Indie Gaming Public Relations
Gaming is a very high traffic hobby throughout the world. It, like music, film, and art, is a form of escapism for its users. The oldest forms of video gaming, like Atari’s Pong, all the way to more modern ones, like Call of Duty, keep the world occupied and entertained. Public Relations in gaming is a relatively obscure career path, like music PR, in that not many people consider it as a necessary job. People still buy the games, right? Yes, the games are still purchased at massive levels, but the competition is also higher than ever. With every company trying to break the newest ground in areas like Virtual Reality, Public Relations comes into the game when thinking of things like marketing and public image. In some cases, PR experts even save the day when things go wrong.
Indie games are those created usually without the financial support of a publisher. They tend to be more raw and uncut since they do not go through all the same hoops as publisher funded games. While still considered Indie, it seems the general group of these style of games has gone more mainstream in recent years. Games like the massively popular Slender franchise are examples of how one Indie game can create massive success, and possibly world trends. With such a powerful force at work, there must be some delegation to keep the peace and secure the market. Gaming PR is a growing area, with much to offer creators.
For starters, with gaming being such a broad spectrum of creations, experts must know how to approach each style. The tools and placement of horror genre games would be different than that of RPGs (Role Play Games) and Simulations. Being a Public Relations expert for these types of games requires that one portrays themselves as extensions of its design. Games are fun and imaginative, and so too should the PR firm representing them strive to be. The main idea of gaming PR is to build anticipation and maximize interest in the games’ impending release. Arguably one of the greatest assets of a Gaming PR expert is building that anticipation until the game publication. What makes it creative and different from the rest of the games on the market are its selling points. It is a means of communication between the creator and the players in a language they both can understand. Who will the game most appeal to? What is the target audience? All questions to be answered when taking on this line of work. Slender games are more likely to reach those fans of the psychological horror genre, while Gang Beasts is more one for a silly fun multiplayer hangout. It is all about presentation.
Gaming PR is not so different from other forms, it simply requires a bit more attention to each specific genre and creator. The tips and tricks other areas of Public Relations utilize are the same tools one would use for gaming marketing. It is because it is such an unchartered territory that it may appear intimidating or strange. It is the Western Frontier of Public Relations. In the latter half of the 2000’s gaming really took off in digital forms like PC and various new console formats. For that reason, Public Relations has only recently gotten into the area. YouTube Let’s Play creators have had a massive hand in creating the Indie game success, and PR experts would be wise to make connections with those creators to promote their products. Hello, sponsorship!
So why Indie gaming in particular? Once the unknown side of gaming, Indie games did not have the exposure the bigger releases had, so any press was good press. With the concept of Indie gaming now being more mainstream, PR has the ability to introduce the world to the new, less known products and can offer the same buildup in marketing and discussion as releases by names like PlayStation and Nintendo. Without PR firms to help these creators, their content may not have been seen by the masses.
There are now many Indie gaming PR firms out there that offer ways to promote these games as the trending releases keep hitting digital stores. Consider the most popular like Undertale, Super Meat Boy, and more recently, Cuphead. With specific strategies catered to each project, Public Relations can offer insight on how to best show the product to the world. And as with any PR campaign, there is crisis management in the case that something in the game or the staff creating it does not sit well with the players. It is better to cover all bases. So think of all the popular Indie games that you have played, and think of how PR may have benefitted their portrayal.
Thomsen, M. (2009). Public Relations in Games: The Science of Secrets. Retrieved from: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132492/public_relations_in_games_the_.php