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How brands should target gamers in 2021

Posted by Jay Cox on 29th June 2021

Since my early memories of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on PlayStation, the gaming landscape has changed dramatically.

In recent years, we’ve experienced the rise of esports, subscription services and the boom of mobile gaming — with the value of the gaming industry now exceeding $300 billion.

Don’t think that this growth is slowing any time soon. Lengthy lockdowns throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have turned many people to gaming to escape the nightmares of the real world.

Despite their widespread popularity, videogames are one of the most misunderstood forms of entertainment. Now, gaming isn’t just something you can do, it’s something you can watch — and it’s eating into the consumption of traditional media.

YouTube alone has over 200 million daily users watching video games content. Not to mention all the other platforms you can watch on.

This explosion of gaming provides a potentially lucrative opportunity for brands across various industries. There’s a misconception that gamers’ only interest is games, but ultimately, gamers are humans who need the same everyday products and services as anyone else.

So, how do you reach this ever-expanding audience?

First, forget the gamer stereotype

When hearing the term ‘gamer’, many people immediately think of young isolated men downing energy drinks and smashing keyboards.

While I’m sure these gamers exist, in reality, there were 2.7 billion active videogame players worldwide in 2020, so it’s an incredibly diverse community. The average age for a European gamer is now 31, and in the UK, women make up roughly half of gamers.

What’s more, games span so many different devices and genres. Brands need to understand that there isn’t one way to target a gamer. In the same way there is not one way to target sports fans. You wouldn’t go after golf fanatics in the same way you’d target skateboarders, would you?

Engage with gaming influencers

Many brands are already jumping at opportunities to work with influencers, for instance, to target Gen Z. This can also be very successful when it comes to targeting the gaming community.

For many people, support for their favourite streamer, esports pro, or team can be likened to the genuine affection felt by football fans for their club. Brands have a great opportunity to work closely with these influencers and produce content that resonates with the audience — much like we see collaborations with traditional athletes.

As well as viewing for entertainment, streamers’ viewers are often there to learn and improve their own gameplay, so there’s already a level of trust and influence.

However, brands have to demonstrate a genuine interest in gaming to back up their influencer engagements. Gamers are notoriously good at sniffing out imposters who have just stopped by for their money.

Align with their interests on multiple platforms

Those who enjoy gaming are hugely active across online platforms. So, forget traditional media outlets. The best way to back up your efforts is through social media content.

You might even consider starting gaming-specific social media for your brand if you really want to show you’re serious.

Targeting just one social platform won’t get you the desired results. You need to have an active presence on a mix of channels, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Reddit and Discord. If you’ve never considered marketing on Discord, check out this blog.

To sum it up, gamers are just regular people, who happen to have a passion for playing games. If you make the effort to understand their interests and genuinely contribute to gaming discussions and content, across online platforms, they’re often more receptive to brands than other audiences.

But, if you’re not authentic, gamers are not afraid to let you know.

Jay Cox