Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
The word “gaming” is an umbrella term describing what is actually a vast, unique ecosystem of community and opportunity. From streamers, lifestyle and culture, to eSports competitions and tournaments, today’s global circumstances have accelerated the growth of the industry and fueled consumer adoption of gaming. The barrier to entry for brands in the gaming space may appear high (and even intimidating), but armed with the right cultural context and insights, the potential for brand ROI is even higher.
At the Elevate Summer Session, Brand Storytelling hosted gaming personality and entrepreneur Jerome Aceti (aka JeromeASF) with additional brand and gaming experts to explore the intersection of gaming and branded entertainment, the entry points and audience benefits, how brands are navigating the gaming landscape, and the whitespace for success. Here are three major insights into the multidimensional gaming ecosystem that can benefit brands looking to harness the untapped power of gaming.
Gaming is Everywhere
How mainstream and pervasive is gaming? Our panel of experts shared that 55% of Gen Z identify as gamers. 46% of “perennials” (millennial parents) consider themselves gamers. The intersectionality between gaming, entertainment, fashion, and culture is most pervasive in the habits of Gen Z and Gen Alpha, demonstrating that that gaming is synonymous with culture in 2020. Couple this with the global pandemic and rising boredom, and the number of people turning to gaming not just to play, but to watch others play, deems it safe to say that gaming is on the rise. The confluence of available technology, game variety and quality, and an inability to socialize safely in the traditional way, means that for the first time, brands are able to partner with game titles and companies to host events and experiences that garner a massive youth turnout. Crossover events are massively popular, reflecting the intersectionality of sports and culture and the various interests held by today’s young people. This new wave of opportunity is one brands can get involved with more creatively than ever.
Game Streaming is On the Rise
An emergence of multiple platforms that allow gamers to stream directly to their fanbase (yes, gamers develop fanbases now) is happening. Streaming gameplay/ game viewing grew on YouTube, but was cemented by the success of Twitch, the most extensive game streaming platform today when measured by hours watched. Last year Facebook launched its own dedicated game stream. Add sites like Mixer and Smashcast to the list and you suddenly have genuine options when it comes to looking for which platform, its players, and audience have the largest share of your brand audience. There is now a direct-to-consumer pipeline where brands can partner with influencers and personalities. People who watch gaming streams watch up to 3 hours on average! Game streaming is officially rivaling traditional video streaming, making it something brands should begin to seriously consider, if they haven’t already.
Gaming is not Divorced from Cultural Conversations
As our nation goes through major changes related to holding people accountable for their misdeeds, fighting for national equity and justice, and coming together to quell a pandemic, so too do the various industries that are feeling the effects of the current cultural shift. Streamers punctuate rounds between games by promoting petitions for justice and accountability. Twitch personalities are launching their own campaigns to encourage voter registration and help get their audiences out to the polls. Gamers are even holding moments of silence and protests in-game to demonstrate solidarity with people marginalized and victimized by a broken system. Although it’s important to consider and honor the cultural and social implications of entering the gaming space, ultimately if a brand is looking to enter the conversation in a genuine way, this is one way to do it. There is a current marriage between brand messaging and what’s being reflected in the world, and brands looking to demonstrate the authenticity of that messaging and build trust have the opportunity to partner with personalities within the gaming world who have already established trust with their audience.
There are great incentives for brands to harness the untapped power of the gaming space. But jumping into gaming as a brand without doing one’s due diligence can be a death sentence. Knowing what you don’t know is paramount and pushing a narrative that is incongruous with the natural ebb and flow of your partner or platform will result in being ousted by the audience. When considering entering gaming based on the reasons above, be sure to lean on publishing partners, talent partners, and gamers themselves to navigate the cultural waters of gaming and ensure that you don’t appear to gamers as a bad fit, a novel entry, or a total bust. Succeeding in entering the space in a natural way that’s aligned with your partners will result in reaching a new and very dedicated audience.
About Jordan Kelley
Jordan Kelley is a versatile creative intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. He is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of visual media.