During the pandemic, the video game industry grew by leaps and bounds. Different studies show that in 2020, Twitch platform audiences–-the gamers preferred platform–-spent 18.6 billion hours in front of their screens. This is almost a 70% increase over the prior year. How about that!
The thing is that being a gamer is no longer child’s play. So much so that some luxury brands have focused in on this niche, making virtual games into major allies of their businesses. In mid-July, Gucci announced the launch of a joint collection with 100 Thieves, the gaming company founded by Matthew Haag, a former Call of Duty multiple champion. The Italian brand also launched its Virtual 25 sneakers designed for almost every budget and taste. Meanwhile Balenciaga, Dior, along with other major luxury brands have started betting on these types of consumers who, literally, breathe bits.
Why it’s important. From 2015 on, the video gaming world has been growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, Games Industry estimates that 2020 revenues surpassed those of other entertainment industries, with sales of over US$174 billion.
- By one simple definition, a gamer is any person who plays videogames. So, according to the latest studies, that means almost half of the world’s population, something like 3 billion people. This is a number which can include everyone from grandma to people who got a Nintendo DS to stimulate their brains and their young children’s also.
- In the United States, 65% of households own a video gaming device. And approximate spending on eSports sponsorships hovered around US$ 1.5 billion in 2020.
The new influencers. The youtuber gamers are now the world’s new influencers; the virtual world of the console that is. The most popular influencers can make up to US$ 17 million a year. In addition, they are considered to be one of the platform’s best performing groups given that they try out new games and record themselves playing matches or participating in tournaments. This provides them with communities of very loyal followers and allows them to generate juicy revenues from that niche as well.
- According to data from Statista, the highest paid gaming youtubers generated US$ 72.5 million in 2019, with Tyler Blevins, known as “Ninja,” being the highest earner worldwide.
The luxury brands break in. Over 25 years ago in his book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that digitization would transform humanity from a world of atoms to a world of bits. And he was right. In the case of the gamer industry, the result is a multibillion dollar business that encompasses a number of different economic areas. The latest bet is luxury and gaming in one place. Gucci, a pioneering Italian brand in the digital field, has also launched a sneaker designed for almost every audience and budget.
- Balenciaga presented its Fall 2021 collection in the Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow game, and Dior created a digital scavenger hunt to promote and let people “win” tickets for the opening of its Shanghai store.
- Marc Jacobs and Valentino, denied real fashion runways during the pandemic, teamed up with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing social simulation game to showcase their latest designs. And Prada, Nike, Louis Vuitton and Chanel all dress avatars with exclusive gamer models.
Industry icons. While this has generally been a male-dominated sector, more and more women are making inroads into the virtual entertainment industry.
- The top one is known as LDShadowLady, though her real name is Elizabeth Batty. She is English and well-known for her excellent Minecraft skills, a famous video game.
- Another of the most popular youtuber gamers is 90 years old, no less, and is known as Gaming Grandma. This gaming grandmother is Hamako Mori, a Japanese woman who has been passionate about visual entertainment systems since 1989.
The eSports. China is an e-sport industry leader, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security recognizes gaming as a professional activity. “China currently generates more than 80% of the viewers and revenues from the eSports industry worldwide,” explains Diego Lizcano, LATAM operations manager of the Colombian VAULT eSports gaming team.
- China is seeking to establish “eSports Professional” and “eSports Operator” as professional degree titles. This would offer a way for such titled gamers to gain employment rights such as work visas and enhanced growth opportunities in large companies.
- The Universidad Internacional de Valencia, located in Spain, is developing the first Master’s Degree in eSports Management, with a strong focus on economics, law and marketing, in addition to video game industry linked companies.
- The automotive industry was also a pioneer in the world of eSports. Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi are currently sponsoring highly competitive world class teams.
Health benefits. While many insist on demonizing video games, the truth is that the benefits they offer can be limitless. Over time, those who take up the hobby often find that certain skills, such as mental dexterity, visual acuity or attention span, improve. But, like anything in life, this hobby also has its negative effects if it is not carried out while following proper guidelines.
- An Oxford University study found that being a gamer can be a powerful tool against dyslexia. The University of Montreal determined that gaming can slow down mental aging processes, including Alzheimer’s disease.
- A study conducted by Michigan State University has shown that video games increase creativity, one of the most sought-after strategic skills in the workplace.