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Gaming Culture Takes Center Stage As Marketing’s Biggest Opportunity

Gaming Culture Takes Center Stage As Marketing’s Biggest Opportunity

Bigger than music and more lucrative than Hollywood, games influence almost every aspect of our lives, leading to a diverse set of gaming personas. So, why should marketers care?

As the curtains closed on Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023, a monumental shift took center stage, with gaming reigning supreme as the unstoppable force shaping the future of marketing. With an industry worth over $200bn annually and an astonishing 3 billion players worldwide, gaming’s influence has transcended traditional boundaries, captivating individuals from diverse backgrounds, regions, and interests.

This transformation in the gaming landscape came to life during the TikTok panel titled ‘Who Are Today’s Gamers?’, where marketers witnessed firsthand the magnetic appeal of modern gaming culture.

Inside the walls of TikTok’s stage at Cannes Lions, the audience was captivated by a demonstration of gaming’s universal appeal. Rema Vasan, head of global gaming business marketing at TikTok, invited attendees to participate in an eye-opening experience. With closed eyes, participants raised their hands if they had engaged with gaming on consoles, phones, or embraced puzzle formats throughout the year. The room lit up with unanimous hands raised, affirming gaming’s cross-generational and universal allure.

“I believe this is the biggest opportunity for every brand nowadays,” says Assaf Sagy, head of global gaming at TikTok. “I repeat: the biggest opportunity. Gaming is the fastest-growing entertainment vertical in the number of hours played, not only for young people or at home, but for everyone; it’s cross-generational.”

Intersection of gaming and culture

The convergence of gaming and culture on TikTok provides brands from various industries a chance to actively participate in the gaming conversation. By intertwining gaming with culture and lifestyle, TikTok enables brands to engage with the gaming community in a way that aligns with their offerings. For instance, hashtags like #gamer, when cross-referenced with #makeup and #fashion, amassed millions of views, showcasing the potential for mainstream brands to reach coveted audiences. Brands like Totinos, KitKat, and DoorDash deftly inserted themselves into the conversations happening around #GamerFood, effectively connecting with their target audience.

Moreover, the modern gamer is evolving, and disruptive brands like Elf Cosmetics have embraced this change by partnering with Enthusiast Gaming to create special TikTok challenges like ‘Gamers’ Greatest Talent (GGT)‘ to empower young female gamers and showcase their talent. The TikTok GGT hashtag exploded in popularity, garnering 17 billion views in just a couple of weeks and rising to 20 billion views, solidifying the brand’s presence in the gaming world.

What’s next for gaming?

For brand marketers, the challenge lies in how to immerse themselves in this rapidly changing gaming landscape in an authentic and meaningful way, as acknowledged by Sagy. However, targeting the gaming audience on TikTok presents an accessible opportunity for brands to connect authentically.

To aid marketers in effectively engaging with TikTok’s vibrant gaming community, the platform unveiled its groundbreaking What’s Next: Gaming Trend Report. This invaluable resource equips marketers with insights into shifting consumer desires and trends, offering a roadmap to resonate with TikTok’s diverse gaming audience. The findings of the Gaming Trend Report are broken down into three key ‘Trend Forces’ that underpin culture and content on TikTok, accompanied by the relevant signals for each of these forces that show emerging behaviors and interests. These include:

  1. Actionable entertainment: from fan edits and animations to cosplay, gamers inspire one another to bring gaming to life in their own unique ways

  2. Making space for joy: when it comes to gaming, the TikTok community is won over with humor and content that highlights the relatable joys of being a gamer

  3. Community built ideas: gaming culture doesn’t exist in a silo – it’s an open space where different passions collide and gamers actively exchange ideas to get more out of their favorite titles.

Vasan said, “TikTok has truly become the place where gaming culture and entertainment intersect, giving gamers from every walk of life the opportunity to find their community, as well as discover, connect, and create in exciting new ways. With the new What’s Next: Gaming Trend Report, we’re excited to showcase the power of our global gaming community and demonstrate how brands can leverage the incredible engagement on our platform to reach and convert new audiences.”

Ultimately, the numbers speak for themselves. In 2022, there were 3 trillion views of gaming content on TikTok. For brands ready to grasp the opportunity, the game has well and truly changed.

To learn how brands can leverage incredible engagement of global gaming communities on TikTok, download the latest What’s Next: Gaming Trend Report here.

And to explore more about the modern gaming community and its growing impact on culture, catch the highlights from the TikTok panel discussion in Cannes on The Drum TV here.