How Game of Thrones’s marketing could influence games

Before Game of Thrones came out last year, the series faced a great challenge in trying to introduce new viewers while pleasing hardcore fans. The same struggle applies to most if not all successful franchises and remakes within the games industry.

The way that Campfire, the show’s marketing team, got past this challenge was a clever combination of physical and virtual products. They first began fleshing out the world with sensory experiences like the smells of key areas or the foods associate with them. They also held a series of puzzles, games, and competitions that lasted six weeks and allowed fans to unlock exclusive content:

For sound, the Campfire team went back to the Web, creating a binaural soundscape-essentially, a 3-D sound effect in your head-of the Inn at the Crossroads, a popular gathering spot for the common folk of Westeros. You reached it through The Maester’s Path, a site set up to engage hardcore fans by introducing a puzzle element to each of the five sensory experiences. Listening to the soundscape in the inn, for example, you could overhear various conversations. Embedded within them were clues that would enable you to solve the sound puzzle.

By turning the book’s lore into easily accessible game experiences, those unfamiliar with the series were quickly introduced to the world they were entering and its layers, but hardcore fans got to delve into the realm, engaged by a challenge that ensured the series they loved was not being mistreated.

Games inspire the strongest of communities and their fans vehemently defend the things they love. Trying to change or expand games is often difficult due to the backlash from hardcore fans. Though it may not be relevant to every game, Campfire’s efforts introduce a new way to think about marketing games beyond massive banners and trailers. Physical recreations and interpretations drawn from the core of the game sent to vocal fans give an opportunity to show that they respect and care this thing just as much. Making it interactive isn’t enough, make it real.

– Adnan Agha