Volker Prott, a man for marketing and media. After studying media economics, Volker first worked in the world of media agencies and then joined Electronic Arts (EA) in the media and marketing departments. At EA, he was responsible for almost all products and franchises, from blockbusters like Battlefield and The Sims to niche titles like Brütal Legend.
Now Volker Prott responsible for the EA SPORTS FIFA franchise in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This includes, for example, partnerships with football clubs, talents and associations, the development and implementation of marketing/communication concepts, the management of brand partnerships. Volker is a football and sports nerd, so he can let off steam completely.
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?
The trend from packaged goods to digital products and services is the most drastic change in our industry. When it comes to digitalization, the games industry is often one of the first industries to face the challenges and develop solutions. This is exactly what makes the daily work exciting and fortunately prevents boredom in the job. A year rarely resembles the previous year, a campaign rarely resembles a past campaign. This is certainly not a trend, but a constant that will continue to accompany us in the years to come. Speaking of constants: I still think that the games industry is characterized by an extraordinary collegiality and a positive spirit. That’s why I’m logically bothered (like so many others) that we don’t get to experience this spirit in person a lot at the moment, for example at gamescom.
Which key learnings in marketing can other industries draw from the games industry?
As mentioned before, the games industry is very closely linked to technical developments and is itself a highly relevant medium – also and especially for young people. Concepts for younger target groups are therefore created quite organically, which presupposes, for example, that one has the most precise knowledge of media use. A key learning is therefore the daily questioning of one’s own status quo; strategies and campaigns can quickly become outdated. This certainly applies to many industries but has always been central in the games sector.
Who are your role models in the industry?
I don’t have a specific role model in the industry. I would rather call it respect for the work of many stakeholders. That’s not just limited to the marketing area. For example, I personally have enormous respect for the work done in the development studios. It’s amazing how much passion and knowledge goes into creating innovations and new products and services.
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?
Here you can quickly churn out keywords. Mobile. Customized. Digital. Real-time. Content. Performance. Logically, spending in daily newspapers is not likely to skyrocket in the near future in the games sector. Nevertheless, the direction of a campaign always remains a case-by-case consideration, and not every trend makes sense for one’s own campaign and the associated goals. That’s why I don’t want to and can’t proclaim a holistic trend for the games industry, but always advocate openness to new channels with simultaneous critical questioning and testing. To ensure this, the measurability of the measures according to predefined KPIs is of course central, which should be the case for all campaigns.
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?
Authenticity is a good keyword. We just talked about trends and changes. I think an authentic discussion is always an advantage; the days of influencers, who have been briefed in advance, reading off untrustworthy statements and who are miles away from the product are increasingly over. Of course, there are gray areas here, for example, when the focus is on the fun of the game and not on a specific product discussion. Ultimately, it is not only the games industry that benefits from an authentic framework, but also a large number of industries and, last but not least, the consumers, or in our case, the gamers.
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?
PR is and remains an important communication tool. Here, too, a new competition certainly applies – a sophisticated preview/review strategy alone is no longer enough. Outlining the challenges of the next five years would take us too far in this context; the situation is very complex. The competition with other media forms and approaches is not yet foreseeable. The challenge is therefore essentially to act flexibly and to show the courage to change.
Bonus question: Which project / topic in your career are you particularly proud of?
Whenever all the interdisciplinary wheels mesh, a concept becomes reality and the implementation is reflected in many channels, such as retail, media, PR, social media, partners, etc. That’s a great moment because you’ve had a look behind the scenes. I like to compare it to a wedding, only the people involved know what’s behind the organization, the guests at best don’t get to hear about it and in the end are (hopefully) just as happy as the couple themselves. If the projects are then carried out on site at the 2018 World Cup in Russia for EA SPORTS FIFA, for example, or a music/label collaboration includes a meeting with Lemmy Kilmister, everything fits after all.
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