Gaming Media

Video game giants double US ad spend in line with higher demand


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

May 21, 2020 | 3 min read

While ad spend has broadly dropped across the board, due to the lockdown, time spent on gaming platforms has greatly increased. While homebound consumers turning to their consoles isn't exactly a surprise, research from sales platform MediaRadar shows the games industry made sure it wasn't napping - with the sector doubling its US ad spend in Q2.


Final Fantasy XII: Remake was one of the top game spenders in Q2.

We’ve already learned from Twitch that gaming streaming audiences are way up,. Verizon estimated that gaming was up 75% during peak hours in early lockdown. And esports brands have opened up on how they have attracted sports marketers.

The gaming sector has greatly upped its ad spend too, acknowledging that consumers have more free time to fill – ideally with its product – and with most distribution digital these days, the industry has seen minimal disruption to its business model.

MediaRadar analysed gaming companies’ US ad spend between 30 December 2019 and 13 April 2020. April spend was double what we saw in January, showing a huge surge, despite April usually being a quiet period for new releases. Year-on-year, despite the economic downturn and many budgets freezing, spend was up 18%.

Video game retailers were the first to up spend, and they made the biggest moves. In retail, the top five were Gamefly, PlayStation Store, G2A, Steam and GameStop – collectively spending $6.8m in the quarter.

The biggest spending titles were Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Best Friends, Doom Eternal, Forge of Empires and RBI Baseball, together hitting $7.6m. In three months, spend was up 60%.

Of the consoles, with the Switch selling like hotcakes in lockdown and PlayStation and Xbox teasing their next-gen iterations, spend was $3m. Nintendo led, followed by PlayStation and then Xbox.

Finally, on the app front Candy Crush was the top spender, followed by Raid: Shadow Legends, Adventure Academy, June's Journey and TerraGenesis. The average weekly ad spend from the category went from about $700,000 in February 2020 to over $1.4m in March of 2020 and rose even higher in April, at just under $2m.

As publishers and platforms seek out sectors still willing to spend, consumption and ad spending trends show there’s a clear opportunity in the gaming space.

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