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Gaming revenue surged 20% in 2020, audience more diverse: Essence report

The report helps brands to understand new opportunities in gaming.

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MUMBAI: Last year, the world stayed at home. Outdoor divertissements like live sports and events, and catching a movie at the multiplex were off the table, owing to the Covid2019 pandemic. People had to find new ways to distract themselves from the grim reality; apart from online video streaming, gaming saw a marked uptick in adoption. In fact, 2020 was a breakthrough year for the gaming industry, with revenue spurt of 20 per cent over the previous year, according to a report published by global media agency Essence, a part of GroupM.

The 'Gaming in the 2020s: Reach, rewards and the new meditation' report is aimed at brands and will help marketing heads understand the full scale of the opportunity presented by this up and coming category, and what they can expect to gain from their efforts. 

"In recent years, the gaming sector had been steadily growing in note amongst the marketing community but was yet to become a mainstream consideration. It had neither been seriously appraised for its reach potential nor wholeheartedly embraced as a lever for driving brand connection," wrote Essence in their study report. 

The report stated that an enforced focus on home entertainment and folks spending more time with their children due to the shelter at home guidelines has played a crucial role in elevating the popularity of the gaming sector. 

Contrary to the previous belief, the Essence report suggested that gaming is not just confined to young people –  it is considerably more diverse, and 83 per cent of all women, and 85 per cent of all men can be classed as gamers. The study report also noted that a massive 71 per cent of 55-64 year-olds engage in the gaming space. 

"Mobile gaming, in particular, has broad appeal across genders and age groups, and it’s here that older generations certainly feel most comfortable," the report claimed. 

One of the many effects was a huge increase in exposure to and exploration of gaming, resulting in a greater understanding of its appeal amid widespread news coverage of family-friendly, stand-out titles such as Animal Crossing. All of a sudden, gaming exploded into the general consciousness of consumers and marketers alike. 

Essence suggested two main reasons for brands to engage, which in turn determine how building gaming touchpoints into the communications plan should be approached. 

· Incrementality for non-endemic brands — gaming touchpoints should be evaluated in line with any other video, display or out-of-home opportunity.

· Building equity in the service of growth —  gaming touchpoints can be leveraged in the service of campaigns that are not specifically relevant to the genre, just like all kinds of campaigns can sit happily on the cinema screen, for example.

Key highlights of the report 

The global gaming market was valued at $151.55 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach revenue of $256.97 billion by 2025. The pandemic helped spur a revenue surge of 20 per cent to $179.7 billion in 2020.

For marketers engaging with the gaming sector for the first time, there is an appreciation that gaming is not a ‘channel’ but a form of entertainment around which a unique set of consumer behaviours have been built. These behaviours are broad and exhibited across a hugely fragmented space, inclusive of vastly differing devices, platforms, locations and types of content.  

NewZoo estimates that the global audience for esports – organised forms of competitive gaming using tournaments or leagues – totalled 495 million in 2020 and will rise to 646 million in 2023, with around 45 per cent watching at least once a month. 

Beyond esports, streaming has been harnessed by individual players who also broadcast their gaming to live audiences. Users typically employ one of three major platforms, which vary in popularity around the globe. YouGov claims that 49 per cent of Indian gamers engage with YouTube Gaming.

When it comes to the choice of engaging with rewarded ads versus making an in-app payment, a vast majority of mobile gamers prefer consuming the ad. However, as per a proprietary Mobile Annoyance study conducted by Essence India, mid-game banner ads scored the highest on the Annoyance Index when compared to a range of other mobile ad formats (served both in-game and across other types of publisher content).

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