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Gaming Metaverse B2B Marketing

Inside Mastercard’s play to bring brands, loyalty points and gamers together

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By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

March 30, 2022 | 6 min read

As a brand with history in gaming marketing, it may be no surprise that Mastercard is building future products and services rooted in gaming. The Drum speaks to Kaveri Kullar, its vice-president of consumer marketing in APAC, about the launch of Mastercard Gamer Xchange.

Mastercard league of legends

Mastercard expands gaming investment with Gamer Exchange / Mastercard

Last year, Mastercard debuted its Gamer Xchange service, a tool that aims to fuse together the global desire for gaming and the ever-evolving world of loyalty. According to Mastercard, the proposition allows customers to convert their unused reward points into gaming currency and with one API integration, brands that onboard on to Gamer Xchange will gain access to nearly 4,000 gaming titles.

The Drum quizzes Mastercard’s Kaveri Kullar about the project so far.

What’s the background to Mastercard’s gaming engagements?

Mastercard was the first global sponsor of the League of Legends in 2018, through a multi-year partnership with Riot Games. This was a considered move; back then, we were keenly observing the kind of love and attention e-sport was receiving, and forged the partnership with a single-minded focus on creating unique and deeply gratifying experiences for those who are passionate about this rapidly growing phenomenon. This is in line with our strategy whereby we connect with consumers through experiences that speak to their passion points, such as travel, culinary, music, arts, cinema and sport.

Why does the gaming space make sense for a brand like Mastercard?

Mastercard is a B2B2C brand and we actively seek out opportunities to engage with existing and new audiences, directly and through our partners such as banks, airlines, telcos and merchants across a spectrum of categories. Gaming is now a universal cultural phenomenon and no matter how vast the range of gaming titles may be, and how quickly the landscape may evolve, the love of gaming unites people all over the world with a common language. So it makes eminent sense for Mastercard to play a well-thought-through role in gaming and create value for the community.

What’s the challenge for Mastercard being a B2B2C brand in activating against gaming?

I see it as an opportunity. When we combine forces with our B2B partners, the ability to scale up and scale across audiences in different markets expands, and what we end up with if we do it right is a win-win for all involved.

How has this evolved into what you are doing with Gamer Xchange?

When the pandemic confined people to their homes and cities, two things happened – reward programs around the world were disrupted because people were not redeeming points for travel, dining, cinema and other such activities, creating a financial liability for the program managers. At the same time, gaming got a major fillip as a stay-at-home activity that took people on a virtual journey when they couldn’t embark on one in real life.

Newzoo reported that the gaming industry was worth $178bn in 2020, and growing double-digit, and Asia Pacific was the largest contributor to this revenue. The 35 to 44 year-old demographic comprised high spending gaming audiences that fit well within our target group. So, we joined hands with our technology partner, Aiken Digital, to leverage the gaming opportunity in order to address the challenge that many of our partners with loyalty platforms were facing. We did this by creating an engine that converts reward points to gaming currency across thousands of gaming titles through an API that can be integrated into the app or website of the reward points redemption platform.

How can brands get involved with this?

They simply need to talk to us and we can take them through the value proposition, and product and onboarding details.

What is your ambition for this? Where do you see this in a year’s time?

We’d love to see our B2B partners deriving great value from this platform, emerging from a shared desire to offer consumers seamless and gratifying ways to use their reward points. The fact that this audience is already spending on gaming gives us the confidence that the ability to convert reward points to gaming currency will be a source of delight.

There is a lot of talk about gaming evolving into the metaverse, what part do you think Mastercard has to play in that?

The metaverse offers a range of possibilities and our play in it will be guided by the principles that underpin the role we play in consumers’ lives – offering new and innovative solutions that are smart, convenient, safe and secure for an optimal customer experience.

Gaming Metaverse B2B Marketing

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