Maslow’s pyramid is designed to classify the needs behind personal motivations. Established by the sociologist Maslow in 1970 in his work Motivation and Personality, the pyramid of needs is established according to 5 type of needs: Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem, Self-actualization.
Could we use gamers’s needs for a video game communication? Sure.
The transposition of this hierarchy to the gamers’ needs helps to understand how to communicate and promote a video game to its audience. Each step corresponds to a type of need of the players. Thus, we are able to better understand their needs but above all to analyze how our game meets them. Our communication must take into account these elements and will be all the more efficient and persuasive.
- What are the needs of the gamers?
- What are the needs of the gamers my game meets?
- How to communicate on these needs to my audience?
However, this is only a transposition of Maslow’s pyramid. Here, we are interested in the case of video game players looking for a new game… Their different needs guide their researchs and decisions, and offer communication paths for attentive studios.
Physiological need of gamers: Entertainment
The physiological need in this scenario is not to eat or sleep, but to be entertained. Whether the proposed experiment is to be carried out individually or in a group, the player seeks to satisfy a primary need: that of entertainment.
In order to meet this need, your communication must clearly show your game as entertaining.
At a time when competition is raging in the industry, any confusing communication sends players to other video games with a more… explicit and/or fun presentation. On the first glance, the gamer needs to feel the promise of entertainment. Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to the visuals (videos, images) used on your website, your press kit or your Steam page. The short presentation of your game must be explicit, neat and must catch the player’s attention quickly. A single sentence (or 2) is enough.
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Safety Need of Gamers: Trustful Relationship
In addition to being on a reliable video game platform, the player wants to be reassured about the game itself when buying it. Although there are refund solutions, the first impression is often the right one. Long descriptions of your game (and studio) help to create a link with the player. They are welcome to immerse themselves in your universes.
The opinions and comments left by the game community have several impacts. Indeed, they influence the overall rating of the game, visible on the shop. Comments in forums or reviews left by players also affect the decisions of interested players… this is the principle of word-of-mouth marketing.
The customer relationship at this level is crucial and must aim to establish a relationship of trust with the users of your game. Respond as positively as possible to any comments or questions from your community. This relationship of trust desired by the video gamer must be understood and embraced by the studio. Whether by e-mail, chat, forum, social networks, having a human contact point is reassuring and creates a link of trust.
It is an important issue at any phase of a project and becomes the main communication axis during a fundraising campaign (Ulule, Kickstarter) for example.
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Belongingness Need of Gamers: Community
The need of belongingness is a very powerful lever among players. Indeed, the participative, competitive or cooperative aspects are at the heart of the different types of games. Gamers give their opinion on everything and everywhere on the web. Whether these are positive or negative… with the excesses that we unfortunately know.
However, at this stage of the pyramid, there is a real creative opportunity for a studio. Building a community of gamers is a source of many advantages for a video game. Of course, it requires a strategy, tools and resources, but the benefits of a committed community that gives voice to the game are undeniable. We will come back to this part in more detail in other posts soon.
Esteem Need of Gamers
The need for esteem can be expressed in many ways. Recognition of one’s level of play in terms of skills, for example. Whether your game is competitive or not, it is important to value the person’s involvement in your community. Acknowledging their contribution is an important recognition for those who are involved.
Different gaming systems exist and respond to this gamers’ need (ladder, competition, steam cards, achievement awards…). But as a video game studio you can reward at the community level. Forums or Discord servers have tools that allow you to manage gamification and create even more love. This is something I reagularly also do in my influencer marketing campaign.
Never miss an opportunity to thank the players for their participation, their comments, their fan arts…
Self-Actualization Need of Gamers: Contribute
The last level of this pyramid can, for some, correspond to simply finishing the game or becoming the best player (ladder, speedrunning).
However, in a more sustainable design of your communication and your studio, it is better to emphasize the call for participation of your community.
The case of a participatory fundraising campaign is necessarily an easy example. However, it is constrained by an obligatory exchange of money and services. Opening up participation in your game developement project is a very powerful way for strengthening your ties with your community. Ask for their opinion, involve them in certain topics and collect proposals that may improve your final design or future productions.
Involve your community in your game development and thank the participants in-game. You could, for example, mention them in the credits as NPCs.
Feel welcome to comment this article with your own analysis and advices!
Adapt your Communication to Gamers’ Needs
Gamers are first and foremost video game enthusiasts, just like you. Their passion is fueled in part by the fact that video games fulfill a number of their needs as gamers. Each game is unique and it is essential to analyze what are the specific needs of your audience and those that you meet through your video game.
From this analysis comes a communication strategy that is directly linked to the needs of the gamers. Communicate effectively on these points and develop adequate tools thanks to this reflection will enable you to build a larger and more engaged audience of fans.