Digital marketing has had to keep up with the ever changing landscape where people can use different platforms to not only promote a product but their own personality. Brands have taken a notice to this. You cannot think of esports without thinking about gamer chair brands like Secretlab or GTRACING or games like Overwatch having a professional league that is sponsored by Cheez-It. This is why there is now a surge in digital marketing in gaming.
Video games are perhaps one of the most accessible forms of entertainment. Take into consideration mobile gaming on top of PC and your standard consoles. It is no surprise that brands want to fit their messages into this medium that can still be safely consumed during a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped with sales and viewership alike.
Gaming has allowed for people to not only market themselves but also strike up deals with brands. In this way digital marketing in gaming provides a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, some publishers will give out game keys to big YouTube gaming influencers so that they can show off gameplay of their game while providing the game for free. In other cases it could be a paid advertisement and gameplay. It may even be brands like Elgato, providing recording software or G Fuel providing energy drink mix and clothing. To viewers and fans, seeing their favorite content creator have such sponsorship would even bolster their reputation.
Competitive and Professional Gaming Marketing
It is not only gaming influencers or content creators that are promoting some digital marketing in gaming. Games themselves have had advertisements placed within their virtual components. Competitive gaming, esports, has become a great way for companies, especially those tech companies. They can market towards gamers that are not on the professional level. Every step elevates the players, the game, the products, and the brands. It is almost imperative that digital marketing take place.
For example, the Overwatch League is partnered with Coca-Cola, Xfinity, Kellogg’s, and HyperX. This is not an exhaustive list, but you can see what companies are trying to fill spots and why. Professional gameplay is fast-paced, so this may lead you to believe that having Xfinity will allow you to play at that pace too. Or maybe that Cheez-It Grooves are the perfect gaming snack. HyperX specifically covers gaming peripherals and even some PC parts that gamers might feel more inclined to purchase if the pro players are also using this equipment. Digital marketing in gaming even goes beyond streams of the games, since there are live events fans can watch their favorite teams play in.
Professional Organizations Marketing
One thing that major, and even amateur, esports organizations have started to do is recruit content creators in order to have popular influencers play under their team’s name for digital marketing in gaming purposes. Examples would be: Neeko (popular for her Ok Boomer Tik Tok video), Valkyrae (up and coming Twitch and YouTube streamer), and NICKMERCS (professional player turned content creator). Either a person could have previously been a player for a group and wanted to still be involved without being a professional player or they were a streamer gaining traction. In Neeko’s case specifically, it is unclear why she was hired on, but it is very obvious that she had a large following thanks to her Tik Tok prior to being brought onto the 100 Thieves esports organization.
These organizations expect for fans to follow these creators to whatever platform they go to and whatever organization they might transfer to. This allows for the content creators to have access to creative resources within the organization and also have the team’s name attached to their profiles. They have to use the organization’s branding in order to promote the team to wider audiences that might watch a specific creator for their personality rather than being directed to the creator because of the team. It works both ways.
Content Creators and Gaming Influencers Marketing
Content creator or gaming influencer that do not want to sign a contract with an organization have another route. There are likely many brands that would like to partner with them or sponsor them. Having audiences of millions mean promising numbers to advertise products. These advertisements could range from giving someone a free gaming chair that shows in every video of theirs. Or using gaming peripherals like mouses, keyboards, and mics exclusively from one brand so that the streamer can mention the brand in their gear listing or name drop them whenever someone asks what equipment they may be using.
These are the smaller things that provide free items to influencers, but having a game or brand pay a creator to play their game or show off their game can offset the cost of producing the video or stream for that day. Especially when the content creators might not have a job outside of creating content. Digital marketing in gaming suddenly becomes a little cheaper than one may have thought.
Collegiate Esports Marketing
Within the collegiate space, companies are becoming more wise to sponsoring student organizations. On the surface, it looks like a gamble that they give away hundreds of dollars of free items. This is when there is an event going on or if an organization has reached regional prominence within the collegiate scene. But in return, their name gets put on some of the advertising, apparel, and generally passed around by the students. Students that did not win any prize might go out of their way to purchase a product based on the specifications or remembering the name.
A great example is UConnect’s platform and Collegiate Rising events. While it is not student led, its purpose is to allow student organization to submit events to apply for partner companies’ campaigns. This can be free Twitch bits from Twitch or gaming peripherals from HyperX. The event, Collegiate Rising, is meant to educate students on collegiate esports and esports careers. However, all of this event includes giveaways from partners and sponsors. Some of these brands are trying to get their name or products out there while there are some that are looking to possibly recruit students and sponsor other organizations.
So, where do I start?
While sponsorships are not handed out so easily, it is not too difficult if you consider your options. Students are becoming a great source for advertisement. Platforms such as Twitch make it easier to get recognized from a younger age. Growing your following on social media and streaming or video services will also get you noticed. Brands want to work with someone that has growing audiences and promise. Video games continue to grow and the many ways in which brands and audiences can interact with them is constantly changing.