When launching a new video game, one of the last things a developer wants to do is limit its audience. International game developers can already face difficulties in bringing in sales with ample (and still growing) competition and a limited market. Diversifying the reach of a newly launched game can be crucial to increasing sales, which could mean expanding to international markets.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? Well, marketing to a foreign audience can come with a host of different challenges, but overcoming them can result in a much bigger launch and greater motivation for follow-up releases or add-on content.
If you’re considering introducing your game to the Western market, allow us to elaborate on why expanding your marketing overseas is a great idea, and dig deeper into how international game developers can get themselves in front of Western gamers. In this article we’ll discuss:
- The opportunities of marketing Eastern video games to Western audiences
- Top considerations for going international with your video game marketing
- A succinct action plan containing steps for how to begin the journey
Setting the scene: Inside the international video game market
Gaming is an international medium, drawing players from every corner of the globe. By appealing to just one audience, international game developers wind up missing out on foreign markets where their game could excel. Though the Chinese market is the biggest in the world, it’s crucial that international game developers not completely write off North American gamers, especially as the industry continues to grow in the West.
Comparing and contrasting Eastern and Western gaming markets
As of 2018, the Chinese market encompassed more than 619 million players. Those numbers are a dream for video game PR — especially for mobile developers, who can expect to reach more than 728 million players by 2023. With numbers like that, it may seem like an international marketing strategy would be an unnecessary effort and cost.
However, Grandview Research reported that the United States had an audience of more than 26 billion gamers; and unlike China, which sees a favorable push for mobile gaming, the United States showed a relatively even split between console, mobile, and PC gaming in 2018. The U.S. is expected to see a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 12.9% over seven years. So, just like in China, the North American video game industry is a billion-dollar industry.
Behind both leaders in the gaming industry is Japan, which towers over South Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom with $6.8 billion in revenue from mobile gaming alone.
Exploring the golden opportunity of marketing games to Western audiences
International game developers should see those figures and consider what a push to Western video game marketing could do for their bottom line. Expanding to global markets will take an understanding of what works and what doesn’t in the targeted region. Appealing to North American players can be a game-changer, but only if that golden opportunity is handled properly.
An international marketing strategy is going to require brainstorming to maximize audience engagement and growth opportunities. Studios like Aeria Games have tailored their strategies, altering what worked for their Asian audience to cater to North American players. To successfully do so, the developers had to take several things into consideration.
What to consider when expanding your video game marketing internationally
Successful video game PR, especially as it pertains to growth across global markets, means tackling the most pertinent issues before attempting expansion. The following items are essentials to consider to ensure expanding to the West is not only feasible but also practical.
The cost of expanding to international markets
Video game marketing is not inexpensive. International game developers need to consider the funds they’ll need to expand to a Western market. If the money is there, then it’s a matter of ensuring the return is worth the effort. Some games simply cannot be tailored to a specific market. In those instances, it may be best to keep the game local and not invest in diversifying your audience.
Additionally, funds invested in expansion should be allocated accordingly based on the needs of the growth potential. If the financing isn’t there, trying to move into a different market may not be possible.
Players want to be able to connect to the stories and characters they’re interacting with. Localization is the process of translating the content in your game to match the region you’re marketing to. From in-game dialogue to game manuals, everything should be localized so regional players can understand what they’re hearing and reading.
More than just translating supporting documents and in-game text, “culturalization” refers to ensuring your international marketing strategy speaks to the audience you’re reaching. From social media to customer support, every aspect of your strategy should be tailored to suit the region. What may work with your local market may not have the same impact in the West.
A simple action plan for international game developers to reach a Western audience
Now that you’re driven by the idea of increasing your revenue by selling your game in the West, it’s time to lay out how to make this happen. Follow this simple action plan, and you should have an international market strategy ready for a Western launch.
Choose your market
First and foremost, you need to know where to advertise. In this case, we’re speaking specifically of a Western market, so the primary focus will be the United States.
Research your chosen market
What types of games succeed? Do certain themes not translate well? Should the marketing campaign have a different tone? As you get to know the Western market better, you’ll be in tune with what strategies will work and how to best localize your game and appeal to different regional cultures.
Understand local laws
While getting to know the Western market, be sure to research laws pertaining to marketing, game distribution, and international business. Laws will change from country to country and, in the case of the United States, possibly even state to state.
Build an effective team
You’ll want a local team that will oversee the distribution of your marketing strategy. They will be your experts to guarantee all facets of your plan are best suited for the Western audience.
Create social media accounts
If you’re planning on expanding to the West, you’ll want social media accounts that reflect the culture and language of the intended audience. It’s best not to try and reach all markets on one account to avoid creating confusion regarding your message.
Develop an international marketing strategy
With all pieces in place, it’s time to develop your advertising and marketing strategy. Work with all key players to develop a plan that will help your game succeed in a Western market. At this stage, all of the research you performed earlier will be crucial to finalize your strategy. International game developers will want to consider all channels they will advertise on.
Taking the next step West
Knowing that you want to take your video game marketing to a Western audience is only half the battle. International game developers need a clear plan to adapt and implement their marketing strategies for a new audience, which is the most taxing, costly, and often stressful part of the process.
At Loopr, we offer tailored video game PR and international marketing strategies for North American audiences, and we can work with any budget to get you the results you want for your Western release. Get in touch with our team of experts today.
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Check out our video game PR case studies to learn how we’ve helped indie game developers and esports brands just like you.