Why leading brands invest in gaming

And why experts agree that casual games are the most effective channel for brands

January 11, 2024

1 mins read

Felix Harms

Why leading brands invest in gaming

Traditional marketing strategies are no longer sufficient in current times. To beat the cut-throat competition for consumer attention, leading consumer brands are looking for new digital channels - and many are beginning to embrace the potential of gaming. 

Unlike any other medium, games have transcended mere entertainment to become a global cultural phenomenon, offering an unparalleled channel to connect with a diverse audience. Yes, there’s the typical male gamer in their 20s or 30s playing on a console - but gaming in all its forms has long reached the devices of all generations, including the otherwise often elusive younger consumers. Tina Liu, Maybelline New York's Director of Marketing for Mascara, aptly underscores this phenomenon, "Gaming is almost a cultural tentpole for Gen Z. Over 80% of Gen Z and millennials are playing games." 

It's no wonder that brands are flocking to the expansive gaming universe with its opportunities for crafting innovative marketing and branding strategies. From the groundbreaking collaboration between LEGO and Fortnite, which captured a staggering 2.45 million concurrent players shortly after launch, to an exclusive Prada Level on the smartphone game Candy Crush which resulted in a 1,813% spike in website traffic: Join us in exploring the ways that brands are leveraging gaming marketing to make an indelible mark in consumer’s lives (and why many experts agree that casual mobile games are the best option, with mobile games as the largest segment within gaming).

eSports: A Thriving Arena for Brand Engagement

A subset of gaming video content, eSports are organized gaming competitions among professional players and teams. By the year 2025, projections anticipate 318 million eSports enthusiasts worldwide, a growing figure.

What sets eSports apart is the profound social component woven into its fabric, with live streaming on platforms like Twitch or YouTube fostering an engaged and passionate community. eSports has become a nexus where gaming, media, pop culture, and e-commerce converge. Unlike other gaming environments like the Metaverse with intricate technical hurdles, eSports offers a more accessible avenue for brands to engage with their audience effectively and are often the entry point into gaming marketing.

Image: Mercedes Benz

Prominent brands like Mercedes Benz, Samsung, and Red Bull have already recognized the immense potential of eSports and have thrown their support behind eSports teams or secured naming rights to eSports arenas. Influencer marketing is also a popular strategy, as exemplified by Chipotle providing influential streamers with "celebrity cards," in the form of unlimited gift cards for brand promotion. The array of advertising options in the eSports arena extends from rewarded, banner, and in-game ads to strategic partnerships and in-stream video advertisements. For brands that can form a clear connection to eSports, this presents an electrifying landscape to interact with their target audiences in exciting ways.

Gaming Franchises: Where the Gamer Community meets

Large gaming franchises often boast a loyal fanbase with millions of dedicated players. Brands seeking to leverage these communities can carve out their own space within these virtual realms but need to show a deep understanding of the fanbase and its culture to avoid appearing out of place. 

Image: Gucci

From the thoughtful integration of branded items to the creation of intricate bespoke levels, brands are experimenting with immersive experiences that resonate with gamers on a profound level. L'Oréal's innovative collaboration with Ready Player One offered players the opportunity to experiment with makeup styles and hairstyles, bridging the gap between real-world beauty and the digital realm. Fast-food chain Wendy's orchestrated an award-winning campaign within Fortnite, drawing in 1.5 million minutes of eager viewership on Twitch. In the Metaverse, Roblox has cultivated a thriving ecosystem of collaborations, including high-profile partnerships with the likes of luxury brand Gucci, quick service restaurant Chipotle, and retail giant Walmart. These collaborations extend beyond mere branding; they immerse players in captivating experiences that blur the lines between the physical and digital domains.

One campaign truly stole the spotlight in recent months: The LEGO and Fortnite collaboration. This remarkable fusion of two iconic brands created a survival crafting game nestled within the Fortnite universe. The synergy between Epic and Lego's new venture was nothing short of spectacular, with a peak of 2.45 million concurrent players shortly after its launch. This case serves as a testament to the boundless possibilities when brands fully invest in games as platforms for storytelling and engagement - LEGO recently invested $1 billion into Fortnite creator Epic Games.

Image: Epic Games

Mobile Branded Games: Mastering Engagement for Every Audience

Consumers wield ever-shrinking attention spans. The challenge for brands is clear: How can we engage effectively amid the relentless stream of content? The answer lies in delivering concise, lightweight, and irresistibly engaging experiences tailored to meet the demands of our fast-paced lives. Enter mobile games, a playground teeming with 2.8 billion players worldwide, transcending age, gender, and nationality barriers. These more casual games, accessible on smartphones throughout the day, have become a universal pastime, offering a golden opportunity for brands to make a meaningful connection with any target audience.

Remarkably, fast-food giant McDonald's and beverage titan Coca-Cola consider casual video games - and not esports - as the most effective entry point for brands into the gaming community. And other large brands are following suit: The collaboration between cosmetics brand Maybelline New York and mobile game studio Zynga birthed the casual mobile game "Maybelline Mascara Merge." Available across Zynga's game portfolio, this interactive experience allows players to earn points redeemable within their main Zynga games. Tina Liu, Maybelline New York's Director of Marketing for Mascara, recognized that this aligned perfectly with Maybelline's identity as a mass brand, “We’re trying to delve into gaming in this way that is a lot more approachable than some of the ways the other brands have done it.” Zynga's staggering reach, boasting 40 million daily active users and 200 million total users across its 100 games, presented a colossal canvas for Maybelline's engagement strategy, particularly targeting the influential Gen Z demographic.

Image: Maybelline, Glossy

The fusion of luxury fashion and mobile casual gaming comes to life through Prada's enchanting campaign with Candy Crush. The fragrance campaign's impact was nothing short of spectacular, driving a phenomenal 1,800% increase in traffic and contributing to an impressive sales surge.

Image: Prada, Glossy

In a world where fleeting moments define our interactions, mobile casual games emerge as the pinnacle of brand engagement. These games have the power to captivate and connect, offering a strategic avenue for brands to ride the waves of consumer trends and achieve real-world outcomes for branding and marketing goals. The allure of mobile casual games lies in their ability to transcend boundaries and immerse players in unforgettable experiences, making them the ultimate canvas for innovative and captivating brand storytelling.

For Consumer Brands, Mobile Games are the True Game-Changer

These forays of popular brands into gaming marketing and branding makes it clear that the path to success lies in engaging gamer audiences through authentic experiences. Mobile casual games offer the perfect channel for brands looking to capture the hearts and minds of broad audiences globally.

Tabbler understands this landscape intimately, offering fully branded mobile games that serve as your ideal entry point into the casual gaming arena. We catapult your brand to millions of casual mobile gamers, ensuring the reach you desire while simultaneously aligning with your marketing and branding objectives at our core. Our pay-per-download model provides transparency, ensuring a clear and measurable return on investment.

So, if you're ready to take your brand's gaming marketing strategy to the next level, look no further than Tabbler. Let's build a game-changing brand adventure for your customers together!

Read more: Why your brand needs a mobile game: The rise of advergaming by New Digital Age

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