“A Game PR Playbook” Talk @ MIGS 2013

MIGS 2013

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Montreal International Games Summit (MIGS). Despite the frigid temperatures of Montreal in November, it was a great experience and fun to share some of my PR knowledge via a joint talk with Albert Reed, CEO of Demiurge Studios. And, did I mention that the Palais de Congress was one of the nicest convention centers I’ve ever seen?!

The focus of our talk, “A Game PR Playbook,” was to provide independent game developers insight into game PR basics, such as message and press kit development, media relations and events marketing. Al and I added some Demiurge flavor with specific examples from the launches of two of the studio’s 2013 mobile game releases – Shoot Many Robots and Marvel Puzzle Quest.

I hope that the talk was beneficial to developers in attendance (it seemed to be based on the feedback I received afterwards) and I also hope to attend MIGS again in 2014!

Until we meet again, Montreal…

Demiurge Brings Marvel to Mobile with Puzzle Quest

Marvel Puzzle QuestThis is a project that has been hard to keep a lid on, to say the least! Demiurge Studios (my client), in partnership with D3publisher and Marvel Entertainment, recently released Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign on iOS and Android. It truly was a collaborative effort on all fronts, marketing and PR included. The launch of the game involved many moving pieces that, in the end, worked out quite well…

So, after keeping quiet about the game for months, its reveal was rolled out gradually over the course of its launch week in October, all leading up to New York ComicCon. The game was first announced via a tweet from Marvel’s Agent M (@AgentM). This was followed by an interview podcast with the Demiurge team and hosted on Marvel.com, as well as an inclusion in the official Marvel newsletter. Then, finally, the game launched later that week and was announced to media around the world via a press release and launch trailer. At New York Comic Con, Demiurge participated in a panel about the game and the game was also demoed on the show floor. To say that we blanked Marvel fans at launch is an understatement.

Coverage of the game has been spectacular, with most reviews turning out positive, including an amazing 9.1 rating from IGN!!! The studio itself has also received some great exposure, including a feature with GamesIndustry.biz shortly following the launch. And, this is just the beginning and the Demiurge team continues to add new content to the game, expanding the player experience.

To augment all of the above activities, two additional videos have been released surrounding the game that I wanted to share. Both of these were shot in the Demiurge offices and it was a blast to help coordinate these with the Marvel and D3 teams. Check them out!

Demiurge Developer Diary Video – Marvel Puzzle Quest: 

Marvel’s Agent M Visits Demiurge: 

A Match Made in Highgarden: Disruptor Beam and King Richard’s Faire


In the godswood (ahem). I mean, in the woods of Carver, Massachusetts, the Disruptor Beam team hosted a “Game of Game of Thrones” trivia and costume contest for thousands of people in attendance at King Richard’s Faire, the largest renaissance faire on the east coast. I helped to coordinate the event in conjunction with the Disruptor Beam team and Faire staff, with all parties walking away with a positive experience.

The event was an interesting way to promote Game of Thrones Ascent, but also a venue for Disruptor Beam to host the company outing of all company outings! We had 1 or 2 people shy of the entire Disruptor Beam team attend. We handed out free in-game turkey legs for general attendees to consume within the game. Rich Gallup, the game’s Executive Producer, hosted the contest in full renaissance garb. And, Game of Thrones themed prizes were awarded to our costume and trivia contest winners. In true Game of Thrones style, lots of people were killed off in the Game of Game of Thrones, but one fair maiden from Highgarden – a Margaery Tyrell look-alike – won, taking home her very own miniature Iron Throne.

It was a blast for all – the Disruptor Beam staff, King Richard’s Faire, contest participants, and even me, who actually dressed up as a wench for the day. The event was a highlight of 2013 in my book – a memorable and very fun experience. Tons of photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manthatwhispers/sets/72157636050828776/ And, more pictures follow!

Photos courtesy of Tim Rice for King Richard’s Faire. 




Mon Voyage à Montréal et Exécution Labs


No, I don’t speak French (thanks, Google Translator). But, I loved hearing lots of it while in Montreal recently for a visit to Execution Labs, a game incubator and go-to-market accelerator for mobile game developers!

Jason Della Rocca, Alexandre Pelletier-Normand, Keith Katz (and a stacked deck of industry mentors) help independent game developers produce games and bring them to market with a focus on mobile free-to-play titles. It’s a great program, so I was beyond excited when Jason asked me to trek up to Montreal and speak to the teams about PR and marketing.

With independent studios often taking on the role of PR internally, it is important for these smaller game development teams to understand the basics. I was happy to perform a massive brain dump and share what I know with the teams. If anything, I hope they walked away from our meetings with a few key takeaways:

  • At its core, PR is about messaging and networking. Nail your message early on in the development cycle and network, network, network until your hand hurts from all that shaking.
  • Promoting your game is as important as the game itself, so don’t overlook your marketing plan for the sake of development. Start planning early in the development cycle.
  • Market your studio just as much as your game. If you are able to build a following for yourself – as designers and developers – you’ll be able to get more attention for your game. Half of the “story” is usually the people BEHIND the game. Perfect talking about yourself.

The teams are currently at various stages of development, but I’d suggest you like all of these guys on Facebook. They’ve got some awesome games brewing. I wish them all the best of luck with their upcoming launches and hope to cross paths with my new friends in Montreal soon!

Double Stallion Games
Kit Fox Games
Silver Dice Games
Imaginary Games
Lightning Rod Games
Pixel Crucible

Boston FIGnites!

IMG_6202 Elicia at Boston FIG
For the second year in a row I managed PR efforts for the Boston Festival of Indie Games (aka Boston FIG). When thinking back about this year’s event, the word ‘ignite’ jumps to mind. It was a day *ignited* by the amazing energy of not just the independent game developers who showcased digital and tabletop games, but the compelling speakers, and over 5,000 people in attendance.  I know firsthand how difficult it can be to garner attention for an unknown game, but Boston FIG provides a platform for these developers to promote their games. And the dedicated effort of an all-volunteer staff (myself included) seems to be paying off for the game developers, as well as attendees and sponsors each year – a trend I hope to see continue into 2014!

I’d like to thank all of the staff, volunteers, attendees, participants, sponsors, and partners that made this year’s event possible, but also send a special thank you to the media who covered BostonFIG, both before and after the festival! Below are just a few of the many great stories that appeared surrounding the 2013 Fest. And, for more detail about the developers that were at the festival, check out my recap post on VentureFizz.

MetroWest Daily News / Cambridge Chronicle




Boston Globe




Indie Game Magazine





Hammer-Time with EQHammer.com at SOE Live 2013!


After many years of  working with TenTonHammer.com through a traditional PR / editorial relationship, I’ve recently been given the opportunity to assist with increasing the brand recognition of the company’s suite of game news & feature websites.  I jumped at the chance to pitch in!

Ten Ton Hammer launched a new fansite this summer – EQHammer.com – dedicated to coverage of EverQuest Next, the upcoming MMO from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). We knew that SOE Live, the annual fan-fest dedicated to SOE’s games, was our opportunity to make a splash (literally)! At SOE’s annual Pool Party, which attracted about a thousand  EverQuest fans, we filled the pools at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas with hundreds of inflatable hammers all branded with the EQHammer URL. We also handed out EQHammer t-shirts to our biggest fans, giving them access to our “Pool Party Recovery Breakfast”, which took place the morning following the pool party.

For a relatively low investment (the cost of the hammers, t-shirts, posters and some breakfast sandwiches), we were able to increase awareness of EQHammer.com among the hardest core EverQuest fans. Everyone LOVED the hammers and people were smacking each other throughout the pool party – a fun sight to see. And, fans proudly wore the EQHammer / Ten Ton Hammer shirts even after the breakfast, blanketing the site’s branding across the rest of the event.

Some more pictures and a video from the event, for your viewing pleasure…

Fans having fun with hammers: http://youtu.be/QrWgyyUpUwk





Self-Publish, Self-Publish, Self-Publish (Casual Connect USA 2013)

I recently attended Casual Connect in San Francisco and walked away from the show with this one theme stuck in my head: self-publishing is not only possible, but a great route for many developers. It all started with Will Harbin’s kick-off talk “Self-Publish or Die” in which Harbin (Kixeye‘s CEO) encourages new developers to remain independent and bypass the publisher relationship.  Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat summed up Will’s presentation well in this article.

As the 3-day show continued, I frequently found myself listening into conversations among developers about the role of publishers with the conclusion being the same as Harbin’s. And, it felt like every developer I heard speak at the podium throughout the show referenced Will’s earlier talk and agreed with his thoughts on going-it-alone. There were plenty of publishers exhibiting at the show and recruiting new developers, but still this theme rose to the top.

Being in the game industry, but not in a game development role, I don’t have an extremely strong opinion either way. But, what I have observed is that a publisher’s role usually takes the form of marketing. And, when you can fulfill that role on your own  – leveraging internal staff to meet marketing needs or by hiring outside PR/marketing consultants (like me) on an as-needed basis around game launches and important milestones – then why wouldn’t you self-publish?

Casual Connect Logo

Game of Thrones Ascent Ascends @ Comic-Con San Diego!

I’ve been working with Disruptor Beam to promote their hit social game – Game of Thrones Ascent – since early 2012. Aside from the game itself, which has been very well received by players, another part of its success is the widespread popularity of HBO’s hit TV series and George R.R. Martin’s series of books. The studio’s relationship with HBO and HBO’s willingness to support the game however it can, has also opened many doors for us in terms of PR and promotions.

For example, through the studio’s partnership with HBO we were able to promote the game via an on-site and very well-attended “Join the Realm” exhibition at San Diego Comic-Con this past week.  Not only did the Disruptor Beam team meet with and demo the game for thousands of hardcore Game of Thrones fans, they were able to schmooze with some stars from the show and even some impressive cosplayers.

I just had to share these pictures of Khalessi and her Unsullied playing the game. Priceless.

Khalessi at Comic-Con


Khalessi at Comic-Con 2

MassDiGI Paving the Way for Game Development Students (VentureFizz)

As mentioned in a previous post, I was recently asked to help contribute to the growth of VentureFizz.com’s coverage of the New England game development scene. In my latest post, I’ve taken the opportunity to talk about MassDiGI and all of the great work from the students in MassDiGI’s 2013 Summer Innovation Program.  Check out “MassDiGI Paving the Way for Game Development Students”  to learn more about how the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute is laying the foundation for students to succeed in the world of games, while engaging local game executives and developers through a mentorship program.

Good luck to the ’13 Summer Innovation Program participants, both with their current games and in future endeavors!


BlueSnap on BostInno – Microtransactions and the Future of Games


I recently started working with BlueSnap, a payment processing provider and buying platform for e-commerce merchants including game companies. Through my efforts, BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier has penned an article for BostInno.com about the future of games, free-to-play business models, and the importance of microtransactions. With so many game companies now adopting the free-to-play model, it is increasingly important for them to consider how micro-transactions are processed and optimized.  Check out the article here and more info about BlueSnap here!