Gaming: how brands can play better

As gaming audiences continue to diversify, FRUKT unpacks how brands can maximise their impact

Giles Fitzgerald

Senior Planner FRUKT


Gaming has taken great strides to shake off its stereotypical, basement dwelling single male gamer image over the last few decades. With the rise of mobile gaming, esports and live ops titles all helping to shift the needle towards greater inclusivity and breadth of audience. However, for many brands gaming is still largely just perceived as a catch all space for elusive Gen Z males. This notion is not essentially incorrect. They are certainly there in their droves. However, data also points to a much richer depth of audience and content than ever before. Almost half (46%) of all gamers worldwide are female, 33% of games are ‘non-violent’ (leaning into the cosy gaming trend) and aging Gen X and Boomers are spending much of their downtime in game worlds, at 67% and 47% apiece.

To help us unravel the ever-shifting landscape of what has now become the dominate multigenerational entertainment pastime, we enlisted influencer, activist and gaming champion Stephanie ‘missharvey’ Harvey as contributor and guest editor of The CONVO; FRUKT’s ongoing ‘zine’ series of conversations at the intersection of brands and culture.

Together we’ve outlined some key areas where brands can engage more effectively in the culture of gaming. 

1. Embrace the metaverse with a small ‘m’  

“We mustn’t overlook the fact that the metaverse, in its essence, has been present for decades within small gaming communities” - missharvey 

Separating the metaverse reality from the hype is key for brands, especially when it comes to gaming. The real metaverse value today is less in platforms that ask you to become crypto estate agents and more in leveraging the depth of experience that already exists around ‘Living Games’ (think Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft) where 70% of the core audience engages in activities outside playing the main game. Key examples include Nike’s Airphoria event in Fortnite and its Nikeland ‘micro metaverse’ within Roblox. 

2. Look beyond the game 

“The expansion of gaming culture beyond the boundaries of games themselves is undeniable and presents a significant opportunity for brands” - missharvey 

Gaming is no longer restricted by the boundaries of the game itself, as these epic worlds continue to overlap with fashion, music and wider culture (think Balenciaga in Fortnite or Blackpink performing in Roblox).  A game or an esports competition is the tiny epicentre of a much broader holistic scene. To dwell in the safety of the centre is like playing an open world game and only focusing on 1% of the map. Those who can think laterally about this constantly evolving space, and the breadth of the potential audience, have much to gain. 

3. Hack the community 

“Understanding the human aspect at the heart of gaming is crucial.” – missharvey 

Communities play a vital role at the core of any game, and some savvy brands have succeeded in hacking these social spaces ’guerrilla style’.  Examples include Wendy’s dropping into Fortnite to smash up freezers, McDonald’s asking gamers to find food-a-likes in games or Kit Kat showing up in FIFA to give stressed out gamers easy wins.  The trick here is in knowing your audience inside out. Not just what they like playing, but the pain points, whims and wants of a very vocal player base. 

4. Empower the creators 

“Unlike traditional influencer or celebrity marketing campaigns, brands that support gaming creators often garner immense respect from fans” - missharvey 

Brands often diving headlong into creative game modes to showcase their creativity, not their audiences. However, there is untapped value in championing and empowering the homespun creatives - the avid builder communities in live ops titles, the artists creating unique fan art, or the cosplay model makers blowing up on TikTok.  For brands, this is about tapping into the creative influence that supports and feeds the world of the game. 

5. Cultivate experiences, not destinations 

“To earn gamers respect and loyalty, companies must foster a culture of transparency and openness, going beyond superficial gamification” – missharvey 

AAA game titles can suffer a harsh critical demise in an afternoon if they don’t land well with an audience, and the same is true of a brand’s first impression when it drops in or around a game. Shortcuts here will show, and mediocre gamification of your brand assets really isn’t the win you think it is.  Brands need to get back to building spaces with real experience value rooted in the needs of the audience, not just tokenistic novelty destinations. Simply turning up isn’t enough.

Guest Author

Giles Fitzgerald

Senior Planner FRUKT


Giles is the Senior Planner at FRUKT, a creative agency specialising in entertainment. With a unique understanding of Gen Z’s converging entertainment mindset, he has crafted strategic insight and direction across music, gaming and culture for some of the world’s most successful companies - including Mastercard, Porsche, AWS, and Coca-Cola. He has also written extensively on the evolving role of brands in entertainment culture for a variety of publications in addition to FRUKT’s own thought leadership.

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Gaming Metaverse/Web3