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Gaming Mobile Gaming Predictions 2021

Consumers will be different in 2021- here's how to meet their needs



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January 5, 2021 | 6 min read

If I told you that 2020 was going to be the biggest inflection point year in the media landscape, you might not have believed me

At this time last year, marketers were looking at a promising spend trajectory due to the Olympics and a major election.

If I told you that today, I think I’d be (over)stating the obvious.

But an “inflection point” doesn’t have to mean “doom and gloom.” It’s the point at which a change is obvious, and in our industry, players must make fundamental changes in order to succeed. No one can say we didn’t see these changes coming. Market forces have been pushing adtech in this direction anyway. Like the shift to online shopping or more airline fees, these changes in our industry were inevitable – they’re just happening faster than anticipated.

But stagnation is bad for everyone, especially in an industry that is so linked to our broader culture of creativity, innovation and data-driven decision-making. Those values are ingrained in us and they’re going to drive even more change in the coming year…

Consumers will demand more from their screens

We are already seeing an 82% saturation rate of streaming services as nearly all U.S. households subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, or more recent subscriptions like Disney+ and HBO Max. Consumers aren’t sticking with just one; more than half (55%) of households now have two or more, while 49% have three or more.

The streaming landscape is getting complicated and consumers will tire of managing their subscription billing and decisions. They’ll wonder, “Why am I getting ads on services I pay for?” (ahem … Hulu). Consumers will become annoyed that they can’t get everything they want with one or two subscriptions and account sharing will become more common. The dream of a la carte TV content has turned out to be just a dream, and many consumers are not thrilled.

Home entertainment takes on a whole new meaning

On a macro level, the trend is clear: purchases outside of the home have declined 6.1% from January to September as consumers reduced or completely stopped spending on hotels, bars and restaurants, movie theaters, etc. Instead, that money was spent on “stuff.” Growth in consumer goods during that same time went up 7.2%. People bought groceries, health and wellness goods, pet and baby care items and, of course, alcohol.

But people need more than just “Quaran-tini’s” and Clorox wipes to make it through lockdown periods. They need entertainment. In April, sales of video gaming hardware increased 163% from the previous year, and mobile gaming, which has a lower barrier to entry (as most consumers already own the hardware) just had its largest quarter ever. Users spent over $20 billion on games in Q3 -- and that’s without Fortnite in the App Store!

Now imagine what will happen when you add in even more gaming consoles, titles and in-app purchases that likely took place during the holiday season. We are poised to see gaming take a leading role in personal and home entertainment in 2021.

QSR brands will lean hard into mobile app advertising; I predict we’ll see Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) beginning to take mobile app advertising seriously. Six in ten mobile users watch TV while playing mobile games, and 38% of them are cooking or eating while playing games. Younger generations in particular are multitaskers when it comes to self-enjoyment and entertainment.

There’s not much better than ordering tacos or burgers from your favorite fast food or fancy restaurant and having it delivered to your home while you are watching a game on TV. What’s even better is being able to make that order from your smartphone without having to use the call feature.

COVID has made consumers from all demographics comfortable with ordering food from their phones, and in 2021, I think QSR will realize this is their future. Many will tire of the exorbitant fees charged by the delivery platforms and start to build their own direct in-app delivery systems – which they can advertise to consumers in other apps.

Brands will follow the gamers

In 2020, we’ve seen major brands demonstrating awareness of gaming’s audience and importance in pop culture. The Travis Scott concert inside Fortnite earlier this year had 12.3M live viewers; far closer to the viewership of Sunday Night Football than traditional media would like to admit.

Disney’s Marvel took notice of Travis Scott’s success and partnered with Epic Games to keep The Avengers relevant (in a year without movies) for that audience by focusing an entire Fortnite season around them. Need more evidence of Fortune 500 brands taking notice of the gaming audience?:

It will be fascinating to watch this trend, and others, evolve further in 2021, particularly as other competitive areas (i.e., live-action sports) continue to struggle due to the pandemic. While there’s a very promising light at the end of the tunnel with news from Moderna and Pfizer, it will take time, and for many consumers, the ease and comfort of delivery and curbside pickup plus the joys of gaming won’t simply fade away.

Gaming Mobile Gaming Predictions 2021


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