GamesBeat Summit 2024: How games marketing has shifted in the digital age

One of the highlights of GamesBeat Summit 2024 was the dissection of some of the industry’s biggest successes. In one such discussion, Tyler Bahl, SVP, Head of Global Marketing at Activision, spoke about the viral marketing success of his company’s flagship franchise, the Call of Duty series. These include its social media campaigns and connections with creators. Vanessa Chang, Head of Global Gaming Marketing, Cross-Platform at TikTok, moderated the fireside chat.

The chat began with a sizzle reel of Call of Duty’s viral marketing, including its social media and streaming efforts, to celebrate the series’ 20th anniversary (which happened in 2023). During the chat, Bahl noted that marketing around a game’s release has changed, especially with the rise of digital purchasing. “We have to find new ways to reach our audience from a digital standpoint,” said Bahl. “In addition to that, just in the last three years, we’ve launched a LiveOps business with Warzone free-to-play. We have two mobile games that are out in the world. So we are always on. It is nonstop for the marketing team. There is not a single day when there isn’t a new piece of Call of Duty content going into the world.”

Bahl and Chang spoke about creating engaging online content beyond game trailers and gameplay showcases. Chang added, “It’s about thinking beyond just playing. It’s thinking about how people are engaging with your IP outside of the game itself… a majority of TikTok gamers report that watching the game is just as entertaining as playing the game, which brings them back to the game over and over again.” They spoke about Activision’s efforts with “tastemakers” to offer unusual, bespoke Call of Duty content. “We’re trying to go beyond the ‘core,’” said Bahl.

The two also spoke about the changing needs of Call of Duty’s audience from a marketing perspective, and the two wound up the talk with a view to the future. Bahl spoke about possible uses of AI in marketing, and Chang added, “It’s always important to think about industry preferences and how marketing is evolving.” Both encouraged listeners to keep leveraging social platforms to reach new audiences.

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