How one of Europe's leading MMO publishers keeps people talking 10 years after launch
An interview with gamigo group's Isabell Cordes.
You might think creating buzz around a new product launch can be tough, but what about maintaining that excitement over the next 10 years?
That was the challenge facing gamigo group, one of Europe's leading MMO publishers.
"We have quite a number of games that have been on the market for a long time already, mature games such as Fiesta Online, which has been around for over 10 years now," says Isabell Cordes, a PR & Communications Manager at gamigo. "To get new gamers interested in them and to keep the existing customers playing is a real challenge we are facing every day."
So how did they nail it? A combination of careful contact management, watchful relationship building and the insight to mine their community for some truly remarkable stories. All this and more in this latest gaming PR case study.
One of Europe's leading MMO publishers
gamigo is one of the leading games companies in Europe and North America, with around 350 employees across Germany, the US and Korea. Apart from gamigo AG, the group consists of, among others, gaming companies like Aeria Games, Infernum, Intenium and Trion Worlds (now gamico US, Inc.), as well as media agencies like adspree and Mediakraft.
The company functions as a publisher for free-to-play mobile and online games, and operates a platform that helps game publishers and developers from all over the world publish and promote their products efficiently and at a low cost.
💡MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games, are online games that allow thousands of people to play simultaneously in the game's evolving virtual worlds.
Since launching in 2000, gamigo has built up a strong core portfolio of successful titles including Aura Kingdom, Grand Fantasia, Fiesta Online and many more.
Thousands of players logged on to witness the launch of gamigo's flagship title, ArcheAge: Unchained, in October 2019, while over 40,000 members shared their experiences with the game’s community managers and other players on the official ArcheAge: Unchained Discord.
"We have quite a number of games that have been on the market for a long time already, mature games such as Fiesta Online, which has been around for over 10 years now. To get new gamers interested in them and to keep the existing customers playing is a real challenge we are facing every day."
With a challenge of that scope, it's hard to know where to begin. Isabell Cordes, a PR & Communications Manager at gamigo, started with the audience.
The games industry has a very special audience and a very special set of editors and journalists – you talk differently to game journalists.
"The games industry has a very special audience and a very special set of editors and journalists – you talk differently to game journalists. First of all, many of them are pretty young themselves, so they expect a different approach than, for example, journalists from the finance sector. It’s always great fun to work with people who are passionate about the content they write about."
The truth is, the PR landscape has changed dramatically since the onset of the internet, and it is continuing to evolve. Online, there are no gatekeepers – anyone can publish whatever they want, whenever they want, and have the potential to be heard. And this is especially the case for community-driven industries like video games.
Rock Stars was a recent update for Aura Kingdom, allowing players to turn the battlefield into their stage
"We are a lot more involved with journalists from the games industry from the sides of PR than we might be elsewhere," says Isabell. "It’s a lot freer. It’s not as typically PR as you’ve come to expect from other industries."
These new rules for communicating with your audience call for an upgrade to how communications are actually carried out, from the channel you use (email or Discord?) to careful targeting ("email only the people who didn't open our press release!") to personalization (Hi %Name%! How was %Event%?).
The first step in adapting to this brave new world is to find a way of managing and segmenting your contact database in a way that enables you to quickly and efficiently reach out, track engagement and follow up.
"We use Prezly to keep track of our most important contacts."
In fact, gamigo has now moved almost all of its PR activity to Prezly, and there's a good reason for it. In using a single platform to connect the contact management side of your PR with story creation, newsroom publication and press release distribution, you not only save time on every aspect of your PR workflow, you're also able to get holistic data on how people are actually engaging with your content and, most importantly, act on those insights.
We do use a special monitoring tool for keeping track of our social media and media coverage, but that’s about it. Our contacts, campaigns and newsrooms are centralised in Prezly.
"Since we are doing browser games as well as PC and console titles of various genres, we need to sort through tons of special-interest websites; for example, ones that only focus on MMORPGs," says Isabell. "With Prezly, it’s easy to keep track of a lot of journalists at once and create specialised campaigns just for specific contacts, get into direct conversation with them with the pitch feature. From there we can pitch unique story ideas.
A modern story editor perfect for publishing press releases, blog posts, newsletters, reports, and so much more. PR has never been this easy (or fun).
"The star ratings actually help us a lot to filter potential opportunities with these journalists," says Isabell. Prezly star ratings are a great way to get, at-a-glance, an idea of how much your contacts are engaging with your campaigns.
"If they’re highly engaged, we might reach out to them in a more personal pitch and offer them the opportunity to interview our game developers or make a special story for one of our games."
Isabell's approach here is spot on: by looking out for the people who are most likely to be interested in her story and approaching them personally, she is able to not only secure unique coverage opportunities for gamigo, but also build a relationship with that journalist. This type of genuine two-way communication is particularly laudable at a time when mass-mailing press releases to bought media lists has become the norm.
"We recently did just that for our latest game release, ArcheAge: Unchained," says Isabell. "Prezly helped us a lot to find the right people to get press coverage as quickly and as widely as possible. We looked for the people with the highest reach and the highest influence in the media and sent private pitches to them as well.”
With Prezly, it’s easy to keep track of a lot of journalists at once and create specialized campaigns just for specific contacts.
It's also important to use your PR CRM the other way around too, digging into the steps that led to a piece of coverage being created.
"Prezly enables us to keep track of it in a neat way. So, if someone writes a special-interest piece, we can always track if they first looked at a particular message, if they replied and so on," says Isabell. "And by looking at how many people opened and clicked our press releases in Prezly, we can pinpoint the ones that were most successful and use them as an example for future press releases."
This is an approach Isabell and her colleague Daniel Abel used when launching a campaign for one of their oldest titles, the hugely popular MMORPG Fiesta Online.
How Prezly helped a mobile game dev 4x their coverage
Using player stories to fuel excitement
The communities that accumulate around gamigo’s MMOs is incredible and can create bonds for life. One approach Isabell and Daniel tried in building some buzz around this decade-old game was to build campaigns around the community.
"In the past year, we launched special campaigns where we interviewed players and got in contact with the community managers to find amazing stories that were the result of people playing the games."
And did they find any?
It was really nice to see our game back in the media after a very long time, because it hadn’t achieved a lot of coverage recently.
"Actually, quite a few people met in-game and later got married," Isabell laughs. "And we have Fiesta babies – so, babies that only exist because their parents met in Fiesta Online. It was really nice to hear from actual players who had been playing the game from early adulthood, and are now in their 30s with a family and children.
"We made a great story out of that and sent it as a pitch to relevant magazines. That was rather successful and brought Fiesta Online back into the spotlight. It was really nice to see our game back in the media after a dry spell of several months."
Prezly links each news piece and mention with an author, outlet and press release, so you can get performance data and report in just a few clicks.
Building a media hub
"I would say the stories and newsrooms are our most used feature," says Isabell. "We implemented our newsroom on our corporate website so that people can easily sign up for our press releases. And we upload stories regularly, at least once a week."
And you can tell how much attention and care went into the creation of gamigo's main newsroom – one of several the group has set up via Prezly – which brings together regular updates, colourful branding, gorgeous imagery and two language options. Take a look for yourself.
gamigo's Prezly newsroom features frequent updates and stunning imagery to entice visitors
When we asked, Isabell agreed that using multimedia has been very important in telling gamigo's stories and securing coverage.
"I think colourful press releases are more successful than just plain text, at least for the gaming industry, because games are a predominantly visual medium and because people’s attention spans are getting shorter as we compete with a growing number of other games," says Isabell.
"If you just present them with a 5-pager, they will most likely not read it and not cover the story. But if you include a nice feature video and some appealing inserts, journalists are much more inclined to take a look at your press release and get that information to the reader. We noticed a trend in that."
Our coverage increased exponentially after we implemented our Prezly newsroom properly and set it up on our website.
This is something we at Prezly harp on about quite a lot, but that's because it's true. In featuring videos, audio recordings, image galleries and more in your press release, you're not just helping to capture your contacts' attention, you're also arming them with everything they need to retell your story. This is often termed a social media press release, because they include everything a journalist or an influencer might need to share your news.
Embed a podcast. Create a press kit. Share an investor report. Support for whatever story you want to tell, however you want to tell it.
There's also an additional benefit to publishing your press releases as multimedia stories in your own dedicated online newsroom: organic traffic. Because Prezly newsrooms are SEO-ready, your stories will appear in search results, giving you another channel through which to get your news seen. And by linking your newsroom to your own website, you're further stimulating that opportunity.
"I cannot put a definite number on it, but our coverage increased exponentially after we implemented our Prezly newsroom properly and set it up on our website," says Isabell. "So we did see a rise in coverage from magazines that we definitely did not have before, and we knew they were actually using our newsroom because they quoted our press releases."
The main takeaway
Publishing stories in their newsroom increased gamigo's coverage exponentially
Approaching their gaming community as a source for stories boosted gamigo's traction
Including rich media in press releases resulted in greater journalist attention
Using a single platform for contact management, distribution and publication saved time and provided actionable insights into campaign performance
Using a single holistic platform to handle the majority chunk of your workflow gives you unique insights into how your content is performing, highlights opportunities for follow-ups and saves you time on pitch creation. By using Prezly for their contact management, story creation, campaigns and media room, Isabell and Daniel at gamigo are able to devote more time to building relationships, 1-to-1 pitching and engaging with their community to unearth some exceptional stories, like Fiesta babies.
We use Prezly to keep track of our most important contacts.
Also – we've said it before and are likely to continue forevermore – using multimedia in your stories is a really simple way of improving engagement with journalists and influencers! The only thing you need to be wary of is overloading your contacts' inboxes with too-heavy emails, which could land them in the spam (not a worry with Prezly, since we host those images and videos elsewhere, keeping your campaigns featherlight :).
A huge thank you to Isabell for taking the time to walk us through her workflow and share those invaluable insights and tips. To keep up with gamigo's latest news, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn or, of course, visit their newsroom.