Video games have always revolved around competition. From the one-on-one battles of Pong in the early 1970s until now, these virtual worlds have captured people’s attention through struggles and rivalries.
In the modern era, these battles have been brought to a world audience. Twitch has been instrumental in bringing gaming to digital audiences everywhere, and game developers have changed their business model in response.
Historically, video games were a one-time expense. A customer would walk into a store, make a purchase and walk out. Today, developers are producing ‘freemium’ content, where players can purchase upgrades, custom add-ons and other in-game services for far less than the price of a standard game. The idea is to have as many players try it, and with the help of influencers, have as many people continue to purchase these add-ons or subscribe to new offerings.
“Sixty dollars for a game, especially when you are young and don’t necessarily have a job, that’s honestly a big investment for a game you may or may not be playing in a month or two,” MarketScale Video Editor & Sound Designer Zac Brummett said.
Twitch, and other streaming services like it, have created a new sphere of influence in the gaming world. The gaming community has always been large and international but today it is connected like never before.
Brummett and MarketScale Data Analyst Jared Street have witnessed this evolution firsthand; both are avid video game players and are excited to see its rise into the next level of pop culture.
“It has definitely made gaming more mainstream, that is for certain,” Street said.
However, this change has not come without detractors, according to both Street and Brummett. With audiences being so in-tune with influencers through streaming services, Street believes it can hurt the gameplay experience for casual players.
“When streamers are setting the meta for games and strategies are completely determined by the streamers and everyone uses them, I feel like that is kind of overstepping the bounds of what is OK in the streaming sense,” Street said.
For game developers though, the path to rapid growth has never been easier. The entire marketing and advertising strategy has been placed on streaming, influencers and the connected community.
“A perfect example of this would be APEX Legends. When they released it they did no advertising, they did no content, it was just released, and ‘here ya go’,” Street said. “They just relied on the community and the streamers to do all the marketing for them.”
From a marketing and business perspective, video game developers have never had an easier time reaching a larger audience on a smaller budget. With the overall rise of live streaming and continually increasing performance of video content, marketers across all industries can benefit from these growing channels.
Not only do these channels have a low barrier of entry, but they showcase the power that influencer marketing can have on a product. If a piece of content appeals to a community and engages influencers in that community, the need to spend advertising dollars disappears. The influencers have become the best brand ambassadors, and the ones with the widest, most authentic reach.
Twitch and other streaming services are sure to only grow as brands and influencers build even bigger audiences, and more marketers join in on the live video game experience.
Listen to more episodes of Here’s What I Know for the stories, brands and culture behind marketing.