Tensions & Expansions in Gaming

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Getting ad spend up in gaming, EFG expands into Fortnite UEFN eports, AT&T produces IP-free mobile gaming commercial, and Miniclip expands!

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Here’s what we have for you today:

  • Getting ad spend up in gaming: in-game advertising 📈 

  • Fortnite UEFN esports? EFG’s twist on competitive Fortnite 🎮

  • AT&T produces gaming TV spot without game IP 🏀

  • Mobile publisher Miniclip expanding to PC & Console Gaming 🖥️

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📈 Getting ad spend up in gaming: in-game advertising

source: Pepsiman (1999)

In a recent article by The Drum, Michael Smith, Vice President of Sales at Anzu, highlighted the discrepancy between gaming's immense popularity and its relatively low advertising expenditure.

He highlighted that a AAA game requires similar investment to a Hollywood blockbuster and that global revenue from video games is more than double the global film revenue & six times the global music revenue. Gaming is undoubtedly massive but yet, advertising spend is proportionally much less than compared to film or music.

Why is one of the world’s most popular forms of media & ways of spending time lagging in ad spend when compared to similar industries? Michael and his team proposed numerous reasons why companies may not be as prepared to spend ad budgets on gaming.

Perception & Legacy:

  • The perception of gaming as a niche market has led advertisers to underestimate its potential as a serious advertising platform, favoring more traditional mediums like broadcast TV. With the widespread adoption of gaming across all demographics and its significant cultural impact, gaming has become a mainstream entertainment form, presenting lucrative opportunities for advertisers to engage with a vast and diverse audience.

Measurement & Attribution:

  • Measuring in-game ad effectiveness has historically posed challenges compared to traditional media, hindering advertisers' ability to gauge real-world impact. However, intrinsic in-game advertising now provides comprehensive measurement and reporting capabilities, aligning with industry standards and offering brands opportunities for non-disruptive ad placements within games, supported by verified measurement vendors like Human, Oracle Moat, and IAS.

Technological Hurdles:

  • The fragmented gaming landscape (PC, mobile, Console, etc) combined with the need for specialized knowledge of platforms has made it incredibly difficult for marketers to reach & track big audiences effectively. Intrinsic in-game advertising has now expanded beyond mobile games, granting brands access to players across various platforms such as mobile, PC, and console, while programmatically served ads streamline the process and alleviate the need for costly game development ventures.

Disruption Concerns:

  • Intrinsic in-game ads prioritize the player experience, alleviating concerns about disruption and ensuring alignment with brand values, making them popular for creating meaningful connections with players and enhancing gameplay realism. As long as it’s done correctly, in-game ads can be minimally invasive.

💸 Follow The Money 

Technavio’s latest report on in-game advertising (IGA) forecasts that the IGA Market is to increase by $6.07 Billion at a CAGR of 13.87% between 2023 and 2027. Unsurprisingly, the mobile segment will be significant during this period since mobile gaming is one of the most widespread forms of playing.

👀 Our POV 

In-game advertising is an interesting beast because its success comes down to implementation. Gamers are very wary of intrusive ads in their gaming experience and will rally against it if it comes to disrupt things. Mobile ads that cover your entire screen or force you to watch a 30-second video just suck. That said, I wouldn’t be terribly upset if Mountain Dew billboard began appearing in Warzone or The Finals. Nor would I be annoyed if sponsored cars began showing up in racing games as items you can unlock. There are ways of advertising in games that blend it into the experience and don’t suck players out of the game.

If in-game advertising can take the financial pressure off of publishers and developers a bit, I think it’s fantastic. I’d love to see less monetization features that push players to spend on the newest skins in exchange for some in-game ads. If I was able to opt into ads to get access to a battle pass for free or unlock the ability to earn items through gameplay, I’d take that trade any day. I’ve always taken issue with how much in-game spending is pushed onto player (particularly young gamers) and the leveraging of FOMO. Games like Helldivers 2 have made a splash because their monetization feels worth it and non-aggressive. Everything can be earned through gameplay! I’m a big fan of pursuing non-invasive in-game advertisements if it can alleviate the pressure to over-monetize games.

source: as.com

Many great games have been hampered by executives demanding money be squeezed out at all possible points. The recent Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is a perfect example of monetization muddying the waters. Rocksteady are a legendary team who’re known for top-notch single player experiences! Yet, this game was a colossal flop because they were pushed into creating another live service abomination with the hopes of being an infinite cash cow. Free to play games get a bit of a pass here but paid titles like Call of Duty have no excuse for the ridiculously priced items like their $80 King Kong fist. I look forward to seeing how this space develops and encourage marketers to keep a close eye on it.

- Brendan Valentine (Private Lobby)

🎮 Fortnite UEFN Esports? EFG’s twist on competitive Fortnite

ESL FACEIT Group is looking to change the way people play Fortnite… 👀

This past week EFG announced a new competitive Fortnite experience all built within UEFN. Taking the tools given by Epic Games and creating their own competitive maps & modes, bringing a new way to play Fortnite. 💫

The new series was inspired by classic FPS series such as Call of Duty & Halo, featuring 4v4 team play on objective modes such as Capture The Flag, Hardpoint (aka King Of The Hill), and Shrinking Zone.

Source: ESL Faceit Group

Players can choose between certain “specialist” or class setups, each giving different weapons & power-ups such as siphon, additional loadout slots, movement speed, or increased health regeneration.

Weekly online tournaments will be run through the FACEIT client, leading up to a larger competition that is to be announced. 💰

ESL have already managed to garner interest and partnerships from esports organizations, with a few announcing they will be fielding teams for the competition:

  • Team Heretics

  • Karmine Corp

  • Zeta Division

  • Team Dignitas

  • LOUD

👀 Our POV

My first reaction when seeing this is it would just be a COD knockoff, but I see a ton of potential in this project…

When I think of competitive arcade shooter games, the top two that come to mind are Call of Duty & Halo. Both have either been stagnant or on a significant decline recently when it comes to developer support, attendance, players, etc.

When it comes to PC gaming, the most popular shooters are tactical shooters such as Counter-Strike and VALORANT. Outside of Call of Duty making an effort to own the “PC Arcade Shooter” genre, there’s not a major player challenging them. (XDefiant please hurry 🙏)

In general, there’s starting to become a slow “Battle Royale burnout”. People are starting to become tired of the traditional “drop in and be last alive” that has been fed to players for the past few years. That’s what's great about Fortnite and UEFN, Fortnite doesn’t have to stick to just being a BR. It can be whatever the player wants it to be, allowing for custom maps and game modes to cater to the audience’s needs.

So even if this league doesn’t become the next big thing, this is a great showcase of UEFN and its capabilities for the future of Fortnite.

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)

🏀 AT&T latest to produce gaming TV spot without featuring game IP

Source: AT&T

It’s always fun when you notice new ways brands appear to lean into gaming. AT&T is a name that certainly appears here and there, whether it be the long-running Annihilator Cup, partnering with the mobile-first org Tribe Gaming to develop a rolling gaming station, or years’ of partnerships and activation with NBA 2K.

However, during the Women’s College Basketball Sweet 16, AT&T debuted their ad “Posterized.” This isn’t the highest quality version of the spot, but it was one of the top results on YouTube, so bear with me. 

In it, a mother is at her young daughter’s basketball games and while the action on the court was lackluster, the game she was playing on her phone supercharged the moment. While haters immediately went after this mom who was not paying attention or “neglecting” her kid on the court, this fun, light-hearted spot keyed into the fact that generally speaking more women play casual mobile titles.

👀 Our POV

The headache and wallet pain that comes with using official games in brand spots is not for the faint-hearted. From contracting usage, to combining brand guidelines, to receiving approval from everyone, to writing the check that grants the ability to include actual footage for [insert time period]... the arranged marriage between a brand and a title they have had no previous in-roads to can be quite the process.

That being said, in an industry where the audience is quick to suss out inauthenticity and turn off to that which they determine is more of a cash grab or blind reach toward their brains and hearts, making the decision to use game themes or aesthetic to establish the connection between brand and medium is always a gamble. As gaming has risen in popularity and “coolness,” brands have been doing this more and more.

In the case of AT&T, I’d say that because the brand invests and activates authentically in other areas of the space on a very regular basis, this cost-saving measure was probably okay. The other thing to keep in mind is that brands as massive as telecom giant AT&T have a full slate of agency partners and internal individuals dedicated to marketing/advertising. There is always the possibility that say Wavemaker or other gaming-specific partners on their roster weren’t the decision makers or strategists involved in briefing or guiding this creative in particular.

- Brandon Painter (Private Lobby)

🖥️ Mobile publisher Miniclip expanding to PC & Console Gaming

source: Miniclip & FuturLab

If you’ve ever played a mobile game or were looking to pass some time at school or work on a desktop — there’s a good chance you’ve played a Miniclip game

Founded in 2001, Miniclip has published many top charting games such as Agar.io, 8 Ball Pool, Subway Surfers, Plague Inc., and many more popular mobile games.

After generating over 10 billion downloads across multiple mobile games, the publisher is looking to expand to the console & PC gaming market by partnering with FuturLab, the creator of PowerWash Simulator.

"Our mission to create universally soothing games is in perfect step with Miniclip’s goal to ‘unleash the gamer in everyone’. We’ve proved with PowerWash Simulator that games can transcend genres and make you feel, and we plan to bring you more games that make you go ‘ahhhhhhhh’."

Source: Miniclip

👀 Our POV

This feels like the perfect partnership for both parties. After checking what Miniclip games I had on my phone (Somehow had five 🥴), it was easy to see the type of games they created. More casual focus, mainly types of games you could pick up and put down anytime.

With the success of PowerWash Simulator, there’s definitely a market for “soothing games”, where you can play not having to worry about crazy skill-based matchmaking or an intense story-filled campaign, which aligns perfectly with both companies.

Looking forward to seeing what game the two will come up first 👀

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)

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