Asia is the world's largest video games region, with 1.5 billion people playing PC and mobile games. That figure, while enormous, shouldn't surprise you anymore. Nearly everyone is a "gamer", and it is not just a passion.
It is something compelling that goes beyond a pastime. With the sector's unique characteristics combined with this vast but hard-to-reach audience, gaming has always been a fertile playground for brands; 2022 saw some genuinely industry-leading integrations from both endemic and non-endemic brands. As a result, marketers have embraced gaming and unlocked previously unreleased consumer spending and awareness with great success.
The gaming audience comprises a vast proportion of Gen Z – and even Gen Alpha – who lead a cultural shift resulting in new consumer behaviours. For brands to continue to make the most of all that gaming has to offer, they must embrace the things that matter most to this audience. What lies ahead in 2023 is exciting and promises to supercharge what has preceded it.
Consumers are ditching the curated for authenticity
Algorithm-driven echo chambers are out, and authentic and unfiltered experiences are in. As we navigate a world of information overload, user-generated content is evolving, and we're now seeing demand for candid content representative of authentic, unfiltered life.
By shifting the social media experience toward one free of the unattainable and traditional standards set by social media, younger millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha, are rejecting overproduced perfectionism. Instead, they are choosing genuine human interaction and authentic experiences. This trend is particularly evident within the Twitch Just Chatting category, where the conversation occurs between streamers and their community.
Brands either have been or need to tap into this shift to speak to these audiences, utilising platforms such as TikTok and BeReal that channel authenticity from how they talk to what they value. As a result, consumers are more likely to build trust and interact with brands when thoroughly integrating into their communities.
Dynamic, fluid and collaborative experiences are the name of the game
With Gen Z at the helm of cultural change, marketers must throw out their old playbooks and experiment with new formats from sponsored gaming streams, collaborations, or native content like commerce, extensions, and games.
The lines between IRL and digital experiences are becoming more blurred, and we're seeing younger millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha move fluidly between them. This impacts how they want to consume content – they don't want to be passive consumers. Instead, they want to be part of the narrative, whether consuming, creating, or both.
Brands will be paying close attention to this and tailoring their strategies to launch dynamic content with streamers such as Yves Saint Laurent Beauté who teamed up with streamers to promote its Black Opium Extreme fragrance or Burberry and Ralph Lauren working with Minecraft and Fortnite, respectively with fashion collaborations.
Community and shared experiences will reign supreme
The last couple of years saw the value of community come through as people flocked online and extended their digital selves. TikTok exponentially grew from 2020, reporting a 45% increase in monthly active users between July 2020 and July 2022. Twitch saw more than 86 times the viewership of 2011 in 2020, and every month in 2021 and beyond thus far has surpassed any months in 2020 or prior.
These communities are places where younger millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha, spend quality time with friends, learn new skills and immerse in their interests and hobbies. In addition, platforms like Discord, TikTok and features like Twitch's Guest Star, now available globally, allow streamers, content creators, and their audiences to connect in real time and strengthen community bonds.
What we can expect to see this year is livestreaming, gaming and these virtual spaces continuing to be a hub for community and shared experiences. This means that marketers will see more community-first tactics in delivering authentic and engaging content while tapping into what makes streamers and their communities tick.
The attention economy will be a priority
Over the last few years, there have been considerable changes to the digital landscape, with consumer attention becoming a currency for brands and marketers to reach and convert customers effectively. With consumers becoming digitally fatigued and doing digital "detoxes", marketers and brands are being challenged to think about new and engaging ways to capture and retain their attention, mainly Gen Z; this group is projected to earn $33 trillion or 27% of the world's income by 2030, which makes them an increasingly influential consumer demographic brands cannot ignore.
To tap into this audience, more and more advertisers and marketers are starting to understand that not all impressions have equal value and viewability doesn't always equal attention. So this year, we can expect to see more brands and advertisers include attention metrics within their media buying decisions to help them optimise their investments.
By partnering with services showcasing authentic value, advertisers can offer brands a unique way to reach younger millennials comparable to attention levels associated with TV. With younger generations not consuming traditional TV, a big majority of audience in APAC does not watch more than 1 hour of conventional TV. If they do, they are on a second device.
Whether hosting a livestream shopping program or rolling out the red (or, in this case, purple) carpet to host a side show with prominent streamers like the Sydney Black Adam premiere, marketers will value engagement and attention metrics from a tuned-in audience overreach.
Looking to the months ahead, we see new challenges and opportunities for the gaming industry. On the content side, success will come from experiences focusing on authenticity, connection and community.
For brands and agencies, ensuring strategic partnerships that trust creators and streamers to deliver campaigns that work best for their audiences will result in campaigns with more robust engagement and higher conversion rates. It's an exciting time for the gaming industry, and we're looking forward to seeing what incredible gaming experiences the rest of 2023 will bring.
Paul Nesbitt is the director of international insights and measurement at Twitch