In 30 seconds:
- If you’re asking, “How do I market my gaming business?” we’ve got you. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the gaming marketing info you need.
- Where can you market your game? There are some clever options we want to take you through.
- The changing world of gaming and Gen Z: where does it put your brand?
Let’s talk gaming marketing. With an estimated 3.24 billion gamers across the globe, the market is ready to be played. The question is, how do you stand out from the crowds of other gaming developers and get seen by the right audiences?
It’s essential to understand your target audience, what they are looking for and how you can deliver through your ads and promotions. Your brand positioning will determine where you can market your business and how you can make your gaming products pop. We’ve got the best tips, tricks and examples for gaming marketing to put you in pole position and max out your XP on your marketing strategy. Ready? Let’s press start.
The game-on generation
Games sell to all age groups, but young people are leading the way in the market. 87% of Generation Z are playing video games on smartphones, gaming consoles, and computers at least weekly, if not daily. They are true digital natives, having grown up with technology, and this extends to their downtime.
95% of Gen Z owns a smartphone, 83% own a laptop, and 57% have a desktop computer. Pew Research found that 81% of teens either have or have access to a gaming console such as PlayStation, Xbox or Wii. Of those, 91% of boys own game consoles and 70% of girls say they have or have access to a console.
Gen Z spends an average of 7 hours 20 minutes playing video games per week, the highest of all demographics. They are the generation ready to game and are constantly looking for new gaming launches, fresh updates and cutting-edge tech.
Fanbytes Senior Account Manager, Dan Jerome says “For Gen Z, gaming is also seen as a social hub; a place where you can regroup with your friends and have lots of laughs! We’ve seen this in the rise of Pro-clubs (Fifa 22) and Warzone (Call of Duty).” For Gen Z, gaming isn’t by no means a niche hobby – it is woven into their everyday lives.
But despite Gen Z’s enormous interest in and familiarity with gaming, marketing gaming to this group is complex. Brands need a cohesive strategy to stand out and cut above the noise. You need a game plan.
Gaming marketing has changed
The video game industry and the world of gaming marketing has changed dramatically over the last few years. The way marketers promote games needs to reflect this transformation.
With a global pandemic affecting billions of individuals, people flocked to gaming as a form of escapism. Consumer demand for Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) picked up dramatically during lockdowns – and VR headsets such as Oculus Rift are projected to have massive sales of over 30 million units annually by the end of 2023.
Augmented and virtual reality is an essential feature of the gaming industry going forward, and it’s not just game developers who are taking note. Digital marketing can and should accommodate and reflect this new development in online gaming.
The pandemic changed Gen Z’s experience of video games in other ways, too. Unable to meet friends in real life, this generation turned to games like Fortnite and Roblox to socialise. Gen Z was also affected by education delays and changes in schooling during lockdowns. Many organisations turned to virtual learning, with 91% claiming it’s helped. Gaming is changing education too.
For Gen Z, gaming platforms don’t just offer a space to play – as multiplayer virtual spaces where they can connect in real-time, they are a vital social and educational tool.
These changes have helped create a saturated market in which brands need to advertise in innovative ways to stand out. So, how can you update your video game marketing ad game advertising, and where can you find the right target audience for your campaign?
The gaming marketing map
There are several ways to market gaming products. Before we get into the best examples, it’s vital to know where gaming marketers are going. So let’s connect the dots so you can find the best platform for your product.
“Traditional” gaming advertising
Digital marketing is steadily displacing billboards, tv ads and magazine pages. In fact, people are tiring of ads in general. In just one year, the total number of digital devices worldwide with ad blockers rose from 142 million to upwards of 615 million. In particular, Gen Z is incredibly dismissive of TV and streaming ads, with 69% of the age group taking steps to actively avoid them.
If you’re attempting to reach Gen Z, that’s going to significantly affect your game ads. Marketers need to find fresh ways of getting their products out there, especially for younger audiences.
3.96 billion people use social media globally. That’s why it’s fast becoming the number one marketing outlet for all kinds of industries. But what are the best social media platforms for gaming marketing?
More Gen Zers use this video-sharing app than Instagram now. It was the most downloaded app in 2022 with over 656 million downloads and is still growing. It is a prime platform for reaching the most significant gaming generation yet.
TikTok’s short-form video content style makes it a great place to showcase your video game products. It captures their notoriously short attention span, and is well suited to creating a direct connection to influencers – whom Gen Z overwhelmingly trusts for product recommendations.
Whilst not solely geared towards gaming, TikTok also has an algorithm that fosters online communities around shared interests. This makes it a great space to both market to gamers, but also to expand your reach to new audiences, through different kinds of TikTok campaigns.
Many of these Snapchatting Gen Zers are gamers. Over 100 million Snapchatters have played Snap Games on the platform. It’s clear they are open to gaming products and want to see more of them. Additionally, gaming content is a constant presence on Snapchat’s Discover page. The platform launched almost 60 new gaming and esports shows on Discover in 2021.
For digital marketers of video and mobile app games, it’s vital to leverage current consumer behaviours and direct them towards your brand. Snapchat users’ readiness for gaming content is a perfect example of this.
There are over 600 million gamers on Instagram. 97% of the UK paying mobile gamers use one of the Meta family of apps at least once a week. 69% of them and 78% of high-paying mobile gamers discover new games on the platforms.
As a visual platform, Instagram works well to market visual products. It makes it a great platform for branding. Game developers can create a visually appealing profile grid (with the bio featuring a link to access the game), but should focus their attention on the app’s video tools and ephemeral content to drive the best engagement from Gen Z.
TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram all have their own self-service advertising platforms that allow digital marketers to create ads, launch campaigns, monitor performance and optimise towards their ad campaign goals – including creating ads that can link directly to a storefront in the AppStore or Google Play store – making these an ideal choice for mobile gaming.
We know that Gen Z are switched off by ads that “feel like ads”, so it takes a particular type of ad campaign to work on social media. This is something we are the experts in.
But these supported ad formats aren’t the only way you can effectively market your game on social media platforms. There are additional – and more compelling – ways you can increase brand awareness and build hype around your products on these apps. More on this later on.
Ranked as the second-largest search engine behind Google, video-sharing website YouTube is an incredibly powerful tool for game developers – especially given that video game content is one of the most popular categories on the platform. Millions of YouTube users watch over 246 billion minutes of gaming-related content every month, including tutorials, insider tips and news on new game releases.
For a great gaming marketing strategy on Youtube, gaming brands should create a YouTube business account, conduct research into their audience (and competition), learn about popular gaming channels and gaming influencers (you’ll find our favourites listed here), create engaging, optimised content, and consider YouTube advertising.
Fanbytes’ Dan says “YouTube videos’ standard landscape aspect and longer-form videos have made it the perfect place for gaming influencers and gaming enthusiasts to share gameplay from video games – and therefore, a whole host of other game-related content.”
“Advertising formats on Youtube are more limited than other social media platforms, but Youtube’s gaming influencers wield incredible power.”
The biggest global live streaming channel, Twitch is a fantastic social media platform to market to engaged gamers. This group flock to the platform to watch gaming influencers play renowned games. 26% of young adults say they access the live streaming service at least once a week, and Twitch is responsible for 31% of revenue from all gaming video content.
For a great gaming marketing strategy on Twitch, it’s important to note that the platform itself directly conflates influencer marketing with all advertising on the platform. You don’t get ad formats on Twitch like you would on other social platforms – instead, all the marketing is influencer-based.
If you want to market on Twitch, then, the best marketing agency for the job is naturally an influencer marketing specialist agency. As an influencer marketing agency with our own in-house talent management branch, we’re uniquely placed to understand exactly what goes into the best influencer marketing campaigns – including finding the best creators, and working with them to create the best content to market your gaming brand.
Fanbytes’ Dan says “It’s hard to overstate the impact of Twitch on gaming marketing. Gaming influencers are a huge component of gaming marketing, and Twitch’s live-stream capabilities means followers feel even more connected to them, as they can interact in real-time.
“The rise of Twitch just goes to show that the future of gaming and influencer marketing is about interactivity and ephemeral moments.”
Discord is an invite-only social media platform that was founded to provide text and voice chat solutions expressly to gamers. It’s a powerful tool for game developers as a hassle-free channel to engage their fans.
Discord’s channels help like-minded players to connect over their shared interests – and when game developers join to thank them for their enthusiasm, ask for their feedback on a game, or even take on board their suggestions for improvement, it’s an incredible opportunity to foster an engaged community around your gaming product.
To market effectively on Discord, then, it’s important to put the community first. Set up a dedicated Discord server, create a storefront, then provide exclusive updates and giveaways as incentives to join. Then get chatting. Open up the floor to your fans and take note of how your community behaves. Respond to enquiries, too. You can also promote your own server within communities on Discord, or join Discord’s Partner Program to unlock more ways to advertise.
Fanbytes’ Dan says “Discord works best for gaming marketing when developers think like fans, and when they think of fans as developers. Take on board their suggestions: if they see you’ve added their idea to your game, they’ll tell their friends. You’ll unlock incredible engagement and organic growth through recommendations.”
How do you market to gamers?
So now you know where the right audiences might be, it’s time to look at the best ways to start selling your gaming business. We’ve got some trade secrets to share that not every gaming marketing agency would want you to know. So let’s get into how you can get your brand out there with some winning gaming marketing examples.
1. Use influencers
89% of businesses say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. Influencers sell – but not in a salesy way (which means Gen Z are less likely to get put off). They are experts at knowing their audience and consistently delivering the goods to them.
How does it work? 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement. This is especially true for Gen Z, with 52% of them trusting influencers’ advice on the products and brands they affiliate themselves with. Getting on the influencer marketing train will help your campaigns fly.
Who did it well?
Ubisoft came to Fanbytes to promote their new game, Riders Republic; an extreme sports game. We used our roster of top TikTok and Instagram creator talent to spread the word through multiple creative avenues. We even enlisted Olympic athletes Bethany Shriever (@bethanyshriever) and Kye Whyte (@kyewhyte) along with gaming influencers to inspire users to try the game. The comments section blew up with positivity, and it generated more organic content to help the game grow.
2. Use video to your advantage
87% of marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts on social media, and for gaming marketers, video content presents a key opportunity to immerse viewers in your game and increase trust.
In recent years, there has been a barrage of gaming products that sold their games through misleading video content on social media. This may work in the short term to prompt downloads, but studies have shown that most players stop playing the game not long after downloading it.
Using video to showcase actual gameplay footage, therefore, is a vital creative route. Video clips of your game in action will demonstrate the quality of the graphics and gameplay, and will attract viewers who are encouraged to play it.
Who did it well?
Kixeye’s War Commander does it brilliantly here with complete transparency. They promote a feature of their game that they know is a true benefit to viewers and combine it with real-life gameplay footage. It’s clear and straightforward; the perfect combo for grabbing attention. It’s also supported by the copy line, “trust the reviews’.
Another way brands should use video is by making use of the native features of video-first platforms such as TikTok: users on these platforms are expressly there to watch video. If you can master the art of creating engaging content, you can not only win over your viewers, but (as we explain in our TikTok algorithm article), you can explode your reach on the platform by triggering the algorithm to send your video viral.
3. Make your content inclusive
76% of Gen Zers said they feel diversity and inclusion are essential for brands to address. That includes gender. 45% of USA gamers in 2021 identified as female. That’s up from 41% in 2020. Girls game.
This is where the consideration of how ubiquitous gaming has become for Gen Z can present exciting marketing opportunities, such as brand partnerships. An example of this is Xbox’s recent collaboration with nail varnish brand OPI for the OPI x XBOX Spring Collection. The gender gap is closing within the industry, and including female audiences in your gaming campaigns is more critical than ever.
Who did it well?
Gram Games came to Fanbytes to promote their mobile app, Merge Dragons!. Simple reaction videos were not working anymore, so we set about creating an influencer marketing campaign on Snapchat that would ignite new interest in the app. Including female influencers on the app was essential to target the 43% of females who have played games on their mobile phones. Creating new humour-based videos featuring the game proved to work wonders.
Another example comes from our work to build hype around Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Wrath of The Druids. We worked with cosplay influencers to unleash their inner Viking, challenging their followers to share their own look to win season pass codes. We achieved over 1 million influencer views from a majority female influencer-led campaign.
4. Go live
Live streaming is shaking up the gaming world, and Gen Z are the first in line. 75% of Gen Z gamers watch game-related live streams. Getting streaming influencers to promote your product is a foolproof way of boosting visibility.
Twitch is the top streaming platform for gamers, with 7.5 million active streamers on the app. It’s an authentic channel for building communities, and that’s why people keep coming back.
But Twitch could shortly be in for some steep competition. Gen Z’s favourite app, TikTok, is expanding into live-stream gaming. In late 2021, TikTok announced the launch of The Game Room. Featuring global celebrities alongside TikTok’s most prominent creators, the live-streamed series allows fans and viewers to interact with players to chat and help them while they game.
Who did it well?
Ubisoft partnered with Twitch influencer Lirik (@lirik – also known as Ali Zahid) to promote its first-person shooter game, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Seige. With Lirik’s 2 million followers behind him, he played the game and racked up 15,093 views. He answered audience questions, interacted with the community and recommended the game whilst playing. 7 in 10 Gen Zers say watching videos with others helps them feel more connected, and this campaign definitely capitalised on this.
Pssst. Gaming marketing: it’s not all about playing games
The gaming industry is a bountiful market that all sorts of brands can use. Plenty of non-gaming companies and brands have already utilised gaming apps, software and gamified advertising strategies to get their message across.
High fashion brand Gucci collaborated with Roblox to showcase their pieces in a virtual world called the Gucci Garden. This led to a sale of a virtual handbag that cost more than it did in the real world.
In-game sponsorships like Mastercard’s banner in the league of legends E-sports campaign also skyrockets brand awareness.
So gaming marketing isn’t always just about games. For Gen Z, gaming platforms are regarded increasingly as a platform to connect. All brands can therefore get on board to increase their reach and find new and innovative ways to market their products.
This is especially true when considering the metaverse. For the majority of Gen Z, gaming platforms like Roblox will form their gateway into Web3. Brands considering how they can reach Gen Z in these virtual spaces would do well to understand how these games operate, to identify where their marketing can fit.
You can read more about Gen Z’s experiences of the Roblox metaverse and what this means for brands in our article on the Roblox metaverse.
The future of gaming marketing
We know that Gen Z are turned off by the kind of “obvious” advertising they saw on TV growing up. But the impact of Apple’s recent iOS 14 privacy update, in which it changed its app tracking framework to give users a more transparent choice on whether they allow data sharing, has meant that many digital marketers have had to rethink their advertising strategies on mobile, too – across gaming marketing, and all manner of other verticals.
However, for marketing agencies like Fanbytes, this is an exciting opportunity. The focus on what makes a great digital marketing campaign on social media is shifting more and more towards creating engaging content as a priority. Storytelling is back – and we know which creative routes can capture the attention and hearts of Gen Z.
As Gen Z experts, we’re able to conceptualise gaming marketing that stands out from the crowd – and turns directly into interest and sales.
Fanbytes’ Dan says “The days of cookie-cutter gaming ads are well behind us. We get into the mindset of Gen Z – and the way they approach every game is different. It’s important that your gaming marketing strategy is fresh every time. This experience is exactly what we bring to our campaigns.”
Another item on the road ahead for gaming marketing? Web3.
Any good gaming marketing agency will be looking forward to the Metaverse. The market size of AR and VR has been forecast to hit $296.9 billion in 2024; the pandemic has altered the way people of all ages view gaming platforms; and with Microsoft’s purchase of Activation Blizzard being pegged directly as a “play for the metaverse”, it’s clear that gaming and the metaverse are intrinsically linked.
While your programmers have metaverse projects in the pipeline, it’s still possible to market games in metaverse-ready ways, right now. Consider launching a game event in a virtual space, for instance – if Lil Nas X can stage a concert on Roblox, kicking off a Call of Duty discussion in virtual reality is bound to succeed.
If you’d like to learn more about ways we could market your brand in the most engaging and up-to-date methods, get in touch. We’d love to talk you through how to beat your competition.
Influencers are one of the best routes to develop loyal fans of your gaming brand. Check out the best gaming influencers in the world through our article below. Want some more insights into the metaverse? How about AR and VR technology? We’ve got some juicy info, so get clicking: