This year has been a pretty stellar one for gaming. Whether you’re a huge fan of consoles, betting or simply someone looking for the perfect mobile game to keep you occupied on an arduous commute, there has truly been something for everyone. Furthermore, the emergence of developing technologies such as VR means the future looks equally bright.
But what about how games have been promoted in 2016? Every console blockbuster, smartphone puzzler or online gaming platform offers a fresh opportunity for advertisers to consider innovative, epic or fundamentally diffferent ways to market them.
Here, we pick out a few notable examples of marketing which caught our eye and showcase very different approaches to reaching out to both hardcore and casual gamers.
1. Bringing out the big guns
Developers behind some of the biggest names in mobile gaming have not been afraid to pull out the high-profile celebrity endorsements in recent years, with the likes of Kate Upton, James Corden and even Mariah Carey getting in on the act.
This trend showed no signs of abating in 2016, with the team behind Mobile Strike turning to none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger to promote the game. Recently described by Adweek as the most watched advert on YouTube in 2016 with an estimated 101.1 million views, the Mobile Strike promotion featuring Arnie was also shown during one of the coveted Superbowl advert slots.
2. Making zombies festive
The undead and Christmas lights are a match made in heaven aren’t they? Well, Xbox seemed to think so just this month when they celebrated the launch of Capcom’s festive-themed Dead Rising 4 with a very special display at a London shopping centre.
Described as the first-ever walkthrough game trailer, the nine panels of lights featured an entire sequence of imagery and – as with any Xbox trailer – included a PEGI age rating logo at the beginning. In addition, the launch incorporated new technology as it was both live streamed and made available in 360-degree video.
3. Putting style back into casino gaming
With online betting promotions often seemingly saturated with male-focused sports advertising and Ray Winstone, the entry by MrGreen.com into this year’s marketing sphere was an undoubted sea change which went against the norm.
A vibrant, colourful advert with a 1920s song-and-dance feel to it, the promotion brought the class and glamour back to casino gaming. Smart and stylish with a minimum of fuss, another thing that makes it a very welcome change from betting adverts featuring men with furrowed brows hunched over their smartphone is the fact that – yes – women are featured too.
4. Reworking A Classic
Another mobile gaming ad which hit big, this promotion of Supercell’s Clash Royale took a tried and tested route to marketing success by reworking a well-known song – in this case, Queen’s Flash.
While this amusing ad didn’t quite enjoy the level of success of Mobile Strike’s tie-in with Arnie, it was the only other gaming advert to make it into the top ten on Adweek’s rundown of the most viewed promotions on Youtube after hitting an impressive 37 million views.
5. Pokémon Go Gets A Caffeine Boost
Undoubtedly one of the biggest talking points of the year when it came to mobile gaming, Pokemon Go captured huge attention upon its initial release and played a major role in bringing the idea of ‘augmented reality’ to the masses.
Following that initial swell of interest, the game’s developer Niantic has looked to continue to stoke the fires with major tie-ins. First there was a partnership with McDonalds and in recent weeks a new collaboration with coffee chain giant Starbucks has been announced.
The latter will see Starbucks outlets in the US become PokeStops and Gyms for any trainers looking to get together with others to play the game. To celebrate the announcement, Starbucks has also launched a special Frappuccino. There’s no news yet on whether this link-up will spread further across the world.