Four Inspirational Ways to Make Content Marketing Work for Your Videogame

Public relations is a fun industry to be in, because of all the creative ways I can spread the word about things I appreciate. But, as the profession continues to evolve, we in the PR field need to know how to adapt and provide more value for our clients as well as our own business. What I like about content marketing is how it can solve a problem for someone and also provide extra exposure to a brand. If the brand grows in popularity, community relations can provide publicity for other content creators and for the brand itself.

With E3 2014 being criticized by some as an event that should change as the game industry evolves, the role of PR also needs to adapt to provide more services that benefit their clients. One of many ways to provide benefit for game developers is through content marketing. Here are four ways content marketing can provide value to PR in the videogame industry.

Via Blackbolt

Via Blackbolt

Provide tips and walkthroughs to sharing game content on social media platforms

If you want people to share your game content on social media, begin by showing them how to do it. Xbox’s Major Nelson uses his podcast to provide tips on how to upload and share streaming game content in a segment called “Xbox 101.” Given enough time, guides and walkthroughs may have already been created by others and you merely need to strategically share them on your own channels.

Via ZeldaDungeon.net

Via ZeldaDungeon.net

World location hints and tips

Does your game have a large world filled with lush landscapes, dark dreadful swamps and hidden areas? Most players don’t want a story spoiled, but there are those whose time is limited and would appreciate tips on finding a hidden location or a not-so-well-known weapon to defeat a truly tough adversary. Whether you use YouTube as a video guide, or take screenshots that provide clues to where a rare item is at, these are things that can provide great value for your social media platforms if implemented correctly. People will turn to you for help.

Content from the game for other uses

It might seem like common sense to provide things like custom images for desktop computers and mobile devices, but there are other assets from a game that can be just as useful for extending the experience from the device into popular culture. Phil Fish did that when he had Disasterpeace create the soundtrack for his unique puzzle platformer Fez. The developers of Borderlands released a handful of sound files that could be used as ringtones for your phone, and they also created one of the most memorable memorials I’ve seen for a fellow fan who had passed away. If it’s created organically and authentically, content like this can take your game from just a product to a fan favorite.

Via Dekuwa

Button presses and combo tips

If your game utilizes complicated button presses, then this is something that people can utilize to improve their own skills. Sometimes a fighting game will provide a full tutorial utilizing one character, but not with others. This is the perfect time to provide tips for how the player can succeed with additional characters in the line-up. If your game is a third-person brawler, it might be worthwhile to provide tips on how to utilize items or skills, along with intricately timed button presses, to finish off a difficult opponent in short time.

These are only four ways to provide content to spread out the life of your game from a digital interactive product to much more. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, the content you provide along with the careful sourcing and distribution of community content can spread the word about your game.

Jesse’s Top 5 Videogames of 2013

2013: Another year almost finished and another year full of fantastic games. As I look back on my year in gaming, it became clear that I did a lot of catching up this year with many games released from 2009-2012. However, the games I did play from 2013 thrilled me, humored me and left me with a sense of awe at how imaginative a story could be told through an interactive medium. These are my top five videogames of 2013 in no given order except for the number one spot.

5. Puzzle & Dragons (iOS | Android)

Puzzle and Dragons

This mobile title from GungHo Entertainment hooked me from the start after reading about it on Destructoid. The puzzle-like aspects of Bejeweled mixed with the leveling up process similar to Pokemon had me logging in every single day since I’ve owned it. For not spending a dime on this game, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of entertainment from it and while it’s not deep in storytelling (in fact, I haven’t seen any actual story in it), it has an entertaining formula that can keep you logging in 50 days straight. Note: Technically this game was released in North America in Nov. 2012, but I gave it some leeway due to its platform.

4. Gone Home (Windows | Mac | Linux)

Gone Home

I heard how good this game was from multiple game writers and critics who, unfortunately, slightly spoiled the premise of the game for me. Regardless, the story told in this game isn’t often found in videogames, especially in 2013 — a year with an unusual amount of games filled with violence. Gone Home’s storytelling worked because of how you’d unlock each room set inside an eery house replete with nostalgic items from the ‘90s. This was one of the most memorable games I played during Extra Life and the end of the game left me with goosebumps.

3. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Xbox 360 | PS3)

far cry 3 blood dragon

Part of catching up from 2012 was getting to play and finish Far Cry 3, which was a phenomenal game in itself. The Blood Dragon DLC took the fundamental gameplay elements of Far Cry 3 and turned it into a neon tinted world filled with cybernetics, dragons, and cheesy 16-bit interludes full of macho behavior you’d see in a movie like Predator. Sure, the leveling up process may have been simplified for this title, but the humor and the music made this game a top contender for 2013. I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this and recommend “Blood Dragon Theme” and “Power Core” (Spotify) for some rad early ‘80s synth and power drums. Play this game.

2. Grand Theft Auto 5 (Xbox 360 | PS3)

grand-theft-auto-v

The prolonged console cycle of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 brought about the annualization of more games than I’m used to, many of which could’ve benefitted from a break between years. When I think back to Grand Theft Auto 4, it kinda’ blows me away that it was released back in 2008. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me that Grand Theft Auto 5 broke entertainment sales records with its expansive open world, unique soundtrack and introduction of three playable characters, each with his own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. This game isn’t perfect — there doesn’t seem to be one strong female lead in the whole game — but what Rockstar did was polish everything that was rough about Grand Theft Auto 4 and they took you deep into a world you could explore for weeks on end.

1. Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360 | PS3 | Steam)

Bioshock-Infinite

The first Bioshock is still one of my favorite games on Xbox 360. Bioshock 2 didn’t live up to the same feeling of vulnerability that I had in the previous game, but seeing through the eyes of a Little Sister fascinated me and it’s still a moment I remember vividly. Bioshock Infinite took me to the colorful and saturated world of Columbia only to realize that everything isn’t as quaint as it seems. The shooting mechanics and the vigors weren’t as balanced as I remember them being in Bioshock, but the introduction of the sky hook made zipping through the areas invigorating, while the story left me dumbfounded and awestruck.

So there you go! I admit that I missed out on some great games from 2013. From what I’ve been told, The Last of Us is quite a remarkable game, but I don’t own a PS3. Papers, Please slipped through the cracks for me, but one I’ll have to play soon. Tomb Raider was a lot of fun and almost made the list. Rayman Legends is a beautiful platformer that I still want to play at some point. Got any other game recommendations? What were your favorites?

Project inspiration: Using Tumblr for promotion

Xbox Insider Tumblr

Always trust the thoughts you have as you wake from a good night’s rest. Last month, I executed on an idea I had after a restful night of sleep and that idea was brought to fruition through my voracious appetite for reading videogame news and my love of promotion. I set out on a project in my spare time where I’d publish news about Xbox on the social media platform Tumblr.

Read on for why I began this project and how these tips can help your own blogging:

1. Finding an audience through SEO

Initially, I made it a point not to tell anyone about this profile nor would I promote it through any other social media platforms. (I ended up telling a few close people over the course of the month, but they weren’t damaging to my results). The reason for this was to see what audience I could attract through the use of search engine optimization on each of the posts. The results were rather surprising.

The post below is a great example of the structure I use along with the SEO tags at the bottom of the image. Notice how many notes (likes and reblogs) it’s gotten. Use keywords in the article as well as any similar ones you believe a person might use when searching for content. Ask yourself what you’d search for to find your post.

Tumblr SEO example

2. Showcasing your knowledge on a subject

I started an Xbox focused Tumblr because I like gaming on Xbox, but it was also great timing being just a couple weeks out from the launch of Xbox One. Consumer appetite for news of the product was in high demand and I thought the timing would be perfect for a blog of that nature. Using the news websites I have on my Feedly RSS and daily email newsletters, I began promoting Xbox news from enthusiast and mainstream news outlets.

3. Gain experience with analytics

Tumblr has built-in analytics, which displays how many times people have liked and reblogged a post as well as new followers, total followers, biggest fans and your top post. I also used bitly links for each of the posts to track how many times people would click through to the article. I was rather surprised with the amount of interaction that took place over the last month. To date, I’ve published 101 posts and have gained 145 followers through just using SEO. Not every post had a bitly link on it, but out of the 90 I’ve used, they’ve been clicked on 191 times from people in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Tumblr analytics

4. Tumblr makes it easy and cost-effective to run a blog

The structure I used for publishing posts worked fantastic for Tumblr. The website’s format of publishing was perfect for displaying photos and videos through image URLs and embedded code. The short writing structure of headline, descriptive content, web link, and notation of where I sourced the content from was quick and easy to read, but it was even easier to write, thus making it a cost-effective strategy for my time.

5. It’s helpful to web content producers

Whether you write or produce video on the web, it’s clicks that count. One of the delicate balances to working in public relations is your relationship between your client and the media. By directing people to a writer’s post or by having them watch a video to gain another view, I’m helping people in the media get more eyes on their labor of love. It’s my small way to give back.

Overall, I’ve found Tumblr to be a great platform for easily managing a blog as well as for gaining an audience. This publishing structure can be used for many different industries and brands and is a phenomenal way to show a solid example of your knowledge on a subject.

If you were to start a Tumblr blog today, what subject would you focus on?

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way by Microsoft, Xbox, Tumblr or any other brand. If you’d like to see more examples of posts, head to http://xboxinsider.tumblr.com/.

Extra Life 2014 — What I’m Playing and When

Extra Life 2012 Essentials

Drained. That’s how I usually feel after videogaming for 24 hours straight. But, once a year for the past three years, I’ve made that choice to help kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, because friends and family have believed in this cause enough to sponsor me. I’m doing it again this year and we’re upping the challenge, because the official day lands on November 2, which just happens to be on Daylight Savings Time.

Each year, I try to figure out as many ways to make this event as entertaining as possible for the people who sponsored me and to promote the event for others who may want to participate. This year, I seriously considered a live stream of my gameplay, but it just proved too expensive for something I wouldn’t use very often. However, there have been new technologies that have been released since last year’s event that I will use — Instagram video, photo apps for interactive participation and more. If you have any other ideas for promotion and entertainment, please let me know.

I’d be delighted if you’d like to sponsor me. My profile on the Extra Life website is at bit.ly/Jesserad. I’ve included a list of some of the more current games that I’ll be playing below, but I have a fair amount of digital games in my Xbox 360 library, so let me know what you have and if you want to play some multiplayer games. The last five hours are usually the toughest, so if you want to play some games at that time, I’d be most appreciative.

At this time, I’m $100 away from my goal and with everyone’s help, I’ve managed to raise $1,155.26 over the four years. If it wasn’t for the generosity of everyone I know, this never would’ve been possible, so I applaud everyone who has sponsored me. You’re all the best.

Here’s to another great year and let’s surpass the 2 million dollars that were raised last year!

The games I’m planning to play this year are as follows:

  • Grand Theft Auto 5 (Xbox 360)
  • Asura’s Wrath (Xbox 360)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360)
  • Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360)
  • Minecraft (Xbox 360)
  • Terraria (Xbox 360)
  • You Don’t Know Jack (Xbox 360)
  • 30 Flights of Loving (Steam)
  • Hotline Miami (Steam)
  • Amnesia: Dark Descent (Steam)
  • Card Hunter (PC Browser)
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2 (iOS)
  • Infinity Blade 2 (iOS)
  • Ridiculous Fishing (iOS)

The 2013 Imagine Cup — Why It’s So Awesome For Videogaming

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Imagine Cup

If you’re new to Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, let me just tell you that it’s one of the most intriguing places to see what students today are doing in the realm of technology. Whether it’s the creation of innovative video games or upgrades to current technology, this is a place where you can see some truly innovative technology. This competition also helps students develop their pitching skills and get helpful feedback on something they’ve worked so hard on from the ground up. After watching this great video from Revision 3’s Anthony Carboni, I felt the urge to write about how videogaming does good for the world.

This reminds me of something that Dan Amrich said in his book, Critical Path: How to Review Games for a Living. Dan said that one of the best ways to truly understand a game would be to develop one yourself. Whether it’s a text-based multi-user dungeon (MUD), a story fleshed out on RPG Maker, or something coded from the ground up, knowing how difficult it is to create a game on your own only makes you more appreciative of what developers have to create from what is basically a blank screen.

As you might’ve read in my last blog post, you’d know that I’m pretty excited for the possibilities in what the new generation of consoles will be able to do, especially in the Xbox One. Yes, both the Xbox One and PS4 have similar architecture to a PC, but as a person who was raised on playing videogames with a controller, I’m pretty excited with the merging capabilities that these consoles will have with PC features. Is it too ambitious to hope that a new version of RPG Maker will soon come to Xbox One and PS4?

Steam has RPG Maker VX Ace and I’m already daydreaming of a possibility to create my own game on the Xbox One, save it to my console and the cloud, and hope that the story is compelling enough to where people around the world can play my game (as long as they can read English — unless there’s a translator built in — OMG!) and inspire the creator in all of us to make his or her own game.

Sometimes it seems like only the bad news spreads from the world of videogaming to the general public, but as the Imagine Cup shows us, there are plenty of people who truly benefit from videogames and I love that.

Xbox One or Playstation 4

Xbox One or Playstation 4

The console wars! Oh boy, there are people alive who’ve never experienced a new console cycle and it’s definitely apparent if you head to gaming related web forums and sub-reddits. I always find this time to be exciting, because you never know what to expect from new services, IPs, console hardware and more. It’s a great time to be a consumer with new consoles on the horizon.

The Xbox One Announcement

I have to admit that when I first heard of the DRM restrictions Microsoft had for Xbox One, I was a little turned off by it. I had begun to tell myself that the PS4 controller wouldn’t be as uncomfortable as the PS3 and that the indie games would be a big plus on the next-gen console. Then, Microsoft did what I seriously didn’t think they could do; they turned that ship around and removed the restrictive DRM that was going to be implemented on the system.

That move by Microsoft has continued my decision-making process in what next-gen console I’m going to purchase. I’ve been a big supporter of Microsoft ever since they fixed my consoles for free — yes, two of my consoles got the RROD — and supported them even more when Sony wanted $150 to fix my PS3. So, I’ve needed to evaluate my situation and tell myself what would work best for me.

Indie Games — Where To Play Them?

Indie games on the PS4 are a major selling point for the console, but I already have Steam and I’m predicting that even more controller support will be on it when indie developers begin making games with the PS4 and Xbox One in mind. Since I use Steam, I don’t find this a huge selling point for the PS4, especially since the games are inevitably always cheaper on Steam.

The Cloud And Next-Gen Gaming

I’ve heard a lot about how the offload of information to the cloud can free up computing on a system, which is definitely something that interests me. If you want to read more about it, I recommend reading this article from Jon Shiring, engineer at Respawn Entertainment — the company that’s making Titanfall, a game exclusive to the Xbox platform along with being on PC. I’m not sure how the game will play on Xbox 360 or on PC, but I don’t care much since I’m planning to play it on Xbox One. What’s everyone going to do when they can’t blame their poor playing on lag?

Giving Griefers Grief

Online multiplayer games are a lot of fun to me, but depending on the game, you can get some people that make the game … not so much fun. I was happy to hear that the reputation system is being revamped for the Xbox One, so that the haters hang out with their own kind and I can rock some multiplayer kills with laid back people like me. I’ll be interested in seeing how it pans out.

To Pause Or To Quit?

Switching programs on the fly or “SnapMode” didn’t excite me much at Microsoft’s initial announcement of Xbox One until I was playing a game one morning. The alarm went off for my breakfast and as I sat down with breakfast in hand, I had only two options: eat my breakfast with the game sitting on pause or save the game and turn it off so that I could watch a show on the YouTube app from my Xbox 360. That’s when it dawned on me that SnapMode can be awesome!

An Extension Of Yourself

As I mentioned earlier, I was in the process of convincing myself that the PS4 controller was going to better than the PS3’s. The controller is like another appendage when you’re playing videogames. You want something that ergonomically feels comfortable for long periods of time. A controller that provides feedback in how the buttons click and how it vibrates. A controller that utilizes the placement of the control sticks, buttons, and triggers for the best experience. It sounds like both Xbox One and PS4 have made major improvements, but at this point I prefer the Xbox One control layout. Of course, I won’t know for sure until I get both controllers in my hands.

The Verdict

Overall, it was being denied the right to play a used game — including rentals — and having to constantly ping a server in order to play a game both online or offline that really had me leaning away from Xbox One. But with these changes, I believe I’m set to purchase an Xbox One this year. I’m not pre-ordering one, but I’m definitely keeping my sights on one.

What are you looking forward to playing this holiday season? Are you buying a new console on the launch day or will you wait until next year?

Extra Life 2012 Recap and a Heartfelt Thanks

Extra Life 2012 Gamer Photo

2:41 a.m. and I’d be a zombie if it weren’t for energy drinks.

Another year down, another successful 24 hours playing video games in participation of Extra Life to help kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. It wasn’t easy, but it was a blast playing with friends and straight-up relaxing on the weekend.

As I write this, the record total donations stands at $1,882,510 for children’s hospitals around the world. This spectacular news wouldn’t be possible, if it wasn’t for the wonderful person who inspired this all to happen – a young girl name Tori. But there are so many more people who make this possible: the gamers, the friends and family that donate to a good cause, and the hardworking individuals who make this charity possible annually. If it weren’t for all of us, this wouldn’t succeed each year, let alone surpass each previous year’s total donation.

I would like to thank the following people for sponsoring me in Extra Life 2012. Without you all, this wouldn’t have meant much of anything.

  • Grady Locklear
  • Steve Tannen
  • Stu Holdren
  • Matt Singley
  • Kathy Wamsley
  • Bob Cowell
  • Erick Navetta
  • Corina Darold
  • Brianna Gardner
  • David & Tiffany Van Pelt
  • Ian Bragg
  • Dave Galas
  • Tyler & Betsy Tanenbaum
  • Katie Bray
  • Jeremy Liebman
  • Yaicha Tanenbaum
  • And two buyers on eBay whose purchases went to charity

The definite highlight of the night was playing with friends. Adventuring through a Minecraft world and shooting aliens in Halo: Reach is so much more fun when you have friends with you. Finishing the story to Borderlands 2 and Mark of the Ninja was a ton of fun and I hope the pictures and updates I posted throughout the 24 hours was entertaining and not too annoying. With the winter release of video games on the way, I’m already planning on playing many more games with friends during these cold winter months.

Thank you all again for the help, the kinds words, and the support in donations and spreading the message. I would also like to thank my lovely girlfriend, Yaicha, for helping me with all of the much-needed food and drink during the marathon, especially near hour 20. Without her, this would’ve been tougher than it was. Now, to get back to gaming!