What does a ‘gamer’ look like in your mind? If you’re “over the age of 30-ish”, an article suggests you may picture a nerdy male, who smells like Hot Pockets and plays video games in his mother’s basement. And while your vision may have been (and may still be) correct about some gamers, it’s not the case for most, especially today. The gamer you imagined is all grown up. A recent study proves it and shows why gaming sponsorships are in high demand all over the world.
The average gamer has been playing video games for 14 years, making the average player 32 years old. But, this is only for men. Females now make up almost half of all players (46%). Her average age is 34. That’s right; adults make up the majority (65%) of gamers, though it’s safe to say their kids will follow in their footsteps. In fact, a survey finds 68 percent of Gen Z males cite gaming as “a prevalent part of their personal identity.” Yet, today’s gamers don’t (stay in the basement) make gaming their primary focus.
The study reveals that, when compared to the average person, gamers are more likely to exercise, take vacations, and have creative hobbies. As parents, they are also ensuring a healthy life balance for their kids who play video games. Seventy percent of families have a child engaging in the activity. These statistics make it no surprise the gaming industry is seeing more money than ever.
A headline reads: “Video game revenue tops $43 billion in 2018.” This was an 18 percent increase over 2017’s figures and a new high for the industry. It was also the first year video game revenue topped that of the global box office, worrying both film production companies and TV networks alike. In fact, the win prompted Netflix to declare to shareholders, “Fortnite was more of a threat to its business than TimeWarner’s HBO.” This is amid reports Netflix had 139 million subscribers while Fortnite boasted 200 million players. So, what’s the draw?
An Entertainment Software Association executive sums it up well. “Interactive entertainment stands today as the most influential form of entertainment in America.” It all comes down to interaction.
Games like Fortnite bring together gaming enthusiasts, providing entertainment and creating teams, bonds, and above all, community. With the benefits this game and many others offer, the launch of esports events and competitions was a natural progression. Plus, these experiences deliver one critical element the digital interaction of video games lack. That is in-person social interaction, which only half of Americans have daily. It’s this interaction that is most meaningful to us as humans and allows any bonds we have to grow deeper and loyal. It’s why attendees tell first of their experiences at esports events that are most “personal” to them. This is versus aspects of the competition or celebrity encounters. Their stories include those of friendships made or of the excitement among family members who attended together.
These reasons combined with a passion for video games make it no surprise the viewership some esports tournaments attract is double the audience of the NBA Finals. And, it’s this following that’s attracting more brands – non-endemic brands – to get involved with gaming sponsorships. Yet, the truth is, only those that facilitate interaction among this diverse, passionate community will make sense. And it’s only those brands that get personal that will make their own connections.
Many brands are sponsoring esports professionals and influencers as a way to get in front of the gaming community. But, so many are jumping on the bandwagon, from athleticwear to alcohol to automobiles and beyond. This makes it easy to get lost in the noise. That’s why utilizing gaming sponsorships to make possible in-person social interaction and meaningful engagements make a difference. Yet, non-endemic brands and their gaming staff must show value to the gaming community. Here are five esports sponsors that have come to play – and win.
Mastercard tells its reason for getting into gaming sponsorships. The brand wants “cardholders engaged with their passions.” It’s first step was to secure title as the exclusive financial services partner for North America’s League of Legends Championship Series. Then, as part of its sponsorship, it will enhance the esports experience of cardholders in attendance by getting “the fans closer to the games and the experiences themselves”. Among the means to its goal are backstage tours, VIP seats, meet-and-greets, and test drives of the gaming PCs used during competition. Through these, in the end, the brand gets engaged as well.
Though we know near half of gamers are female, an Adweek article tells that “brands are disregarding women in esports.” And, that gives brands like Sephora that do focus on this segment an edge. As an esports sponsor of the The Girl Gamer event in Portugal, the beauty brand hosted multiple brand activations. These included makeovers for players on media day, as well as makeovers for attendees during the main event. Everyone also walked away with swag, reminding them of the brand’s impact on their experience and the community.
The auto manufacturer wants to put Gen Z behind the wheels of its cars. Knowing the number of global esports fans may reach 600 million by the year 2023, gaming sponsorships is a means for the brand to do it. That’s why it became an official partner of the League of Legends European Championship, which took place early September. The company’s VP and Chief Marketing Officer said gaming sponsorships provide a way to “approach the younger generations and get close to them naturally.” So, at the event, the brand activated a games zone where visitors played a game featuring Kia models, took photos, and had the chance to win prizes.
The experiential marketing director for Anheuser-Busch InBev knows it’s a long climb to be endemic to the gaming community. He admits the drink of choice for many gamers, who may not even drink beer, is Red Bull. But, knowing the appeal of the alcoholic beverage in other sports, he and other stakeholders want to show how the Bud Light brand fits in with gaming and why it should be gamers’ “beer of choice”. To start, the brand is sponsor of 2019 homestand weekends within Overwatch League. And to get personal and start to build relationships, it offers consumer experiences within the “Bud Light Watchtower”. He says it’s the most premium seat within all the venues and where guests can meet influencers and professionals. This is while enjoying free Bud Light, of course.
CPG giant Kellogg’s wants to make sure its snack brands, like Pringles and Cheez-Its, are in the hands of gamers. That’s why it secured sponsorship of a new Overwatch tournament for the latter brand. Still, its marketers know not all gamers will be in attendance and so it seeks to include all those passionate about video gaming. To do so, it’s hosting “Gaming and Snacking watch parties” in select U.S. Walmart stores. Shoppers and gaming enthusiasts can partake in product samples of Cheez-It Grooves, Pringles and Rice Krispies Treats, while watching the grand final events. It’s a great, yet simple way to interact with passersby and to level up their shopping experience.
At Elevate, we have the gaming staff you need to make the most of your gaming sponsorships. Our team members have the skills, knowledge, and personalities to engage consumers and make your brand part of this growing community. Contact us!