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Carat @E3 2019 Wrap Up Report

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, is recognized as North America’s largest gaming expo of the year and an opportunity for the most established and rising developers, publishers, and manufacturers in gaming to showcase and launch upcoming platforms, games and merchandise.
Over the course of 4 days, we focused on how the evolution of gaming can impact brands, both inside and outside of the gaming industry. As ever, our goal was to find the ways to help brands achieve their business objectives through the benefits offered by gaming’s evolution.

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Carat @E3 2019 Wrap Up Report

  1. 1. Wrap Up Report
  2. 2. Carat @ E3 2019 wrap up The Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, is recognized as North America’s largest gaming expo of the year. Presented and organized by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the expo is an opportunity for the most established and rising developers, publishers, and manufacturers in gaming to showcase and launch upcoming platforms, games and merchandise. With 86% of internet users worldwide gaming on at least one device monthly, (92% between the age 16 to 24) the business models behind gaming are changing fast, reflective of emerging technology, cultural trends and platforms that have impacted so many other categories. Over the course of 4 days, we focused on how the evolution of gaming can impact brands, both inside and outside of the gaming industry. As ever, our goal was to find the ways to help brands achieve their business objectives through the benefits offered by gaming’s evolution. 2Source: GlobalWebIndex, 2019
  3. 3. The ‘Netflix’ for games Since 2014, subscription-based gaming services have changed the way gamers are able to play, giving unlimited access to select games for a monthly fee vs purchasing physical copies. The approach is dominated by PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass and Nvidia’s GeForce Now and earned $273M as a category in 2018. This year, we saw major entrants, including tech powerhouse, Google enter the fray with Google Stadia, as well as gaming publisher, Ubisoft (known for games like Assassin’s Creed and Ghost Recon)with Uplay+. This increased competition to be the ‘Netflix of gaming’ stems from growing consumer demand. According to Deloitte, more Millennials subscribe to video game services than cable, and that 53% of 23-36 year-olds pay for gaming services, vs 51% who pay for TV. 3Source: Nielsen, Deloitte Implication for Brands As subscription services for gaming become more popular, time spent gaming will increase. Brands, who wish to connect with increasingly elusive Millennials and Gen Z audiences will need to begin exploring how they fit into the growing ecosystem as a result.
  4. 4. The rise of the Cloud One of the hottest topics at E3 was Cloud Gaming, also known as Gaming on Demand. The promise of Cloud Gaming is the ability to play high-graphic, console- level games on any device. Similar to cloud computing, the processing and rendering of a game will be done on a remote server, allowing high quality games to be streamed and played on a phone or tablet. Once connected to the internet, you can play at home, on a bus, or in a café, on any device. This is a game changer to the gaming industry. While concerns exist, given its dependence on a stable, hi-fidelity internet service (i.e. 5G), the impact of cloud is on its way. Options for gamers will include Bethesda's Orion, Xbox xCloud, Google Stadia, Playstation Now, Nintendo Online, and NVIDIA's Geforce Now. 4 Implication for Brands Cloud gaming increases the incentive for developing cross-device and platform (e.g., PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo) games. Fortnite, a cross-platform game, already proved how successful this can be. As a result, gamers will leave a strong digital trail, as logging in will be required to continue playing the game on a new or different device/platform. This presents tremendous opportunity to better reach and retarget consumers with sequential messaging.
  5. 5. Freemium A recent BrightCove & YouGov survey discovered that a free trial was the top reason for consumers to try a new streaming service, and the same could be applied to gaming. Fortnite, one of the most popular games since its launch in 2017, provides three low entry points for gamers– the ability to play cross-device, cross-platform, and free. With just a smartphone and a wi-fi connection anyone can get started. Between Fortnite’s merchandise (such as character skins and special weapons) and one-of-a-kind award winning brand partnerships that keep the game relevant, Fortnite's publisher, Epic Games grossed a $3 billion profit in 2018. An additional model discussed at E3 was the ‘free to join when a paying customer hosts.’ With cloud gaming coming down the line, this model will likely flourish as playing a new game will be as simple as clicking on a link. 5Source: BrightCove & YouGov, eMarketer Implication for Brands As cloud games grow and the industry increasingly relies on a free-to-play model, advertisers will be courted to advertise in-game and around the game. Key brand opportunities will be sponsorships for free-to-play games (adding value to the overall ecosystem) or offers to access a pay-to-play game through a trial period (adding value to individual consumers).
  6. 6. Streamers everywhere On the E3 showfloor, there was one constant - streamers. Every inch of the show floor was covered by a broadcaster sharing their opinions directly to their audiences. Top streamer, Dr DisRespect, was even banned for excessive streaming, including streaming live in the bathroom of the convention. For distribution, streamers tend to turn to established game streaming platforms including Microsoft’s Mixer and Amazon’s Twitch; but general market platforms, YouTube and Facebook, are also a hotbed for streamers and talking heads due to their vast reach. 6 Implication for Brands The connection gamers and consumers feel to streamers is very much real and powerful, much like consumers feel a strong connection to athletes. Brands need be conscious of this and find ways to build on the connection they offer. Two immediate options present themselves: (1) Surrounding streamers and their content by partnering with platforms like Mixer, Twitch and YouTube. (2) Partner with specific streamers or a group of streamers for deeper integration and effusive endorsements. Key questions: What values matter to your brand? How would you like to see those values come to life through gaming? Ultimately, what do you want to say to gamers?
  7. 7. Continued growth of eSports Endemic businesses, including Super League Gaming and eLeague were the first to jump on the eSports opportunity. Now as eSports viewership and ad revenue are expected to grow ~20% annually - traditional media powerhouses, gaming publishers, and developers aren't planning to miss out. • ESPN is currently expanding its eSports offering by partnering with EA to host two tournaments featuring the game, Apex Legends (a Fortnite challenger). • Following E3, Epic Games hosted the Fortnight Creative Showdown, their first major tournament for their Fortnite Creative game mode. Additionally, Epic Games will host the Fortnite Pro- Am, in which pro Fortnite players will team up with celebrities in 2-person squads for a $3MM charity prize. 7Source: eMarketer Implication for Brands As with traditional sports leagues, there are multiple ways to leverage eSports to reach and engage with your target consumers that enjoy healthy competition and gaming. A brand can leverage a light touch approach, such as partnering with streaming partners (e.g., Twitch, TBS) to simply be there as the action unfolds. On the high touch end, a brand can integrate itself into the experience of an existing eSports league/tournament or serve as the founding sponsor alongside a gaming publisher.
  8. 8. IP crossover The use of established and beloved entertainment intellectual properties in gaming has been around for some time. Today, IP licensing continues to generate more longevity and fandom among films and game lovers alike: • Some of the most anticipated games of the year are based off films, with Star Wars Fallen Order and Avengers topping gamer's most wanted lists according to an IGN survey during E3. • Harry Potter, Dragon Ball Z, Stranger Things, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, and Blair Witch have also expanded from the film world and into gaming. • Conversely, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and The Witcher are games being remade as films by Netflix to create more content for gaming fans. IP is not the only way to generate fan excitement. Following its announcement of Keanu Reeves as a character, CyberPunk 2077 took social by storm and is already a highly anticipated game set for release in 2020. 8 Implication for Brands Game studios have a strong desire to leverage established and beloved IP. If you are a well-known and/or beloved brand, there may be opportunity to leverage a partnership with game studios to create one-of-kind engagements and associations for your brand. For example, can a QSR brand be the main source of food in the world of a game? Could an in-game character be styled by a clothing or beauty brand as a reward?
  9. 9. Connecting with gamers In order to reach the gaming audience, brands don’t need to jump in head-first into sponsorships and in-game integrations. There should be a crawl, walk, run strategy designed to approach this desirable community that fulfill brand goals and objectives. We’ve distilled the complexity among effort and investment into 7 gaming activations into three tiers based on each activation’s potential to move your business. 9 LEVEL 1 LEVEL 2 LEVEL 3 Easy entry point into gaming that can exist as part of a general media plan • Mobile Gaming Ads • Gaming Content Sponsorships Conscious display of investment to build consistency with gaming audience built on a targeted media strategy • Streaming Platform Sponsorship • eSports League Sponsorship Higher cost & effort needed to display commitment to gaming as a strategic comms pillar for brand • Streamer Sponsorship • eSports League Sponsorship • In-Game Integration
  10. 10. Carat @ E3 2019 wrap up 10 Ipalibo Da-Wariboko Associate Director, Strategy, Carat US Michael Liu VP Director, Mobile, Innovation and Strategy, Carat US Check out Carat’s podcast episode, The Game: The Human Element Contact Us: www.carat.com/usa carat.usmarketing@carat.com

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