Video game

Gaming Is The Best Social Media Platform For Brands To Reach Gen Z – Forbes


Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only coastal teens who gravitate towards gaming. The recently released New Heartland 2020 Generational Study shows that gaming is more central to the lives of Gen Zers in the New Heartland than on the coasts. 

In fact, 42% of New Heartland Gen Zers choose gaming as one of the top three activities they do in their spare time, where coastal teens place more stock in social media. 

Gaming is projected to be a $94 billion industry by 2024. With 90% of Gen Zers in the video gaming ring, it’s time for a broader range of brands to enter the fight for their attention.

Not convinced? A study conducted by LendEDU found 33% of Fortnite players spend 6 to 10 hours per week playing, and 15% of high school and college students report missing either school or work to play.

Though in-game ads are not available now for all games – in the future they could be and Amazon is banking on it.  So much so, that they launched a rival game to Fortnite this month, called Crucible.

 When Facebook emerged as the premier social media platform 16 years ago, it was hard to believe it could ever be replaced. However, we might be seeing natural selection of the digital persuasion happening in real-time with the rising popularity of gaming and corresponding streaming platforms like Amazon-owned, Twitch among Gen Z. 

Why Gen Z Chooses Video Games

During the pandemic, for the first time ever, we got to experience a world where we couldn’t physically interact with others. The results indicate a turning tide in how Gen Z wants to communicate. 

Although 59% of the U.S. classifies themselves as gamers, 90% of Gen Zers do. 

It’s no surprise that they chose gaming as their preferred pastime while social distancing. A recent Brainly survey found that 64% did so, with 42% spending more than 2 hours of their day engaged in some sort of gaming. 

How Brands Can Connect and Engage with Gen Z 

The same characteristics that separated Facebook from MySpace for the general population in the early 2000s could be putting video games and Twitch at the forefront of Gen Z’s social media habits.

The allure of video games has always been there: the ability to escape reality and engage in activities you normally wouldn’t or couldn’t engage in, as well as the opportunity to connect and compete with your friends. 

Gaming Is The Most Authentic Social Network

But video games have evolved from a niche to a social network for Gen Z because the culture surrounding it functions as both a tool and a technology, mirroring the strategy employed by Facebook nearly two decades prior. 

“Users don’t need new stuff to do, they need new technologies to support doing the stuff that already matters to them,” McWilliams stated in The Guardian at the height of MySpace’s demise. 

While video games alone are a tool, the streaming services that have been built around them are a technology for Gen Zers to communicate what matters most to them. 

We also know that Gen Z is more likely to side with a brand that reflects their values and shows an understanding for their lifestyle. This is particularly true in the New Heartland, where 56% of Gen Z find this aspect to be essential to their relationship with a brand. 

How Brands Can Engage Gen Z Gamers

There are two primary avenues for getting your brand into the gaming industry according to The 4A’s: 

  1. Pursuing partnerships or sponsorships with gaming events 
  2. Facilitating or enabling gaming behavior

Plenty of brands have successfully glued themselves to the gaming industry through these tactics. 

Uber Eats teamed up with popular Twitch streamer and Fortnite player, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, on a promotion in fall 2018. Customers received 25% off their purchase using the code NINJANOMS. The promotion was so successful that it hit the maximum number of redemptions in just one day. 

Some brands pursue larger investments. To promote the premiere of Avengers: Endgame, the franchise hosted an in-game crossover event with Fortnite. Players could participate in the plot and engage with the characters of the film, an experience that led The Verge’s Nick Statt to call the game one of the best he’s “ever played.” 

Other brands, like Wendy’s, have charted the future of marketing with their video game activations. The “fresh, never frozen” fast food chain won the Social Influencer Grand Prix at Cannes Lions after it created a digital avatar for Fortnite that looked just like its red-headed mascot. 

The avatar entered a themed Fortnite mission that pitted Team Pizza against Team Burger. Wendy’s joined Team Pizza so it could sabotage Team Burger, whose restaurants in the game were stocked with freezers until the brand’s avatar destroyed them. 

During the course of the 10-hour live stream, Wendy’s earned 7,400 followers and 43,500 comments without putting any money into the endeavor. 

One of the members of the Cannes Lions jury explained the secret behind Wendy’s success with this campaign: “…Wendy’s showed something that made us wonder, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, that we could go back and say, ‘Maybe it started here.’”

Video games and the community infrastructure surrounding them offer innovative ways for brands to reach Gen Z, especially in the New Heartland, that should make them a top of mind marketing tool. And the best part, gamer’s are open to ads. Eighty-two percent of Twitch users say sponsorship’s are good for the gaming industry, and 80% are open to brands sponsoring a specific game or team. 

 What they lack in-game in paid advertising opportunities they make up for in massive organic appeal – something that will only become harder for brands to acquire as digital platforms continue their unstoppable evolution.





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