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PlayReplay launches to tackle online marketing

Oliver Birch to head up new agency for online games as self-publishing booms

A new marketing agency has been launched today with to focus on promotion and consumer visibility for online games.

The company, called PlayReplay, will be headed up by Oliver Birch, who has previously worked on campaigns for Kuju, Rebellion and Introversion Software and will deal with companies releasing products mainly on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, DSi, PSPgo, PC and iPhone platforms.

The move comes at a time when more and more independent developers - particularly in the UK - are looking to digital platforms to communicate directly with consumers and take on more publishing responsibility for themselves.

But according to Birch the task of getting the message out about digital games isn't easy, and requires investment to see success.

"I think the challenge is simple - the power is shifting back to developers, so the developer is king in terms of creating content," he told "They are investing sizeable parts of their business into the self-publishing arena - they see the opportunity to have a direct relationship with the consumer, whereas before it would have been with the retailer or publisher.

"So it's very exciting - and creating that content takes resource, time and investment, and I think the key thing for people to realise is that they also need to invest in the marketing and promotion... They will always ask what they can do, and what are the ways to do it, but if you're investing GBP 1 million in these lower budget titles and not wanting to invest tens of thousands into your marketing budget...

"The digital shelf is infinite and even now we are seeing an increased number of weekly releases on the digital platforms. The challenge then becomes: 'How do I get visibility for my game?' Although some platform holders are making small steps to address this, there is an incredible amount of noise to cut through when influencing a customer's purchasing decision. The commitment and investment in a coherent marketing strategy for the product is the only real way to get ahead of the pack. The challenge for developers is to incorporate this into their overall business plans."

The full interview with Oliver Birch, in which he talks more about the challenges for developers looking to self-publish, is available now.

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