THE RISE AND RISE OF GAMING
When brands consider big media opportunities in 2021, Gaming should loom large. In 2020, the global video games industry is projected to reach $159b in revenue, which is almost three times that of the music industry (and around four times that of box office revenues). In the U.S. right now, more 18 to 35 year olds subscribe to video games than traditional pay TV. All of this behavioural change sees Gaming positioned as a front runner in fuelling growth across the entertainment industry. So for brands looking for screens to show up on in 2021, the console-connected screen (and the conversation, community and culture around it) needs to be in that mix.
NU CONSOLES: XBOX SERIES X AND THE PLAYSTATION 5
One part of the surge story in 2020 Gaming has seen the launch of not one, but two brand-spanky new, serious hardwear consoles. What better year for two of gaming's juggernauts, Microsoft and Sony, to release their next gen models? In the last few weeks gamers readied their dens, took time off work and broke the internet on the release of both the new Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5 consoles. Each console has something for everyone. No matter what type of gamer you are, you can lose yourself in a world of beautifully rendered visual fantasy, cutesy laugh-alongs or the latest instalment of your personal fan favourite legacy title (hello Assassin’s Creed Valhalla!)
“I think the main thing I want from a next gen gaming console is to be blown away visually. My favourite memories from playing the PS1 through the PS5 have been loading up a new game and being shocked at how realistic a new game is compared to the last one. Next Gen needs to be a total step above the last in graphics for me to consider picking it up” - Ben. 21
A NEW TYPE OF GAMER
Unless you live under Mario’s very own rock, you’ll know that in March 2020 Nintendo released their much awaited Animal Crossing New Horizons game - the perfectly fun, sweet and all-encompassing virtual world (sorry, Island!) game to play away the lock-down hours. This title is a perfect example of how a game can create its own community and culture, which rises in popularity and becomes part of more mainstream culture too (think Tom Nook tees and Isabelle cosplay!) This game brought non-hardcore gamers into the fold - as well as older gamers, younger gamers, cool mums ‘n’ uncles and mobile gamers. The new 2021 gaming audience is wide and holistic, with each type of gamer finding the right game, community and culture for them. And so we see the evolution of the 2021 gamer profile: and it is everyone who loves Gaming!
Activision Blizzard (makers of mega titles like World of Warcraft, Call Of Duty) conducted recent research where they found that less than half of all gamers actually identify as ‘gamers’ at all. While ‘High Intenstity Gamers’ account for 40% of all gamers, only 4% of gamers are in the ‘Hardcore Gamer’ bracket, leaving rough 56% of the rest of the gaming audience defined as ‘non-gamers’.
“I love how Gaming is evolving. It is becoming a more open, welcoming, fun community. I wouldn’t call myself a hard-core gamer, but then I don’t have to in order to play games. I can be a gamer and just enjoy playing handheld games like Super Mario Bros. 35 on Nintendo Switch. I can also love the culture around gaming too - just like with music or films I’m into. For some Gaming fans, they don’t actively play, but enjoy watching others play in tournaments or love watching their fav Twitch or Youtube streamers play for hours on end.” - Lyn, 34
When we talk about 2021 gamers, think anyone with a console, handheld device or browser. Consumers are looking to be immersed in a fun, personalised bubble, in their own digital world - while also being distracted from the ‘doom and gloom’. And so gaming offers the perfect mix of fun, escapism and distraction for our 2021 audience.
Think of Gaming as a tool to help you understand modern digital culture, and as a way to communicate with your audience in a culturally relevant way - as much as a physical interface for actually playing games.
Think about the conversations around Gaming as a way to connect with your audience. Global title release dates are as important (more so to some) than Christmas, 4th July or Singles Day. Tap into, listen and actively be part of relevant cultural conversations happening within Gaming - i.e. ones that are right for your brand values and support your audience needs.
Your audience is in constant need of fresh visual worlds, ways to find new communities and new ways to connect digitally with their friends and online family. Consider how Gaming interfaces or gamification of content can help bring a sprinkle of gamified achievement or excitement to your consumer experience (i.e. think Twitch streaming, AI filters, stickers, gifs and emoji’s too!)