5 Game Marketing Examples That Brands Used in Their Marketing Strategies

by Game Marketing Genie, on 04-Feb-2021 09:00:00

Video gaming is branching out from a form of entertainment to other industries – including its use as a tool for marketing. With more businesses popping up every day, brands need creative strategies to grab attention and spread their company message. Video games have become a popular channel for connecting with consumers. Video game marketing statistics reveal there are more than 2.7 billion active gamers worldwide who spend an average of 6.5 hours per week playing their favorite games.

The increased screen time and engaged audiences make video games an attractive platform for connecting with your audience. Brands and marketers are now keen to maximize the gaming opportunity, and here are the five ways they've used video game branding to grow their ventures.

The reach and power of the video game industry

A 2018 study found that nearly 70 percent of Americans play video games. Two years later, and with the growth of mobile gaming, live streaming, AR, and VR, this number has gotten much bigger. These statistics are replicated everywhere globally, with more people embracing video games as a form of entertainment.

Global game market graphic

Figure 1: Global Games Market, 2020. Source: Newzoo

The gaming market value has also been rising steadily over the last few years. The global games market is worth $159.3bn, an increase of 9.3 percent on the previous year. This figure is expected to reach $217.9bn by 2023. This is a high number for game developers to look forward to.

The video game industry growth shows that the world is slowly becoming a gamer’s paradise, and brands looking to grow their businesses should ensure they are catering to this demographic. Gamers are primarily millennials, but this is an audience that is drastically changing, and these audiences mirror those of many companies. 

Because of their wide age brackets, gamers make both small and big purchasing decisions in their homes. They can buy a wide variety of products, from clothing to electronics to automobiles. This is one of the main reasons marketers are looking for the mediums where this age group spends most of their time, such as gaming.

Let us now look at the ways brands use video games for marketing.

1. First look at new content in games

In April 2020, hip-hop megastar Travis Scott collaborated with Fortnite to offer players an in-game concert played out at pre-advertised time slots. Users could find concert posters on walls within the game or social media. Once logged into the game, users were treated to a stunning visual experience that featured Travis's giant hologram. This experimental gameplay experience also featured visual and physical tricks to emphasize the party atmosphere.

Travis Scott Fortnite

Figure 2: Travis Scott Astronomical Experience. Source: Fortnite Games

Over 27.7 million users logged in for the in-game event. Millions more streamed the event live on YouTube and Twitch or watched the round-up events afterwards. Those who attended the virtual concert could unlock Travis Scott skins and add-ons they would use to get real-life merchandise designed to complement Fortnite-tie ins and new music launches.

By setting up the Travis Scott virtual concert, Fortnite gave users a reason to engage with the game. The campaign also attracted many viewers during the live show and subsequent follow-up on Google, YouTube, and Twitch, creating a lot of awareness for the brand.

2. Brand tie ins

There are many examples of brands partnering with games to create branded content or DLC for in-game marketing. One of the most creative partnerships came in 2019 when EA Games partnered with Jeremy Scott and luxury fashion brand Moschino to create in-game stuff packs that would unlock virtual Moschino garments and new fashion-themed career paths and options. For the campaign, models  dressed in signature Moschino outfits in the Sims universe to bring about "avatar realness."

Moschino and Sims Campaign

Figure 3: Moschino x Sims collection. Source - Instagram

Both Jeremy and the Moschino brand are known for their tie-ins with pop culture, and their collaboration helped create amazing designs that were a hit with users. Besides the digital launch, a ready-to-wear line under the Moschino x Sims moniker was released, which pays homage to the life simulation game.

Starting at $450, the clothing line retailed at a less affordable price point. Nonetheless, the collaboration was well executed, and it shows how video games can be used to promote a brand and offer its users unique experiences.

3. Networking with gaming

Just like social networks, video games now combine distraction with communication for the ultimate social experience. Thanks to improved internet connectivity and technological advancements, gamers can connect in real-time when playing online multiplayer games. Besides discussing the game, they can talk about their offline lives, making online games a great networking tool that can be used to help brands connected with a wider audience.

Branded online events can be set up where players can meet virtually when gaming together. The players will be exposed to branding elements during this social gaming exercise, thus helping brands share their message and reach out to their target user groups.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great example of how video games can be used for networking and audience engagement. Fashion brands like 1000 Thieves, Highsnobiety, and Valentino have launched official clothing lines while others like Lazy Oaf encourage users to create their favorite outfits within the game.

Animal crossing campaign

Figure 4: Lazy Oaf x Animal Crossing New Horizons Competition. Source: Instagram

The game translates seamlessly into social media where users can share their Dodo Codes on Twitter and Instagram and invite other players to trade. If you're lucky, a celebrity might slide into your DMs, looking for a trade. 

4. Sponsorships

Esports has been growing in popularity and attracting a lot of viewers over the last few years. The esports market is currently valued at $900 million, a figure that’s expected to rise in the coming years. The prize pools for the most popular esports tournaments (Dota 2, Call of Duty, League of Legends) have also been getting richer with every passing year, indicating that the industry is trending upward.

Just like with other successful industries, a higher valuation means more money will continue to flow. Companies looking to grow their brands are partnering with specific esports leagues or tournaments to sponsor the events. These partnerships offer a high engagement level since they often feature live performances, extensive media coverage, and on-air broadcasters, helping brands connected with enthusiastic gaming fans.

Intel, Coca-Cola, and Red Bull are some of the companies that are major sponsors of esports events. Intel has sponsored the Intel Extreme Masters with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) since 2006. Coca-Cola sponsors the League of Legends World Championship, while Red Bull sponsors the Dota 2 tournament.

Mastercard sponsor banner

Figure 5: MasterCard in-game sponsor banner. Source: The Esports Observer

Another effective way to boost brand awareness is with in-game branding. Brands can place their ads on in-game objects such as billboards, signage, and even player jerseys. MasterCard went live with this tactic in this year's League of Legends Summer Split tournament, where its branding appeared on digital signage in the fictional battlefield. With hundreds of thousands watching the tournament through streaming platforms, MasterCard gained a lot of visibility from the ad campaign.

5. Influencers, streamers, and esports players

Another popular avenue for esports partnership is becoming a team’s official sponsor. Sponsoring an esports team follows the same process as sponsoring teams in the NBA or MLS. The team can wear jerseys that feature the name and logo of the organization/brand that's sponsoring them whenever they compete.

There are many professional teams across different esports games, and the most appealing thing about team sponsorship is that your brand gets represented in every competition they participate in. These events attract massive viewership, helping the brands gain a lot of exposure and popularity with the gamer demographic.

Besides sponsoring a team, brands are also working with individual players to sponsor their streams. Gaming influencers are just as impactful as fashion and beauty influencers. Most of these streamers have millions of followers, and sponsoring their streams is an effective strategy for brand marketing. The streamer can publish promotional content on their channels to advertise the brands that are sponsoring them. 

Brands and popular gaming influencers can also collaborate on a merchandise deal targeting the influencer’s loyal audience. Take the example of the brand deal between Adidas and Tyler Blevins to launch a new sneakers collection. More popularly known as Ninja, Blevins is the most followed Twitch gamer, and this collaboration helped Adidas tap into his massive following.

Adidas Ninja sneakers collection

Figure 6: Adidas x Ninja sneaker collection. Source: Footwear News

Brands are also partnering with influential streamers to promote their products with affiliate marketing. The streamers share a unique code with their fans, who receive a discount when they make a purchase. The influencer also earns a commission for products purchased with their unique code.

To succeed with influencer marketing, you should only work with influencers who align with your goals and brand values. 

Our blog, 7 Steps for Creating a Good Influencer Marketing Strategy, explains what you need to develop a highly-converting influencer marketing campaign.

Person playing computer game at convention

The ultimate guide to game marketing

Hope you enjoyed this article! For more insider game marketing information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Game Marketing: Everything You Need to Know.


Video games are your opportunity to reach a variety of audiences. Video games are popular with people across different age groups, and with the right video game branding, you will be able to connect with a large number of your users.

It takes a lot of time and effort to create an effective video game marketing strategy. That's why it's advisable to engage a video game marketing agency for this exercise. The team at Game Marketing Genie can help. If your products complement the pop culture relevance of video games, we are the team to help you tap into this substantial, highly-engaged audience.

Do you need help creating a high-impact marketing strategy for your brand? Take a look at our Marketing Strategy for Startups & SMEs to get started.

Topics:Video Game Marketing StrategyVideo Game MarketingDigital Marketing StrategyDigital Marketing AgencyDigital Marketing

Comments

Subscribe to Updates