Five things you need to know about gaming

Shervin Behzadi

Fuse have been delivering world class partnerships and experiences for our clients across sport, entertainment, cause and culture for close to a decade, however one particular industry that has grabbed our attention for all the right reasons is gaming. Since the turn of the century the rise and subsequent crossover of the games industry into the mainstream has made many across the media and creative industries sit up and pay attention. With more and more brands wanting to play in this space owing to the industry’s pull over the digital-native generation, there is still a fair bit of confusion about the sector as a whole.

Here are five essential facts….

Big numbers

Aside from sport, the video games industry is the biggest entertainment category in the world, bigger than both film and music combined, securing revenues of close to $100bn in 2016 and projected to reach $119bn by 2019. To put this into context, Star Wars: The Force Awakens took 12 days to reach $1bn at the box office. Grand Theft Auto V took only three days to reach $1bn sales.

So why does this matter? Well, unlike movies and music which have used sophisticated marketing models for decades, the environment for brands within gaming is still maturing.

The audience

The antiquated stereotype of the geeky, spotty, teenage gamer is now in the past. To put it simply, playing video games is cool, having firmly cemented its place as an integral part of popular culture. Look at the stats and you’ll see that 51% of gamers are aged between 18-35, with a near-even gender split with 52% to 48% divide in favour of males. Delve deeper into the audience data however and adult females now emerge as the largest demographic. They now trump both adult males and teenage boys, as family-focused consoles like the Nintendo Wii and mobile gaming have become available.

Impressive yes, but remember, audience figures are incredibly nuanced, so depending on the platform and game, the demographics splits will vary.

The ecosystem

Advances in technology have driven gaming from its console and pc mainstays, to a multi-device, globally connected industry in which time, location and hardware are no longer barriers. This interconnected landscape, with its hyper-engaged community, will continue to evolve at pace and will be driven by five key pillars over the next decade.

Competitive gaming /eSports

eSports, video gaming’s competitive arm attracted 256m viewers in 2016, with revenues topping out at just shy of $1bn. It has become a global spectacle with hundreds of annual tournaments played out to sold-out arenas across North America, Europe and Asia.

Much like traditional sports, eSports has a range of disciplines, of which the four most popular are Strategy, Fighting, First Person Shooter (FPS) and MOBA (Multi Online Battle Arena) the biggest of them all, thanks to title Dota 2 International setting a new record for the largest prize pool available within professional sport, with $20m on offer. The winning team took home $8m, compared to Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon where he collected $2.5m. This is thanks, for the most part, to a unique funding structure that sees 25% of in-game purchases added to the prize pools.

Broadcasters

Gaming can no longer be ignored as a medium to engage consumers. 47% of gamers play daily, spending an average of 40 mins per session. Not only is this nearly three times higher than the average time spent daily on YouTube, but these engagements are stronger as well, with consumers’ attention focused entirely on the game during their play time. Attention on YouTube is split across multiple genres and interests (sport, music, politics, comedy etc.)

Competitions (and gaming as a whole) are now streamed via services such as Twitch, to 100m viewers a month, accumulating 16bn minutes of viewed content in the same period. Numbers like this have seen traditional broadcasters turn their attention to the space, with ESPN’s $500m Dota 2 deal, BT Sport building a bespoke eSports studio and Sky’s new Sky Sports Mix channel showing, amongst other things, drone racing.

So in conclusion….

Gaming, whether competitive or casual, attracts big audiences and even bigger finances. The audience is diverse, affluent, and digitally savvy and with brand involvement growing, there will never be a better time to invest in gaming and all it has to offer.