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Console is key for advertisers to reach a gaming audience in 2023 - here's why
February 27, 2023
Console gaming is experiencing a golden age in 2023, with major game releases, subscription services, and online crossplay helping to solidify its success for the future. Geoffrey Summerville, executive vice president of global growth at Anzu.io, shares why console is becoming the newly sought-after playground for advertisers to reach incremental gaming audiences.
The launch of Hogwarts Legacy, an open-world fantasy game that takes players back to the wizarding world of the Harry Potter franchise, has revealed just how big the console gaming market has become.
Despite being surrounded by controversy, the game has become one of the most popular pre-ordered titles of recent times and is set to be one of the most successful games of the year, making the top 10 list on Xbox and PlayStation before having even launched.
And it’s not the only game to have celebrated major success in the past 12 months. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, the latest highly-anticipated installment to the franchise, was the fastest-selling Call of Duty game of all time, generating revenues of over $1bn within just 10 days of its release.
It’s estimated that more than 603 million people played console games last year — just over 7.5% of the world’s overall population or almost twice the number of people living in the US. It’s hard to ignore the impact that console games have had on society and popular culture, including TV, movie franchises, and online streaming services. So, what can advertisers learn about these vast audiences, and why should they be paying attention to this medium?
Who is playing console games in 2023?
Console gaming is currently experiencing a peak in its popularity, even despite a highly reported lack of hardware availability for next-generation consoles. In 2021, console generated a total of $107.5bn in worldwide video game market revenue, representing 28% of the market share.
In the US alone, console gaming has a 39% share of total players, making it one of the most prominent console markets in the world. The majority of console owners are adults between 20-39 years old, primarily male (61%), and have more disposable income, making them more likely to spend money on games.
In 2021, 56% of console gamers in the US preferred playing multiplayer games, either online with friends or strangers, or in person with friends. This has seen a rise in the number of multiplayer and cross-platform console games — from Fortnite and MultiVersus to Elder Scrolls Online and Minecraft, which recently released its first true crossplay edition with Minecraft: Bedrock for gamers to play across console, mobile, PC, and Oculus VR devices on the same game version.
Now that we know a little more about this audience, why is it so important to reach them? Due to fractionalization and the decline of linear advertising, certain key demographics like 18-24 year-old males are getting increasingly harder for advertisers to reach through conventional media. By tapping into console, brands would stand a far better chance at reaching these hard-to-reach audiences in an attention-rich environment.
What types of console games are popular today?
According to Newzoo, Battle Royale, Adventure, and Shooter were the top three game genres for console in December 2022, with over 40% of shooter game revenues attributed to console last year. As a result, it may be difficult to ignore this massive audience of FPS gaming fans when it comes to brand campaigns. While many advertisers are hesitant to approach the genre, contextual advertising that makes sense within the game could pay dividends.
Esports have been using this connection for years, with global logistics giant DHL forming an unlikely partnership with esports company ESL for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) live events.
If violence in games still doesn’t float your branding boat, though, there are plenty of other places to look when it comes to reaching console gamers.
For instance, the power of nostalgia in console gaming is massive, with many console gamers opting to play the same franchises as they've always played, and often buying the last console hardware just to continue playing along with the new franchise releases. Call of Duty, Persona, Virtua Fighter, and Pokémon are just some popular examples, with the latter’s latest installment Pokémon Scarlet/Violet on Nintendo Switch selling over 4.3 million units just two months after launch.
How advertisers can work smarter, not harder, in console games
Consoles have been around for decades, and they show no signs of ever going away. In the US, they have seemingly become a part of everyday life, with an August 2022 survey of US console gamers finding that for over a quarter of respondents, console gaming sessions last one to two hours on average, with an extra 20% gaming for between two to four hours. Almost an eighth of console gamers play for over 4 hours at a time.
When compared with mobile and PC players, who average around 5 hours of total playtime per week each, console players average over six hours total.
For advertisers, this should be a ‘eureka’ moment. Console gaming audiences are ready for a longer and more involved experience, meaning that they are a great lean-forward audience for advertisers looking to feature their brands. This is even more true for AAA console games, which can often achieve millions of players simultaneously who are passionate about the game or franchise. Services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus that allow day-one access to brand new AAA games make it even more accessible for console gamers. The possibilities are endless.
As advertising becomes more commonplace in console titles due to increased production costs, competitive pricing, and gamers used to getting AAA experiences at a certain price (or free in the case of F2P titles like Fortnite), the opportunity to bring your brand into the console environment will become even easier than ever.
Anzu offers cross-platform in-game ads across mobile, PC, console, and the metaverse — get in touch today to start your in-game journey.