Breaking down IP, player research, and marketing with Deconstructor of Fun’s Jen Donahoe

Nov 28, 2023

Join us as we interview Jen Donahoe from Deconstructor of Fun. We discuss the importance of player research, building for a niche audience, how to compete without huge marketing budgets, and how to approach IP licensing and development.

Jen shares her journey from making Star Wars toys to working with gaming giants like Riot Games and EA. With expertise in both digital and physical gaming, Jen delves into the intricacies of leveraging intellectual property (IP), pitching to companies like Disney and Hasbro, and building successful original IPs. She also emphasizes the importance of understanding players' motivations and using innovative marketing strategies, including harnessing the power of platforms like TikTok and YouTube. From creating unique game concepts to engaging community-driven content, Jen offers valuable insights for navigating the dynamic landscape of the gaming industry.

About Jen Donahoe

Jen has worked alongside developers in marketing, publishing, and growth roles. She specializes in product marketing, helping developers make the right game for the right audience while fulfilling a market need and developing go-to-market plans that inspire players. She’s also established publishing organizations and led new teams while educating leadership on the values of UA, mobile publishing, and product marketing.  Currently, Jen is a Marketing Consultant at JadeInferno Consulting and a Strategic Marketing Consultant at BetaHat Market Research. You can also hear her on the game industry’s leading podcast, Deconstructor of Fun’s This Week in Game, and Deep Dive episodes.

In this episode, you'll learn:

00:51 - Jen’s new partnership with Marketing Research firm BetaHat and what they’re offering to gaming companies around the globe.

01:34 - Jen’s start in the gaming industry and how it all began with her dream job making Star Wars toys at Hasbro.

03:10 - Jen’s advice to mid-size gaming companies on how to evaluate whether to license IP for their game and what to consider.

04:54 - The tactical steps to approach someone like a Disney or Hasbro to get an IP deal done and what information you need to include in your pitch.

06:58 - The criteria that an IP holder uses to evaluate a team that wants to license their IP.

07:26 - The lead time one should expect when trying to get an IP licensing deal done.

08:22 -  The necessary ingredients for creating original IP and what to keep in mind when setting out on that journey, including examples like Supercell’s and Rebel Moon from Netflix.

10:19 - Jen’s advice for new gaming companies and how to drive success, including: understanding your audience, finding your key differentiator, and using tools like TikTok to lean into virality.

12:53 - The power of YouTube and why it shouldn’t be overlooked, including some real-world examples from Jen’s time at Riot Games.

15:29 - How to effectively test your game marketing and the number of channels to test at the same time.

16:16 - How gaming companies can better understand their players, including tactical steps and some helpful vendors/platforms.

18:26 - How successful games build viral mechanics into their games that increase retention with examples from Sim Social and Monopoly Go.

20:31 - Jen’s thoughts on today’s gaming business environment and what gaming leaders need to have top of mind to be successful.

22:57 - Approaches that Jen sees gaming companies use today to plan for the future.