At Venatus, we have the pleasure of working with some fantastic publishers across mobile, desktop and everything in between. We reach a massive audience who are passionate about all things gaming, and entertainment. But as Spiderman says "with great power, comes great responsibility", and it is this responsibility which makes me the first diagnosed case of a brand new type of fear…. “Adverphobia”.
Yes, it's a thing I made up, but I think it's real, and once I talk it through some of you might feel the same.
Adverphobia – noun. An extreme or irrational fear of terrible looking adverts.
I'm sure you can all empathise that as someone who spends all day looking at adverts, this is hardly the ideal fear to have. I'm even considering speaking to our good friends at the IAB UK to see if they would consider helping my terrified friends and me out by forming the Fear of Advertising Bureau (FOAB).
When designing advertising, it's so important to think about how it looks, not just how it performs. We work with fiercely committed gaming audiences, so we must get it right - why you ask? Because gamers are just like blowfish.
Meet the blowfish
For those that don't know what a blowfish is or does, they're these very happy little fish that bob around the ocean, but as soon as they encounter something that rubs them up the wrong way, they balloon into these huge, terrifying-looking fish which scare off any unwanted attention. They're reactive, as are gamers!
These blowfish come in all different shapes and sizes. There are seven-year-old streamers on Fortnite that make seasoned veterans of the game look like amateurs; there are mums on the tube who have been flinging Angry Birds for years, and there are grandparents who play Skyrim! When it comes to gamers, this audience has become so varied that it would be unfair to stereotype them.
Gamers are everywhere, and they're big spenders
The global gaming market is expected to generate nearly $160 billion in 2020, that's more than the film and music industry put together! For an industry as big as this, we must do everything we can to avoid rubbing these blowfish up the wrong way!
Gaming audiences are passionate, they care about gaming, and this community isn't afraid to speak up, as demonstrated by their reaction to 2019's now box office breaking, Sonic The Hedgehog. This film could have gone a very different way if the gaming community wasn't made up of passionate blowfish.
At the time the trailer was released, the reaction was very loud and reactive - blowfishy. Compliments for the movie were like a needle in a haystack. Movie fans were baffled, gaming fans offended, Sonic fans just walked into the sea never to return. It was a shambles.
So what do you do?
Just two days after the trailer dropped, the director of the movie, Jeff Fowler, tweeted to the masses to let this fiercely loyal audience know that he won't let this movie become a laughing stock. The film was pushed back to 2020 so that they could get the formula right for Sonic's appearance.
Sonic The Hedgehog came out earlier this year and topped Detective Pikachu to become the highest-grossing video game movie in the US Box Office ever. You can't help but think a passionate, loyal, and vocal audience might've had something to do with this film's success?
Sadly, not all demographics are this vocal, and not all studios are as understanding of their fan base. Who knows what kind of travesties we could have been spared if everyone treated their fans the way Paramount treated the gaming community *ahem* Cats *ahem*.
A force for good
Some might mistake this passion as a negative trait, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Gamers are a very active community and a force for good, as demonstrated by their charity work.
Popular streamer Dr Lupo, towards the back end of last year, decided to take part in a gaming marathon where he played Fortnite for 24 hours. During his stream, he managed to raise over $2.3 million. But gamers don't need to stay up all night to be charitable. Games Done Quick is a charity that plays games as fast as possible. Gamers are big fans of this speedrunning and since GDQ's founding they've raised over $25 million.
We can't talk about a force for good without mentioning the incredible charity Special Effect. They're an awesome team who develop setups for disabled gamers to make gaming as accessible as possible. They do plenty in the community and use innovative ways to reach gamers, like creating sponsored kits for Fifa Ultimate Team.
Gamers care, they are conversation starters, they can turn products from a miss to a hit, and they don't mind spending their money.
A growing audience
Gamers are often perceived as a very niche audience, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
According to a Newzoo report, there are 2.7 billion gamers worldwide. That's a lot of blowfish and a whole lot of opportunity. With lockdown we've seen this number rise even further, across the Venatus portfolio alone we've seen a near 75% rise in gamers.
With people stuck indoors, esports tournaments have seen massive spikes in viewership, slowly turning heads towards something other than Tiger King. The ESL Pro League ran last month, recording their most successful season in the competition's history, with close to half a million concurrent viewers!
Games consoles are now in short supply with everyone jumping on the bandwagon. Spending on video game hardware in April surged by 73% to $1.5 billion, making the Nintendo Switch as hard to come by as toilet paper!
But it's not just games that this audience is spending on, GWI data shows that 58% of gamers are the main shopper, 65% shop for cleaning products and 60% of gamers own a pet! These insights demonstrate how multifaceted gamers are, presenting an exciting opportunity for FMCG brands to tap into this valuable audience.
As more brands turn to gaming audiences for their campaigns, please remember to approach this passionate audience with care.
To keep these blowfish happy, I've created a cheat sheet to share my top tips for delivering effective advertising in gaming environments. This cheatsheet shares our best practices to help you ease into gaming audiences through rewarding and engaging advertising formats.
To learn more about how you can engage with gaming and esports audiences, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.