Marketing a game isn’t as simple as sending out a press release and making an announcement on your social media pages. Far from it.

Instead, game developers must create a whole narrative around the new game. What’s the story behind its creation? What are the themes within the title? What can players expect? And more importantly, why should players play this slot? There is a lot going on behind the scenes to create a whole new experience, develop new engagement strategies and find the best possible way to incorporate the wants and needs of players. 

But what happens when this slot title is a part of a longer-running franchise? Let’s take Money Train 4. Marija Hammon, Chief Marketing Officer at Relax Gaming, explains that the marketing strategy doesn’t necessarily change too much when marketing a game that is part of a franchise. In fact, it’s actually slightly tougher.

In a chat with SlotBeats, Hammon takes us back to the release of Money Train 4 – this time, however, with a marketing twist as she discusses all things streamers, affiliates and looking for new inspirations.

SlotBeats: When it came to launching Money Train 4, Relax of course wanted to make a big impact. What was the strategy behind the launch? and how much weight did Relax invest in organic outreach?

MH: Money Train 4, like all of its predecessors, has been met with extremely high expectations, from those within the iGaming industry, and players alike. Such was the anticipation for this release, it was imperative that we maximised every single opportunity to ensure we amplified promotion ahead of its launch.

In the months leading up to release day, we went the extra mile to share stories that celebrated exactly why everyone is so enthusiastic about the Money Train franchise. Truthfully, it’s not been at all difficult to sing this game’s praises considering it has had such a monumental reception from the outset, picking up multiple awards and firmly cementing itself in iGaming history. 

We have always known that Money Train’s loyal player base has been growing steadily from the first release, so we made a conscious effort to focus our efforts on catering to these devoted players. Our Senior GPO, Callum Sultana, and his team prioritised listening to player needs when developing Money Train 4, observing trends in order to tailor the game to their preferences. It was important that we kept open lines of communication, ensuring these fans knew that they were being heard.

When you have a game that offers so much in the way of stand-out mechanics, distinctive features and highly achievable wins, you have to consider yourself truly blessed. We’ve worked hard to refine our launch strategy, however it’s a title that sells itself on merit.

SlotBeats: With this being the final instalment in the series – how did the strategy differ when launching Money Train 4 shift compared to previous iterations? And from a wider perspective, how has marketing for the Money Train franchise differed to other Relax titles?

MH: As the final instalment in the Money Train franchise, we were given a fantastic opportunity to look back, reflect and celebrate everything that had come before it whilst also shouting about everything that’s new in this closing chapter. This was ultimately the key focus of our marketing efforts.

There have been many twists and turns since the very first day our development team came up with the idea for Money Train when scouring the casino floor in Vegas. It has been extremely satisfying to be able to go into great detail about the creative processes that have led to our success.

When marketing most game releases, you don’t necessarily want to look back, but Money Train 4 is the culmination of several years of hard work, and we owe it to the franchise to showcase our learnings over the years and celebrate our success as we bring the curtain down one final time. 

SlotBeats: Looking at player-facing publications – how important is this marketing channel becoming for major studios to reach players directly?

MH: Reaching players directly ahead of release is critical, not only for Relax, but for suppliers across the industry if they have any real ambition of achieving their desired results. This is especially pertinent for games that have operator understanding and that resonate like the Money Train series does.

For the last two years Relax has actively increased the number of partnerships we have with leading streamers and affiliates. I believe suppliers have been guilty of underutilising these avenues, which is a huge mistake as they’re home to strong communities of incredibly passionate players.

A key game like Money Train 4 creates ample amounts of anticipation and excitement in itself, and delivering game info directly to these publications in a timely manner is essential in capturing audiences and ‘riding the wave’ of the release, so to speak. 

We quickly recognised the benefits of working with these communities and as a result we’ve been able to highlight elements of a game that may well have been overlooked, bridging knowledge gaps and generating additional buzz around releases. Failing to do any of the above when planning an effective and modern marketing mix is where campaigns can often mean an inability to reach intended targets.

We pride ourselves on our strong relationships with key player-facing publications within the industry and will continue to work harmoniously to deliver unique content week-in-week-out.

SlotBeats: When it comes to organic and word-of-mouth strategies, such as player recommendations, do you believe game studios can rely on this alone for a title to gain traction, or does there need to be serious weight put behind it?

MH: In a word, no. In this highly competitive environment with so many fantastic titles to choose from, word-of-mouth in itself is just not enough. No matter how good your product is, it takes a lot of focused planning and strong delivery across multiple channels to ensure a game gets off the ground.

The weight applied to a game’s promotion doesn’t have to come in the form of heavy financial investment, but what it does require is time and effort, and lots of it.  With this you can ensure that the intended message is delivered to a broad spectrum of players.

SlotBeats: As an extensively experienced industry marketer – what do you think the key components are to marketing a top game successfully? What factors do you need to bring into play?

MH: There are so many factors that go into marketing a top game successfully, starting with delivering that all-important game information to both operators and the player community. 

You cannot assume that people have time to read all of the details, therefore packaging key information clearly and succinctly is essential. This applies to any marketing efforts, and goes beyond our industry. It is truly unfortunate how – despite a lot of work – many campaigns and launches fall flat purely due to poor messaging and associated promotional campaigns. 

Another element is of course background narrative. A lot of players and operators enjoy a strong theme, storyline and unique characters, allowing an additional element of interest from a marketing standpoint. Learning more about the creative element and process behind building a game with behind-the-scenes snippets is also always a crowd-pleaser. 

It might sound obvious, but failing to make best use of the creative assets available is a huge mistake that you see some marketers make. Studios work hard to create captivating visuals and it’s up to marketing teams to use these as a base to formulate engaging content, bringing these creative elements to life in a new and captivating way.

SlotBeats: Do you think the igaming industry is perhaps missing a trick when it comes to creating effective marketing campaigns? Can we take any lessons from other industries?

MH: I certainly wouldn’t say it’s ‘missing a trick’, as there are a lot of talented individuals and teams in the marketing space. However, it is always important to stay on top of marketing trends, and that includes studying movements and efforts outside of the industry too to see if there are any campaigns that could cross over. 

Inevitably, it has become increasingly challenging for content and marketing efforts to stand out. This challenge is occurring around the world due to digital saturation and the pure volume of information we are exposed to on a daily basis, but also on an industry level due to maturation and growth. 

I firmly believe marketing teams need to be more selective and deliberate in their marketing initiatives, focusing on quality vs. quantity. You cannot have the same attention and focus on all game products if you want to achieve high visibility and impact in your campaign efforts.

What’s more, I think inspiration and learnings should always come from everything and everywhere, not just other marketers. Keep your eyes open, heart in the game, ideas creative, communication strong and efforts sincere. Do things with soul, or don’t do them at all.

SlotBeats: Last but not least, onto streamers – we’ve seen them be a key driving force in player popularity with previous Money Train iterations. How integral has been that to Relax this time around and with Dream Drop’s anniversary earlier this year?

MH: Relax has always embraced the streamer community with open arms. They are a strong and valuable voice within the wider iGaming ecosystem. We place a high emphasis on fostering and growing these relationships and plan to strengthen this area of our marketing strategy going forward.

The streamer community provides important visibility, interaction and commentary that brings awareness to a game’s potential in a faster, more direct manner than any other form of marketing.

We are absolutely honoured that the streaming community continue to support our efforts and give truly glowing coverage to leading Relax products such as the Dream Drop Jackpot and Money Train franchise. Long may this continue!