Brands will activate complete customer journeys within the gaming ecosystem

LPS’ Aasim Shaik believes that 2024 will see the convergence of brand journeys in their entirety and gaming culture

Brands will be intentional to build their gaming strategy, at all stages of their communications plans. Gaming journeys will be built and leveraged for the first time, with real-time optimisation and tangible return on investments. 

Going long on gaming

We have heard often that brands are expected to take a long strategy position on gaming, in order to see the impact of their investments in the sector. While brands knew that there was something interesting brewing within the gaming space, the truth is that they didn’t have the right vehicles to be allowed into the party. 

This was particularly true in times where game publishers were reticent to accept brand monetisation and e-sports organisations were getting their models optimised. They were careful not to interrupt their paying communities’ experience. 

As we stand today in 2024, gaming in its fully developed form is unique – it is culture, platform, media ,and content rolled into one smorgasbord of an experience. The question is where do you get started in building gaming journeys for brands? 

Start at create 

Gaming has transcended from being an underground community to becoming a part of mainstream culture in the Middle East. The stereotypical profile of the teenage male gamer is dated. Everybody games, with deep engagement levels on game play visuals, slangs and lingo, with a spillover to conventional social media platforms. 

The hashtag #amongus – a detective game, has more than 63 billion views on TikTok. There is an untapped opportunity for brands to act as a catalyst and broadcast content which integrates gaming contexts and conversations with the brand on their owned channels.

Let’s picture car insurance brands talking about speeding tickets, using a gamified environment in their social videos. However, there is a dare in this outreach initiative. The avatar’isation of brands is essential and one has to push brand persona boundaries whilst building relevant native experiences. This is the starting point. 

In-stream Campaigns 

There has always been bottom-of-funnel haziness when it comes to gaming. In-stream campaigns solve this essential piece of the puzzle for brands. The gaming eco-system has game publishers, professional gamers and game streamers. 

It is in the influence of game streamers that real Ad Tech innovation is flourishing. In-stream campaigns by StreamShreek leverage the influence of thousands of streamers, cast brand campaigns directly on targeted streams with click-able links on chat streams. Along with the top of the funnel awareness and content engagement, In-stream campaigns complete the loop by ensuring actions and conversions. 

E-sports partnerships and beyond 

E-sports sponsorships have been the most mature and talked about form of interaction for brands with gaming. These partnerships are the reserve of a few, at steep price models and are not modular in nature. However, there are opportunities in e-sports beyond the stated, if one is ready to dive deeper and look at the trigger-masters behind the stage. A good example is community casting.

 Influential game streamers or community casters live stream the event from the familiarity of their unassuming Twitch or YouTube setups to their audiences, in contrast to the official live broadcasting done from E-sports channels. The surprising part – community casters often attract a larger viewing audience than the official channels of the e-sports events. 

For instance: Valorant Champions is one of the most popular e-sports tournaments globally and its most popular community caster, Tarik draws a bigger viewership than the official e-sports event channel. Brands would do well to understand the community caster ecosystem and invest in brand-building through this fast-growing space.  

The return of game publishers 

As brand publishers realise the importance of brand dollars, they have opened up brand activations on their gaming platforms. Rather than destinations for gamers to browse product catalogues, these are spaces within game environments that allow brands to bring their products and services to life.

Case in point, being Fortnite, Roblox and PUBG. This space is a work in progress and targeting capabilities within the Middle East region haven’t matured yet. We are all keenly watching this space as brand partners. 

With multiple avenues available and on the horizon, 2024 will bring in new models of brand-gaming alliances. Brands will for the first time, activate complete customer journeys within the gaming ecosystem. Buoyed by the strategic institutional support in UAE and Saudi Arabic, gaming will no longer be a dalliance and a serious pursuit for brands.  

By Aasim Shaik, Managing Director at LPS