Close to two-thirds of US adults are now gamers (Nielsen, 2015) – a finding shared by Peter Jonas at this year’s film music and technology festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 11-20). The head of North American games and mobile app sales at Facebook told us the reason the number is so high is because it includes casual mobile gamers, who would not consider themselves to be in the same category as hardcore console players.
The number-one game genre on Facebook is slot machine games played by “mobile whales” (big spenders in-app) – of whom 73% are married with children. “Would these people identify themselves as gamers before they identify as parents, friends, executives?” asked Jonas. “The answer is no. [As a brand], are you breaking out of the stereotypes?”
Kym Nelson, senior vice-president of sales at live-streaming platform Twitch, agreed that games continue to offer huge opportunities for marketers: “[There are] 146 million women in the US who play casual games,” for example. And while mobile gaming is on the rise, it’s not cannibalising traditional console gaming: two out of three console gamers also play on mobile.
As an example of what’s possible when advertising and gaming meet, Nelson talked through the Chappie Challenge, a Twitch campaign promoting Sony’s sci-fi movie Chappie. Over a six-week period, Twitch players were able to challenge the eponymous robot to the game Evolve, with the chance to win $15,000 in prizes. The result was more than one million streams of Chappie content, 24 million impressions, and “incredible chat interaction and engagement” on Twitch.
Utility is the key for marketers when it comes to engaging gamers, according to Nelson: “Brands need to think about what value they’re offering the user playing the game.” She pointed to Covet Fashion, a fashion app that currently boasts more than three million users, as an example of a perfect symbiotic relationship between game and brand, as users “click to buy as they play the game”.