Expanding Demographics and Changing Behaviors Have Transformed the Gaming Industry

It’s not hyperbole to say that the gaming industry is booming. In 2020, gaming brought in $155 billion in revenue, and by 2025, that figure is expected to rise to $260 billion, a 67% increase.[1] Tech-giant, Facebook, has already carved out a chunk of the streaming market and Apple has recently out-earned veterans of the video game industry like Activision, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony.

The reasons behind the huge growth in video gaming are partly due to changing player demographics. Whereas video game-play was once associated with reclusive, socially awkward boys playing alone on their home consoles, gaming has expanded to include a wide range of ages and genders. In short, gaming has become mainstream and more people are playing.

But it’s also the multi-player phenomenon that has propelled video gaming to new heights. Way back in the 1970s, the concept of multi-player games got its start when players could compete for high scores on arcade games located in chain restaurants like Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheese. Soon, players could compete with each other from the comfort of their own homes using consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey or Atari 2600. Eventually, personal computers and more advanced consoles made it easier to play with multiple people, and the internet paved the way for the kind of interactive gaming that’s possible today.

Video gaming is now recognized as a form of entertainment that has become increasingly social among a diverse demographic population. But the generations that are the most avid gamers are Millennials and Gen Z – two generational cohorts that have grown up with social media. Gen Z also prefers playing video games to other forms of entertainment like watching TV or movies.[2] 

Given their love of gaming and that social media is a daily part of their lives, it’s no surprise that Millennials and Gen Z would seek out gaming influencers on the video platforms that best showcase this kind of content. Gamers who want to learn more about a game or how to play it – or even watch reaction videos of other people playing their favorite games – are drawn to gaming influencers on YouTube Gaming. Twitch is a live streaming platform owned by Amazon and is the second most popular gaming platform. Twitch followers are on the platform to watch gaming live streams and tune in to eSports influencers. 

Gaming influencers have revolutionized the way people play, view, and talk about video games, and they get credit for developing loyal fanbases that regularly engage with their content.

Increasing Development Costs Has Led Game Marketers to Look for More Efficient and Effective Promotional Tools

The gaming industry is known for pushing technological boundaries and creating innovative ways for gameplay to take on new dimensions. As augmented reality and AI become integrated with video games, it’s getting more and more expensive to develop a game.

Game development costs can vary widely. In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 cost $50 million to develop, with $200 million set aside for marketing.[3] Indie games are much less expensive to develop, but can still cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Game companies – regardless of size – need to find efficient ways to promote their games in order to offset development costs.

Gaming influencers can help game companies build awareness of their games as well as drive purchases. Since video content on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming has exploded in recent years, gaming influencers have been able to draw hundreds of thousands of viewers – and sometimes millions – per post. 

In the second quarter of 2021, Twitch viewership was 6.51 billion hours, and Facebook Gaming reported 1.18 billion hours of viewing, which is a 40% increase over the early months of 2020.[4] YouTube viewership has slipped during the past few quarters but is hovering around levels seen in 2020.[4]

It’s clear that game companies need to promote their games on these highly-viewed channels, and influencer marketing has proven to be an effective way for followers to engage with a brand. Plus, influencers create their own content, which can save money that would have been allocated to advertising production costs.

What to Consider When Crafting an Influencer Marketing Campaign With Gaming influencers

The most important elements of putting together an influencer marketing strategy include:

  • Goal-setting
  • Deciding on a target audience
  • Choosing gaming channels
  • Establishing a budget
  • Selecting influencers

Setting Goals For Your Gaming Influencer Marketing Campaign

Before you set out to create an influencer marketing strategy, know what you want to accomplish with your efforts. Are you trying to create awareness for a new game, generate leads, or drive purchases? 

Setting goals in advance will steer you toward the tactics that will help achieve your objectives and will make communication with your influencers more clear. But goal-setting is also a way to determine how well your campaign performed when you compare your results to what you expected to achieve.

Here are some common goals to consider:

  • Awareness – If you are introducing a new game, you’ll want the influencer to create name recognition and explain how the game is played.
  • Engagement – Encouraging more likes, comments, and shares 
  • Conversion – Driving purchases or downloads
  • Customer Retention – Turning players into loyal fans of your game

Defining Your Target Audience

Deciding who you want to reach with your influencer marketing efforts will dictate which channels you’ll use and the influencers you want to contact. If your game is targeted at Gen Z women, you’ll probably want to reach out to female YouTubers. But if you want to reach a mostly male audience, your strategy will lead you in a different direction.

Choosing Gaming Channels 

Choose a platform based on how well it delivers your target audience. For example, if you’re trying to reach women with your gaming content, choose YouTube from the available gaming platforms since Twitch is primarily male. Twitch also delivers a younger audience, as over 40% of its audience is between 16 and 24. Because YouTube gaming is a much bigger platform with more diverse gaming influencers, you’re less restricted in the type of audience you can reach there.

Establishing a Budget

How much you have to spend will ultimately impact your choice of influencer. Tyler Blevins (@Ninja) who has nearly 22 million YouTube subscribers is going to cost a lot more than a YouTuber named Tom “Syndicate” Cassell with just under 10 million subscribers.

Selecting Influencers

You don’t need to hire a top YouTube or Twitch influencer with a subscriber count of a million followers, but make sure the engagement rate is high. Twitch or YouTube gaming influencers should also like playing games similar to yours and be active content creators. Also, consider what kind of content you want to use to promote your game and how well the YouTuber channels deliver this type of gaming content.

It’s also wise to screen for controversial behaviors. Some gaming influencers try to stand out by being edgy, and if that’s not something you’re comfortable with or if you believe it will hurt your brand, you’ll want to steer clear of these kinds of content creators even if they’re viewed as successful influencers.

If the influencer-selection process seems daunting, you may want to work with an influencer marketing agency that has experience with analyzing gaming influencers. Agencies have the resources that make it easy to identify the top YouTuber channels or find a Twitch streamer who will be the best fit for your game.

Include Influencer Marketing as Part of Your Video Game Marketing Strategy

Game marketers use a variety of methods to reach gamers, including branded content and ads on social media, discussion forums on Reddit or Discord, and Live Events. But when you add influencer marketing to the mix, it can make your game come to life. Millions of loyal subscribers are regular viewers of popular gaming influencers and are eager to hear what they have to say about the games they’re playing. 

Gaming influencers are seen as no-nonsense gaming aficionados and their recommendations carry a lot of weight, so including them in your marketing mix can help you achieve your brand’s goals.