It's Time for Your Brand to Start Playing
If you're reading this, you probably already know that gaming has grown into a $160 billion industry, and that video games are now the biggest entertainment category on earth. With 3.3 billion gamers spending an average of 8.5 hours per week playing, across every demography and geography, it's easy to recognize the vast potential the category offers.
The global pandemic supercharged this adoption trend with double-digit growth across both mobile and console games. Non-gaming brands are increasingly following consumers into the gaming space with unexpected names like Hellmann's, Louis Vuitton and the Getty Museum launching successful campaigns over the past year.
But many brand managers remain on the sidelines, waiting for their own Travis Scott Fortnite rocketship moment. But they're likely to be disappointed with this approach, competing against hundreds of other brands for those opportunities who also realize we've hit a new peak of button-mashing consumer interest.
But the good news is, there is still tremendous room for growth as long as you can get past the silver bullet mentality.
To borrow some language from your financial advisor, at this point brands shouldn't look to time the gaming market. Instead, they should spend time in it. This commitment doesn't require a huge investment, and is vital if the ultimate goal is to be truly welcomed by the discerning gaming audience.
Today's gamers are wary of brand involvement in general, but love brands that continually add value to the player experience. The through-line on successful work is this: It always demonstrates a meaningful and sustained commitment to the community. And finding how your brand can best participate starts with understanding the people who play games.
"Gamers" are not a monolithic group—even the term itself feels outdated at this point. Think of these individuals through a continually diversifying spectrum, from the most core fans to casual players. Each fan community is full of nuance and with a unifying passion for their games of choice.
So, the only safe way to begin your brand's gaming journey is by bringing the above commitment and a determination to add value.
Ask yourself: What can my brand do to make the space better, to grow the culture, to make it inviting to newer or aspiring players, and in doing so weave my brand into it?
These can be difficult questions for a non-gaming brand, and you'll likely want to consult with an expert. Of course, there are gaming-focused agencies, influencer and creator shops, and all manner of partners that have degrees of gaming category expertise.
However, these old and new choices aren't built to bridge this gap of audience understanding because they're lopsided; purely gaming focused agencies are able to speak to core players, but unable to develop more general audience insights that will break through to the masses. Or vice versa—smart ad folks who don't really understand gaming.
Finding success in the new and diverse gaming world requires the knowledge of gaming experts who can beat Dark Souls but are also fluent in brand strategy, creative, media, innovation, digital, social—the whole thing. When entering the gaming space, these are many of the inputs to consider when advising gaming and non-gaming clients.
Now that you have a better understanding of the gaming audience, and awareness of what you need in partners to navigate through it, remember that above all else, gaming remains a wide-open field to play in. The challenge of finding a path is well worth the effort, because the audience's passion creates a rare opportunity to create lasting brand love and elevate your brand in the minds of a vast group of consumers.