Gaming might have an audience of all ages, but if a brand is just going to slap an ad into a game, then it might as well not bother.
“If you just want to run a simple media activation, frankly, you don’t need gaming for that – media can run anywhere,” said Alexandre Tan, VP of advertising and brand partnerships at French mobile game studio Gameloft, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
But brands that embrace gaming for what it is – a place where highly-engaged people choose to spend hours of their time playing and socializing – the opportunity is major.
One out of every two consumers worldwide play video games at least once a month, and one in four do so every day, according to a June report from Gameloft conducted in collaboration with Vivendi Brand Marketing, an insights and strategy consultancy housed with Gameloft’s parent company, Vivendi.
Gameloft and Vivendi also found that more than half of the gaming population is older than 36 and that women account for more than half of gamers.
AdExchanger spoke with Tan and Maryline Pellerin, insights director at Vivendi Brand Marketing.
AdExchanger: What do brands still seem not to get about gamers?
ALEXANDRE TAN: The fact that gamers are not just gamers, they’re consumers. They’re sons, daughters, husbands, wives, cousins, friends – they are your average person.
Brands also have to realize that gamers can become great ambassadors for their brands, if you know how to speak to them in the proper way. And brands shouldn’t necessarily limit themselves to sharing their brand messages inside of typical gaming media. We’re starting to see gamification applied outside of B2C marketing environments. This has been a growing trend for the past few years.
Advertising aside, gaming is increasingly a way to engage any type of audience, from consumers to employees to students to patients.
Where are you seeing gamification applied outside of gaming?
AT: HR managers can use gamification to better engage with employees or for training. It can make the learning experience more palatable for students. And then there’s e-health. In June, for the first time in history, a mobile game was approved by the FDA.
What have you noticed about player behavior between March, when stay-at-home orders were in place, and now?
MARYLINE PELLERIN: One of the new behaviors we saw after the confinement, especially among families with kids, is a continued focus on health and staying home, and they’re turning to digital activities, particularly gaming, during this time. They’re continuing to stay home and they’re playing games.
AT: And during the lockdown period, we saw that more people either started playing games and/or increased their playtime. At Gameloft, we saw a more than 18% increase in game play – but the interesting thing is why.
When we asked people why they were playing games, many of them told us that it’s a way for them to escape the anxiety of this situation and a way to stay connected with the outside world. Social is a very big part of gaming.
Why is the social nature of gaming something that brands need to pay attention to?
AT: For younger people, especially Gen Z, gaming is a way to make friendships and maintain relationships. It’s a way to socialize. Although they love to play the games themselves, gaming is also a means to an end.
This is the same behavior pattern we see when people use Twitch or an equivalent streaming service. It’s not just about watching other people play, it serves as a gathering point. They use the chat features and they interact with each other. Brands should understand this.
MP: Gamers have interests that go far beyond gaming. We have found that overall they are very interested in cultural trends, technology and the corporate social responsibility of brands.
AT: Sixty-percent of gamers we profiled said they have more trust for socially and environmentally responsible brands, which is seven points higher than the non-gamers we profiled. With this in mind, I like to refer to gamers as “super consumers,” but that is something that brands unfortunately still don’t seem to get.
We’ve seen this start to change over the past couple of years and we hope that the change will continue to accelerate, but it’s still somewhat early days.
Why do you think people who play games are more socially conscious?
MP: We see that gamers are more connected to pop culture than non-gamers, and they have higher expectations of brands in general – but also a better relationship with brands than the non-gaming population. They’re more engaged, more demanding of and more involved with brands.
AT: Last year, for example, we partnered with an NGO called CARE to do fundraising in Dragon Mania Legends, and we raised close to 200,000 euros in two weeks through the active involvement of 1.3 million players.
It’s a great illustration of how gamers are sensible to causes, and how gaming can be leveraged to do good.
This interview has been edited and condensed.