Gaming community & untapped marketing opportunities: The India chapter

gaming marketing

Here we decipher the vastness of the active online gaming community in India, the engagement garnered by gaming creators and content on platforms such as YouTube and Twitter, and the marketing avenues that largely remain untapped.

The expanse of the gaming industry has stretched out to be as big as the movie and music industry and has even surpassed the mainstream entertainment industry in certain geographies, this spread also accommodates marketing avenues that we’ll now explore.

Magnitude Of The Gaming Community

The potential and reach of this community that includes an age range of pre-teens and adolescents to several who have crossed the millennial threshold, and make up for a productive target audience who hold emerging purchase power, but the kind of engagement gaming creators generate have more or less been under the radar in the last decade.

While the gaming community remained largely untapped until recent years the blow-up in 2020 made this target audience unignorable. Twitter experienced a 75% increase in 2020 from 2019 in gaming Tweets for a total of 2 Bn Tweets, and with unique users closing at 35 Mn.

2020 has also been a landmark year for gaming content and community on YouTube, the year when gaming content crossed 100 Bn watch time hours with 40+ Mn active gaming channels. Gaming creators have reached all-time high peaks with more than 80,000 creators on YouTube hitting 100,000 subscribers, over 1,000 creators hitting 5 Mn subscribers, and over 350 creators reaching 10 Mn subscribers.

Gaming Live streams on YouTube is another avenue that is smashing watch time records, particularly in India. Six of the eleven top live streamers by views of 2020 on YouTube are from India. Livestreams, VOD content, most liked and most viewed videos all metrics have seen an uptick on YouTube in the country.

YouTube has been a central platform for gaming video content, and Twitter has been the focal medium for gamers to check gaming news, discuss ESports. 73% of surveyed gamers admit to checking Twitter while streaming ESports and gaming to see what other gamers are saying about the gaming news. The conversation rate on Twitter in 2021 is 70 gaming-related Tweets per second from 91 Mn strong community who have sent out 156 Mn Tweets this year so far.

Particularly gaming content and community in India has also risen at an accelerated pace. To give you a glimpse of the strength, Ujjwal Chaurasia’s channel Techno Gamerz currently holds 20.5 Mn subscribers on YouTube and garners anywhere around 4-18 Mn views on each upload. One of the top live streamers on YouTube, Dynamo Gaming hosts close to 10 Mn subscribers on YouTube and garners an estimated average of around 700K to over a million views.

Yasin Dabhelia, Director, Global Demand Partnerships and Agency Sales, Bidstack, a company that enables advertisers to engage with gamers, and game developers to monetize their titles, shares going by the predictive mentality, he couldn’t have predicted the sharp spike in gaming, and what the pandemic has done for the gaming industry.

Ujjwal Chaurasia, Gaming Creator, Techno Gamerz mentions the gaming scene in India is not the same as three years ago, it has blown up in the last two years, and live streams have grown at an exponential rate. The creators, competition, and audience, all factors are shooting up and he believes after two years almost every other college kid could be a part of the community.

With the emerging purchase power, the potential and magnitude of the gaming community does not just end with garnering tons of engagement, but starts with it, going forward with the integration of marketing.

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Marketing To The Gaming Community

Gaming consumers are said to be more likely to buy certain products than the general online population, and they are more likely to spend more on higher quality, and cars, smartphones, electronics, and computers.

Quality is an integral element to purchases made by gamers, 74% of surveyed YouTube gamers would pay more for top-quality media and entertainment products and services, 85% are willing to pay more for top-quality consumer electronics products and services, and 73% made the same declaration regarding top-quality food and beverage products and services, according to a YouTube study.

The marketing and advertising opportunities are not just restricted to the gaming or electronics industry, brands from various industries are starting to realize the promising potential gaming creators hold and the impact they can have on a brand’s target audience.

Consequentially, brands from various industries, and not just the ones from the Technology sector have launched several marketing campaigns in collaboration with gaming creators, lifestyle and entertainment industries have been the most assertive until now.

Mansi Gupta, Gaming Creator, Magsplay states that as all gaming creators have a young audience, practically any brand whose target audience is the age group of 13-24 can collaborate with gaming creators. She adds that gamers are not restricted gaming brands only, and they have few of the most loyal fan bases.

Discussing the typecast of gaming creators only being able to cater to brands from the Technology sector, Rony Dasgupta, Gaming Creator, The RawKnee Games mentions gamers live a life outside of gaming as well and every brand that is looking for a relevant TG can collaborate with them even as influencers.

In-content or in-game advertising on (for example) cloud playable games on Facebook or gaming VOD content are a few other avenues that this core theme of gaming opens up. Dabhelia says personalization opportunities for brands are at the heart of gaming, but personalization is looked at from an engagement point of view, the ads should not annoy the player (or viewer) but be a part of the whole experience so the value is created for all parties involved. Intrusive ads may result in backlash for both the game and the brand.

Paid partnerships with brands can be a natural piece of a gaming creator’s content and branded content in collaboration with gaming creators can flourish organically. The several formats of native content such as unboxing videos, product reviews, budget-based suggestions for equipment or tools, PC hardware, consoles, and more, are looked at as branches of their content.

How-To videos, competitive contests, and unboxing videos have been the top three trends that have primarily remained at the top as core themes of gaming content. Several brands have tapped the competitive nature of gaming and ingrained it in the essence of their paid partnerships with gaming creators by hosting gaming contests with a social media amplification leg that also integrates user-generated content.

Along with these formats, merchandising is another course of action that marketers can pursue. Ujjwal states that limited-edition versions of the products being promoted that are customized by integrating the gamer’s identity such as his logo or name would amplify brand affinity.

He further explains that the creator would also feel a sense of closeness and genuine inclination to promote the products, and the community (gamer’s audience) would also reciprocate in the same manner and appreciate it too. The use of gaming creators’ images in the content inventory is also another way to extend the partnership out of video content.

Alike most social media users, the audience tends to share the enthusiasm of getting their hands on the limited-edition merchandise, with images on Instagram or with Tweets on Twitter, this gives the marketing campaign an organic push in the concluding phase.

ESports and competitive leagues are other branches of gaming content on social media, that hold marketing potential. 80% of ESports streamers on Twitter like it when a brand joins the conversation about what they’re streaming.

Dabhelia believes E-Sports and live gaming content is soon going to be bigger than live sports content, gaming advertising will be categorically outlined as an individual media channel. This assertion is already turning out to be true in the West. In 2020, the US video game industry grew 27% to 56.9 Bn USD in revenue, surpassing movies and music combined, according to NPD Group.

Pranav Panpalia, Founder, OpraahFx and OP Gaming says that the next five years are going to be golden for the gaming community, creators, and ESports, the various segments of gaming such as fantasy leagues, publishing, live streaming, and more, all account for a community that brands should look at as a target audience.

But the gaming community also has certain set expectations for brands and their marketing campaigns. 83% of YouTube gamers want branded content that entertains them, 75% want content that taps into their passion, and 70% want it to be informative about the products or how to use them, according to a YouTube study.

Live Streams and ESports have also been a way for creators to communicate with their audience and the chat features add another social factor to these streams where the whole community is engaged and attentive. It helps creators to maintain a connect with their audience, and the social media platforms that the games can be live-streamed on such as YouTube, generate the highest engagement.

And when six out of the top live streamers (by views) of 2020 in the world are emerging out of India, the creation and consumption of gaming content being high on a global level shows a promising future for gaming content and increases the probability of this theme becoming mainstream in marketing, or rather being at the cusp of it.