BBDO’s strategic planning director Adriano Eliezer explains how gaming has revolutionised Ireland’s entertainment landscape and why it’s time marketing leaders joined the party
Gaming is in the mainstream. So why isn’t it in our marketing plans?
Ten months ago, the Dáil passed new tax incentives to make Ireland more attractive to videogame studios and developers. This step has already enabled Ireland to make inroads into the lucrative videogame industry; an industry predicted to be worth $504 billion by 2030, eclipsing the combined might of the movie and music industries.
Videogaming — a highly complex industry — sits at the intersection of film, animation, and technology, and to a large extent, the incentive program was devised to leverage these existing sectors while championing Irish innovation. Big money has woken up to the fact that videogames are not just child’s play.
Meanwhile, in marketing and advertising, the relationship with gaming remains fleeting at best. If we like to think of ourselves as an industry on the cutting edge of culture, so when it comes to gaming, how come we’re moving at a slower pace than our TDs?
Despite this activity consuming much of mainstream Ireland’s leisure time and conversational capital, qualitative insights from our industry show a disconnect between senior marketing leaders and gaming. But it’s impractical to fully reconcile this view with the pop cultural impact of The Last of Us, Fortnite, Gran Turismo and Animal Crossing.
So, that can’t be the whole story.
Our approach showed us Irish adults not only grew up as gamers, but also are more likely to play videogames than children now, with 57 per cent of all gamers being aged between 25 and 44. The 2023 DEI Census indicated that the vast majority of our industry (61 per cent) is currently within that age bracket. They are the first generations who grew up playing videogames in a world where Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation and Xbox loomed large.
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Even if Warcraft is foreign to many of us, there’s not a brand leader in Ireland who is not familiar with Mario & Luigi. Furthermore, we’ve all overheard conversations at the coffee machine about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
We’ve seen The Irish Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Forbes, and The New York Times integrate videogames into mainstream journalism. We may have even raised an eyebrow at Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard – an all-cash transaction worth $68.7 billion, 58 per cent larger than Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and the largest of 2022.
The problem must lie beyond a potential disconnect.
Every day, marketers face crucial decisions which can only be made based on concrete numbers rather than anecdotes. It’s easy to perceive the gaming opportunity in Ireland in broad terms, but it’s much harder to make a business case for it when the information available is either too shallow or scattered throughout the internet.
BBDO Dublin and Bounce Insights decided to help size the prize. We consolidated data and augmented this with nationally-representative first-party quantitative research to paint an evidence-led picture of gaming as a mainstream – and often surprising – leisure activity.
We discovered that 53 per cent of Ireland’s adult population are regular gamers. That’s the third highest in Europe, just behind the UK and Sweden. Indeed, Irish people are twice as likely to not own a pet (48 per cent of all adults) as to not play videogames (24 per cent).
To compare gaming to the more familiar world of sport, just seven per cent of us are regular swimmers, five per cent are runners, and 16 per cent practice general physical exercises. Somewhat surprisingly, there’s a correlation between the worlds of gaming and physical activities, with gamers more likely to be physically active than the general population. We must wake up to the fact that we live in a country of gamers.
There are a few brands ahead of the curve, particularly Eir, Curry’s and Cupra, sponsor of GamerFest, but they should be the rule and not the exception. We as agencies have a responsibility to guide clients through the maze of important trends in our overhyped world of communications and entertainment. This is how we deliver value before delivering ads.
Gaming is a particularly exciting opportunity when viewed within the context of the declining performance of traditional channels. Put simply, our audience has moved on and we must do the same if we are to catch up. BBDO Dublin and Bounce Insights will soon release a report on Ireland’s gaming market, designed to deliver the evidence needed to move gaming from the periphery to the centre of marketers’ plans.
Statista Market Insights
Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends 2022
Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends 2023
BBDO Survey 2023