Gaming Moves out of the Bedroom and into the Mainstream

Gamers have always known what non-gamers don’t. That being a gamer doesn’t make you a geek, or anti-social or more prone to violent behaviour. Despite sales of console games eclipsing box office revenue for years, the non-gamer perspective of gaming has always been at odds with the reality.

It’s for this reason that brands have not flocked to align with gaming in the way that they have with other passion areas such as music, film or sport. Misconception of the gaming audience has held them back.

However, as the digital natives come of (spending) age, new forms of gaming entertainment that bring gaming out of the bedrooms/ living rooms of teenagers, look set to challenge those misconceptions and place gaming firmly on the sponsorship and passion marketing roadmap.

Firstly there is the mindboggling (to those over 30) world of eSports. Already a huge Global phenomenon, eSports has taken the competitive and commercial model of traditional sport and fused it with the fantasy entertainment of gaming. There are currently close to 500m eSports fans worldwide watching eSports on dedicated channels such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming more and with these available as apps on every device, it’s an ‘always on’ entertainment format that can be consumed anytime/ anywhere and doesn’t require undivided attention at home like console gaming.

Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most relatable area for brands are the live events that attract anywhere between 15,000 – 50,000 fans who turn up to watch competitive gaming set in an entertainment style format in huge arenas. With traditional broadcasters snapping up rights and sports rights holders creating dedicated teams, this sub-industry is shaping up to be a hugely compelling area for brands looking to engage that hard to reach Gen Z and millennial audience.  Endemic brands such as Red Bull and Coke have been associated with eSports for some time, but arguably this has done nothing to challenge the perception of the gaming audience and their habits. However the recent announcement of Gillette’s partnerships with ESL marks a turning point for the potential of non-endemic brands in this space.

With gaming finally starting to shake-off its nerdy image, brands need to be on the front foot, building partnerships with major players to leverage IP, channels and assets that give them a direct line to this increasingly mainstream audience.

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