August 26th, 2020 By Jack Morton
This is the third piece of content in a series of articles entitled: Game on! The video game industry’s opportunity to deliver superior brand experiences is now. Click to read the first and second articles in the series.
The average gamer is 34 years old. And there’s more than 2.5B video gamers around the world.
So, when it comes to designing a tournament and industry event, what do they really want? And how.
A 14-year-old Fortnite fanatic with the gamer tag “Tint” shares three things that publishers and leagues should consider when designing their next experience:
1: Fans are players, too. When I go to gaming events, it’s great to watch the pros play, but there are limited opportunities for the rest of us gamers. A fan stadium or smaller competitions throughout the experience could really spice up the excitement factor. I’m a super fan, and sometimes I feel like there just aren’t enough experiences that reward us hardcore fans. I want an opportunity to win tickets to play in some part of the competition!
2: Lines are an opportunity. At last year’s Fortnite World Cup, the lines for the fan festival were insane. There was a lot of waiting around and very little to do. As a publisher, you have a captive audience just waiting to be engaged. Some of the activities, like dressed-up characters, were aimed at much younger kids which was disappointing for older gamers.
3: Interactivity is often forgotten. I see a lot of great content on screens at gaming events. But often it’s not interactive. As a gamer, I want to engage in the event just like I do when I play. It’s not just about watching – it’s also about playing and being part of the action. Incorporating small activities that require you to interact with the environment are a win. Even simple touch screens or voice activated programs would be nice to see!
Like living out some of your favorite on-screen characters. At AsiaPop Comicon, fans stepped into their favorite Netflix shows to live the stories they love while connecting seamlessly to new content. An immersive experience that transported fans from a sterile convention hall, into being in the heart of their favorite shows – providing the opportunity to become the characters they admire, and explore the “world” in which they exist.
Three considerations for game publishers and developers
For publishers and developers to stand out in a space that’s already overcrowded, they must deliver live moments and experiences that matter – and they must do it on a global stage. Experiences that connect fans to the worlds they already love and the worlds they have yet to discover. Make them smile. Make them excited to play.
Consider these three factors:
1: Immerse and include your audience
Brand experience for gamers starts in the same place as brand experience for any other brand or industry – with the audience. Gamers are as diverse as any other audience, but there are a few things they have in common. The sense of accomplishment, the escapism, the social aspect… the worlds themselves.
Use these things. Take advantage of the things your audience already loves, the stories they want to hear, the communities and sense of belonging that already exist. Make them the center of attention in your new narrative. Make them the hero.
“This is the golden age of video games. They are the leading form of entertainment in American culture. They enhance our interconnected experiences and relationships with one another and redefine the intersection between humans and technology.” — acting President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis with the ESA, the trade association that represents the U.S. video game industry
2: Provide more than junk food and energy drinks
When it comes to delivering a noteworthy brand experience, a range of industries are tapping into the gaming space. From fashion brands to high performance sports cars. Even more so, amidst COVID-19, with countless brands, musicians and institutions having jumped into gaming for the first time because it provided one of the few ways to connect in real time with consumers. The diversity of the gaming audience is yet another proof point that these ever-growing and far reaching fans are sure to show up for your experience – and deliver.
Miller Lite’s Cantroller
When Miller Lite created the first-ever beer can that’s also a video game controller – The Cantroller – they needed to introduce the new product to gamers in an authentic way.
Rather than simply dropping it into the laps of gamers, they created a community gathering space that makes endemic gamers proud and willing to lean into It’s Miller Time’s come-as-you-are brand persona.
At one of the biggest events in the gaming industry, E3 in LA, gamers were invited into an after-hours Cantroller Lounge to battle it out for a chance to take on Eric Andre himself, on stage, with a live stream to Twitch. The prize? A chance to walk away with a Cantroller and eternal fame.
League of Legends and Louis Vuitton partnership
In 2019, Riot Games teamed up with fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, to design a one-of-a-kind trophy case to hold the Summoner’s Cup, which is awarded to the League of Legends World Championship winners.
Louis Vuitton has worked with other sporting industries (FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup) but this partnership was the first for esports.
“We are honored to have Louis Vuitton as an official partner with designs to impact the look, feel, and prestige of our most prominent League of Legends event,” said Naz Aletaha, Head of Global esports Partnerships at Riot Games. “This is a historic partnership that speaks to the impact Riot Games and League of Legends has had on the industry over the past nine esports seasons. We welcome the LV brand to our sport and we are eager to share the entire scope of the partnership in the months ahead, in particular on November 10 when the Summoner’s Cup is awarded in Paris.”
3: Don’t forget about the details
When designing space for a gaming experience, there’s a lot to consider. Start by asking yourself these three questions:
- Who needs to see it?
- Where will they see it?
- Why should they care?
ELEAGUE’s studio set design is a great example.
The conceptual vision behind the ELEAGUE studio design was the automated arena of the future. An active, dynamic space where computer controlled automated elements moved and operated as if in a game. A place where the excitement of live gaming comes to life in a state-of-the-art television studio environment.
Who needed to see it?
The players and the fans.
Where would they see it?
The set was broadcast on TV and Twitch, so it had to be designed for both mediums. It also had to appeal to people who don’t typically watch TV.
Why should they care?
For the excitement of the contests. The set demonstrated the rawness associated with gaming and reflected the culture of the game – which in this case was industrial and futuristic.
Ready to get in the brand experience game?
It’s clear that gaming and esports is more than a trend. It’s more than a subculture. And it is here to stay.
It’s also clear that brand experience will play an important role in the future of gaming and esports, and how they interact with their audiences.
In such a dynamic and constantly evolving industry that caters to a hungry, but highly demanding audience, how do we proceed? Like any other brand experience, striking a balance between creating content your audience will love while remaining true to your brand and your objectives will be the key to success. And using your best asset – your devoted audience.
Unlike other parts of the entertainment industry, the gaming audience plays an active role in consumption. This means they are more engaged with immersive and interactive content. It also means they could be more difficult to excite – seeing as they’re constantly engaged with the content anyway.
When you watch the Warcraft movie, you are only an observer. But when you play World of Warcraft, you’re the hero. So to truly standout, we must take that feeling even further, and give fans something special they can’t get simply from the game itself. Something that makes them want – and even need – to play.
Photo credit: Thanks to Vlad Gorshkov for sharing their work on Unsplash