The gaming industry has experienced exponential growth in recent years, surpassing traditional forms of entertainment such as TV, music, and film. With over 227 million Americans playing video games regularly, the gaming market presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with a diverse and engaged audience.
We’re exploring the power of influencer and social media in gaming marketing campaigns, showcasing successful campaigns from various brands, including some we’ve pioneered. These case studies demonstrate how gaming brands can effectively tap into gaming communities and drive impressive results. We also delve into the importance of selecting the right platforms, engaging with the gaming community, and providing immersive experiences. As the gaming industry continues to thrive, it is crucial for brands to recognize its potential and embrace innovative approaches to connect with gamers.
1. Saints Row
1. Saints Row
This campaign is a best-in-class example of brands looking to reach a gaming audience by activating creators outside of the traditional gaming stereotypes… and that’s not just because we were the brains behind it.
For the relaunch of Deep Silver’s Saints Row we activated some of the UK’s top YouTubers entertainers including GeorgeM (Memeulous), Josh & Archie, and Yiannimize. In the content, we had our creators jumping out of planes, recreating a Saints Row themed car IRL and even hacking the UK music charts (getting a top 30 hit btw).
The campaign drove 12 million impressions, 15,000 clicks, 9.2 million video views, over-performing our deliverables by 124%, and helping Saints Row attract more than a million players in the first three months. With these results in mind, you’d argue that our most ambitious campaign to date was a successful one.
By taking the elements of the game and bringing them to the real world, together with Deep Silver we were able to actively engage gaming audiences without directly submerging them in gaming content, instead focusing on being disruptive. Thus curating a best-in-class example of gaming influencer marketing “away from keyboard”.
Crocs sought to expand their branding to the world of gaming, as it aimed to grow its international fanbase virtually through a partnership with Minecraft, offering an augmented reality (AR) experience. The experience featured dual gameplay modes “sport” and “chill” to reflect both the Minecraft and Crocs brands, respectively.
The “Choose Your Mode” campaign announcing the release of the Minecraft x Crocs special-edition shoes launched in February. But with the addition of AR, it looked to bridge Crocs’ physical products with a digital environment, meaning the game could be launched by scanning a special, branded pair of Crocs using a smartphone. The experience became available through AR on May 16, with the chill mode taking the user into a relaxed gaming world based on Minecraft’s creative mode, while the sport mode takes players into a survival mode-based environment where they must avoid the surrounding lava.
Users could gain access by visiting ChooseYourMode.net and scanning their pair of Minecraft x Crocs special edition shoes that featured two Minecraft-style Jibbitz charms on the sides.
The physical products were available in sizes for both adults and children and could be purchased through the Crocs e-commerce site.
The brand activated influencers across multiple platforms, sending them a variety of products to promote in their content to align with the collaboration with Minecraft.
Katie Penza, marketing director for Minecraft, said in a statement:
“Our collaboration with Crocs was inspired by creativity, self-expression and adventure, and our aim was to bring together the Minecraft and Crocs communities in new and inclusive ways that bridge the gap between digital and real-world experiences.”
Mark Boyd, co-founder of Gravity Road, said that the AR experience represents “an innovative step forward” in merging the physical and digital realms to delight fans of both brands.
3. Need For Speed
For the launch of EA’s Need For Speed: Unbound, we were tasked with raising widespread awareness and driving consideration amongst communities beyond just gaming.
Using content creators, we sought to generate buzz, excitement and conversation across social through a series of content drops. Each piece of content aimed at reflecting the different Need For Speed themes and elements from within the game.
To capture further communities from outside the gaming narrative, we collaborated with creators from the artistic community, car customizations, and fashion & lifestyle influencers. Focusing on these niches helped in tapping into a diverse mix of personalities who (respectively) held niche, but relevant audiences for the game.
From August to November 2022, we scheduled content drops that saw 56 influencers distribute 93 posts to TikTok and Instagram, along with four YouTube videos and 176 Instagram Stories. From this, we delivered over 28 million impressions, an average engagement rate of 14.48%, and nearly 1.5 million total engagements.
Working with artists and creatives across the UK, Germany, France and the US to implement their unique art-style helped bring the NFS theme to life through physical creations. We also identified car enthusiasts in each territory to work on unique NFS designs for their vehicles, allowing for long-form YouTube content.
With our lifestyle and fashion influencers, NFS dropped an exclusive Unbound box, with clothing inspired by the game and the campaign’s messaging. We designed and produced the box for influencers, which contained two t-shirts that featured our content design on the back. These designs were then showcased through influencer content across social.
To round the campaign off, we invited influencers to a lunch event to capture content and promote the game to their audience. 10 top-performing influencers were invited along to highlight the campaign’s messaging and to drive communities to purchase the game through a personalized call-to-action.
The Mcdonalds McCrispy chicken sandwich tantalized tastebuds… and provided quality lumbar support? Well not the sandwich, but a bespoke gaming chair equipped with greaseproof leather, sauce, napkin and fries holders, launched by the fast-food tycoon.
In addition to a burger, and chair release, McDonald’s hosted a launch event party, inviting a mix of content creators and celebrities, like Elz the Witch, Manny, Manchester City footballer John Stones, Keith Lemon, Big Narstie and more. The event, titled Ultimate Gaming House, saw creators and celebs compete against one another on the popular soccer-centered game, FIFA. McDonalds were able to bring together prominent figure from gaming, entertainment, music and sport verticals, drawing in a range of diverse audiences, which highlights the unique engagement opportunities that come with hosting IRL events, and the content shared across multiple platforms.
This campaign highlights the fast-food chain’s eagerness to tap into the rapidly growing community, engaging them with a once-in-a-lifetime centric experience with the chance to win a McChair, out of a total four in existence. McDonald’s isn’t the first to target the gaming community in this way. IKEA have launched their own line of gaming furniture as they too, have sought to expand their reach into the subcultures of gaming.
5. LogitechG Aurora Collection
Turn heads. Explore new worlds. Have fun. This was the key messaging behind LogitechG’s ‘Play Your Way’ campaign. The brand launched the Aurora collection, a range of gaming peripherals designed for all players to play ‘their’ way. The brand looked to spotlight gender inclusivity by activating creators from the LGBTQ+ community. Through each influencer’s content the messaging referred to the Aurora collection as “everything you need for a new generation of gaming.”, a phrase which might certainly come to fruition.
A 2020 Nielsen survey found that 10% of all gamers over the age of 18 identify as LGBTQ+. Three years on this could be a fraction of the new number, considering the rise of LGBTQ+ narratives within the gaming industry, and the emergence of creators in this community on the creator-sphere.
6. Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
EA’s eagerly anticipated Star Wars: Jedi Survivor dropped late April. To build hype around the launch and drive more audiences to download the game, EA sought after content creators across social media.
To kick things off EA injected a blast from the past, partnering with Mark Hamill on TikTok. Hamill – for those who don’t know – was the man behind the character Luke Skywalker. Throughout the two pieces of TikTok content Hamill is seen giving his best advice to fellow “Jedi Knight” Cameron Monaghan, who plays the game’s main protagonist Cal Kestis. Fun fact, both actors have also played popular DC villain, The Joker in separate works. Anyway, viewers on TikTok got the chance to get a behind the scenes look at some of the motion capture elements used within the game, along with a helping hand from their good friend, nostalgia.
Building on the back of the initial activation, EA partnered with various art & crafts, design, lifestyle, fashion and entertainment influencers on Instagram. Their goal, build a life-size version of the Stinger Mantis ship, and bring the game’s main character to life through outfit styles and unique creations.
Gaming campaigns have long been accused of being one-dimensional. By that, we mean that influencer activations often consist of a creator playing the game they’re promoting, which in 2023 is a bit of a copout. By thinking outside the box, and activating a diverse range of creative… creators, EA have expanded their reach to audiences in new niches such as, lifestyle, fashion and art. And for the hardcore Star Wars, and gaming fandom, there’s good-old Mark Hamill to fill the nostalgic void.
7. Dead Island 2
What would you do during a Zombie apocalypse… How would you survive? We’ve all thought about it.
Dead Island 2 put that to the test.
Ahead of the game’s launch in April, Deep Silver hosted an event for creators to develop their zombie fighting skills. From axe throwing to smashing watermelons with a sledgehammer, and even facing mobs of actual (not actual) zombies!
Over on YouTube, BrittHertz put her skills to the test for a video titled ‘I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse’. In this dedicated ad, Britt put herself through a series of survival challenges, similar to the ones players encounter in the game. From lock-picking to fighting a zombie one on one, this activation focused on bringing Dead Island 2’s ‘zombified’ themes to life.
DeepSilver (again) highlight the successes of partnering with creators away from their keyboards, and working with creators away from the gaming vertical. Sometimes, all gamers is want is some good ol’ fashioned entertainment.
The Gamerverse in 2023 and the potential for brands
Gaming is now one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, even overtaking TV, music and film amongst Gen Z.
In fact, over 227 million Americans load up video games one to a few hours per week.
Contrary to popular belief though, gamers aren’t confined to Gen Z and millennial audiences. Roughly 76% of under 18s and 67% of adults are active gamers (ESA, 2020). Even over 65s are getting in on the action, with 7% of the bracket sharing a passion for video games.
The gaming industry had its ‘big-boom’ during the pandemic, as a result many predicted a gradual downturn in growth, market value and overall media consumption.
Smiling in the face of adversity, the gaming sector has been rife with significant investments and mergers, like Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision’s Blizzard, that have catapulted the landscape to new heights. It’s indicated that the market value will surpass $296.5 billion by 2026. As for the number of gamers, it’s estimated that there are 3.22 billion console, PC and mobile gamers globally.
There are plenty of contributing factors at play for this unprecedented growth. Mobile gaming is now a major driver, accounting for around 45% of global games revenue (Statista, 2022). The rise of the ‘hyper-casual’ gamer has seen a greater rate at which audiences are consuming gaming content through media consumption, broadening the appeal and attracting new audiences. Esports is continuing to expand, leaning into the world’s of traditional sport, music and entertainment, and the metaverse, VR, and AR technologies are starting to integrate with mainstream channels.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve and thrive, it is imperative for brands to recognize the potential that lies within this dynamic space. By embracing gaming as a platform for innovation, engagement, and market expansion, brands can position themselves at the forefront of this rapidly growing industry. The time is ripe for brands to seize the opportunities presented by gaming, build lasting relationships with gamers, and unlock new avenues of success.
5 tips for brands looking to break into the gaming industry
One could argue that there are endless possibilities and ways for brands to tap into the gaming market. As an agency pioneering the gaming influencer marketing space, here are our top 5 tips for brands looking to break into gaming.
- Identify relevant gaming influencers: Research and identify gaming influencers who align with your brand’s target audience and values. Look for influencers with a sizable and engaged following within the gaming community.
- Collaborate with influencers: Reach out to gaming influencers for partnerships, sponsored content, or product placements. Allow them creative freedom to showcase your brand in an authentic and engaging way that resonates with their audience.
- Leverage sponsored content and giveaways: Encourage influencers to create sponsored content featuring your brand, whether it’s gameplay reviews, unboxing videos, or live streams. Additionally, consider hosting giveaways or contests on social media platforms to generate buzz and engagement.
- Engage with the gaming community: Actively participate in gaming communities by responding to comments, sharing user-generated content, and organizing events or tournaments. Show genuine interest in the gaming community and foster meaningful connections.
- Know your platforms: You need to know where your target audience is, and the gaming community spans the likes of YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitch, giving you a large pool to sift through. Despite its range, core gaming audiences primarily use Twitch and YouTube, it would be wise to invest time in both platforms and get to know more about what keeps drawing your audience back to those platforms.
By implementing these strategies, brands can effectively tap into gaming influencer and social media marketing to engage with the gaming community.
Gaming social media & influencer marketing – Final thoughts
The examples provided showcase the successful integration of brands into the gaming industry through influencer and social media marketing. Each campaign demonstrated a unique approach to engage with gaming audiences, leveraging content creators, collaborations, and immersive experiences. The campaigns not only generated significant impressions, clicks, and video views but also helped drive brand awareness, consideration, and ultimately, conversions. These success stories highlight the effectiveness of targeting gaming communities through platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and hosting real-life events to connect with diverse audiences. As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, brands can capitalize on the immense potential by embracing gaming as a platform for innovation, engagement, and market expansion.
To learn more about gaming marketing or how to market on gaming-centric platforms like Twitch and YouTube, then check out our platform guides. For help with your brands gaming marketing campaign, get in touch with The Goat Agency team.