Over the course of the last decade the relationship between brands and video games has evolved. It’s not just gaming-related hardware and software that markets through gaming but big brands like Addis and Gucci as well.
They integrate their brands into games, pay esports teams to display their logos, sponsor gaming influencers to promote their products and more. Approximately one-third of the earth’s population play our kind of Grande Vegas online casino games or video games and slowly, companies are seeing the wisdom in establishing their presence in this sector.
Gaming’s Explosive Expansion
The global video game market size was estimated at $155 billion in 2020, $195.65 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $220.79 billion in 2022.
From $120 billion in worldwide revenue in 2017 to an anticipated $320 billion in 2026, no one is denying that this is an industry on the rise.
Even though supply chain issues are creating a slight downturn in sales this year, it’s clear that gaming will be a key sector in the entertainment industry in the coming years.
Some of the growth has been fueled by the pandemic – an estimated 50 million Americans started playing video games during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 – but there are other factors involved in the growth of gaming including the growing popularity of esports, new platforms and new ways to play.
Marketers are watching the numbers carefully as they identify new opportunities to promote their wares. They note that gaming is popular with all ages and demographics, with the majority of players in the highly-lucrative 15-30 age bracket.
In addition, marketers see the gaming industry as a path leading into the Metaverse, the next big iteration of the Internet. As much of the world’s population enters these more immersive online worlds, marketers see opportunities for their brands as well.
Marketers are aware that the audiences that they want to reach can be found on platforms such as Discord, Twitch and TikTok. Jo Twist, CEO of UKIE points out, "We have more than three billion people who play games regularly.
More than half of the UK population plays games regularly, the fastest growing demographic is actually women age 40 and over, we've got the whole of the Indian continent, the whole of the African nations, South and Latin America – all these unexplored audiences and potential reach for these incredible worlds."
Meta's entertainment lead and creative strategist Jane Kinnaird agrees. “One of the main reasons that any kind of gaming platform or environment that people are spending time in is compelling, is people are there because it's where they're spending their enjoyment time. If as a brand I can associate myself with that joy, I'm building affinity and I'm building something far stronger than if I interrupt a TV show that no one's watching, which isn't really useful. If you can do it well as a brand and you can partner, you are becoming part of a universe that someone loves to be in, that someone WANTS to be in and expresses themselves freely in. And I think if you can be part of that self-expression and you can facilitate it, you're creating something that is of more value to a user. I think I've always said that any advertising – because that that's my background – should either be entertaining or useful. In a gaming environment, you can be both at the same time so it's mind-blowing."
How Brands are Leveraging Gaming
Some brands are slow to the move to leverage the opportunities that marketing to gamers delivers but others have moved full speed ahead with their marketing efforts in the gaming sector. They do this in several ways:
- Live Streaming – Live streaming has become an essential marketing tactic. By advertising on streams, brands can engage directly with consumers in a cost-efficient way. Brands can more easily penetrate into their desired markets by advertising on live gaming streams.
- Influencer sponsorships – through influencer marketing, customers are often more open to making purchases. Customers come to “trust” the gamers that they get to know and are more likely to accept their advise regarding suggested purchases.
- Placements – Brands are placing products in games. Players who see those objects inside the game can then purchase the object in the real world.
With its centrality in importance to entertainment, culture and innovation, the gaming industry is considered to be one of the most important sectors for marketing. Marketers need to realize that different niches of gaming require varied approaches to SEO.
To improve the quality and quantity of traffic through organic search engine results, it’s important to understand the type of content that your market is looking for – be it rulebooks, gaming blogs, portals, tips & tricks, etc.
By knowing what is driving your users, you can build your content to draw that specific audience. Market research should be directed to help ensure that the brand is promoting the right product in the right place.
Gamers appreciate efforts that reach out to them and to their specific interests as gamers. Brands can facilitate this in a number of ways including by getting involved in esports – options include sponsoring esports teams and players, sponsoring esports events, partnering with esports influencers and hosting team events.
Most importantly, it’s vital that the company be creative. Some forward-thinking brands have created brand advergames, mini-games within larger, well-known games. Vans World did this within Roblox and within a year, it had attracted more than 60 million visits.