The M4 World Championship semifinals, held in January 2023, attracted an impressive audience of over 4.2 million viewers all engrossed as professional gamers clash in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.This is more than just a game; it's a high-stakes event where professional gamers compete for victory.
By the time the final whistle had blown, fans had collectively invested 80 million hours watching their gaming peers compete for a prize pool of $800,000.💣
Gamers today thoroughly enjoy watching other gamers stream their play. Forget Netflix - the new prime-time viewing is on Kick, Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook, where day-to-day streamers reign supreme in the gaming community.
This trend presents a massive opportunity for forward-thinking brands aiming to extend their marketing strategies within the burgeoning creator economy.
In this article, we delve into the realm of the gaming world's creator economy, explore the potential it holds for publishers and advertisers, and offer insight on forging strategic partnerships and designing effective campaigns.
The gaming world is buzzing with a new kind of star power - the creator economy. This is where creative individuals, like content creators and influencers, use digital platforms to share their original content. It's a fresh take on entrepreneurship, where creativity and expertise become the currency.
In the gaming community, two main categories fuel the creator economy: Gaming Influencers or Streamers, and Creators of User-Generated Content, which includes Player-Generated Content, brand activations and Game Modifications (Mods).
Streamer's are the new superstars of gaming. Think of them as the Selena Gomez of the gaming world. Take Richard Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja. With a whopping 23.7 million subscribers across Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Kick, Ninja's journey from an esports competitor to a Twitch sensation is nothing short of inspiring.
So, why do gamers flock to streamers like Ninja?
Here's the scoop:
Collaborating with these influencers during their streams and content creation can extend your brand's reach beyond the game itself.
Engaging with streamers allows brands to connect with gamers during their "away from the game" moments, fostering lasting relationships with a loyal community.
While players enhance their gaming experience through their own content, brands have begun to understand the potential of integrating their identity directly into the gaming universe.
This can range from in-game activations to collaboration with game development studios that specialize in designing unique game experiences.
Brands are using the early stages of the metaverse and popular games like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite to connect with audiences in unique ways.
This approach, known as brand activations, involves creating in-game events, challenges, or experiences.
For example, Fortnite has hosted concerts with artists like Travis Scott and Marshmallow inside the game. These events entertain players and also advertise the artists' music.
Collaborating with game developers and publishers allows brands to create immersive experiences that resonate with gamers.
These experiences can involve launching new products, hosting brand-themed events, or inviting players to explore brand-created virtual worlds.
For instance, Louis Vuitton created a pop-up store in "League of Legends" where players could buy digital items for their characters.
This form of interaction transcends traditional advertising, integrating the brand into the game's very fabric and making it a memorable experience for the players.
The shift from player-generated content to brand-led activations highlights the evolution of the gaming industry as an important platform for brands to showcase their identity and create deeper connections with their audience.
Mods take place “around the game”, which is where brands will be able to reach gamers who are looking for the latest mods to their favorite games.
Mods, created by players, alter a game's code, assets, or mechanics to introduce new features, thus enhancing the gaming experience beyond its original design.
Take Minecraft, for instance, a widely known sandbox game brimming with modifications (or “mods”). In the original game, players can explore, build, and interact within a virtual world made up of blocks. An addition of a Lord of the Rings-themed mod, transforms their map into Middle-Earth, introducing new elements and experiences.
Creating mods demands specific skills like game development knowledge, programming skills, and modding tools.
In the creator economy, we find hobbyist modders like Eli, or Elianora, a modder who’s well-known for her Skyrim and Fallout mods. She also streams her gameplay on YouTube, where she has over 17,000 subscribers.
Community modding teams also unite to produce significant mods like Project M for Super Smash Bros: Brawl,
Mods are made available on a range of third-party websites, such as NexusMods, mod.io, Overwolf, and CurseForge, where gamers can download them - often for free.
By tapping into the modding community and supporting their projects, brands can reach gamers who actively seek out new modifications to enhance their gameplay.
The gaming environments - in-game, around the game, and away from the game - each present distinct opportunities for brands to connect with gamers through the creator economy.
By understanding and utilizing these different environments, advertisers can create a holistic strategy that enhances their impact.
They can meet gamers where they are, offering relevant and engaging content that resonates with their interests and experiences.
By embracing these environments, brands can truly become a part of the gaming world, enhancing their advertising impact and forging meaningful connections with gamers.
The gaming industry is more than just a playground. Revenue is expected to grow by 7.89% each year, which results in projected revenue of more than $521 billion by 2027.
The industry's vitality opens a unique window for brands forming ties with the gaming community. By teaming up with gaming creators, brands can unlock:
Joining forces with gaming creators provides a unique opportunity to extend your brand's reach and engage with a highly receptive audience who are ready to be entertained.
A great example of this is the inclusion of a Red Bull fridge in Ninja’s announcement that he will move from one streaming platform to another. This is a huge moment for his subscribers and millions of gamers were curious to know more about his decision.
The ad takes the form of a press conference, where Ninja answers questions from interviewers, all played by himself and dressed up as different characters. See for yourself how Red Bull capitalized on this moment:
Samsung, on the other hand, realized that it can engage with young gamers who want to make a living from esports or become streamers themselves. Many of them hope that they will one day have their moment of fame, just like Ninja had with Travis Scott.
Samsung recreated Ninja’s origin story but from the imagination of a young gamer’s daydreams. They showed how she can “up her game” by “upgrading to Galaxy”. Have a look at the full ad below:
When it comes to user-generated content, game publishers have been known to partner with modders to encourage community-driven content that enhances their games.
Case in point, Ark: Survival Evolved had a sponsored mod program, where they encouraged modders to create new content that could be added to the original game. Today, more than 5,700 mods have been uploaded under their Steam Workshop.
On their website, they explained that mods have contributed mightily to the game's longevity and variety. “We’re very grateful to the talented content creators who make them,” they added.
At the start of June 2023, Twitch changed its advertising rules, which would reduce the profits that streamers make through partnerships and advertisements.
This seismic shift sent shockwaves through the gaming community. Renowned streamer Penguinz0, boasting an impressive following of over 13 million, swiftly posted a video on YouTube ominously titled “Twitch Is Dead”. He wasn't alone. Many streamers mirrored his discontent threatening to leave the platform.
In just 24 hours, Twitch retracted these guidelines, stating that it will not prevent streamers’ ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors. “You will continue to own and control your sponsorship business,” one Tweet read. Such occurrence is also a reason why new stream platforms, such as Kick, have been on the rise.
The streaming community values fair compensation.Gamers get it—ads pay the bills. If your brand can present fair monetization opportunities, expect a warm welcome from the gaming community.
Gaming creators are eager to partner with brands that offer value to their lives.
If you’re ready to team up with gaming creators, consider these strategies to attract the best match:
Remember: Gaming creators share a deep, personal bond with their followers and subscribers. Treat creators right, and their audience will regard your product with the same respect.
The perfect gaming creator partnership could set your brand alight in the gaming community. Reach out to iion to get the ball rolling.
If you want to leave your brand’s mark on the gaming community, you need to break free from conventional thinking. Gamers are constantly exposed to weird and wacky worlds, so they respond well to unusual marketing.
Pringles did a great job of connecting with the gaming community with their West of Dead advert, where a zombie is lured out of the game and desperately reaches out to the Pringles that the gamer is eating. Have a look at the original ad below:
However, they didn’t stop there. To create more intrigue around their Pringle-loving monster, they teamed up with Leahviathan, a British streamer who plays a variety of games. They invited her to their studios and recreated their ad.
While live streaming and playing West of Dead, the same zombie from their ad “climbed through her screen”, determined to grab the Pringles she was eating. She and the zombie, who’s dubbed “Frank”, then spent some time together on-screen. Here’s a video she released a while later recounting her experience with Frank:
The Pringles campaign was well-received for several reasons. Here’s why it worked and what to consider for your own campaign:
To kickstart your partnership with gaming creators, reach out to iion for the latest tips and tricks on crafting effective campaigns that resonate with the gaming community.
The gaming creator economy presents a unique platform to reach a diverse and engaged audience. However, successful campaigns require more than mere collaboration with gaming creators.
Creating ads that span across environments and incorporate creators generally have a higher recall rate than utilising only one advertising avenue.
Therefore, brand advertisers should consider:
If you’re looking for full funnel media buying, audience and contextual targeting, and integrated performance measurements, a platform like iion could be for you. It's immersiion platform has a “game influencers and streaming inventory” option for advertisers.
The gaming world is more than a playground; it's a dynamic and evolving marketplace ripe for innovative marketing strategies.Partnering with gaming creators can provide a significant boost to brands and products.
These creators know gamers inside and out, and they can engage with them in ways gamers enjoy.
Gaming creators are rapidly gaining popularity. Ninja has even started a Masterclass that teaches young streamers how to build their personal brands and get noticed. This means that more and more gamers will join the creator economy. 👩👨🧑👧👦🧒
Amplify your brand's reach and influence in the gaming world. Partner with iion to unlock the full potential of creating gaming advertising experience and captivate the passionate gamer audience.🚀
Game influencers usually provide a business email address in the "about" section of their streaming profiles.
However, these accounts often get spammed, so ensure your email stands out as a business inquiry.
Before contacting them, research to personalize your proposal, emphasizing mutual benefits and offering creative ideas. Be flexible and open to negotiation.
A gaming influencer marketing campaign involves advertisers and game publishers teaming up with prominent gamers and creators to promote products.
Influencers showcase these products to their followers in an engaging way, creating positive responses.
The campaign's success hinges on the influencer's credibility and their authentic presentation of the product.
The gaming industry is set to expand, potentially reaching over 3.8 billion gamers by 2027. As the industry adopts new trends, like in-game microtransactions and esports, new advertising opportunities will emerge.
Gaming marketing strategies are tactics to promote a game. These may involve building pre-launch hype, leveraging content and social media marketing, and forming influencer partnerships. The aim is to grab gamers' attention and persuade them to try a new game.