Game On

The world of entertainment has been taken by storm last week with the launch of Pokémon Go.

People were stopping their cars to catch a Pikachu and tapping their screens on the tube to throw pokéballs. Nintendo’s game became the fastest mobile game to achieve 10 million downloads worldwide within 7 days (source: Sensortower).

But who are gamers? Is gaming really that much of a phenomenon in the UK?

36.6 million. This is the number of Brits that are any kind of gamer. Within this, 58% are male and 42% are female. This shows that the geek in his room with leftover pizza and nerdy glasses is not the representation of the typical gamer anymore as it is not a male focused niche phenomenon.

The increase of social games has brought women to the market and they are just as likely as men to play social games, which is the genre the most played (source: Mintel), however, they are less likely to play other types of games such as big budget, flash or indie.

Social games are the most popular on smartphones, but when looking at devices used for gaming, 24% of gamers play on computers and the same figure applies to consoles. Smartphones are the third most used device (21%) followed by tablets and handhelds (source: GameTrack/Ipsos Connect).

However, when looking at frequency of usage, smartphone games are the most played every day (26% of gamers) overtaking tablets (23%) and PC (16%) (source: Mintel).

Mobile gaming is increasing its value on the market as seen below. Although they are much cheaper (if not free) than PC and console games, mobile games keep occurring for a bigger part of the total video games revenue. This shows how the purchase process has now changed with games being purchased at very low prices – if purchased at all – and revenues coming from add-ons and in-game purchases.

Source: Mintel

But what makes PC and console games so impactful is the size and excitement behind big launches.

Similar to the cinema culture, big franchises trigger a huge interest and conversation online.

As an illustration of this, when comparing the peaks in Google searches around the launch of Avatar, first at the box office and Grand Theft Auto IV – one of the best-selling video games of all time.

Source: Google Trends

Source: Google Trends

Although by definition gaming is linked more closely to digital than cinema is and the launches didn’t occur during the same year, we can see that the video game launch triggered a much bigger interest than the film release which shows the excitement around such launches.

This shows the size of the commercial opportunity for brands.

This strategy has been implemented by Virgin Media who is the headline sponsor of EGX one of the biggest gaming events in the UK which is sensible as their product facilitates gaming.

Other examples include Google who provided its maps content to the Pokémon Go app, Jeep producing its own console game ‘Jeep Thrills’ or Doritos offering codes in its pack of crisps to unlock items in the Madden NFL video game.

With 2.6 million Brits (11% of the total UK population) and 21% of video games purchasers (source: TGI/Kantar) agreeing that advertising within gameplay enhance the realism of it and the explosion of this not-so-niche market, it is clear that the industry hasn’t achieved its full potential and more brands should say ‘game on’.


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