A passionate marketer, CEO at iResearch Services, TechInformed & GivingforGood.
Marketing in video games has been around as long as the medium itself.
In-game advertising began with Adventureland in the 1970s, when the first game touted the planned sequel. Then Budweiser created an “advergame” called Tapper in 1983.
Marketers have gotten a lot savvier since then, and game advertisements are almost everywhere now, whether you’re talking console games, online MMORPGs or PC games with DLC add-ons.
Just as marketing evolves when technology progresses, so do gaming trends based on what the next generation of gamers want (mobile games are everywhere now) and what developers produce (games that look immersive, open-world and with fantastic graphics).
But there are also larger trends on the horizon that marketers and thought leaders should pay attention to. We’ll go over four key marketing trends.
What gaming statistics can thought leaders use for their marketing efforts?
Gaming is a marketing segment that CMOs cannot ignore if they want to be successful with certain segments of their target audience.
TrueList’s gaming statistics for 2022 paint a helpful picture of the gaming industry. Three billion people are playing some kind of video game in 2022, which is expected to rise to 3.32 billion by 2024. This includes consoles, PCs and mobile games. Thought leadership marketing strategies must think beyond the big-ticket, best-selling games on consoles and instead consider games like Candy Crush, Wordle and other extremely popular games with very simple premises.
As more people needed social interactions when staying at home during the first wave of the pandemic, MMORPGs and online gaming grew substantially in 2020 and 2021. The audience for online gaming is predicted to surpass 1.3 billion people by 2025.
TrueList also reports that over 227 million people in the United States play video games from one to a few hours a week and that nearly three-quarters of U.S. households have at least one family member who plays video games. Your job for marketing strategy will be to find out which games your target audience plays.
These numbers give you a good idea of where current gamers play and who they are.
Here are four 2022 gaming trends to consider.
Engaging with these four gaming trends will allow you to invest less money (because they aren’t as popular…yet); those who get in on the ground floor will be considered marketing leaders in these circles.
1. Virtual reality (VR) takes off.
The first commercially available VR headsets were heavy, clunky and unsuited for gamers who wanted a seamless experience.
The Oculus Quest 2 and other high-quality headsets changed that in 2020. The fact that these new headsets came out during the pandemic may have helped VR take off. Other players in the industry include HP, Valve (from Steam) and PSVR for the PS5.
Virtual reality creates an immersive experience, whether a gamer prefers lightsaber-swinging action or rock climbing in fantasy worlds with exploding volcanoes. Look for more VR games and more extensive advertising options in the near future.
2. Metaverse investment continues to climb.
Inflation notwithstanding thought leaders’ voices could be heard loud and clear in the metaverse in 2022.
The idea is a shared space that simulates the real world, where gamers can interact anonymously and safely with computer-generated avatars of other users. People can meet, discuss and purchase digital assets like NFTs. A metaverse marketplace might look like a simulation of a downtown square, with storefronts, billboards and advertisements.
In 2022, several companies have already invested in the metaverse, including NVIDIA, Microsoft, Walmart and Adobe. The good news about metaverse marketing is that it’s still relatively new and inexpensive. However, it does take a learning curve to master.
3. E-sports go mainstream.
When you think of e-sports, games like Fortnite and League of Legends come to mind, where professional teams compete for millions of dollars in prize money. There’s even a Netflix reality series, Good Game, that follows e-sports teams and the drama that ensues from this high-pressure and lucrative sport. Team Liquid, the top-earning professional team, has made nearly $40 million, comparable to a racing team on the NASCAR circuit. TSM, the top e-sports organization in the world, is valued at $540 million, which approaches the worth of professional sports teams in the NBA or NHL.
E-sports advertising can get your brand in front of millions of viewers and gamers alike.
4. Retro games are back.
Much like other entertainment franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, video games are going retro.
There are several highly rated new games that go for a retro feel, like the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game Shredder’s Revenge, which features the four original voice actors from the 1980s animated series. There’s also GoldenEye 007, a legendary first-person shooter from the ’90s, which is being remastered and re-issued. And big players like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are putting their rosters of classic games online in addition to releasing new ones.
Marketing strategies can look to retro-style games for advertising buys in several gaming genres. Luckily, ads on retro games don’t have to be heavy on graphics. They can be simple designs inserted into simple game moments.
Final marketing thoughts.
Marketing within video games provides a specific way to get your brand out there. But if you don’t want to invest in video game advertising, thought leadership for this vertical often occurs on Reddit, where the top five most viewed subreddits in 2021 were all gaming-related. Reddit offers an organic, relevant way to get in with the gaming crowd and further your marketing strategy.
Marketing within video games continues to make leaps forward, with some video game publishers even producing custom ads in online and mobile games tailored to specific brands. The possibilities are nearly limitless, not only with platforms and types of advertising but also with the metrics marketing teams can use to tailor messaging. Gaming trends will keep shifting as younger generations and older developers move the industry forward, but there’s plenty of potential for marketers to tap into.