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Gaming in the time of Covid: why 2021 is different

By Open Mic | Open Mic



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March 1, 2021 | 5 min read

With unprecedented circumstances emanating from the ongoing global pandemic, we have probably got to the point when it’s finally fair to conclude that marketers across industries have already adjusted to the new normal. Due to prolonged lockdowns imposed by governments around the world, people continue to stay at home en masse, having to come up with ways to unwind, relieve stress, and connect with their family and friends. As more diverse groups flock to video gaming and discover a never-ceasing joy in hanging out on the virtual islands in Animal Crossing, gaming and esports present a plethora of opportunities for advertisers who have appeared to be on the lookout for new channels to reach their target audience. However, do brands really understand who their gaming audience is?

Two young people sit surrounded by vintage gaming consoles

The rise of new gamers

A new Games Marketing Insights for 2021 report by Facebook Gaming, which came into spotlight in the latest episode of the Drum podcast with Anzu’s VP marketing Natalia Vasilyeva and Facebook Gaming’s EMEA head of marketing Tim Lion, shows that mobile gaming audience is growing exponentially. According to the report, which taps into 13,246 self-reporting gamers across nine markets, the number of mobile gamers has risen significantly even in such saturated markets as the UK, where it grew by 50% since the first peak of the pandemic.

The same can be observed in the US, with the number climbing 30% and in Germany by 25%. Across these three markets plus Korea combined, over 50 million people reported being new to mobile gaming. Besides already being a significant portion of the global gamer community, “these new gamers are considerably younger and prefer more core and mid-core genres, and have higher propensity to spend in-game,” concludes Tim. This also means that they’re “more open to communicating with brands within the gaming ecosystem”, adds Natalia.

Obviously, the attitude towards gaming culture and penetration rates vary, but “it’s likely to believe that these new gamers are to evolve into a more sustained and dedicated group of players,” says Tim. As a result of the cultural phenomenon triggered by the notorious coronavirus, more people than ever before have turned to gaming and formed a habit of socializing through the platform. “These behaviours are to persist, so brands can be sure to retain their customers,” assures Natalia.

Creative is king

Gaming has grown to be a solid media channel of its own. In fact, going in-game enables advertisers to capitalise on the almost unlimited creative potential of gaming and boost brand affinity by placing themselves in front of a huge monolithic audience. “Gaming as an ecosystem seems to be every marketer’s dream. Whatever is not possible in other channels can be tested in gaming. Every marketer can find something for themselves in the gaming world. From billboards to video, customised and interactive ads, brands have vast opportunities in the way they can communicate with gamers – and gamers are ready for it,” continues Natalia.

If you’d like to get more information on new gamers and get advice from industry experts, tune in to the new podcast by the Drum hosted by Chris Sutcliffe and featuring Anzu’s VP marketing Natalia Vasilyeva and Facebook Gaming’s EMEA head of marketing Tim Lion.

You can listen to the podcast above. It is also available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.

Technology Open Mic Video Games

Content by The Drum Network member:


Anzu is the most advanced intrinsic in-game ad solution for mobile, PC, console, and the metaverse. Anzu’s in-game ads put players first and help advertisers reach audiences programmatically in a non-disruptive and highly engaging way. A patented 3D ad tracking engine, the first to bring viewability measurement in-game with Oracle Moat and IAS, partnerships with trusted AdTech vendors, and compliant with the industry measurement standards outlined by the MRC and IAB make Anzu the preferred in-game advertising partner for brands and agencies worldwide.

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