Watch to PLAY! Find out how this game developer used Twitch to promote its esports title! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]
Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.
A Note from Miles Everson:
Welcome to “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!”
According to Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is unconventional, engaging, impactful, and easy to execute. Campaigns of this type create a lasting impression that enables consumers to actively engage with a brand.
For today’s issue, we’re thrilled to talk about a brilliant marketing strategy by a prominent video game publisher.
Read on to know how this company took advantage of the popularity of video game streaming to market one of its products.
Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing
The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to stay at home for months.
Since everyone was stuck at home, there was an increase in media consumption worldwide. In particular, live streaming became a popular form of entertainment during the peak of the health crisis.
Video sharing platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Twitch saw massive gains in viewership in this period. According to Streamlabs, a software company, viewers spent a total of 28 billion hours watching different types of content on these platforms in 2020, with Twitch as the go-to platform for viewers and content creators alike.
Twitch’s massive viewership makes it an attractive platform for companies that want to advertise their product offerings. Usually, brands would offer sponsorships and other forms of compensation to streamers. In exchange for this, content creators would promote the companies’ products in their live broadcasts.
Here’s the thing: While this tactic yields good results, it’s expensive nonetheless.
So, instead of taking the sponsorship route, one game publisher came up with a cost-effective method to promote its new esports title.
The name of this company?
Riot Games, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Riot Games
Riot Games, a.k.a. Riot, is a video game developer founded in 2006. The company is known for developing and publishing “League of Legends,” a critically-acclaimed esports title released in 2009. According to entertainment magazine Polygon, the game was instrumental in the development and popularization of the esports industry.
Five years after the release of “League of Legends,” Riot began working on another exciting game—“VALORANT.”
Photo taken from playvalorant
“VALORANT” is a five-versus-five tactical shooter with a unique twist. Players have the freedom to pick between different characters with unique abilities. During matches, participants are divided between attackers and defenders. The goal of the attacking team is to plant the “spike” in the bombsite defended by the opposing team. A round win is awarded to the team that successfully detonates or defuses the spike. The team that wins 13 rounds is the winner of a match.
In 2019, Riot unveiled “VALORANT” to the public. The game’s unique take on tactical shooters made it an intriguing title for fans of the genre.
A year after, Riot announced it was allowing individuals to play the game’s closed beta. To become eligible, players had to link their Riot account to their Twitch account. Then, they had to watch selected streamers play the game on Twitch. In these streams, content creators provided access keys to viewers.
[Closed beta – A stage in game development where a developer allows a select number of people to test a game to gather feedback and identify technical limitations or problems.]
Photo taken from YouTube
Did Riot’s streaming-oriented digital guerrilla marketing strategy work?
The tactic contributed heavily to the closed beta’s success. According to Riot, viewership hours hovered at around 470 million during the two-month closed beta period. In addition, an average of around 3 million users logged in to play the game daily!
… and the best part? Riot didn’t pay anyone to stream the game during its closed beta stage! The developer effectively pulled this off because of the following reasons:
- Streaming the game gave content creators the opportunity to increase their subscription and viewership count.
- Riot didn’t have to offer payment to content creators because Twitch paid streamers who ran ads for other products during their streams.
- Streamers earned directly from user subscriptions.
- Fans sent direct donations to their favorite streamers.
By capitalizing on the viewership of Twitch and its streamers, Riot was able to market its new game at minimal cost!
… and because of this clever marketing tactic, “VALORANT’s” official launch was successful. An average of nearly 2 million people were playing the game on a daily basis after its official release. Additionally, over 70,000 viewers watched the game on Twitch every day.
What made Riot’s digital guerrilla marketing campaign stand out?
The strategy of promoting games through live streaming services isn’t new—game developers have been doing this for years. As part of their marketing strategy for a new game, companies pay content creators to play the game in their broadcasts.
Aside from paying gamers, game developers reward viewers for watching live broadcasts in the form of exclusive in-game items, in-game currency, in-game progress, or a combination of the three.
Riot’s digital guerrilla marketing strategy for “VALORANT” was a departure from what other game developers have done in the past. Instead of paying for product exposure, Riot offered content creators the privilege to play an eye-catching game that lots of people could enjoy. Viewership matters a lot, so streamers jumped at the opportunity presented to them.
Riot made sure these streamers could attract audiences by rewarding viewers with full access to the game as long as they watched live broadcasts.
This strategy—offering complete access to a game as a reward—has never been done by other video game developers before.
We hope this guerrilla marketing campaign gave you ideas on how you can effectively market your offerings digitally!
Live streaming services are one of powerful tools in reaching your target market. Not only are they suitable for fun and memorable campaigns but they’ll also allow you to interact with your target audience directly.
Stay tuned for next week’s “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!”
(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”
Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”
Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.
Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.
Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.
This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.
It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).
Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.
The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.
Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.
This is every business’ or brand’s dream!
Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.
Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.
Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.
Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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