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Play-to-earn (P2E) is currently one of the hottest niches in the
According to Mordor Intelligence, the gaming industry is expected to be valued at $314.40 billion by 2027. Much of this growth will come from the significant impact of the emerging play-to-earn model on the entire industry.
Game developers and publishers are having a swell time as they attempt to build the next-gen play-to-earn game. However, with the hype around the gaming model, how can they leverage every resource at their disposal to launch a successful public relations (PR) campaign for their games. I have compiled a checklist on how to achieve this. But let's dive into the history of play-to-earn gaming.
Play-to-earn games are built around a model that incentivizes players for the efforts and time they channel into games. The gaming industry has been revolutionized courtesy of this gaming model. In the play-to-earn model, the players are the primary beneficiaries rather than developers.
The play-to-earn gaming model began in 2017 with popular games like Crypto Kitties- a pet-based game running on the Ethereum blockchain. However, P2E took an incredible turn in 2020 during the COVID pandemic and attracted huge interest worldwide. As the impact of the pandemic brought global economic activities to a halt, people sought other sources of income, blowing up the interest in blockchain gaming.
Before the advent of the play-to-earn, the only incentive gaming enthusiasts enjoyed for playing video games was 'leisure.' At this time, most video games ran on a free-to-play and pay-to-play structure, meaning that players had access to the game for free but had to pay to upgrade their gaming characters and assets.
While gamers were bothered less about the model so long as they enjoyed playing games, they were faced with a bigger challenge— the likelihood of the developers rigging the game against the players like in the case of Ethereum founder— Vitalik Buterin. Buterin's journey with Ethereum began when he realized the horrors of centralized services. As an avid player of World of Warcraft between 2007— 2010, Buterin discovered that popular game developer Blizzard had stripped his favorite warlock in the game— Siphon Life Spell of its damage component.
Unhappy with the incident, it inspired him to create Ethereum, a blockchain infrastructure enabling decentralisation and automation through smart contracts. Ethereum has been a driver of the play-to-earn narrative in line with Buterin's vision to eliminate the centralized system, given his personal experience.
In non-P2E games like Fortnite, players spend huge amounts of money upgrading their characters to improve their winning chances. Yet, these efforts are not incentivized. Moreover, players are also susceptible to the risk of being banned from playing.
The play-to-earn model focuses on the idea that players can become an integral part of a game's economy, unlike in the past. In a play-to-earn economy, players own and control whatever assets they have acquired within the game. The ownership of assets also means that players can exchange them amongst themselves. Gaming assets increase in value as players continue to use them within the game. In addition, they are rewarded with more assets as they progress, which contributes to the growth of the total value locked within the game's ecosystem.
Assets that players are rewarded with can range from cryptocurrencies to weapons tradable as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Ownership of these items is backed by blockchain technology, making it impossible for developers to lay claim to a player's assets or alter its qualities, as in the case of Vitalik. The blockchain records every transaction performed on the asset, including ownership transfers.
Play-to-earn games ensure that value also accrues to players and not only developers. Before play-to-earn, developers exercised absolute control over a game. They were the only beneficiaries of value generated within the game. But with play-to-earn, players can exercise as much control as developers while enjoying as much value as possible.
Using Axie Infinity as a case in point, players in the game earn a cryptocurrency known as Small Love Potion (SLP) as a reward when they emerge victorious during battles. The cryptocurrency is also used to purchase and breed pets (popularly known as Axies) with which players engage in battles. Despite the initial investment players have to make in the game, they can recoup it after playing for a while.
In countries like the Philippines and Brazil, the play-to-earn wave has spread like wildfire attracting both young and old. Amid a massive unemployment wave during COVID, P2E became a last resort for most persons in the Asian–Pacific region. Even people with jobs have turned to the model to generate alternative income.
More than ever, the influx of play-to-earn games is at an all-time high following the success of games like Crypto Kingdoms, Crabada and Axie Infinity. New games looking to break into the market might have difficulty appealing to several gaming enthusiasts.
For games with already attractive gameplay, breaking into the market will be less difficult if you have a template to follow. Half of the work is already done with solid gameplay and a play-to-earn economy. The other half boils down to a reliable marketing and PR campaign. How can you attract the necessary attention to your P2E game as a developer when launching a
Essentially, a PR campaign for your P2E brand should answer what is known as the four "Ws" — "who," "what," "why," and "where." According to Inthinkagency, the "who" is your company and its target audience. "What" is the product— the game, in this case. "Why" is the problem your game solves or the reason for which you are launching a game, which could be a simple one as— to provide gamers with more value than just leisure. Your "where" could contain a roadmap you have prepared for the game. Most P2E games prepare a roadmap to inform their users of development plans that span several years since it is impossible to fully develop a game within a year.
A P2E PR campaign aims to manage communication to develop positive relationships with a brand's user base, comprising mostly gamers. P2E Public relations campaigns can involve press releases, blog posts, social media posts, paid to advertise, and mentions in news articles published on popular sites. A solid PR strategy should include reaching your audience and engaging with it.
All P2E brands need a blend of marketing and public relations. Marketing will help consumers see the product's value, whereas a strong PR campaign builds trust in the brand. Generally, positive public relationships are the foundation of a successful marketing and PR campaign.
While there is no textbook approach to pulling off a successful campaign, the list below contains ideas that can help you achieve one.
PR campaigns are usually launched with an objective in mind. As a P2E brand, the main objective behind creating a campaign might revolve around generating more active users on your game. An objective like that is generic and lacks intentionality. As they say, numbers don't lie.
A specific objective consists of the numbers you want to achieve and the timeline you plan to do so. For example, a specific objective could be: reaching 100k new players within six months. It matters less if you are unable to achieve such numbers at first. However, it helps you know if your efforts are paying off or plan better for a second campaign launch.
Other objectives might include
Developing metrics for your PR campaigns as a P2E brand will help you track its success. With each metric, you can easily ascertain whether your efforts are yielding results or not. Examples of metrics you can adopt include website traffic changes, organic media mentions, word-of-mouth mentions, audience sentiment analysis, conversion rates, new client count, improvements in search rankings, email subscriber growth, email click-through rates, number of token holders, total transaction volume, total value locked (TVL), number of views on YouTube and other channels.
As a P2E brand, connecting with media outlets and journalists will help you reach a larger audience. CoinTelegraph, BeInCrypto, Hackernoon, and U.today are some popular sites that witness many visits from crypto enthusiasts across the globe. The target of most P2E brands is usually the crypto community. Featuring press releases, news articles on popular blogs, and websites like those mentioned above can help you access a wider audience reach.
Popular P2E games realize the importance of quality content and regularly utilize this medium for retaining their existing audience's interest while attracting new users. A P2E PR campaign is dead on arrival if it fails to acknowledge the importance of quality content. A P2E brand should regularly roll out quality content containing exciting updates across every platform within its reach— on its website and other platforms, including social media.
Relying on a few platforms to reach out to your audience is a short-sighted move and will cost you a whole lot if they shut down. As such, it is best to have many options at your disposal that you can always resort to. Publishing content that caters to your audience's interest is a good way to gain their trust.
As a P2E brand, you must recognize that you cannot pull a huge audience by your efforts alone, which is why you need to tap into the audience of influencers with a strong interest in blockchain gaming. It is very common to find crypto influencers with thousands of followers across social networks, especially Twitter and Instagram. Capitalizing on this social capital will benefit your brand in many ways, including driving the much-desired engagement to the game you are developing.
While selecting influencers to partner with, ensure that you have done your due diligence on the kind of influence they possess and their reputation. Some influencers are notorious for introducing shady projects to their audience. Partnering with such influencers could affect your P2E brand negatively. You should ensure that an influencer has a positive and proven track record.
While the P2E gaming scene is witnessing the influx of many players, personalizing your campaign will help you build a lasting relationship with your audience. Every human is unique, and we all love to feel special. Thus, employing the right words and terminologies can make your PR campaigns successful. Infuse personalization into your pitches, press releases, newsletters, and AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions.
You can hire a content marketer or social media manager who knows his onions to achieve maximum results. Given their wealth of experience, they can draw on this to craft content and campaigns that resonate with your audience. Each user deserves to know how they will personally benefit from the game you are developing. For example, SplinterLands — a P2E collectible card game on Hive and WAX blockchain networks racked up over 500,000 users in the past 30 days, according to DappRadar.
The game, which combines the in-game mechanics of Pokemon card games and World of Warcraft, appeals to many users due to its interesting gameplay and play-to-earn economy featuring a native token— SPS. When you indicate to your audience how they can benefit from playing your game, you can easily pull off a successful PR campaign.
Global values are fast-evolving, and various countries and brands sometimes adjust their policies to accommodate new values. P2E brands should not miss the chance to evolve from values that have lost global relevance when launching a PR campaign.
Considering the vast demography of gamers, ensure that personal values do not conflict with your PR campaign because it could lead people to think that your brand is biased. During your campaign, ensure you consider the various races, genders, sexualities, disabilities, belief structures, cultures, and ages. The P2E gaming model has broken the stereotype around age concerning games. In the Philippines, Axie Infinity is also played by those within an older age range.
A brand that is open to diversity will witness a more successful PR campaign than one that is not. A 2015 study by McKinsey revealed that companies embracing diversity had a 19 percent increase in revenue and a 35 percent performance advantage. While trying to be inclusive, know where to strike a balance to avoid deviating from the brand's values.
A PR campaign without direction and specificity is unlikely to produce great results. Thus, your campaign should consider the interest and values of your target audience—every content, whether press releases or newsletters, should be crafted with this in mind. For example, if you have built an Anime-based play-to-earn game, tailoring your PR campaigns to align with the values of Anime lovers will make them successful. Your campaigns should appeal to your target audience and not a random one.
Storytelling is an effective way to make your PR campaign a success. A-list companies understand how storytelling can effectively sell a brand and often use this to their advantage. Weaving appealing stories around press releases, reviews, whitepapers, announcements, social media posts will pique the interest of your audience. For example, you can draw on the storyline around the game you have developed for your campaign.
While written content might be a good deal, being creative with your campaign is a great idea. Humans respond positively to images and videos. The imagination of your potential audience goes wild when they can see how the gameplay of your P2E game works, such that they develop more interest and willingness to participate. If possible, devote more effort to creating videos, digital flyers and PFPs NFTs.
Monitoring the outcome of your campaigns can help you decide what strategies are more effective for your brand. There is no straight-jacket approach to public relations. It is advisable to settle for a more effective strategy based on the KPIs rather than being all over the place. The data from previous campaigns can be useful for future campaigns.
Keyword research tools are effective for P2E PR campaigns. You can use them to collect trending keywords for your brand's social media posts and articles. Examples of effective tools for keyword research include
For example, last year, "NFT" was the most trending keyword within the crypto and blockchain industry. Doing this will help rank your blog posts above your competitors'.
Building community is one of the most important steps you should take as a P2E brand. You can easily reach your audience with relevant information. AAA blockchain games have communities scattered across platforms like Telegram, Discord, Twitter, including Medium. Since Twitch harbors a significant portion of the traditional gaming community, that can be another option for your P2E brand. P2E communities on these platforms share suggestions that can help the brand grow. You could also create a Substack newsletter subscription for your audience.
A PR Campaign requires professional hands. In light of this, you need to set up a PR team with each member assigned with different responsibilities. Hire a content manager to manage press releases, tutorials, videos, technical documents, whitepaper, or litepaper.
A social media manager will manage your brand's social media accounts. At the same time, a community manager or moderator could handle the entire community— Discord, Twitter and other platforms your brand may be using.
Avoid inundating any member of the PR team with more responsibilities than necessary. The result of your campaign is dependent on how efficient each member of the team is at their roles. Doing more than their job description requires will affect their efficiency and negatively impact your PR campaign's success.
Ruling out partnerships with other P2E brands can cost you a lot. You can collaborate with relevant brands to launch more products for your audience. Partnerships will also help you tap into the user base of several brands. Recently, FTX Gaming partnered With YGG's India Unit IndiGG For Web3 And Crypto Gaming. The partnership will allow both brands to offer more value to their users.
Launching a PR campaign is not a one-off approach. You have to do it consistently, understanding that it will help your brand build positive relationships. The P2E ecosystem is fast-evolving. Therefore, you need to sustain your audience's attention with regular updates featuring new developments. While there are several PR strategies you can adopt, it is better to settle for a few, depending on the needs of your target audience and the objectives of your campaign.
Your audience is important to the success of every project you embark on. Failing to carry users along could spell doom for your brand and affect how they receive the game and other product launch. The play-to-earn ecosystem has also witnessed the introduction of governance tokens, allowing gamers to enjoy more participation. P2E brands are now adopting the decentralized governance strategy to stay at the top of their PR game.