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The evolution of gaming from a relatively solitary activity to one where games are played with people around the world and shared with millions on platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch.tv has resulted in an explosion of growth, skyrocketing sales, and a fundamental change in how brands conduct game advertising. According to Entertainment Software Association figures cited in a recent Fortune article, 2015 gaming industry revenues hit $23.5 billion in the United States alone, leading many of today’s leading game manufacturers and gaming-related communities to develop partnerships with YouTube’s top gaming influencers in an effort to capture the attention of the industry’s massive new audiences and next consumers.
While the rise of social media platforms like YouTube is a major impetus for the gaming industry’s unprecedented growth, much of gaming and gaming culture’s popularity, especially as a fixture in modern mainstream culture, is owed to the popularity of top YouTube gamers like PewDiePie, Markiplier, KSI, and Sssniperwolf (one of the most popular girl gamers in the space). The most effective forms of game advertising, therefore, seeks to capitalize on the influence, reach, communities, and engagement of these social media stars by developing influencer marketing partnerships with top gaming YouTubers and leveraging their status as taste-makers to sway the purchasing decisions of million of new, engaged consumers.
The most effective gaming and game advertising campaigns seek to highlight vital aspects of the game and/or promote the game in a way that will captivate audiences and generate social shares, likes, and comments—all of which lead to high campaign ROIs and, ultimately, to better game sales. As the following examples illustrate, working with top YouTube influencers to create content is often the best way for gaming brands to target key demographics and develop unique videos that will capture the attention of the gaming community at large.
As one of the most popular and well-known gaming lifestyle brands, Loot Crate owes much of its notoriety and affinity among gaming audiences to consistent, high-volume sponsorships with top Youtube influencers, both within the gaming community and also in related niche-interest categories. In addition to developing partnerships with top YouTube influencers and channels like Pewdiepie (the richest YouTuber), Markiplier, Rooster Teeth, TobyGames, Miranda Sings, and Connor Franta that reach millions of engaged users, Loot Crate also sponsors popular entertainment, prank, and comedy YouTube personalities and channels like Ownage Pranks, jacksfilms, and whatever.
To increase conversions though its game advertising with top YouTube influencers, Loot Crate also provides viewers with a custom promo code with the latest subscription box offer (available in the video description below each sponsored YouTube video). Providing customized promo codes (i.e. a different code for each top YouTube influencer or channel) allows Loot Crate to easily and preliminarily track and measure signups from each sponsorship. With this strategy, top YouTube influencers simply include their promo code within the video description with hardly any additional promotion. Loot Crate oftentimes sponsors entire channels for long periods of time to consistently drive awareness and conversions with each YouTuber’s subsequent video.
Loot Crate also advertises with YouTubers and top channels to create more substantial and creative integrated sponsored videos. These integrations usually feature a combination of sponsor call outs (e.g. inserted within a YouTube End Card or with YouTube Annotations) or can follow some of the most popular types of YouTube video formats (e.g. YouTube Unboxing Videos). As one of the 5 standard types of influencer marketing campaigns, Loot Crate created a creative/theme-style video integration with popular comedy and pop culture channel, whatever, to promote their “Game of Thrones” edition subscription box. Whatever’s video, entitled “Game of Thrones Awkwardness,” parodies the popular TV series, presents a call out within the end card, and ultimately pairs and provides relevance for the subscription box edition with the theme of the video.
Ubisoft, creator of several best-selling game brands, partners with top YouTube influencers to create some of the best sponsored YouTube gaming videos. (As one of the most popular genres on YouTube, popular YouTube gaming videos include Let’s Plays, Walkthroughs, Reaction, Reviews, and Machinima). For the release and promotion of their game “Rainbow Six: Seige” (a subset of Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy” game brand), Ubisoft partnered with top YouTube gamer MatPat of The Game Theorists to create, film, and produce a series of reality hostage situations which involved other popular YouTubers (see video above) and emulated the theme of Ubisoft’s new game. In this sponsored YouTube campaign, Ubisoft partners with several top YouTube influencers to both leverage their combined social reach and craft an intriguing and relevant storyline promoting their new game.
In a completely different style of sponsored YouTube video advertising, Ubisoft partners with top YouTube gamer, VanossGaming, to create a highlight and gameplay video (see video below) for first-person shooter game, Far Cry 4. For most consumer demographics, viewing these types of videos is the first and requisite step for evaluating the game and influencing their impending purchase. Well-made sponsored YouTube videos from top YouTubers are now becoming one of the most trusted form of game advertising and review.
To market to Minecraft gamers and expose millions of users to the company’s extensive offering of projects (maps), texture packs, skins, and other ways that users can enhance their Minecraft world, Planet Minecraft enlisted the help of YouTube gaming influencer ExplodingTNT to create an entertaining machinima as part of the company’s game advertising strategy. The resulting video, entitled “If Herobrine Went To The Gym” highlights Planet Minecraft’s creative additions while keeping users engaged with an entertaining plotline.