Whether you enjoy playing Fortnite or not, or still consider LOL as ‘laugh out loud’, it's impossible to ignore the ever-growing uproar of the gaming industry. It currently stands as the most-watched content category on YouTube. But, what is gaming content all about? As a marketer, why should gaming content, and ultimately macro or micro gaming creators, be in your sponsorship strategy? Let’s break down the gaming category by taking a look at trends, reasons why people tune into this content and the power these creators have, and, most importantly, how you can get involved.
You may think gaming content is super niche but it's really not that different from other videos and trends uploaded in other categories. For example, what do Carli Bybel and PewDiePie have in common? Well, Carli Bybel and PewDiePie share a few things in common (other than having a very large fanbase). Carli Bybel, a makeup-based YouTuber loves uploading unboxing videos. Although PewDiePie doesn’t know the difference between mascara and foundation, he, too, follows this popular trend and shares his first impression of gaming products via live unboxing.
In a span of one year, unboxing videos received over 13 billion views and a sentiment score of 97%. As can be seen from the graph below, most of the ‘unboxing’ content is created by lifestyle thought leaders, such as makeup gurus and fashion lovers. But, gamers unboxing new games, consoles or, you know - game swag - come in close second, accumulating over 4 billion views and 353 million likes (that is a lot of viewers seeing a handful of brands).
Just like many viewers turn to Carli Bybel for makeup tips, tricks and advice, many gaming lovers or even novice players look up to expert gamers, in this case, PewDiePie for How-To content. From a step-by-step walkthrough and explanation about how to get past a difficult component of a game to Easter eggs you definitely missed, there are over 20 million gaming how-to videos on YouTube.
Techno Gamerz has over 18 million subscribers who turn to him for gameplays and walkthroughs. This year alone, Ujjwal has uploaded 12 videos that focus on gameplays/walkthroughs and received over 92 million views!
It’s critical to keep in mind that 74% of YouTube gamers say they watch YouTube videos to learn how to get better at a game. During these videos, which can range between 10 minutes long to over an hour, gaming YouTubers talk about the game, upcoming games and show themselves playing the game (highlighting the consoles they recommend or other products they depend on).
With the Summer Olympics coming up, it was critical to mention that this ‘niche’ industry has made it to the big stage. Although we won’t be seeing gamers playing League of Legends anytime soon, eSports is represented for the first time in the Olympics this year. In 2021, eSports athletes will be competing in virtual versions of five different physical sporting events - rowing, sailing, cycling, motorsports and baseball.
If gaming or eSports was really still a niche industry, would the Olympics Committee include it on the big stage? It’s pretty clear that gaming is not that different from other content uploaded to YouTube - creators from any category will find ways to jump on trends in order to stay relevant and interest a wide variety of viewers. Whether or not your brand is gaming-oriented, it’s key to connect with this industry.
Now, let’s take a closer look at why people tune into this type of content in order to understand how you as a marketer can tap into this content.
Marketers, if there is anything you take out of this article it should be that - 48% of YouTube gamers say they spend more time watching gaming videos on YouTube than playing games. Not only is this a great thing for brands because it shows just how much time people spend watching others but it also proves that gamers are truly a highly influential group of people.
It’s not just for nerds anymore
Thanks to the wide range of game options and increase in popularity, pretty much anyone can be a gamer. So, it’s time to let go of any stereotypes you may have about the ‘typical’ gamer. For example, there is an ever growing community of female gamers who enjoy turning to YouTube to connect with and learn from other gamers, especially female players. Surprisingly, 66% of female YouTube gamers watch gaming videos on YouTube when they want to hear from people they can relate to.
SSSniperWolf is a female gamer on YouTube and has over 28 million subscribers, making her one of the top gamers on the platform. According to the YouTube sensation, “The past few years have witnessed the rise of female streamers, community managers, game developers and so on. It’s exciting to see our community changing for the better. The best thing about being female is you don’t have to wait in line for the bathroom at a gaming event”. All jokes aside, it’s refreshing seeing the gaming industry adapting to societal and cultural changes, and understanding that girls don’t have cooties.
Gaming tips and tricks
Stuck on an impossible level? Looking for gaming cheats? Or simply want to see what all the hype is about and need a Complete Beginner’s Guide to Fortnite Battle Royale, YouTube is the go-to for many, or all, gamers. According to reports, 74% of YouTube gamers say they go to YouTube to learn how to get better at a game because “YouTube allows you to ‘see’ how to do things...you can actually see how another gamer is doing something”.
It’s important to keep in mind that watching YouTube videos is also fun and even relaxing. Just like many people love watching travel vloggers explore new destinations or the latest NBA game recap, gaming lovers enjoy watching their favorite gamers talk about all-things video games. This includes: unboxing video games or gaming accessories, simply watching a gamer do their thing or the currently trending reaction videos.
Let’s start off by pointing out that you don’t need to be a gaming-specific brand in order to integrate with a gamer on YouTube. For example, Squarespace recently sponsored a video on AlexACE’s channel. Although Squarespace doesn’t specialize in gaming, this gamer found a way to not only integrate this brand into his video but relate it to his content.
As gamers are becoming more and more diverse, brands can reach out to gamers that not only reflect on this diversity but also highlight inclusion. Take Bumble, a dating app, for example. In order to continue building on their mission to empower women, the brand teamed up with multinational eSports brand - Gen.G - and created an all-female Fortnite eSports team.
It’s also interesting to note that, according to studies, gamers are more likely than the general online population to consider purchasing computers, smartphones, or entertainment products. They are even considered to be ‘uber-consumers’ because they don’t only enjoy staying up-to-date with gaming products but are also more likely to buy premium products. According to reports, 74% of YouTube Gamers said they would pay more for top-quality media and entertainment products/services. Interestingly, 87% of those gamers who bought an electronic product/service will ultimately give product recommendations!
However, with great power comes great responsibility. Reports show that compared to other content creators, gamers have very high expectations when it comes to brands they work with. Creators in this industry want to work with brands that tap into and understand their passions and have products/services that are not only useful to them (and ultimately their subscribers), but are also easily integratable. Don’t let this be a setback. Ultimately, their higher tendency to share products/services, and strongly influence, them a key industry to tap into.
In 2021, One third of the global population now plays video games and gaming is predicted to reach over 2.8 billion people globally. Gamers are predicted to generate over 189 billion in revenue! Marketers, if gamers aren’t on your roster, you are missing out.