Advertising in video games and among the massive global gaming community is a delicate and fickle beast that has yet to be completely mastered. Many traditional marketers have failed to earn attention or respect from the large but sometimes frustratingly shrewd market because of a stunning disconnect between theorized buyer personas and gaming’s objective population.
But even though establishing a genuine connection and maintaining a non-superficial relationship with a gaming audience might seem like a daunting task — especially for those who don’t game — there are still plenty of reasons you should try to tap into the gaming market. Here, we’ve listed the two most important:
Gaming is much bigger than you might think
Gaming isn’t just a hobby anymore. Gaming isn’t simply something that gamers do; dedicated gamers experience, participate, and follow the games, franchises, and brands they’re passionate about with a steadfast devotion. If you’re still not grasping the scope of the gaming community, take a brief look at the recently launched YouTube Gaming app, which aggregates over 25,000 of the most popular gaming channels.
To provide you with a more accurate perspective: The number of people who want to watch other people play video games is enough that YouTube users like Markiplier and VanossGaming enjoy a multi-million dollar net worth, and Awesome Games Done Quick can raise over $1.2 million for Doctors Without Borders in just one week.
The popularity of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) in particular is increasing at an alarming rate. If you were to compare the online fan followings of traditional American sports to MOBAs, you would find that MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have more Facebook Likes than the NHL, MLB, and the NFL, with a total of over 19 million Likes. Only the NBA tops the popularity of MOBAs on Facebook, with about 27 million Likes. With such an immense following, the gaming industry can provide marketers with a whole new opportunity to reach enormous audiences — or a plethora of smaller niches.
There are innumerable opportunities to understand new audiences
Showing up to a major gaming event and sticking your logo in a few prominent places is usually not enough to garner favorable attention from any particular niche in the gaming community. In fact, fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee might still taste an unpleasant salt when they see a Pizza Hut advertisement, after their doubles tournament was interrupted at MLG Anaheim 2014 by the restaurant’s country singing sponsor, Blake Shelton.
Nestlé, in an attempt to establish a presence at this year’s PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) East convention, deployed a food truck outside of the Boston event, giving away well over 3,000 Hot Pockets to hungry attendants. The strategy, which pandered to gamers’ willingness to participate and engage, strengthened their brand significantly, earning roughly 2,000 Twitter followers and 1,300 YouTube subscribers as satisfied fans uploaded pictures and videos of their free toasty, delicious, pastry-sandwiches during the brisk March weekend.
To their credit, Pizza Hut was responsible for one of the first major instances of in-game advertising, with digital billboards displaying the company’s logo in the North American release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. There were even Pizza Hut coupons tucked inside the game’s instruction manual as part of a small cross media marketing campaign.
Whether you’re looking to reach competitive “e-sports” gamers or casual “noobs,” marketing to the readily engaged gaming community can provide ample profitable opportunities for all types of businesses. Despite having a universal commonality, there is such great diversity in the global gaming community that you’ll be sure to find the perfect target for your brand.
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