Writing original or even just great copy is hard. No matter if you are doing press releases, blog posts, social media bits, text for campaigns or updating your Steam Store.
Still, you should avoid some of the worst clichés not only when approaching press or influencers, but also when communicating with your players, fans, community – call them what you like – customers!
Below are some of my pet peeves with regard to clichés that I would really prefer to not see in games PR and communication going forward. And just for the sake of transparency: I have used all of them. More than once!
You are not a unique snowflake
It is astounding how many games, or features in games, that are supposedly “unique!” Or they might be “groundbreaking!!”, “legendary!!!”, “epic!!!!” or even “genre-defining!!!!!”. Please add exclamation marks ad libitum.
I am sorry if I am the one to burst your bubble, but chances are that your game is not unique at all, and claiming so every time only makes your communication weaker. Letting the recipient conclude the “epicness” of what you have to offer works much better.
And then again, sometimes you do need to call out how unique your game actually is. But please only do so when you feel it is true.
Words on a string
“Behold our brand-new next-gen 3D, platform, puzzler, action-adventure game set in a first person immersive, community-built environment.”
Stringing a lot of phrases and empty words together in an effort to describe what your game is does nothing to make your communication clear or precise. On the contrary, it is just fluff and a waste of letters.
Actually, it is even worse. It is a symptom of a games industry that is often so much in love with its own products that it forgets that most people out there don’t care about and don’t know gamer lingo.
Concentrate on actually making your communication accessible to potential customers. Let them know what you are and which experience your game offers in a way that most people would understand. This is not dumbing things down – this is being smart.
We are a small team
Communicating that you are only a small team might seem like a good way to get your community or media to ease off a bit and give you some leeway. But it is a defensive strategy that is very closely related to a (bad) excuse.
You will be able to pull it off once or twice and gain a bit of sympathy for being delayed or having missed something in QA. But it is a poor long-term communication strategy that will only add to the potential toxicity of a community.
All game development teams are in essence “small” or at least smaller than what’s optimal. Even the biggest AAA game teams could use more hands on deck as evident by all the stories about crunch and long work hours.
But the main problem with the “we are a small team” is that your customers don’t have any idea of how much work making a game is or how much time is spent on something that, to the customer, looks like a quick fix or small feature
Nor do your customers have any understanding of why a game done by a 20-man team can look similar in complexity and quality to a game done by a 40-man team, while both teams claim to be small.
Instead of going on the defensive, put work into implementing as much transparency as possible into your development process and show what you are spending your resources on and why – possibly through some variation of a road map.
We are working hard
Well, of course you are working hard to get the game done, complete the update or implement the hotfix. No one is assuming that the development team is slacking and doing nothing – it is an empty phrase.
In part, the “we are working hard” cliché is closely connected to the same problem as the one presented by “we are a small team”: It’s defensive, short-sighted and your customers have no idea what it takes to make games.
But it also opens up a line of attack, especially if you have just a bit of toxicity in your community. Because is this really all that you can accomplish when working hard?
Show what you are working on, be transparent, be honest and don’t oversell or promise to do more than you are actually capable of.
If you want to have a cup of coffee and a chat about communication and what I can do for you please don’t hesitate to grab a hold of me.