Gaming influencers

The growth seen in the gaming industry in the last few months can be directed to several streams- the pandemic, mergers and acquisitions between industries, and even new technology. However, another source that is often looked past consists of gaming influencers, better known as streamers. Video game streaming has significantly grown on social media like YouTube and Facebook, however, it has also led to an increased use of livestream platforms dedicated to gaming, such as Twitch and Caffeine.tv. These gaming influencers have their accounts over social media, as well as these gaming-specific websites and applications.

These gaming livestreams include gamers talking about their lifestyles, advertise game creators, and review games as part of promoting them. Game livestreaming is a niche market that yields to millions of subscribers and audience members. Gaming website Twitch was acquired by Amazon who recognized the potential growth in this industry. By August 2014, Twitch had up to 55 million monthly active users. Due to celebrity collaborations and broadcasts, these numbers have skyrocketed through the years. In 2020, Twitch has 3.8 million users, an estimated revenue of $1.54 billion, and an 18% growth in the number of streamers.

Over half of their users are between 18-34 years old, allowing them to target Gen Z and Millenials through streaming, with 73% under the age of 35. Furthermore, there is a global viewership with a majority of the viewers in the USA, Germany, South Korea, and Russia. Streamers are encouraged to create more content as they get paid for the hours of content they create, subscriptions to their channels, and ads played on their channels.

The top gaming influencers for this year are Cupquake, Ninja, and Syndicate to name a few. However, micro-influencers with fewer followers have also been getting fame recently. Micro-influencers seen on Instagram include Ryan Raposo and “alexexraa”, both of whom specialize in FIFA. They are also featured on several gaming pages and stream their games with other players on Twitch. This has led to them partnering with professional football teams such as the Vancouver WhiteCaps FC. Both have less than 5000 followers, allowing them to post for a niche audience. 

However, there is also a potential for growth through micro-influencers, which includes influencers that have a niche segment of viewers, and can be narrowed down to what genre of games they focus on. The use of micro-influencers can be strategic for businesses that are looking for influencers with the same viewers as the consumer base. Micro-influencers have a more loyal and engaged reach, which makes them equal competitors to other, more famous influencers.    

These gaming influencers play all genres of games ranging from e-sports, to PC, and even consoles, such as the PlayStation consoles. This guarantees gamers and viewers to find streamers that best match their interests. So for viewers, who are assumed to have played the same role as the streamer in the game, there is a sense of familiarity and ease with them. Many streamers charge a monthly fee to their viewers and subscribers. 

Overall, the industry has grown significantly through the number of streamers, their subscribers, and viewership. Through influencers such as streamers, any consumer goods-oriented business can rake up a number of users by effectively finding and matching with the right influencer (i.e. micro and macro). This allows them to identify and target a niche audience from the start, guaranteeing a reach to a highly engaged younger audience that prefers to spend less time on other activities.

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Gameplay surges and deal-making flows

In the last several months, the gaming industry had flourished through unseen mergers and acquisitions, allowing some of the small and upcoming businesses to partner with larger, more successful corporations. This has been not only due to the increased user activity due to the pandemic, but rather also the scope of expanding to other uncharted platforms and industries through gaming. 

One of the biggest acquisitions was by Microsoft for ZeniMax Media which owns smaller game developer businesses. Microsoft has recently reached an agreement with ZeniMax Media to take over for $7.5 billion. This deal will affect the Bethesda games for non-Xbox consoles, as Microsoft stated that it will be determined on a “case-to-case basis”. An acquisition in the VR side of gaming has been seen as Koch Media is acquiring Vertigo Games, a business that creates VR games for PC, for €50 million. 

Secondly, there has been an update with the up and coming metaverse that allows users to converge in the worlds of virtual physical reality and physical virtual space. Epic Games led a $15 million funding initiative for Manticore Games, to create a gaming “metaverse” together. This merger will allow gamers to access one of the first metaverses created. 

Another subsection of the gaming industry faced a major development over the last few weeks by going public. Roblox, a user-generated gaming platform is reportedly going public next year at a predicted valuation of $8 billion. This is no surprise, as the gaming industry is one of the few industries that is expected to grow exponentially even through the pandemic. Similarly, Unity, a game engine developer, raised $1.3 billion on a $13.6 million evaluation, after its decision to go public in September. Skillz, a platform that enables developers to transform any app into a social network of games, just announced their decision to offer an initial public offering of $849 million to go public. This would allow Skillz to expand the business by selling shares to larger corporations like Wellington and Fidelity. 

A game-changing acquirement took place in the last few months that will further contribute to the high competition in this industry. Zynga Inc has agreed to acquire Peak, a mobile-game developer, for $1.8 billion. This will allow Zynga to have ownership of games such as Toon Blast and Toy Blast. This acquisition is expected to bring Zynga more than 60% new users, through an international audience. Furthermore, across acquisition is in the works between Sumo Group plc, an independent video game developer, and Pipeworks, a console and online game developer. 

A combination of new ventures, expansion through mergers and acquisitions, as well as public offerings, have brought a spotlight to the gaming industry and potential investors due to the scope of growth. This has increased the general willingness to invest in the gaming industry and proves why it is a market with a long, profitable future.  


Sources:
https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/21/21448877/microsoft-bethesda-softworks-zenimax-acquisition-xbox-game-pass-series-x
https://venturebeat.com/2020/09/22/epic-games-invests-15-million-in-diy-game-startup-manticore-games/
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-01/zynga-to-buy-peak-for-1-8-billion-in-its-largest-deal-ever
https://www.crunchbase.com/acquisition/koch-media-acquires-vertigo-games-2a33–060c88e4
https://venturebeat.com/2020/10/01/robloxs-user-generated-game-platform-could-go-public-at-8-billion-valuation/
https://www.crunchbase.com/acquisition/sumo-group-plc-acquires-pipeworks–e4a8b9ce

Brands’ new playground: e-sports and gaming

If money makes the world go ‘round, brands are the energy supply to make it spin. The brands we recognize and choose to stick with are constantly influencing our decisions, whether we realize it or not. Every aspect of what we do on a daily basis is covered in brands, from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the entertainment we consume. The gaming industry is a sect of entertainment that seems to be growing larger by the day, and because of this, many companies are trying their hand at injecting their brands into what we’re playing. Given gaming’s more unique hands-on and immersive touch on how we play, companies are coming up with creative and innovative ways to subject us to their various brands. Through the gaming community, they have the ability to interact with fans of their brands like never before.

A great example of popular brands getting injected into gaming is the recent collaboration between makeup giant MAC and EA’s The Sims 4. The Sims game series, for those of you who came out of your rock to read this article, is a life simulator where you can do almost anything — start a family, buy a mansion, work your dream job, and burn that mansion to the ground. The player has the option to custom craft a “Sim” to their liking. They choose what they look like, their personality, and even their goals. For the first time ever, players have the option to choose makeup designed by MAC’s Director of Makeup Artistry, Romero Jennings, to enhance their Sim’s looks. The iconic styles featured in-game can also be bought in-store or on MAC’s website so you and your Sim can match — if that’s something you’re into.

Diverging from makeup to full-blown worlds, The Sims 4’s most recent collaboration was with a little indie film called Star Wars. An expansion to the base game, which came out in early September, lets you travel to the world of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The expansion, titled Journey to Batuu, allows you to virtually travel to Disney Parks’ Star Wars themed area. The best part about this expansion is that not only can you go there, but you can take part in the actual activities that exist within the real-life land. Your sim can construct a lightsaber, build a droid, drink at Oga’s Cantina, and much more. Now, there’s no sweat if you can’t physically go there (thanks COVID), you can go there virtually!

These brand collaborations are not only affecting the games themselves but the community that plays them. A favorite among streamers, Ninja, who has hopped from more streaming services than frogs do lily pads, has finally returned to his

 original home of Twitch. In celebration of that, he joined up with Adidas for a brand-new signature sneaker collection called “Chasing the Spark.” Yes, these sneakers are just as colorful as Ninja’s hair.

A huge part of the gaming community is, of course, esports. For those of you coming to us from your rock, esports is, put simply, the highly competitive gaming world. Here, many sponsored teams have a chance at competing on both national and international levels for fame and fortune usually in a tournament-style way. One game well-known to the esports world is Riot Games’ League of Legends. Back in June, it was announced that one of the major League of Legends teams, Fnatic, is teaming up with Gucci to release their own luxury watch.

These are just a few examples of how brands are recently taking their hold on the gaming industry. It seems like every day we hear of a new collaboration between the two industries. The future of this collaboration is bright on that can, and most likely will, lead to many more interesting and creative ways to merge gaming and branding.

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References:

https://www.maccosmetics.com/mac-sims https://www.ea.com/games/the-sims/the-sims-4/news/mac-x-the-sims https://hypebeast.com/2020/10/ninja-adidas-nite-jogger-zx-torsion-collaboration- chase-the-spark

https://esportsinsider.com/2020/06/gucci-fnatic-watch/ https://www.ea.com/games/the-sims/the-sims-4/packs/game-packs/the-sims-4- star-wars-journey-to-batuu