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Reaching Gamers on Mobile – Digiday Gaming Advertising Forum Recap

Posted Apr 16, 2021

Last week we participated in the Digiday Gaming Advertising Forum – specifically, our VP of Global Marketing and Communications, Jonathan Harrop, did a short & sweet presentation about mobile gaming audiences. Let’s clarify how to read that: not “mobile gaming” audiences, but rather mobile “gaming audiences,” that is, consumers who play console games and mobile games, too!

Below are the highlights of “Beyond the Console – Audiences in Mobile,” where Jonathan explains the crossover we’ve seen between standard gaming channels like streaming, consoles and PC and the phone in people’s pockets. For advertisers looking to reach gaming audiences, you’ll see how and why mobile beats other channels like TV and esports every day of the week.

Are we still fighting against this stereotype? 

The mobile games audience is more aligned with the core gaming audience than most people might think. Typically, when we go talk to brands and agencies about mobile gaming, we’re fighting against this stereotype about gamers that largely live at home in the basement, chug energy drinks and eat pizza. 

Thankfully, if you’re in this space, you already know that that’s a stereotype, and that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, importantly for the campaigns and KPIs. Everyone knows here that the gaming audience has a healthy mix of ages, household incomes, and education levels. 

There’s also all the variability about how much they love burgers versus tacos, Mountain Dew Game Fuel versus Red Bull, Clothing Brand A versus Clothing Brand B, and so on. In fact, the value gamers have as consumers is so obvious after 2020 that brands actually want to target gamers specifically.

Comparing console to mobile is like comparing apples to… giant apples

We’ve heard a lot about the giant size of the gaming audience on Twitch, on YouTube streaming, across consoles and PC. Looking at the total lifetime sales for the PlayStation2, the best-selling game system overall, it’s 155 million units sold over its lifetime. Granted, when you include other models, like the PS4 (114 million), as well as other brands like Xbox, Nintendo and PCs, it adds up. 

Still, global smartphone sales dwarf that number every single year. Every quarter we’ve seen sales in the 500 million range. Yes, some of those are upgrades, but phones don’t churn out at the same rate that older consoles do. They get handed down to all their family members, younger family members, older family members, and the market continues to grow year after year. And all those family members, too, use those phones to play mobile games, so the demographic expands even further. 

The ways in which crossover occurs

While there is crossover happening at a macro level – with lots of gamers on mobile, and vice versa – there is also crossover happening for specific games. If you’re a passionate gamer who is loyal to a certain brand IP or franchise, you will engage with your favorite characters and gameplay on any platform, not just console. 

For example, while Mario Kart 8 has been out much longer than Mario Kart Tour, the mobile version has way more downloads in the past year alone than the Switch version has had over multiple years. 

Another Nintendo franchise example: Pokémon Sword and Shield. Pokémon GO has had exponentially more downloads over the past year than its console counterpart has had. Now, some people think Pokémon GO is “dead.” Let me tell you, that is highly exaggerated. The game has only dropped out of the top 200 apps three times since it was released! 

Another example is Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, which was released towards the end of 2020 but is already the 20th best-selling game of US tracked history by lifetime dollar sales. Activision Blizzard also noted that Call of Duty: Warzone had six million digital downloads in Q4.

During that same period, Call of Duty on mobile had 12.1 million downloads, so almost double. Over the past 12 months, that number expanded to 80 million downloads. Again, it’s like comparing apples to giant apples.

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