Oliver Menne started in the games industry at the end of the 80s, at the time of the Commodore 64. He was then editor-in-chief of PC Games magazine for many years and then moved to the board of Computec Media AG. Since 2006, he has been running Eurogamer.de, which now reaches more than four million gamers in German-speaking countries every month, and occasionally acts as a consultant.
You have been in the games industry for some time. And you have seen many trends come and go. From the beginning of your career to today: What has changed most positively in the industry, and what bothers you about the current situation?
I still find it very positive that the digitization of sales channels has created enormous freedom. There are hardly any barriers left, only challenges. The variety of products is high correspondingly. Of course, it has become somewhat more confusing, and that can be seen as a nuisance, but ultimately it is certainly a gain. Finding the balance of adapting measures quickly, but not too quickly, to new opportunities is something I consider a major difficulty. In the case of pricing, or the rapid drop in the price of games that has resulted from this digitization, for example, I still don’t think a good answer has been found. But it seems necessary to me.
Which key learnings in marketing can other industries draw from the games industry?
This is difficult because games have a quality that no other product has: The intense attachment of fans, their passion towards their hobby. Where else can you find that? On the one hand, this is due to the length of time spent in the game and the fact that everyone can have their own personal experiences in a game. On the other hand, it’s also due to the authenticity. In what other field does a creative person spend eight hours a day at an event to show their product and talk to fans? And this self-image is not just reduced to promotional events. Making more than one thing out of a product is certainly a strength and something to try to adapt. However, the games industry itself is facing the challenge of losing this form of proximity.
Who are your role models in the industry?
I don’t have any role models. But I often find individual achievements remarkable and try to adapt them – but fail far too often.
How did the marketing and promotion of games change in recent years? Where are we headed in games marketing in the next years to come?
What is new is more desirable until it is no longer new. And this goes on and on. In the past, there was only special interest, that was the influencers of the time, and in principle it still is today, but in the perception, it is no longer as fresh, less exciting. Hence, in recent years, the content creators became the influencers. But it feels like the enthusiasm here is dropping to a normal level. What I find interesting is the development that occurred due to the lack of physical events last year: publishers used their own channels differently, such as Ubisoft’s Forward series or at the PS5 Reveal. Measured in terms of reach, this was certainly trendsetting. However, that also adds back a building block in communication and there are more building blocks every year; some decline in importance, but they never disappear. Nevertheless, I believe that the use of owned channels with strong, self-produced content will increase significantly in the coming years.
Which social media channels do you see as key for the games industry?
None for our editorial websites, actually. The transfer from a social media platform to significant web traffic is incredibly difficult, there are simply better solutions. That’s not to say that editorial content doesn’t work on social media platforms, the models behind it are just more closed and the monetization is a whole different story. However, at EGX Berlin, a gaming event, things looked very different in 2018 and 2019. There, a clear effectiveness was already directly traceable, especially via Facebook. But that may also have been due to the event, which was only aimed at adults, and the demographics of the platforms.
About the current trend on creators and influencer marketing: The trend towards more micro and macro influencers with a smaller reach and less fans, but more authenticity and engagement: How can the Games industry leverage that trend in your opinion?
In my observation, micro-influencers basically behave like consumers. Many follow the same rules, i.e., they emulate their role models, perhaps even unconsciously. Perhaps even a little more strongly because they crave commercial success. In this respect, you don’t necessarily have to do anything to profit from the additional reach – after all, that’s where authenticity comes from. The biggest current problem from my point of view is perhaps also an opportunity: Streaming content without any restrictions has certainly led to one or the other game being watched rather than played; because it is perceived as sufficient. Of course, it’s factually impossible to regain control without committing social media suicide. But favoring, for example, micro-influencers with promo versions specifically released for streaming, before release and for a limited time, might be a sensible way to reconcile reach, respectful treatment of micro-influencers, and reduction of game-only viewers. At the very least, the chronology could be changed somewhat. I think it might be worth linking the keywords reach and revenue more closely.
The media landscape has changed massively in the last ten years. However, PR is still one of the most important communications tools in the games sector. Where do you see PR in the next five years, what will the challenges be?
Time is the greatest challenge. After all, the variety and mass of products that have already arisen and have already been mentioned entail consequences for everyone involved. I therefore believe that PR will become even more important but will also have to adapt in order to clearly work out the why in the dozens of messages that are to be sent and read every day. I think PR is one of the most important building blocks to get a product on the right track, to make its content clear, after all, even a content creator doesn’t wake up one morning and rattle off developer websites to see what might be new. Because recipients range from consumers to partners, PR can never be just freestyle, it should always be a duty.
Bonus question: Which project / topic in your career are you particularly proud of?
I have a high level of gratitude and humility towards successful implementations, pride would be a bit too much. As an old print person, however, I am very happy to have taken the path to the Internet more or less successfully or to have been given the opportunity to do so at all.
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