John Poelking
John Poelking is a Gaming Analyst at Mintel. His passion for live entertainment, movies, television, video games, technology and travel informs his sector knowledge.

For stressed and anxious consumers, video games have been an ideal escape during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven in 10 adults have played video games on a device in the past three months. Of them, 58% are currently playing video games more than they typically did before the COVID-19 outbreak.

During a period of physical isolation, the online gaming community has banded together to create unique experiences for digital connection around interactive and engaging gaming content. Nearly half of all adults watch gaming content on an online platform even before the pandemic, according to Mintel research on gaming influencers. Gaming content platforms can be broken down in the following ways:

  • Social (Facebook, YouTube)
  • Live (Twitch, Mixer)
  • Discussion (Twitter, Discord)

With more time on their hands, players are spending more time not only playing their favorite video games but watching other people play video games. The gaming audience is an incredibly diverse one with a wide array of interests. As a result, there are opportunities for any type of brand to reach their target audience if they make the right engagements on gaming content platforms.

Here, we look at key points when entering the gaming influencer space during the pandemic:

Establish authenticity by tapping into the community

Established fans of gaming content are more likely to follow one influencer over another because of their personality, not because they are great at playing a game. Dedicated viewers keep investing in players they like because they want to see more of the content that they love. Gaming influencers have built up a lot of goodwill before the pandemic, and brands that can support influencer efforts can gain credibility among an influencer’s fans. Any opportunities to bring the gaming community together through online events will be appreciated by a gaming audience where one-quarter play to socialize with other people. In April, Travis Scott put on a series of concerts in Fortnite to promote his new album, Astroworld. 45.8 million people viewed the digital concert over the course of five performances in the game. Bringing the gaming community around events and influencers can go along with establishing brand loyalty among dedicated gamers.

Collaborate across industries to engage newcomers

The most popular reason for people to not watch gaming content is because they prefer to watch other entertainment instead. However, the barriers have been increasingly broken down during quarantine as other industries have started working with gaming content platforms to deliver new experiences. In late April, NHL legends Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin went on Twitch to play each other in the game NHL 20. Although the match ended in a tie, the event raised more than $40K for COVID-19 relief efforts, while also bringing a hockey audience to Twitch, possibly for the first time. The barriers to gaming content have been broken down at an exponential rate during the pandemic, as new users have more time on their hands to try new forms of entertainment. Cross-category collaborations will accelerate this growth to bring new audiences more of what they love through the gaming lens, and show the appeal of gaming content to a new audience.

Look to newcomers in the space

In the gaming influencer world, engagement is often more useful to brands than reach. With millions of active users populating platforms with billions of hours of gaming content every month, influencers who have a dedicated audience will go far. Many new influencers will start regularly posting their own gaming content on platforms to build an audience, whether it’s to earn an income or dive deeper into their passions. Brands should keep an eye out for new voices emerging during this time that can speak to underserved audiences who are starting to dip their toes into the waters of gaming content.

For a comprehensive look into gaming influencers, click here to learn about the US Gaming Influencers: Why People Watch Gamers Market Report.