5 Reasons Your Video Game Website Doesn’t Make Money

by Justin Carroll

Michael De Santa, the main character of GTA V, counting his money.

Let me guess, your video game website takes a lot of resources to manage for what seems like the least return of all your digital marketing efforts?

Michael De Santa disapprovingly glares at you.

1. Technology Doesn’t Mean Traffic

When a game developer or publisher wants to launch a website they tend to come out guns blazing. And that’s because Web technology has become so accessible.

Their game artists start going to town on what this thing should look like, but they’ve little to no previous experience with Web design or user experience for the Web. Their developers pile on features, Javascript libraries for parallax scrolling, a dev blog, a mailing list, integrations for all the popular social networks, a handful of marketplace snippets and the kitchen sink.

Just because you have a mailing list doesn’t mean people will sign up. And it definitely doesn’t mean they’ll stay subscribed.

2. The Typical, Stagnant Video Game Website

But what inevitably happens, a few months after launch, is their website ends up not making any money, it doesn’t receive the response they were hoping for.

Because of that it becomes really hard to justify spending even more time and money on it, time and money better spent actually making their next best game.

And so, the website just kind of sits and collects dust. It still gets updated, just not with as much vigor as they had after it first launched.

Does that sound familiar?

Don’t lose hope, continue to keep it active and fresh even when it feels like all is lost.

3. What Is A Video Game Website?

This idea of a website, or microsite, has become part of the de facto standard video game digital marketing effort.

Everyone thinks they need a website. But why do they need one?

When asked this question most developers and publishers explain that it keeps their audience informed about what they’re doing.

Wrong.

The primary goal of your video game website is to sell video games.

Information is a goal, but a secondary one at that. Before talking about advanced algorithms, studio nerf wars or what your team likes to do in their spare time, it should first and foremost speak to your audience, sharing with them what it is about your games that they want.

In other words, it’s not all about you.

After all, potential customers aren’t going to invest days of their lives, days they’ll never get back, because you’re super cool. No, it’ll be because your game is super cool and they want to play it. A lot.

4. Resist The Urge To Redesign Your Website

If you find that your website is in this typical, stagnant place, whatever you do, resist the instinctual urge to redesign it.

Often times, redesigning a beefy website will cost you more money the second time around. The last thing you want is to go back through the exhaustive effort you just went through, especially if it won’t fix the problem anyway.

That said, sometimes a redesign is the answer, but for your sake, for the sake of the typical video game website, I’ll assume it’s not.

The truth is there’s a lot of things you can do to optimize, reposition, scale back and experiment with the website you already have. Every piece of content should have a goal. Is it working? If not, abandon.

5. Implement A Digital Strategy

I recently had a reputable video game developer, one with a hot new title on deck, show me their game’s microsite design.

It looked great, I mean really great. I’m a huge fan of their style and can’t wait for their game. But it took me two seconds to see their design wouldn’t make them any money.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at making video games or how great your style is. Everything you do in the way of digital marketing must have a strategy, a plan for getting you from where you are to where you want to be.

A digital strategy is simply a plan to get you from point A to point B with the use of digital techniques and tools. Those two points, and a successful path between them, is a unique combination of your company’s challenges and goals, and your games’ challenges, goals and audience. Everything you do with digital marketing should make sense for that overarching strategy.

So, start to think of your website not as a means to an end, but rather as a tool in this much larger plan. How can your website help get you from your point A to your point B? That’s digital strategy.

Conclusion

The hard, cold reality is if your website doesn’t have a strategy to make money then it’s probably not going to make money.

And this isn’t just about your website, it’s about all your digital marketing efforts.

Don’t be deceived by increasingly accessible Web technology. Your website will continue to lose money until you decide you’ve had enough, until you decide, for the first time ever, to implement a strategy that attracts more players and grows your revenue.