Five Gaming Trends Marketers Need to Follow

Everyone loves top 10 lists. Whether it is SportsCenter or David Letterman, we’re drawn to top 10 lists no matter the topic. With this in mind, I collected my top 10 gaming trends that all marketers should follow over the next 12 months. By no means is this a comprehensive list of all opportunities, but it will give brands a good idea of upcoming trends that can be leveraged to reach their consumers. There’s no rocket science included here. I focus on simple engagements.

This week, I’ll give you the first five on my list. Next week, I’ll finish up with the second five.

Games Are No Longer Games

Game publishers are now looking to their prized possessions as entertainment properties. During his recent DICE Summit keynote, Gabe Newell, founder and manager director of Valve, said his company is moving away from being considered solely as video game company to now being an entertainment company. With breakthrough franchises such as “BioShock,” “Prince of Persia,” and “Street Fighter” planned as feature films, games can extend past the game experience. Brands integrated into the actual storyline will be able to ride along with the property as it touches multiple media.

Games Never Get Old

As the number of connected consoles and online gaming via PCs increase, games’ lifespan also lengthen. Whether it be downloadable content (e.g., “Grand Theft Auto IV”‘s recent release of “The Lost and Damned”) or additional content packs (e.g., World of Warcraft’s “Wrath of Lich King”), gamers’ favorite games seem to have become immortal. Marketers obviously win when programs engage consumers for extended periods, plus they can leverage incremental content releases to update messaging and included assets.

Games Provide Direct Connections

To further the point on connected gaming environments, gamers are no longer required to leave their couch for the latest and greatest games. They’re given plenty of game options from console providers (e.g., Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, WiiWare) and game publishers (e.g., Valve Steam network) direct to their gaming platform. Again, marketers can leverage the direct download to ensure the most recent message and assets are included. More important to gamers, brands can more easily help with subsidizing the cost of these direct download purchases.

The Best Games Are Free

Gamers aren’t exempt from the tough economy. With less expendable income to spend on their favorite entertainment option, gamers look to get more value out of their gaming-related purchases and are more likely to discover free gaming alternatives. Where gamers may have once spent $60 on their favorite titles, we can expect to see them turn to cheaper or even free options. Game publishers are likely to increase their offerings of free-to-play games that have been very successful in Asia. Marketers can leverage this trend by subsidizing the cost of gaming experiences or even offering branded versions of game play for free.

There’s a Game for Everyone

Thanks to research reports from an assortment of firms, we can now say that nearly all demographics play some type of game. Whether it be senior citizens enjoying the Wii, CEOs playing BrickBreaker in the airport, or families coming together for a night of “Guitar Hero,” everyone is playing games. Depending on the platform, targeting capabilities can ensure that a marketer’s message reaches the appropriate demographic. Instead of questioning whether to have a gaming strategy, marketers should now consider what that gaming strategy entails to reach their audience.

I’ll run through the next second half of my top 10 list in my next column. Be sure to check back here.

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