Continuing from our previous post, the next alternative sales tactic to help sell your game are cross game promotions.
While they are more complex to pull off compared to coupons, they can be effective at getting both casual and hardcore fans interested in your sale.
Cross Game Promotions:
Cross game promotions are where two or more games have a promotion tied to them. It can be as simple as owning game X gets you a discount on game Y to having unique incentives for owning one or more titles.
The key advantage of cross game promotions is that it allows multiple games to piggyback their visibility and fan base to hopefully get more sales together than either could do alone. When you start talking about unique items or bonuses, this can add a lot of value for fans of the respective games.
A great example of this in action would be Team Fortress 2 and how so many games have partnered with Valve to have Team Fortress exclusive items as bonuses for buying their games. If a fan is already interested in the second game, then the bonus items can be the incentive needed to motivate them to buy the game.
Recently there was a cross game promotion from Overkill Software and Dennation Games where Payday 2 and Hotline Miami were promoted together. What happened was that Payday 2 got a new level inspired by Hotline Miami complete with unique items from that series and exclusive bonuses for people who owned Hotline Miami and Payday 2.
What’s interesting about cross game promotions is that they don’t have to be tied to multiple companies and developers with a big enough lineup can make use of cross game promotions themselves.
Blizzard has done this with their series where buying collector’s edition of one game will get you exclusive bonuses for their other ones. Such as the Diablo 3 collector’s edition featured unique avatars for Starcraft 2 and items for World of Warcraft. This way, Blizzard is leveraging all their IPs to reward people who are fans of all of them or to convince someone to try one of their games thanks to the rewards and hopefully make a new fan in the process.
While there is a lot to like about cross game promotions, their added complexity and logistics also gives them some problems to be aware of.
The problem with these types of promotions is that many people don’t like having content “held hostage” by another game. If the person was already going to buy the second game, then the promotion is seen as icing on the cake. If they weren’t, then the consumers feel like they are being forced to buy a very expensive piece of DLC to get the few items that they want.
This is why it’s important to make sure that the games in question are relatable beyond just having a promotion. Similar genres mean similar fans that are more likely to buy the different games already.
One case of this issue would be with Amplitude Studios who are attempting to leverage their games similar to Blizzard. Currently they have three games that are a part of this: Dungeon of the Endless, Endless Space and Endless Legend. By buying the special edition (or here dubbed “Founder’s edition”) version of Dungeon of the Endless and Endless Legend, gets you bonuses for the other games.
On paper this sounds like a great marketing strategy but the problem is that the bonus content aren’t aesthetic items but additional content to their other games. Each game belongs to a different genre — Rogue-like, 4X Space Strategy and 4X Fantasy respectively.
Fans don’t like their games not having everything available to them and the only way to get all the content is to buy these games at their most expensive version. But if you’re not a fan of rogue-likes or strategy games, then you are essentially being asked to spend a lot of money on just the DLC as you’re going to ignore the game.
This is why Blizzard kept the cross game content to be purely aesthetic as there is no game changing content that is locked to the other game’s purchases.
Another consideration is that items unlocked through cross game promotions need to be balanced correctly. Many consumers are very hesitant about pay to win content in their games and having to buy a completely different game to get better content is not something they want to hear.
Going back to Team Fortress and how Valve designed it, because all the items are meant to be side-grades, they can get away with having all these items locked to cross game promotions as nothing can be considered “the best item.”
Having your cake and eating it too:
The allure of cross game promotions and where they are at their best is providing sales to each series involved while giving fans something extra for their appreciation. Being able to leverage multiple properties like this is a great way to give multiple games a shot in the arm and renewed interest.
For newer developers, this can be a way to attach your branding to another more popular game such as the Team Fortress example and can easily get you a lot of recognition which can be vital for new series to grow.
For our next part, we come to an option that has been popular among retail stores for years which is now slowly making its way to the game industry.