A few years ago, social media and gaming industries existed in their own silos, with neither needing the other to attract consumers. But as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the way we live, work and play, the line separating the two industries has become more blurred, giving rise to an illustrious brotherhood.
Both gamers and developers have benefitted from this deepening relationship. It’s given each more influence within their marked territory to make gaming more accessible, informative, profitable, and — dare we even say it — more fun. And as gaming continues to move from the static to the virtual with digital technology taking lead in almost everything we do, social media has played a pivotal role in its success.
How has social media affected gamers?
Social media has fundamentally improved the ability for people to communicate, which is good news for sociable gamers. Today, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all but replaced niche gaming forum colonies offering players several new ways to network, compete, and socialize. Avid gamers who once had to attend amusement arcades and game stores to connect with fellow enthusiasts have moved onto valuable social networking sites to share images and tips, or chat at any time, whether they’re in Angola or Alaska. What’s more, social media helps gamers achieve a key objective of their pursuits: showing off their achievements.
With developers keeping an ear to the ground for changing gamer appetites, and with digital technology growing at an astounding rate, the sheer range of games available have dramatically increased. Gaming within social media itself began to trend as far back as 2007 with Facebook’s Scrabulous (now Lexulous), allowing players to interact with friends and rivals via the popular medium. Unlike other games, it allowed players to take their turns at their own pace, letting them go on for days or even weeks. Later on, games such as Farmville adopted a similar technique, allowing players to check in on their farms throughout the day. Crucially, this not only actively promoted long-term play, but incorporated several important emotional and sociable elements, such as using virtual farm currency and progressive ownership levels in order to deepen player engagement. S
With so many users plugged into social media channels, the live-streaming community was born, and become another robust factor in the social/gaming hybridity. The days of solo gaming, or gaming with a friend as long as they were there with you in your living room, were long gone. Gamers didn’t just want to play; they want to see other players’ approaches; how they strategize, stylize, and win. YouTube, Facebook, and specialized channels like Twitch gather millions of gamers around the world to watch others play games, encouraging players not to just play the games, but to watch and learn from them. And social media has helped gaming evolve into much more of an online community.
How has social media affected developers?
The way that developers have been able to capitalize on opportunities generated from social media has been unlike anything ever seen before. While gamers seek to gain leverage with competitiveness against their rivals, at the same time, game developers have benefitted from them sharing those achievements with their friends on social media, helping to expand brand awareness and become powerful marketing influencers.
But there are several other branding opportunities offered to developers through social media. Through advertising and promoted content, they’re able to hone in on the millions of social media users to spotlight their latest releases. Instagram, in particular, offers an advantage for mobile gamers because it enables users to install their app in a matter of seconds through an inherently mobile channel. In fact, a study shows that users who download apps from Instagram spent around 70% more time using the app immediately after installation; after two weeks they spent about 20% more time on the app than those who downloaded through other means. This is not at all surprising. With Instagram’s heavy emphasis on visuals, it makes them one of the most influential social mediums, enticing users to download their apps by showcasing snapshot videos, screenshots, captures and artwork straight from the game.
Naturally, with such hype around live-streaming communities, developers and social media representatives have quickly found ways to capitalize. Marketers have curated the most effective campaigns to promote their latest releases, reaching out to gaming celebrities and preparing high-profile gaming sit-ins that enable millions to watch games being played for the very first time.
Social media has empowered the gaming industry to reach more people and foster conversation between gamers. With constant upgrades to social media’s algorithms and features, we’re expecting advertising, branding, and playing opportunities to continue to grow, nurturing gaming networks even more. At the same time, gamers enhance their skill level and stay in constant dialogue with their peers. The synergy between social media and gaming has really created the best of both worlds.