- Gamers enjoy sponsored video game content, according to a Hub Entertainment Research study provided to Marketing Dive. According to the "Gaming 360" survey, 46% of all gamers — and 63% of those under 35 — say they have played games with sponsored content. Sixty-one percent who have played games with sponsored content said it made the game more fun, and only 23% said the ads made it less enjoyable.
- Additionally, the survey found that video gaming is not just entertainment but a mechanism for creating and maintaining friendships, especially for younger men. Seventy-two percent of male respondents under 35 said that gaming "is how my friends and I spend time together," compared to about half of all gaming respondents.
- Gaming is the chief subject of conversation among friends, said 63% of the under-35 set, compared to 42% of others. Nearly half said they consider a fellow gamer whom they have never actually met to be a friend.
Conducted among 2,636 U.S. consumers, the study reinforces the idea that, particularly for young men, video gaming is as central to their life as TV is for older folks. According to the Hub report, gaming is the most likely entertainment during free time for 42% of the under-35 set. In announcing this new study, Hub quoted Netflix founder Reed Hastings, who has said he considers the video game "Fortnite" to be a bigger competitor for his company than HBO.
Because of this centrality of the channel — and because of the intense engagement of players with games — brands are eager to participate. In the competitive gaming world of esports, for instance, brands like Coca-Cola, Bud Light and Red Bull are only a few of the many advertisers backing teams and events. The findings suggest that, so far at least, gamers are enjoying efforts by brands to engage them with sponsored content. This is good news for brands hoping to reach ad-averse consumers by meeting them where they are spending time with relevant experiences.
But esports sponsorship, and the in-game product placement, logos and ads referenced by the Hub report, are not the only ways brands can get in on the gaming action. In June, for instance, Miller Lite released its "Cantroller," a limited-edition 12-ounce can of beer that doubled as a gaming controller. In 2017, computer maker Dell launched a campaign that celebrated "unexpected gamers" such as a grandfather and a wrestler.
The marketing push into gaming has also included branded games. Wendy's this week debuted three branded video games in a new digital arcade launched by Giphy. Last month, KFC unveiled a video game dating simulator with a younger and sexier version of its mascot, Colonel Sanders.