The future of gaming marketing as told by experts

For the latest GMC event, we invited top marketers to join us at the top of the Gherkin for a roundtable on Gaming Marketing Trends. As the morning sun stretched across the city, we enjoyed warm pastries, fresh coffee and enlightening conversation. Our view from the sky was fitting, since our discussion delved deep into the topics of cloud gaming, the rising height of esports and the stormy situation when it comes to gender representation in gaming.

So, to help shed some light on the state of gaming marketing in 2020, we’ve put together our key takeaways from the day…

Cloud gaming

Unreal expectations, digital exclusion and binge-gaming … it seems that cloud gaming is presenting lots of challenges to overcome. Here’s what the marketers had to say:

  • Our expectations of the cloud are skewed. The cloud matched with gaming may seem like the perfect combination but there’s a long way to go until the experience is of a high standard.
  • The gaming industry assumes that people want cloud gaming for fast download speeds etc. However, pausing a game is far more complex than pausing a movie on Netflix. With so much data being sent to the cloud and back throughout a game, the cloud might not be suitable for competitive gamers.
  • Digital exclusion is a real issue when it comes to cloud gaming. There are so many parts of the world where cloud gaming simply won’t work because they are not being served with strong internet connectivity.
  • There’s a strong desire for cloud gaming on mobile.
  • There are concerns surrounding cloud gaming’s business model. 5 years ago, the focus was on making a good game that people would play for a short amount of time. Now, the aim is more about making games that people will play for hours, in a Netflix style binge-gaming session.
  • In a world where attention spans are decreasing, how do we keep players playing for even longer?
  • Companies don’t want to create offline experiences anymore, they want multiplayer online experiences.

New platforms & services

Subscription models, cloud platforms, consoles on monthly contracts – the way people game is changing. But what gaming models do audiences really want?

  • If cloud gaming comes out with the latest must-play title, then people may make the move. Sometimes, all you need is the right title to shift an audience. For example, Fortnite caused a huge shift when it attracted the Minecraft audience.
  • The gaming community know and respect their tech – they expect a high quality experience on every game, whatever platform they’re playing on.
  • Console gaming isn’t going anywhere. The console models may simply change to keep up with the times by offering affordable subscription services to help ensure adoption and retention.
  • Gen Z audiences are more subscription based in their thinking. Consequently, they’re ready for gaming subscription services and are more willing to adopt them.
  • Gamers are vast and varied, so it’s no surprise that they’re split when it comes to subscription models. Some are ready for it, and some just aren’t.
  • Subscription doesn’t mark the end of physical products. Bringing out a physical game can actually boost digital sales.
  • Subscription services reduce the barrier to entry for gaming while add-ons can really personalise an experience to the user.
  • Most gamers are not looking to play cheap or old games but, on subscription, people might be more tempted to play the cheaper games.
  • With so many platforms and new services, how will gaming brands choose the platform? The platforms that succeed will be the ones that secure the best exclusive content.
  • To maintain their brand equity in a crowded market, marketers shouldn’t lose sight of their branding. Branding should be high quality and should communicate the emotional benefits of a game.

Download our latest guide, ‘Gaming Marketing 2020: Trends to Stay Ahead of the Game’, for more on the new services and technology shaking up the gaming sector!

Virtual & Augmented Reality

A social VR revolution, VR in education and the need for an AR game that doesn’t just fizzle away … (where did Pokémon GO go exactly?) It seems there’s a lot to think about when it comes to VR and AR in gaming:

  • Research demonstrates that VR is similar to the Wii – it’s something that people are using to show off to their friends but are not playing everyday. 
  • New big game titles will change the perception of virtual reality, helping to build an audience.
  • The VR mobile gaming market is just not there yet. But there is a trend of game VR being used for education on mobile.
  • The VR audience today is far too small, meaning companies can’t break even on VR games.
  • With Facebook building their Oculus VR platform, it’s likely that social will lead the VR revolution. Social will drive the adoption of VR kits, which will then feed into the gaming sector.
  • From a marketing perspective, VR is a great tool because it’s so immersive. But there’s a long way to go before brands can take this to their audiences.
  • The power and popularity of Pokémon GO lay in its simplicity. While it relied on AR, the game itself was easily accessible and easily playable. VR, on the other hand, is not casual enough yet. 
  • Of course, Pokémon GO seemed to be fad that didn’t really last. The trick to great AR and VR games will be prioritising longevity over novelty. To do this, games will need to be incredibly innovative.


Hugely popular with viewers, hugely rewarding for competitors and hugely important for gaming communities, esports really is huge. Take a look at our notes from the roundtable:

  • With the League of Legends World Cup rivalling the Super Bowl and triple digit growth over the last 3 years, esports is beyond exploding. 
  • Competitive gamers are the core audience for competitive gaming, causing marketers to ask: how do we keep them engaged? 
  • Esports appeals to two human traits – our competitive spirit and our need to feel rewarded. 
  • Esports is fairly democratic and easily accessible. You don’t have to be from a top university or have trained for a lifetime to get a sense of achievement. It’s open to all. 
  • With esports, the sense of community and belonging is incredibly strong, creating lots of opportunities for brands.
  • Esports will rise at a much faster rate than other sports. In 20 years it will be bigger than football, and will potentially be the biggest sport in the world.

For more on the marketing opportunities presented by esports, make sure to download our latest Gaming Marketing 2020 guide here. 

Connecting with gamers

Love them or hate them, influencers seem to be the perfect marketing tool when it comes to gaming…

  • The influence of influencers in the gaming market is massive, especially when compared to other markets. Influencers have the power to make gamers switch platforms.
  • With the rise of new platforms, it will be interesting to see how influencers affect audiences and platform adoption. 
  • Gaming influencers are often more authentic than influencers outside of gaming because they are truly passionate about the games they play.
  • There has to be a natural affinity between the brand and the influencer. In other words, brands should align themselves with the influencers who actually play their content.
  • Both the influencer and the brand must have shared values, and create a constant stream of quality content.

Women in gaming

The gaming industry needs a shake up from the way games are made, to the way gamers are perceived, as our discussion proved:

  • Data software is predominantly built by men and therefore games become skewed to a masculine view point. Equally, programming scripts are not gender neutral.
  • Companies need to take it back to start and change their infrastructure, removing the male proposition from the start.
  • There are lots of women working in gaming marketing and advertising but women need to be present in the creative conception of games. 
  • Many gaming brands lack an understanding of women, pitching games that are built on stereotypes. 
  • The harmful stereotype of the “gamer” as an anti-social teenage boy cooped up in his room needs to change, it simply doesn’t capture what it means to be a gamer in 2020. 
  • Brands need to shift their audience targeting towards interest types as opposed to age, gender, nationality, etc.
  • Mobile gaming as a platform is more balanced when it comes to gender.
  • Personalised characters in games may help to bring diversity.

We hope you found these insights from the latest Global Marketers’ Club event useful! For updates about the latest GMC events and industry news, please feel free to join the club. And, if you’d like even more insights on gaming trends shaping 2020, make sure to download our latest report, ‘Gaming Marketing 2020: Trends to Stay Ahead of the Game’.