The gaming industry is, to put it simply, generating incredible sums of money and is experiencing even more remarkable amounts of growth. Gaming was worth about $150 billion USD in 2019, with +7.2 year-on-year growth (Newzoo). Social media is proving to be one of the key driving forces behind this global entertainment monster, whether it’s platforms like Twitch commercialising the spectator side of gaming, or the birth of an entirely new sub-genre of gaming based around social media itself: Social gaming.
The social gaming industry is itself a multi-billion-dollar industry ($5 billion USD between Asia and America in 2017 – Statista) and at least half of social media users play games on their preferred platforms – in 2016, 15% of the time logged on Facebook was used to play games like Farmville.
The instant-gratification at the heart of social media’s allure is driving change every industry it touches (and our world as a whole), but none more so than gaming – we want our games and we want them now!
Never ones to miss a trick (or cynical ad-selling exercise), Facebook duly launched Instant Games, its HTML5 gaming experience with no installs or cross-platform-play issues, and this will quickly become the norm with many believing that we are slowly but surely heading for a platform-free online-only gaming future. The next generation of consoles will focus more on streaming titles, with Google’s Stadia going completely online only, and it would seem that, as always, the future is a lot closer than we think.
The traditional cliché of gaming being the pastime of antisocial basement-dwellers is well and truly a thing of the past. Now, the mother who owns the basement is just as likely to be playing games online as the cliché of the gamer-son occupying it, though she’s probably not playing the latest DOOM title. There is a strong argument to say that for all of the internet’s ills, the heightened focus on the social element of gaming is a strong positive, with a strong sense of community and identity often going hand-in-hand with online-gaming or social- gaming habits.
These communities have a tremendous amount of commercial power, with some commanding them to hugely lucrative ends - esports star Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins in 2018 bested LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo, becoming the athlete with the most social interactions on the planet, while the esports title ‘League of Legends’ Championships garnered more viewers than the NBA finals (100 million watched this December’s 2019 World Final).
As this industry spreads its wings and truly starts to become commercialised, advertisements have become ubiquitous, and studies show that engagement rates average around 20% for social gaming ads, and 0.5% for Facebook brand pages. With these kinds of numbers, it is highly likely that in the months and years to come, social gaming ads will be the major trend to watch out for, which is of course good news for game manufacturers & developers as well as advertisers forever-chasing more exposure and more eyes upon their wares.