May 22, 2020
Once upon a time, gamers were seen as schoolyard outcasts, work-shy dreamers, and lone rangers who struggled to fit into the real world. But now the old stereotypes are dead - from older women to athletes, kids to accountants, everyone is enjoying gaming now.
Our world is rapidly becoming a gamer’s paradise, what with artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and mobile marketing growth. Tech Jury estimates that the gaming industry will be worth $257 billion in 2025. For years, the gaming industry has been an enigmatic challenge that many marketers have failed to crack. In a niche space where revenue was intrinsically linked to the launch dates of major games, marketing in the gaming industry has traditionally been an unpredictable, frustrating venture.
Until now, when we are seeing 2.5 billion around the world playing games, across all demographics.
The big question for marketers is: how can you tap into that and maximize your own brand’s visibility in the uber-competitive gaming industry?
As you’ll soon see, the answer lies with gaming influencers.
Influencer marketing is no secret, as major brands from all industries are piggybacking on the reputation of social media celebrities on a variety of platforms to reach wider audiences. All it takes is the right partnership with a relevant player, and your product can go stratospheric.
Social influencers can make thousands of dollars with a single post, and those with large audiences are capable of raking in $250,000 or more – and this is especially true with gaming influencers on YouTube and Twitch.
Many of the biggest influencers in the gaming industry started out like any average teen gamer, going square-eyed into the small hours of the morning despite protesting parents.
Some may say that gamers are lazy and should get a real job, so it was quite fitting when the energy drink, Red Bull, teamed up with probably the most popular gaming influencer in the world, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, to release limited edition Red Bull Ninja cans. Presumably, they give him the energy to continue making a fortune playing video games.
Along with YouTube, the biggest stage for influencers in the gaming industry is the hugely popular streaming platform, Twitch, where members can hook up their console, computer or smartphone to stream live videos of themselves while playing a game.
While there are some ever-present influencers, like Ninja, Shroud and PewDiePie, there is also fierce competition. With global audiences and a constant battle for supremacy, gaming influencers present an abundance of marketing opportunities.
So, how can you crack it?
According to a 2021 survey, 227 million Americans were playing video games, an increase in no small part due to the effects of the pandemic.
Even though it’s gone mainstream, many marketers still find it tough to connect with people. But it’s not as complex as you think. Instead of looking for new-fangled ways of engaging people, you just need to leverage what we already know about modern marketing and about marketing after Covid-19.
By looking at five key reasons for the growth of the gaming industry, we can see parallels with the growth of digital marketing as a whole. Once you understand this correlation, it’s much easier to tap into the potential of the gaming industry.
Just consider these stats:
This is a massive, readily-engaged market for companies to target. By pairing up with a gaming influencer that is relevant to your brand and products, you can quickly build brand awareness and boost leads.
The perfect example is the game, Brawl Stars. The creators, Supercell, teamed up with 10 influencers to promote the game pre-launch, helping them acquire 5 million registrations after announcing the release date. Since then, the game has been covered by many other influencers and is now the most played mobile game on YouTube.
Where once the typical gamer might have been an acne-ridden boy in a basement, it’s now just as likely to be an older woman.
Today, 45% of gamers are women and girls. In fact, the most avid mobile gamers are middle-aged women. How’s that for a paradigm shift?
For brands who want to start marketing in the gaming industry, this is great news. The massive numbers of Gen Xers and Millennials online offer companies partnerships with people who actually have disposable income.
The YouTube duo, Rose and Rosie have a following of over 1 million on their page Rose Ellen Dix, which touches on lifestyle topics like relationship advice and LGBT issues. They have managed to leverage this following to promote their other page, Let’s Play Games, where Rose and Rosie do game walkthroughs and explore games on a live stream for their loyal audience.
While many male gamers gravitate towards battle games and car racing, companies who align themselves with women’s interests may find partnerships that come with a more diverse audience.
The rise of video marketing goes hand-in-hand with the growth of the gaming industry. Video content gets more engagement and influences more consumers. Studies from Smart Insights assert that video content will account for 82% of all the data traffic in the world by 2022.
Gamers happily while away hours watching gaming videos, with most gamers on YouTube, Twitch and other platforms spending more time watching others play.
But they aren’t just watching anybody - they want to watch gaming influencers in action. Gamers can follow top influencers to learn tips, discover new games, and fall deeper in love with their greatest obsession.
The undisputed kingpin is a Swedish gamer, Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the moniker, PewDiePie. Despite some unfortunate racial slurs that cost him a partnership with Disney, his 110-million-strong following continue to tune in for his videos.
When Amazon swooped in and acquired Twitch for a cool $970 million in 2014, many wondered how the gaming platform would fit into Jeff Bezos’ plans for world domination. As the cloud computing market has since blossomed, the answer became obvious.
After buying Twitch, Bezos launched Amazon Web Services in a clear statement of intent, but Amazon is certainly not in an echo chamber. Rival digital giants have joined the fray, causing massive disruption to the traditional gaming console space once monopolized by Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox.
Cloud gaming has steadily become a juggernaut, with the global sensation Fortnite being instrumental in the explosion of the online gaming industry, followed by other cross-platform games like Animal Crossing, Battle Royale, and Roblox.
For a gaming influencer, streaming live content is an important part of the job. As such, the continuing growth of cloud services will pave the way for many lucrative partnerships and promotions in the years ahead.
When Social Point Games wanted to promote their game Monster Legends, they opted to partner with Mark Fischbach, aka American YouTuber Markiplier. Fischbach had a charted history of using his influence for good, with several livestream campaigns raising thousands for needy causes including Save the Children. With over 30 million subscribers he certainly qualifies as an influencer.
This proved to be a smart move by Social Point Games, as the company and the influencer were a perfect match. The company was well aware of the value of social consciousness in the modern era, understanding that almost 90% of consumers will switch brands based on a connection with charitable causes or efforts. When Fischbach announced he would donate $10,000 to the Miracle Foundation charity, many people were keen to check out his review of Monster Legends.
Every company wants more brand awareness. If you can create awareness for a good cause during your marketing campaign, your brand will quickly gain a sterling reputation that people gravitate towards. It’s the cheat sheet you need to establish trust with potential new customers.
Fortnite is a global phenom because it broke the mold. Not only is it available on all platforms, but it took the age-old formula of the traditional fighting game and ripped it to shreds, choosing to create diverse, relatable characters instead of a stereotypical bunch of testosterone-filled action heroes.
Women are in love with games now because of moves like this, and they have plenty of strong female gaming influencers to be inspired by, such as SSSniperWolf, who has 9 million followers, and iHasCupquake, who has accrued over 2 billion video views.
Social Point Games won more fans with Monster Legends because they put social good at the forefront of their marketing campaign.
There’s a common thread here:
Marketers are trained to go niche, but marketing in the gaming industry involves everyone. By crafting a more inclusive, welcoming brand identity, you will attract more attention, and foster greater trust with people.
And who better to help you do that than gaming influencers? The traditional champions of the misfits.
If you can partner with the right influencer, you can move your brand up a few levels, and unlock a ton of bonuses along the way. To learn more about branding and marketing in all areas of digital marketing, have a look at the DMI Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing.
(First published May 2020 updated December 2021)