk about how realistic next-gen games look, but they may not realize what that can mean for bringing together major brands and indie developers. Here’s just one way indie game developers can partner with big brands on or next-gen games.

With today’s visual technology, it’s quite possible that an indie developer could approach a brand and recommend that they create a clothing line used specifically in the game. The brand could then recreate the in-game design in real life and use the game title as marketing. In exchange, the developer will have someone with name power attached to their project that could help ramp up its video game marketing. 

Opportunity 3: Minimal competition out of the gate

Despite the opportunities they bring, next-gen consoles can pose a problem for some indie developers — at the end of the day, they’re a new platform to optimize for. It’s not always attractive to developers to switch to creating content for a new console, especially since they’d be competing with the AAA titles scheduled and hyped for the first year of launch. 

However, that opens up an opportunity to innovators that don’t mind being the first to jump onto a platform. By being early adopters, developers can take advantage of relatively bare-boned storefronts and take up more of the spotlight than if they wait to get involved.  

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Factors to keep in mind as you approach next-gen video game marketing

First and foremost it’s important to recognize that, within the first year of launch, you may be reaching a limited market based on stock availability. Those initial numbers will increase as time passes, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see a sudden influx shortly after launch. 

You’ll also want to remember that avid gamers have seen it all. You’ll need to go above and beyond to stand out and really grab their attention. Utilize the next-gen graphics to create stunning marketing reels or unique gameplay mechanics to pique interest.

And don’t forget to be mindful of how the market has changed. If you’ve released a game for a prior generation, chances are you’ll need to compile an entirely new marketing plan. As we’ve said, next-gen consoles evolve players and may require you to revisit your strategy.

Finally, when it comes to your audience, be sure to do your research. One of the best methods involves looking at your competition. If they produce similar games, you should be able to deduce what your players want based on their fan reactions.

Next-gen consoles are changing the game

If you’re still utilizing marketing techniques that worked for the PS2 and original Xbox, you’re missing out on amazing opportunities. With each next-gen console launch, the industry changes. A new audience evolves, new marketing tools emerge, and exposure can be as simple as utilizing the console’s mechanics. 

Don’t miss out on those pivotal marketing opportunities. Contact Loopr today to craft a marketing strategy that fits the next generation of gaming — and your budget.

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