This summer, once again, the Electronic Entertainment Experience (E3) was offline. In its place came the third annual Summer Game Fest, generating more than 27 million streams by gamers hungry for industry updates.
To that end, an estimated 3 billion people today identify as gamers, the bulk of whom play on mobile devices. The industry now books close to $200 billion in yearly revenue (across all platforms) in addition to $67 billion in micro-transactions, and close to $10 billion in advertising.
That last number is telling. For brands, gaming has always offered many traditional placement opportunities. You can advertise in a popular Twitch channel, game or sponsor an esports team or event. There’s nothing wrong with such tactics, as long as brands embrace the entirety of the funnel.
Games are unlike other media in that they involve strong issues of identity, community, and belonging. Rather than simply plastering a brand on a popular property, marketers can devise creative ways to enhance the experience of the people in those communities. In doing so, they can tie their efforts much more strongly to consideration and purchase.
This may seem a fuzzy concept, so let’s look at a fashion collaboration that got it right. As videogames move into the metaverse, people are increasingly seeing their avatars as extensions of their identity. That’s why Louis Vuitton partnered with League of Legends to offer highly fashionable virtual clothing. Players can buy outfits either for their avatars or themselves in real life.
Such efforts show an intense understanding of gaming culture, and anticipate user needs in ways that are true to the brand. So how can other brands get there?
Know your story.
The first step is to deeply understand your own brand story before selecting a game or platform. Certain brands have endemic links to gaming like technology and energy drinks, but the gaming world is as diverse as people themselves, and every brand has at least one community where it can play.
Invest in community.
If your approach to gaming is simply to associate your brand with a major property, you are renting space. But games are not billboards. Instead, brands need to gain access to their communities to get the real benefits of the relationship and commit to a long-term strategy.
Provide compelling rewards.
To have success with a community, you need to enhance the experience of people in it by creating content and currency that enables people to progress farther in the game or explore an entirely new side of it.
Evaluate and change.
Merely because you’re entering a world that can be hard to measure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure it.
More than just endemic brands have a unique way to integrate themselves into gaming. While passive investment is easy and readily available, don’t mistake the easily achieved with the best outcome. Instead, active engagement with a clear link to sales channels is the surest way to get a real return on your investment.
- Jon Goynshor is Head of Global Partnerships at VMLY&R COMMERCE
Originally published in MediaPost