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APRIL 30, 2021 //     

Press Start: Why brands should tap into video games communities online

By Andrew Rogers

When it comes to creating meaningful consumer campaigns, we always recommend that our clients live at the intersection between commerce and culture. This means not existing in your own bubble and being a part of the conversations that people are already having every day.

A part of culture that brands have traditionally been less successful at tapping into is video games. Today, 54% of people in the UK play games ‘on most days’, and people who play games are more diverse, with a pretty even 50:50 split between male and non-male players and over 46% over the age of 40. For people who play games every day, games are just as much culture as Netflix, soap operas, or reality TV.

Tapping into majority-gaming communities means taking a step outside the Facebook-Twitter-Instagram comfort zone. Don’t feel intimidated though. Here are some great places to start finding your current or future fans online.

Start chatting on Discord

Discord is one of the world’s most popular voice and text chat platforms, with over 130 million registered users. In fact, you might have heard about it recently because of rumours that Microsoft was trying to buy the platform. It is largely used by gaming communities to connect and co-ordinate online play, but in recent years it has branched out into new areas as well.

For anyone not familiar, Discord looks most like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Some small businesses even use Discord for their internal communications. It is also crucially home to thousands of fan communities for all sorts of products and brands. If your brand is well known, it almost certainly has a fan community on Discord.

Those brands lucky enough to have a passionate fanbase should make sure they surprise and delight them. Get to know the people regularly posting in these channels and give them first access to new products or services. And if you don’t already have a Discord for your brand, you should consider setting one up yourself and populating it with great content that lives at the intersection of your brand and gaming.


Join a subreddit on Reddit

Reddit may now be more than 15 years old, but with its rapid growth and expanded options for brands, it’s increasingly a must-have for any brand looking to target its young and affluent users. Many Reddit users can’t be found on any other social media platforms too, meaning its 52 million daily active users won’t be covered by your other campaigns.

Reddit is home to hundreds of thousands of communities called subreddits. These cover a vast range of topics and interests, but the biggest category is gaming. The great thing about Reddit is that while you have a wide range of game fans on the platform, they are not just there for content about games.

Brands on Reddit should make sure they’re ‘reading the room’ and adding useful or entertaining content to subreddits. And as with Discord, it’s well worth taking the time to get to know the who run communities you want to work with.


Go live on Twitch

Twitch is the home of live streaming, and still dominates the gaming and esports live video space. Acquired by Amazon in 2014, Twitch now exceeds 40 million monthly active viewers that skew on the younger side. While gaming and esports content will be what you notice first on Twitch, dig a little deeper and you’ll find live streams of cooking, exercise, music production and art.

Brands looking to reach a mainly Gen Z or millennial audience are already finding that content on Twitch can deliver great results. This could be as simple as partnering up with a popular streamer or running your own streams with special guests. The most successful campaigns live at the authentic intersections of interests.

Take for example the charity Cats Protection, who tapped into the large number of streamers who go live with their beloved furry friends on their desks and are often as much a part of the stream as the human streamer. They launched their Pawsome Players programme so streamers can raise money on Twitch through charity streams, which in turn has raised thousands of pounds.


Get involved in the game

Finally, why not skip the middleman and get involved in the game directly. Many of the biggest games today now act more like platforms than they do traditional linear games. Fortnite, Minecraft and Animal Crossing are all games with millions of users and increasingly open to brand participation.

Famously, global music star Travis Scott hosted a live music concert within Fortnite. At a time when physical spaces were closed due to the pandemic, Fortnite players were treated to spectacular visual effects as a larger-than-life Travis Scott performed atop the Fortnite island.

Involvement need not be quite so expensive either, that is, so long as you have plenty of time on your hands. Check out the adorable island that clothing brand H&M built in Animal Crossing to support their recycling and sustainability campaigns.


A few thought starters to get your brand going

  • Gaming is a major part of culture, particularly when speaking to a younger target audience. If your brand is to live at the intersection of culture and commerce, you must tap into gaming conversations and the gaming audience.
  • Understand that people have multiple interests. The idea of ‘the gamer’ is way too simplistic, and people who play games are happy for brands outside the gaming space to be part of the conversation.
People love brands that meet them where they are. Live at these intersections and you might just be tapping into your biggest fans and creating new ones.

Find out how we can help you here.

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