The Future is Gaming.
It feels like we say the same thing every year, but 2018 really was the year that gaming blew into the mainstream.
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V became the most financially successful media title of all time with an estimated $6 billion in revenue, far surpassing bestselling films such as Star Wars or The Avengers. The release of Red Dead Redemption 2 sold 15 million copies in its first eight days since release.
Gaming also entered Hollywood with Ready Player One, the cult gaming novel, released on the big screen courtesy of Spielberg.
And Fortnite happened. The cultural phenomenon is over 125 million players strong. When pro-gamer Ninja was joined by Drake to live stream the game, it became the most watched Twitch stream in history with 628,000 viewers.
So, people are playing games, but they’re also watching. Twitch has a 2.7m UK reach with a 25 minute average dwell time and five out of the Top 10 earning YouTubers post content centred around gaming. These have naturally opened up opportunities which brands are making use of, but does bring us to question of where 2019 is heading.
2019 will see brands play catch up to the mainstream adoption of games. This will be in part be across ad placements within games and video content on the likes of Twitch and YouTube. But the more exciting opportunities to access that younger, hard to reach audience are through partnerships.
eSports is forecast to double its audience to 600 million people in 2020, and generate revenues of more than £1bn globally. Some brands, like Coca-Cola and Snickers, are already capitalising on these audiences. Xbox and Sony are head sponsors of tournaments across the globe. As eSports’ popularity rises, and avenues to watch grow, we will see more marketing opportunities here too.
But the impact isn’t limited to brands with a gaming angle. The technology honed will seep into mainstream marketing. AR and VR have both been most popularly adopted within the gaming industry, making gamers comfortable to consume content in that way. This paves the way for marketers in other sectors to use the same tech. Currently these have been more PR-led experiences rather than wider marketing campaigns: 2019 could be the year where gaming ‘normalises’ other realities.