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Game Promotion Ideas in Russia: Unlock Success



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The gaming industry is constantly evolving, and this forces us to rethink marketing strategies. This is where bright ideas come from, which often attract people to the game even those who yesterday could not have imagined picking up a gamepad.  

By manipulating emotions, touching a nerve, and stimulating curiosity, marketers encourage people to share their experiences of the game. This starts a chain reaction, as the product spreads on its own without additional marketing efforts.

To "wind up" the game, a newsworthy event is needed. It doesn't have to be a landmark event in the gaming industry, but it should be intriguing and interesting. Then, the advertisement will reach the people very quickly. 

Why does the whole world know about certain games and talk about them even outside of the gaming community? We've analyzed well-known examples and identified the mechanics of advertising promotion that have led to effective results in the gaming sector.

Game Ambassadors

Most successful projects are well-known, largely due to the image of celebrities associated with them. Ambassadors, as promotion tools, were Gordon Ramsay in Restaurant Dash and Danny Trejo in Guns of Boom. Gal Gadot was the ambassador for the League of Angels. However, the most memorable one from the last decade is undoubtedly Cyberpunk 2077.

When the Cyberpunk trailer was released in 2019, "Sad Keanu" in the image of rocker Johnny Silverhand immediately spread across social media, as planned by marketers. However, what they had not planned for occurred a little later during the presentation. Someone from the crowd shouted, "Keanu, you're amazing", and the actor responded, "No, you are amazing". This phrase became popular instantly and was soon picked up by various brands, including Sberbank, who released a sticker pack. The creators of Cyberpunk 2077 used other celebrities as ambassadors later, such as Nastya Ivleeva and Eljay, but did not achieve the same level of success as Keanu.


Cyberpunk 2077 promo featuring Russian celebrities

Cyberpunk is not the only case where a game "goes viral" due to the involvement of famous people. Nikolai Drozdov spoke about the Dark Lands in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. The ballet dancer of the Bolshoi Theater Anna Pudikova was the model for the Atomic Heart twin characters, and Jensen Ackles of Supernatural starred in promotional videos (where Harry Potter fans ‘got hooked’ along the way). Mads Mikkelsen and Norman Reedus acted as antagonists in Death Stranding. Lord-commander John Snow, Kit Harrington, and Conor McGregor all appeared in the Call of Duty game, which Kevin Spacey had an earlier role in.


Promoting game in Russia
Promo of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands with the participation of Russian TV presenter Nikolai Drozdov

The effectiveness of ambassadors as a promotional tool depends on the choice of the "face" of the game, as well as the right combination of circumstances.

Collaboration between games and brands

Partnerships are a promotional tool that helps spread a game to new platforms. This is what happened with Cyberpunk 2077 when the Dodo brand collaborated with the game. Pizza was delivered in a cyberpunk-style box, and stickers and a QR code of the mask on Insta were added to the order. The campaign ended, but Cyberpunk 2077 boxes began to be resold on Avito, giving the game coverage on another platform with a multi-million-strong audience.

Then Cyberpunk 2077 had other collaborations - with Cropp, who released a clothing line, with Rockstar Energy, with Death Stranding - but they were "niche", while the Dodo collaboration was known even by those who don't play games.


Promoting game in Russia
The Cyberpunk 2077 collaboration with the Russian chain Dodo Pizza

The success of the Cyberpunk-Dodo collaboration was perhaps surpassed by Atomic Heart, which had a lot of references that attracted a lot of people: the lyrics mentioned the band "Korol i Shut", the soundtracks included covers of songs by Pugacheva, Sklyar, and other Russian pop artists (which were sold well on vinyl later). All records were broken by the remix of "Komarovo", played by a robot on a synthesizer. In 2 weeks since its release, the track has been listened to more than 2. 5 million times on Yandex.Music alone. It was followed by packs of stickers, books about the Atomic Heart universe, computer chairs, and events in other games. Even brands that nobody expected did not ignore the game. In particular, the hooligans from Visit released a limited edition with Right and Left, Engineer, and Belyash; Rollton did memes about "polymer-flavored puree" and FC Spartak announced their game with a poster of a stylized twin.



 The Cyberpunk 2077 collaboration with the Rollton brand

Collaboration as a promotional tool is also beneficial because it allows brands to share costs. Half-and-half promotion is favorable (especially for small projects in collaboration with large ones).

Working on technical errors as an information opportunity

A bug is not something you can use as a marketing tool. However working on bugs can be an effective way to promote the game, and then even problems at launch can become a source of positive context.

At launch, Cyberpunk 2077 had major playability issues, which worried players so much that retailers had no time to process refunds. The negativity spread with cosmic speed: even those who did not play the game knew about its failure. For any other project, this would have been the end, but thanks to the previous marketing, Cyberpunk 2077 had gained such a high level of trust from players that CD Project Red was able to turn the technical glitches to its advantage. The company's CEO, Marcin Ivinsky, addressed players in a five-minute video, showing a bug-fix map, talking about regular patches, and promising free updates. And he was so convincing that people gave the game a second chance.

Working on bugs not only contributes to the development of the project but also shows users that their opinions are taken into account. No other promotional tool has such a stimulating effect on helping players feel valued.

Localization of Campaigns

We are pleased when they speak to us in a clear language. We like to feel special. And when we encounter something in the game that coincides with our cultural, linguistic, and mental code, we experience unity with the brand, which automatically enhances its credibility. 

Nowhere in the world except in Russia, people drink condensed milk from cans. When Russian gamers saw that they could open canned food with knives and condensed milk would emerge, they hailed Atomic Heart as the game of the year. The new localization only reinforces its popularity. By the way, this is not just in the Russian-speaking community. A whole forum war broke out, because of a cartoon image of a native character, where English-speaking gamers accused publishers of racism. This also led to increased media coverage of the game. 

In other games, they also hide ‘meanings’. For example, in World of Tanks and World of Warships, there are references to Soviet movies: The Trus, the Balbes, and the Byvaly from Prisoner of the Caucasus are immortalized in the characters of the commanders, the red convertible - in the custom tanks and ships, and the images of Danka, Ksanka, Valerka and Yashka from The Elusive Avengers - in the members of the tank crews.


Promoting game in Russia
Lesta Games promo with characters from the Russian movie ‘Prisoner of the Caucasus’

Campaign localization is more than just "presenting information". Styling for specific linguistic and cultural characteristics allows you to convey the meaning of the offer in messages that are easily understood by the audience.

Promo Streams

People are interested in other people's emotions, and today you can enjoy them not only in films but also in streams. They are used to promote emotionally engaging projects that force streamers to show their feelings in public. The more intense the emotional explosion, the more interest there will be in it. For example, when DrSpicyArab smashed his monitor in a fit of rage after losing in Among Us, even those who had never heard of betrayal calculations found out about it.

In most cases, game projects simply provide streamers with branded clothes or things that appear in the footage, and such native advertising becomes a reason to discuss the game being promoted. But there is another approach. And that is not just to present the game, but to 'spin' the presentation itself. This was the case with Shadow Arena, for example, when RMAA launched the "Battle of the Streamers", the online broadcast of which alone was watched by more than 20,000 people.


Streamer tournament as part of the Shadow Arena promo

Streams allow you to tell your story natively to a loyal (and solvent!) audience. But it is very much linked to the human factor, and it can also be quite expensive, especially if you are using the top streamers.

Engaging bloggers

You need to fight for loyalty from the audience, and the more natural the promotional tool is, the greater your chances of winning. By following the principle of harmonious integration and selecting influencers that the target audience trusts, you can raise awareness of the game and attract more players to the project. 

To promote the mobile version of Battle Royale PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, RMAA specialists formed a fan community and drew in more than 130 popular YouTube bloggers to take part in the promotional program. The chosen authors completed missions while streaming, for which they earned awards – in-game and real-life ones, and videos with walkthroughs gathered about 5 million views.


Promotion games in Russia
Promo PUBG Mobile Next Star

With the help of YouTube bloggers, RMAA also promoted the Genshin Impact game: streamers, popular stars,and travel bloggers showed the walkthrough in the most unexpected places and made the most unexpected parallels. Vlad Reznov covered the GI from Chernobyl; SlivkiShow talked about Canadian dry-packs using the example of the game, FixEye drew analogies with Minecraft, and Dalbek even re-voiced the Encanto cartoon in order to tell about his gaming adventures in colors.


Genshin Impact advertising integration on the Fox Eye channel

Hidden advertising through bloggers provides additional points of contact with the audience and allows you to affect consumer behavior through the content created by influencers.

Import substitution

Replacing an imported product with a domestic one is a popular strategy for working in the market of presence, and game developers are also turning to it. In 2022, many Western partners stopped working with Russian developers, and import substitution has become a very effective promotional tool that helped many domestic games become popular: role-playing games about Minin, Pozharsky, and saving the country from the impostor "Smuta", "Sparta", "Cutting Edge", "Denis Davydov", "Secrets of the Museum". No one expects them to replace world hits, but they are still looking forward to their release and are eager to discuss ‘insider information’ on forums.

Import substitution is a powerful marketing tool, but it should be used with caution, especially in relation to the patriotic trigger, as it can cause dissatisfaction among the target audience.

Out-of-Home advertising as part of an image strategy

Ten years ago, it was predicted that offline advertising would soon be a relic of the past. However, billboards are still widely promoted, although they used to be static. Now they are digital. 

To promote Genshin Impact in Russia, RMAA created "teleportation points" on digital screens at the European Shopping Mall (note: Moscow), which brought potential players and fans into the game's world. The campaign formed part of a global promotion. The global story was integrated into the environment in such a way that it became part of it. For this purpose, various outdoor advertising tools were employed: banners, billboards, LED panels, digital screens, and life-size figures. At the end of the advertising campaign, all tools were combined into one commercial which was viewed by over 650,000 people.


Promotion Genshin Impact in Russia
DOOH Genshin Impact campaign within the #ENDLESSJOURNEY project in Russia

Atomic Heart was also promoted using offline communications. The story of a different version of the Soviet Union was presented on the huge screen in Times Square, right in the center of New York City, and the streaming service, Yandex.Music, placed billboards all over the country with the tagline "Atomic Heart: Thank you for Komarovo".


Promotion games in Russia
OOH campaign by the "Atomic Heart, thank you for Komarovo"

Advertising in public places allows you to reach a wide audience. Thanks to modern digital tools, you can track traffic and use DOOH tools to increase the number of points of contact with consumers as well as analyze audience perception.

Over the years of working in the games segment, RMAA experts have concluded that it is not enough to have ‘just a good product’ and ‘a big budget’ to promote the game. Without a global marketing idea, the money will go nowhere and a great game will not get beyond the thematic forums. That is why we are concentrating our efforts on developing the concept and choosing effective promotional tools, so the game has almost no chance of going unnoticed. And, of course, we take into account the specifics of the Russian-speaking market.

Contact RMAA manager to discuss your product and subscribe to our blog if you want to be the first to hear about the latest news from the gaming industry in Russia and beyond.

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About the Author

Digital Strategist. Head of one of the project groups at RMAA. Maria started her journey in digital marketing in 2009. 

Author Maria Romanenko

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