By Michael Oliver, Campaign Director and Gaming Specialist, at The Goat Agency
While content native to social platforms remains the bread and butter for the creator economy, 2022 saw widespread expansion beyond TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. From adding a merch line, to sponsoring leading in-person tournaments, savvy brands have seen success in partnering with creators away from the keyboard.
Beyond virtual spaces, IRL activations give brands an arena to connect with gaming creators and their audiences. These opportunities are not only diversifying, they’re engaging gaming audiences more effectively. Brands are beginning to open up to the idea that gamers are no longer bound by traditional ‘gameplay’ content, following the success of particular creators breaking into retail, FMCG, fashion, and other mainstream sectors.
Brands working with gaming creators away from keyboard
The growth in the number of mobile and casual ‘gamers’ is dispelling the myth that ‘gamers’ are just people who are plugged into their PC or console for 16 hours a day. It’s become increasingly important for brands in the gaming space to find new and innovative ways to market themselves, especially in offline settings.
Working with the right creators, who align well with the brand and the game, to bring to life an out-of-home activation or creative will enable brands to deliver a different angle on marketing themselves. But it’s important that they do so in the right way. The gaming industry is full of sub groups and niches, whether that be console gamers, PC gamers, mobile gamers, esports fans, competitive gamer – the list goes on. You need to pair the right influencer with the right brand or the activation may fall flat. Knowing precisely where your audience fits and the type of content they like to see will go a long way towards building a strategy that delivers upon your KPIs or objectives.
Once you’re able to associate yourselves with the right creator, the possibilities are endless. At Goat, we like to involve the influencer in the conversation when mapping out large scale creative executions on gaming projects, because it’s key to get that tone of voice right. The gaming audience are very passionate and sometimes volatile – if something isn’t delivered in the right way then you risk a fierce backlash. People invest so much time and money into the games that they play, if they feel like they aren’t being serviced right, they will let you know.
Deep Silver’s Saints Row Launch
On our award-nominated Saints Row launch campaign with Deep Silver, we did exactly that and welcomed our creators into our discussions about how best to deliver on the client’s vision. Working with viral content creators such as Josh & Archie and Drew Dirksen, we were able to liaise between them and the brand to build out video creatives that not only delivered great brand awareness for Saints Row, but also stayed true to what the influencer would typically create on their channel, resulting in great success. As long as brands remain open minded and are willing to be flexible, the possibilities are endless.
Where so many brands trip themselves up is by being too rigid and restrictive in how they want to market themselves – “we need to include all of these key messaging points”, “we have to include these excerpts from the game” and so on. Striking the balance is what’s important, and that’s where the team at Saints Row got it so right with us, we were able to give the talent that freedom to pick out what they thought would be most relevant to their audience, and deliver those messaging points in the most natural way, delivering excellent results in the process. When influencers start losing that authenticity is when you suffer in relation to delivering on your objectives.
Gaming creators breaking the mold
The world’s most followed YouTuber, Mr Beast, has certainly outgrown his gaming roots as his output has developed into viral challenge content and global philanthropy. A large portion of his audience still ties to gaming because of how diversified the gaming industry has become. Like many successful influencers, Jimmy has expanded his portfolio into offline ventures, such as with Feastibles and MrBeast Burger. The same can be said of the Sidemen who have given us Sides, XIX Vodka and Sidemen Clothing, or KSI and Logan Paul’s Prime Energy drink. While traditionalists might see this as a means of congesting everyday shoppers, us marketers see this as the perfect way to generate hype around a product, have consumers hungry to get their hands on it, whilst stirring conversation through user-generated content (UGC) shared across social.
For brands, there is always an opportunity to explore partnerships with prominent influencers in the gaming space, providing they allow the creators to remain true to themselves and their audience. The moment they deviate from what they’re comfortable with and how they made a niche for themselves is when you don’t fully make the most of the partnership.