Copywriter for Video Games

From Instructional Text to Sales Copy, the Right Wording Is Critical

By Tabitha Goodman

video game copywriting

Copywriting is an essential ingredient in many games, whether it’s words on the screen or a description on a product page.

The video gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Well-known game developers like Nintendo and EA Games are expanding rapidly. And indie companies and lone developers are helping to pave the way for better games and stories.

“The video games market is expected to be worth over 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020, from nearly $78.61 billion in 2017,” according to BestTheNews. Much of that growth is due to mobile gaming.

Today in 2019, there are 2.3 billion mobile gamers worldwide—almost a third of the world’s population,” according to Game Gavel, an online website that tracks gaming statistics. And that number is expected to increase steadily as smartphone use grows globally.

In fact, Game Gavel notes that 38% of game developers are currently creating games exclusively for smartphones and tablets to meet rapidly expanding demand. “As smartphones boast faster processing speeds, higher-quality graphics, and larger screens—it’s no wonder smartphones and tablets are taking over the global games market,” says Khaled Shaalan

From mobile games, to console, to PC, these companies need quality copywriting often within their games and also to promote their products on their websites and social media platforms.

Copywriting in Games

You wouldn’t think video games contain copywriting in the actual game but they can. For example, when you’re playing a game and you’re exploring the environment, you pick up objects, which are often letters or newspapers, and perhaps there’s signage on the wall, helping to set the scene.

The same could be said of the tutorials and instructions. In-game text is a broad area. The writing needs to be original and sometimes quite lengthy.

video game copywriter

To write effective copy for a video game, the copywriter must understand what’s important to users.

“Storyline, dialogue and instruction aren’t the only in-game areas requiring a scribbler’s skills. From game menus to context-sensitive prompts, somebody has to pen all the ancillary copy and, with titles constantly pushing new boundaries, in-game text is a growing requirement,” says John Featherstone of Copy Republic.

He explains that the need for good copy in video games applies to many areas including:

  • Instruction Manuals – Although few games still provide a hard-copy manual, game guides with written instructions are still necessary, especially for complex games. They are now typically provided as in-game manuals and tutorials.
  • Product Descriptions/Product Pages – Enticing descriptions are critical to game sales, whether they appear on the back of the box or on an e-commerce website offering downloads of the game.
  • In-game Text – Storyline, dialogue between characters, signage, character bios, game menus and instructional prompts all require well-crafted copy.
  • Promotions – Blog posts, social media content, press releases, email campaigns, ads, articles with tips and tricks, printed brochures and sell sheets must all be professionally written, as they can greatly influence the success of a game.

Developing the content for each of the above areas requires a copywriter who understands video gaming and also video game marketing. For developers working towards a deadline, these copy elements can really throw a wrench in the process.

in-game copywriting

Not only is in-game copywriting essential, so is quality copy for marketing and promotion.

An experienced copywriter can ensure the copy is written within the available time frame and is effective in enhancing the quality of the game and generating sales.                                 

DIY Tips for Promoting Video Games

If you have a game to promote and are planning to do the copywriting yourself, keep these five pointers in mind:

  1. Be excited about your game. Your enthusiasm will be contagious. Your audience will be able to tell if you don’t believe in what you made!
  2. Don’t forget the girls. Females account for almost half of U.S. gamers. Keep that in mind so you’re not always saying ‘he’ or ‘him’ (unless the protagonist is male, of course).
  3. Keep it simple. Refrain from using overly complicated terms when an easy word can get the job done. And go easy on the video game and computer jargon. Casual gamers won’t understand graphic specs and computer hardware-speak.
  4. Write conversationally. Be casual and relatable. This isn’t a term paper for Freshman English. It’s okay to write like you talk, even if every sentence isn’t grammatically perfect.
  5. Use bullets. Numbered or bulleted text is a great way to break up big chunks of copy and allow for white space to create an uncluttered look. It’s also a good way to convey a lot of details such as product features. Bullets are delightfully easy to read, which is especially important since visitors often skim instead of read and also may be viewing your site on the small screen of their phone.

writing game copy

When writing game copy, think about what will entice and engage your players.

Getting Started on Your Promotional Copy     

Your goal for the copy should be to keep the reader engaged and interested. Provide answers to questions such as these:

  • Who do you want to buy your game (male or female, young or old)?
  • What will they like about your game? Provide a game play overview
  • Why is your game special? Is anything about it innovative or technically advanced?
  • What are the game’s features? What makes it authentic and realistic?
  • Who are the game’s main characters?
  • What are its specs such as how many players and what category it’s in such as action, adventure or role-playing?
  • How is your game similar or dissimilar to games the customer might already be familiar with? (If you liked Game A, you’re going to love our Game B.)

Ideally, you can entwine wit and attitude in your writing. You’re a skilled storyteller who can communicate across different channels and connect emotionally with gamers. 

video game promotion

Long before your video game is released, you should be promoting it to your target audience.

The Importance of Pre-game Promotion

Whether you’re a startup company or a well-established force in the gaming industry, you’ll want to begin promoting your game long before it’s ready for sale. Create a big build-up in advance, targeting potential buyers and priming them for the big release.

Most gamers can name at least one game they have bought purely because of the hype. Whether or not the game lived up to the hype, is another issue.

With the right copywriting, the gaming community will anticipate the release and you’ll see fast sales from day #1. Even if you’re a big company and your name is already known and trusted in the gaming community, you want to create a buzz about your game long before it hits the market. 

Why You Should Consider Hiring A Copywriter     

If you’re an indie game developer and your budget for promotion is tight, you can write your own marketing copy. But to maximize your results, consider working with a professional copywriter, someone who not only understands video game marketing but also search engine optimization (SEO), which is the key to coming up in search results on Google.

professional copywriter

Hiring a professional copywriter will help maximize sales and ensure the success of your game.

From the in-game copy to game-enhancement materials such as character bios and historical background, to the video game’s description, all copy content needs to be carefully written.

Remember, effective copy draws and keeps visitors on your sites and platforms. Hiring a copywriter is an investment that ultimately pays for itself by helping to build your brand and to generate for your game. With the right copy, you can be confident that you’ve taken all of the steps necessary to ensure your video game’s success.

* * * 

Tabitha Goodman is a freelance copywriter who enjoys writing for the gaming industry. She is also an avid gamer herself but considers playing video games “research” for her work.

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