The gaming industry shows no signs of slowing down
27 July 2021
A growing consumer base, the 5G rollout and the increased time at home due to lockdowns have all helped gaming and esports be one of the major winners of 2020. PwC’s 2020 Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report predicted sector revenue growth of 9.4% to £5.3 billion, with further growth projected to rise at a CAGR of 7.3% to 2024.
This offers a new opportunity for brands to reach audiences, particularly Gen Z, through advertising, sponsorship and partnerships.
A growing UK gaming population - playing for longer
A recent PwC Research survey found that half of the UK are now playing video games. This increased most among 18-34s, increasing from 66% in 2020 to 73%. Women gamers are also on the rise, with just under half now playing video games.
Time spent playing video games has also increased. 88% play video games at least once a week compared to just 50% in 2020. And those playing four times a week or more have more than doubled since the same time last year. Gaming is an increasingly important part of people’s entertainment repertoire alongside more traditional media. A third of 18-34s prefer gaming content and esports to TV. Lockdown also emphasised the social aspect, 28% are gaming to spend time with friends or meet like-minded people.
Gaming content is becoming more mainstream
56% of gamers also consume gaming-related content - from streams with celebrities and gamers, articles about the industry and particular games, to accessing gaming information through Reddit and Discord. This rises for 18-24s, with 85% seeking gaming content outside of playing.
Gamers are not relying on niche or gaming-specific platforms, YouTube remains the go-to platform. Over half use it to watch content such as walkthroughs, reviews of upcoming games or high-level gaming highlights from streams and tournaments. Facebook has also burst onto the scene and secured a number of key partnerships with well-known streamers although TikTok and Twitch remain more popular among 18-24s (TikTok: 34% vs 22% overall, Twitch: 32% vs 20% overall). TikTok and other social media platforms are changing viewing habits, introducing gaming content to a more mainstream audience through the passive consumption of accessible short-form videos.
Advertising and sponsorship is landing well with UK gamers
Gamers are aware of the advertising and sponsorships across different platforms; 80% are able to recall at least one piece of advertising they have seen recently while watching content, increasing to 95% for 18-24s. The findings show that advertising for gaming, energy drinks, clothing and technology brands were the most recalled.
With this growth and continued march into the mainstream, consumer behaviour is creating clear opportunities for sponsors to use the gaming space for more targeted advertising. Gamers appear more receptive to advertisements that tie in to gaming. There are lessons to be learned from successful brands in this space who engage directly with content creators (e.g. discount codes, personal branding) as a gateway to a new audience - but brands need to understand the gaming community and their wants to come across as credible, authentic and genuine.
PwC Research conducts a weekly online survey ‘QuantiBus’ with 1,000 UK consumers. Questions submitted on Thursday and results available on Monday.