Upfronts 2018: 3 Trends Impacting This Year’s TV Ad-Buying Season

TV Upfront season is officially underway, and trends are already starting to emerge that will shape TV programming and marketing over the coming year.

Citing the acceleration of cord-cutting and OTT viewing, eMarketer predicts that US TV ad spending will drop slightly this year, from $70.22 billion in 2017 to $69.87 billion in 2018.

Engagement Beyond TV Sets

ESPN recently unveiled details about its upcoming ESPN+, which will be integrated into a redesigned mobile app this spring. The sports network is placing an emphasis on both traditional and digital content this year, hosting an Upfront presentation May 15 and then off to NewFronts for the first time.

Cartoon Network has long adopted multiple touchpoints for consumer engagement from online viewing to video games—something the network continues to tout during the 2018 TV ad-buying season.

The network is adding more than 30 new games and apps to its mobile and web offerings, which includes podcasts and AR/VR experiences.

“Cartoon Network continues to see growth in time spent on video and gaming platforms as kids are enjoying our content across a vast array of environments,” said Donna Speciale, president of Turner Ad Sales during Cartoon Network’s Upfront presentation. “The best way for brands to reach and engage our fans is through a total audience approach that captures all of these relevant spaces.”

Empowering Women

Fueled by #TimesUp and #MeToo feminist movements, several networks are placing a special emphasis on how they empower women through TV programming this year.

A+ E hosted a 50-minute show called “A+E: Women Up Front.” Led entirely by female presenters, the Upfront event featured emotional testimonies from show talent such as Olivia Munn, Queen Latifah and Toni Braxton about why they are proud to be associated with A+E.

Nickelodeon touted its dedication to empowering young girls during Women’s History Month—the month of its Upfront presentation—as well as women within its corporate culture.

“We have a long-standing history of creating strong female characters in leading roles and at Nickelodeon, our workforce is 60 percent women,” said Nickelodeon group president Cyma Zarghami. “Not only is that fairly unique today, but I believe it is a very valuable asset.”

Beginning March 1, Nickelodeon launched a new campaign called “That’s Me,” designed to celebrate diversity. The first round of spots highlighted history-making women, alongside some of the network’s female characters.

Data For Dollars

Viacom is offering more than TV programming this year—it wants to offer marketing services as well. The company, known for cable networks like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, has been busy acquiring agencies to fuel its marketing efforts.

In January, Viacom purchased WhoSay, an influencer-marketing agency, and event agency VidCon in February.

“This is a complete marketing solutions approach, rather than just an ad sales approach,” Sean Moran, head of marketing and partner solutions for Viacom, told Variety.

Last year, AMC Networks launched its own Agility data-driven advertising division that offers audience segmenting, targeting and TV planning. Ahead of its Upfront presentation, AMC formed its own data sales group to oversee its offerings to clients.

“The strong response to Aurora Video Targeting Solutions in the marketplace over the last year, and the expanded availability of this fully transparent planning tool in the 2018 Upfront, convinced us that the time was right for a dedicated data sales team,” said Scott Collins, president of advertising sales for AMC Networks, in a statement.

Danny Trejo Partners With ‘Guns of Boom’ For Mobile Gaming Event

Mobile developer Game Insight has enlisted action star Danny Trejo to promote a new mode in shooter game Guns of Boom.

Guns of Boom‘s new free-for-all mode kicks off with “Trejo Tournament,” starring Danny Trejo’s likeness and voice. This is the first time that Game Insight has partnered with a celebrity at this scale.

Trejo Tournament runs April 17 to June 15, after which free-for-all mode will continue. While the actor is not officially participating in his namesake tournament, Game Insight told AListDaily that they’re “sure” he’ll participate on a personal level.

“[Trejo is] an existing member of the Guns of Boom community, making this the best possible opportunity we could have hoped for,” said Game Insight CEO Anatoly Ropotov in a statement.

Trejo, known for his work in a long line of films—including the Machete franchise—appears in a number of promotional videos for the event, alongside a campaign that will include social channels for both Trejo and Guns of Boom. Shorter promotional videos will also run on a variety of internet-based ad platforms.

Guns of Boom released a teaser image on Twitter Monday, revealing that someone with the initials “D.T.” would be claiming “his event” and inviting fans to guess his identity. Several fans guessed correctly—and early—after Portuguese fans spotted an official announcement released ahead of the US.

Trejo has a long history of appearing in video games, beginning with Def Jam: Fight for NY in 2004. Since then, he has lent his likeness and/or voice to several video game characters, from Call of Duty: Black Ops to Taco Run!an app designed to promote Trejo’s Tacos restaurants.

Celebrity spokespeople have become common for marketing mobile games. Some more notable examples include Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mobile Strike and Jason Statham for Sniper X.

Other celebrities simply create their own apps and games as an extension of their personal brand. Chef Gordan Ramsey, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Brittany Spears and DJ Khaled are among recent stars to incorporate mobile games into their marketing strategies.

Nielsen’s Activision Blizzard Partnership Revamps Esports Metrics

In the next 12 months, brand marketers will be able to track the same data on Activision Blizzard esports viewer engagement as they can for traditional sports events, thanks to a partnership between the game publishing giant and Nielsen announced on Monday.

“As esports continues to mature and reach its potential as a stand-alone business, we’re determined to lead the way and develop best practices for brands and advertisers,” said Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.

Nielsen will begin tracking brand exposure, performance benchmarks and viewer sentiment on several Activision Blizzard esports events this year, using its existing research methodology. The partnership will begin with Overwatch’s three esports tournaments, Overwatch League, World Cup and Contenders and Call of Duty World League, with unspecified plans to expand to other titles in 2019.

“Esports is booming and there’s huge market potential,” said Nicole Pike, managing director and head of Nielsen Esports. “We’re thrilled to be working closely with Activision Blizzard, who has taken initiative in leading the market forward.”

These measurements will support the brand’s attempts to use traditional sports strategies for its esports efforts, including opening an arena devoted entirely to competitive gaming back in October of last year.

“We’re thinking a lot about how to incorporate sponsorships and brands within the broadcasts in different ways,” Adam Rosen, senior business operations manager at Blizzard Esports told AListDaily. “Brand integrations on our esports shows will mostly consist of content integrations like you see on traditional sports shows.”

With Nielsen data backing up its ratings and viewership figures, Activision Blizzard will find it less of an uphill battle to rope in sponsors, and it’s doubtful that brands will complain about having more data available.

The partnership will Nielsen marks one of Activision Blizzard’s less zany marketing efforts, which have previously included special-edition Amazon Echos and cross-over content between its games.

Universal Struts ‘Jurassic World’ Fashion Show In Australia

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park and the upcoming release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Universal hosted a dinosaur-themed runway show in Australia.

Complete with animatronic dinosaurs, cinematic music and jungle foliage, the Jurassic World event marked the first time Universal Brand Development entered the fashion scene, as well as Australia’s first ever film-fashion industry collaboration for the runway.

Universal teamed up with seven fashion designers from the region: Sarah Joseph Couture, A.BCH, Ewol, Keegan, Leah Da Gloria, Vincent Li and Lunar Sand.

Each designer showcased their own spin on the imagery of Universal’s iconic dinosaur film series, from netted gowns that resemble scales to tribal motifs. The iconic T-Rex skeleton logo of Jurassic Park/World was a common theme, as well. The title of A.BCH’s collection was “We Can Save Them,” most likely a reference to the efforts by Jurassic World‘s Dinosaur Protection Group to save the dinosaurs from an extinction event.

Wednesday night’s fashion show was meant to provide “Australian fashionists a deeper connection to the blockbuster franchise,” according to opening statements by Jo Pascoe, Universal Brand Development’s country director for Australia and New Zealand.

Each collection will be available for preorder on each designers’ website or through selected boutiques across Australia in 2018.

Universal has pulled out the stops for Jurassic Park‘s anniversary this year, engaging fans with contests, digital content and physical attractions as they gear up for the theatrical release of Fallen Kingdom.

In January, fans were invited to recreate their favorite scenes from Jurassic Park for a chance to win $1,000, themed products and a DVD set. Fan recreations that vary from serious to silly are currently being shared across the official Jurassic Park website and social channels.

On May 11 and 12, Universal Studios Hollywood will host an anniversary celebration that includes a private screening of the original film, costume show, giveaways and of course, trips on the Jurassic Park ride.

Online And Mobile Games See Varying Effects In GDPR

As the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation deadline looms, online and mobile gaming companies are adjusting their marketing efforts to comply with the personal data collection and retention requirements. Connected online games such as massively multiplayer online (MMO), mobile games and location-based titles, where users play alongside hundreds of others from around the world, once collected a great deal of data from users. But now many publishers have to address their long-standing communities without necessarily having the convenience of demographics data.

Compliance is mainly a matter getting explicit permission from players (or their parents, in the case of minors) to use their personal data for marketing purposes, and possibly removing all that information at the user’s request. However, “data” is a term that can be a little fluid when games are concerned, depending on how integrated it is with the gameplay.

In some cases, game companies may rather be safe than sorry by collecting as little information as possible from its players, since failure to comply with GDPR’s guidelines could lead to hefty fines from the European Data Protection Board. If a publisher originally collected data that is not compliant with GDPR’s requirements, then they’ll have to figure out ways to recollect the information in a compliant way or limit their use after the May 25 deadline. Personal data used to market to EU residents that may have been collected without expressed consent should be avoided.

“It’s swung back and forth like a pendulum over time,” said Scott Hartsman, CEO for Trion Worlds, recounting how the first generation online games collected explicitly personal information from users before letting them play. “If you look across most [modern] online games, it’s about quickly getting people into the game with as little friction as possible, which means collecting as little info as possible in the premium game space,” he explained.

Given that bumpy history, game companies have been preparing for GDPR differently. Hartsman explained that for Trion Worlds, being a PCI (Payment Card Industry) certified billing provider helped the company prepare for the upcoming regulations. For example, he said that the company makes a conscious effort to collect as little identifying information as possible, and it can quickly implement a system where the company will “forget” that a customer exists.

According to Hartsman, difficulty with compliance depends on whether data is treated as game content. For example, a social game that treats interactions such as “likes” on Facebook as content—which can be construed as personal data that drives targeted marketing—may have more difficulty forgetting its users.

On the other hand, mobile games—particularly those that rely on location data such as Pokémon GO—could be more sensitive to GDPR legislation. That may become problematic for companies and businesses that are partnering to benefit from the foot traffic they generate.

“Games that rely on location data or social features that necessitate the collection of personal data certainly will be subject to GDPR requirements,” said Debevoise & Plimpton lawyer Will Bucher, who works with video game legal matters. “Additionally, the use of location data and the associated monitoring of individuals’ activities is considered a high-risk activity by EU data protection authorities, so companies using this type of data can expect closer scrutiny from the government.”

But Bucher adds that these games won’t necessarily have to stop collecting data, they just have to do so within the scope of GDPR.

“In some ways, mobile games might even have an advantage, at least when it comes to the GDPR’s consent requirements,” he said. “Many consumers are already used to giving permission to apps on their smartphones, so they may be more comfortable providing the needed GDPR consent than a user who throws a disc in their gaming console.”

“So long as the information collected is not associated with any personal data of the user, a wide range of metrics can be collected, such as statistics about in-game performance, match times, etc.,” said Bucher. “But when those metrics are linked to any information that facially identifies the user, or could identify the user in the real world—such as an IP address, personal e-mail, credit card number or a cross-platform cookie—then the GDPR’s requirements might be triggered. Among those requirements is that there must be a valid legal basis to store and use users’ data, such as the users’ consent.”

Above all, Bucher emphasizes that it’s important for game publishers to keep in mind that the driving force behind the legislation is to give individuals back control of their data.

“Principally, that is accomplished through increased transparency,” said Bucher. “An increased focus on communicating with users about what data is collected and how it’s used goes a long way to meeting many of the GDPR’s requirements, although it is not a replacement for data protection impact assessments to ensure companies are complying with their legal obligations.”

Companies that choose to collect as little data as possible will have to become more hands-on with their community-based marketing and engagement efforts, since they won’t necessarily have any demographics information to work from when crafting their messages.

“This is going to sound super old school, but I still believe that there’s no better way to know what will resonate with your players than being one of your players,” said Hartsman.

Hartsman plays Trion’s games alongside the rest of the community, where he can listen to them and see their pain points. In fact, a requirement for working at Trion is to be a fan of at least one of its games because “people who are involved with the games and remain involved with the communities tend to service those communities best.”

Madame Tussauds Continues Experiential Push With ‘Justice League’ Event

Madame Tussauds is hosting a global scavenger hunt that culminates in an interactive exhibit based on Warner Bros.’ 2017 Justice League film.

The interactive wax museum exhibit “Justice League: A Call For Heroes” opens May 25 at Madame Tussauds Orlando and takes visitors through a series of challenges.

The installation will be made to look like comic book and film locations of Gotham City and Metropolis, where villain Lex Luthor is—once again—trying to take over the world. A series of three scenarios have visitors using “superhero abilities” and props to stop the bad guys with the “help” of Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.

First, visitors will “harness their inner superpower” to unleash a powerful blast from Wonder Woman’s gauntlets. Next, they’ll help Superman lift a real helicopter before finally using the Bat Signal to summon Batman. Each of the wax figures is made to look like their respective film actors—Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.

Madame Tussauds is promoting the event with a scavenger hunt across five global cities. Beginning on Friday, fans will be challenged to find hidden “Mother Boxes” around London, New York, Canada, Atlanta and Orlando, each one revealed a few days apart through May 12.

In Justice League—and the DC comic book universe—Mother Boxes are otherworldly containers that wield ultimate power, especially when combined. Finding all five boxes ties into the story behind an upcoming exhibit.

Clues as to the whereabouts of said Mother Boxes will be provided through Madame Tussauds’ official Instagram page and with the hashtag #FindTheMotherBoxes.

Those who find the Mother Boxes first will be awarded a VIP trip to Madame Tussauds Orlando to take part in Justice League: A Call For Heroes, as well as passes to MegaCon Orlando and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium.

This latest exhibit, which will also open in Sydney later in the year, is part of Madame Tussauds’ ongoing strategy to attract visitors through experiences. In 2016, the New York location partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment for an interactive Ghost Busters exhibit.

Amex, Google And Others Share First Look At Coachella 2018 Activations

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival begins Friday and while visitors prepare for a heat wave, brands prepare to reach waves of consumers.

Every year, brands flock to Coachella with experiential marketing campaigns that range from phone charging stations and WiFi to private concerts. Here are a few notable brand activations headed to the festival this year.

American Express (Amex)

Amex will integrate some new features into its annual festival presence. Guests that use the Coachella app can access an AR commerce experience that offers exclusive Coachella merchandise to Amex cardholders.

RFID in each Coachella wristband will grant Amex card members with exclusive benefits such as access into the Card Member Club, access to an exclusive Uber Priority Lane, a free ride on the Ferris wheel and free embroidery.

For the first time, the brand’s Amex Card Member Club area will be located onsite, offering drinks, recharge stations and time away from the crowds. Members will be able to access by linking their Amex account in the Coachella app.

Google

Google is using voice activation to reach Coachella fans with Google Home and its Google Assistant. Saying “Hey Google, talk to Coachella” will prompt a number of interactive activities. Using their voice, consumers can access playlists for artists at the festival and discover new musicians in attendance, access and create a festival schedule and ask common questions such as performance times and travel info.

Throughout the festival, backstage interviews with the artists will be available for listening through Google Home and Google Assistant. Google is also engaging festival-goers at Coachella’s Ferris Wheel, one of the festival’s most iconic structures. Some of the ferris wheel gondolas have been outfitted with Pixel photo booths, complete with iridescent backdrops for “stunning selfies.”

For those who can’t head out into the desert this year, Google will once again offer an exclusive livestream of the event on YouTube.

Peet’s Coffee

Branded bicycles will be patrolling the Coachella grounds this weekend and giving out samples of Peet’s Cold Brew coffee. In March, the brand held a contest to win a 3-day VIP pass to Coachella. Coffee lovers could text “Coldbrew” or enter online.

Sephora

A Coachella tradition, festival visitors can hang out in Sephora’s tent to grab free products, get their hair styled or receive complimentary make-up touch-ups. Visitors can apply their own temporary hair color, as well, and take pictures in a section of giant glitter beauty props.

HP

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is returning to Coachella with its air-conditioned dome called Antarctic, located right in the middle of the festival grounds.

Overhead, a music and light show is projected in 360-degrees while guests lounge on beanbag chairs. This year, the show will be a re-imagining of the 19th century novella Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions.

Here’s a preview of the new show:

‘Rampage’ Twitch Stream Pays Tribute To Arcade Roots

To promote the upcoming Rampage film, Twitch hosted a livestream of popular creators playing arcade games on a giant controller.

A “Big Meets Bigger” event took place on Monday, streaming from a Twitch studio in London. A retro TV was mounted inside a frame, decorated to look like a broken brick wall. Twitch Partners Stodeh and MissEllaCronin had to work together atop a seven-foot-long game controller, as the joystick and buttons were too big for one person to manipulate by themselves.

Until now, marketing for Rampage has focused not on its gaming origins, but on the film’s action and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, its A-list star. The Twitch event does, however, tie into the film’s ongoing theme of “big.”

“We’ve been working with Warner Bros. for the last couple of years on their slate and are always looking for a fresh approach to how we spotlight their films,” Adam Harris, Twitch’s director of custom solutions, Europe told AListDaily.

During the event, Stodeh and MissEllaCronin used the giant controller to play the original Rampage. Audience members interacted with the stream via chat, adding challenges like playing behind their back or while wearing goggles that obscured their view.

“Big Meets Bigger” will be streamed again April 10 in two regions outside the US and narrated in their native languages. For the Asia-Pacific region, a replay of the event will be narrated in Chinese by Twitch partners 殺梗 (Xargon0731) and 優格 (yogurtlin1010). In Latin America, the stream will be narrated in Spanish by users DuendePablo and Gonchotwm.

Streaming from Stodeh’s Twitch channel on Monday, the Big Meets Bigger event garnered over 4.7 million views. MissEllaStodeh streamed behind the scenes footage of the event, which garnered an additional 685,000+ views.

Warner Bros.’ Rampage film was inspired by an arcade game of the same name, first released in 1986. The film continues an ongoing trend of adapting video games for the big screen, from Tomb Raider to Tetris.

For Harris and his team, however, the Rampage arcade game was more of a bonus than the point of the activation.

“It isn’t about the game,” he said. “It’s about the Twitch audience. The challenge was to engage the Twitch community in a meaningful way that they would interact with and appreciate. The giant controller achieved this by letting our community experience a unique approach to playing games while featuring creators they know in a live environment. It also featured the ‘big meets bigger’ messaging that tied in with the movie campaign. The fact that the game could be utilized was a bonus that completed the narrative.”

In the last year, Twitch executed creative campaigns for films including Alien Covenant, BaywatchJumanji and Tomb Raider.

Warner Bros. recently promoted Rampage with an AR app that inserts one of the film’s three raging monsters into real-life environments. Fans were invited to film interactions with the AR creatures for a chance to win a trip to the Rampage premiere, where they would meet The Rock.

Netflix’s Billboard Investment Would Give Out-Of-Home Advantage In L.A.

Netflix is reportedly investing in its out-of-home advertising strategy with the planned acquisition of a Los Angeles billboard company.

As reported by Reuters, a source close to the matter says that Netflix is offering more than $300 million to buy Regency Outdoor Advertising. Regency owns a number of billboards across Los Angeles, including the Sunset Strip.

Netflix has previously rented billboard space from Regency to promote Stranger Things and The Crown. Owning these billboards would allow Netflix to save money over time and provide unlimited access to a valuable out-of-home market. The move would also place competitors like Hulu and Amazon at a disadvantage, no longer able to rent these billboards for Los Angeles commuter attention.

The OTT streaming entertainment giant has displayed a particular interest in billboard advertising recently. In addition to direct promotion, Netflix used the platform to tease its new comedy line-up with plain white billboard ads in Los Angeles and New York that said, “Netflix is the Joke.” The guerrilla marketing campaign had consumers guessing whether it was an ad or an attack.

Netflix earned over $11 billion last year in streaming revenue but faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon, Hulu and Facebook. To remain competitive, Netflix announced that it will increase its marketing spend to around $2 billion in 2018.

“We want great content,” said Netflix during its Q4 earnings call, “and we want the budget to make the hits we have really big to drive our membership growth.”

Billboards remain a popular tool for marketers to promote digital OTT services. To tease the return of Twin Peaks, Showtime placed cryptic billboards around strategic locations in the US—depicting either a cherry pie with a piece missing or a single slice. Savvy fans quickly figured out that the crust pattern matches Twin Peaks‘ infamous Red Room floor, and the billboard locations correspond to important events in the first series, as well as creator David Lynch’s hometown.

Spotify turned statistics into light-hearted goals for 2018, each displayed on a colorful billboard. Examples include “Eat vegan brisket with the person who made a playlist called ‘Leftist Elitist Snowflake BBQ” and “Exercise more conventionally than the 46 people who put ‘Slow Hands’ on their running playlists.”

Video Game Marketers Discuss Inclusion Strategies For Women

Many developers and publishers are still hanging on to outdated views of the gaming demographic by heavily targeting teenage boys as their primary audience, even though studies by analyst firms such as Newzoo found that 45 percent of gamers are women.

Although companies including Microsoft and Facebook are working to address the issue through targeted initiatives, gender diversity in the video game industry as a whole remains an issue, with many publishers overlooking almost half the gaming audience when marketing their titles.

Angela Hession, co-lead for Microsoft’s Women in Gaming initiative told AListDaily that the best way to grow and diversify an audience is to focus on culture, content creation and engagement.

“I believe starting with a set of committed core values to build inclusive games is the first step,” she said. “These shared values around creating inclusive and respectful gaming experiences will inspire collaboration and innovation within teams and across the industry.

Hession also believes that ensuring a wide range of perspectives, including women, are included early in the development cycle will help make games more appealing, reduce missed business opportunities and help with innovation.

Facebook has a similar Women in Gaming initiative that encourages diversity and inclusion in the video game industry. In February, the social platform launched #SheTalksGames, a collection of videos that highlight female professionals across the industry, with roles that range from CEOs to marketing and sales, development, writing and design.

“Nearly half of gamers today identify as female, yet according to recent IGDA survey women make up just 23 percent of [gaming industry] workforce,” said Aoife Brodigan, Facebook head of games marketing in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We need to use the full talents of the population to create titles and games that speak to the full population. By bringing more diverse voices to the table we believe this could lead to the creation of more engaging games and richer experiences for players.”

Even as consumers see more female protagonists being featured in games, Brodigan said the overall message from the community is that there is more work to be done, and more diverse voices are needed to help inspire change.

These sentiments can be found throughout Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer keynote speech at DICE, which highlights the connection between the creative teams and how games are presented. At one point, Spencer discussed how Minecraft’s mascot characters, Steve and Alex, were shown in stereotypical gender roles—with Steve often being portrayed as an architect, designer or geologist while Alex liked to build and explore.

That changed when Minecraft brand director, Lydia Winters, pointed out the “subtle but powerful gender distinction.” The team changed how the game was presented, with one example being that going forward, Alex was never to stand behind Steve on the box art. “These deliberate fixes made Minecraft more gender equal, and it signals to our players and teams to think of them as equals.”

EA Sports began a similar initiative in 2015 when it included both female and male athletes on the cover of FIFA 16, which went on to become one of the best-selling games of that year. But even though EA decided to be more inclusive of female sports fans, its main competitors have yet to follow suit.

“I was excited to see that EA was taking that step because female sports are historically underrepresented,” said What’s Good Games executive producer Andrea Rene, who is featured in one of the #SheTalksGames stories. “I appreciate that EA said that women’s sports deserves a spotlight alongside men’s sports, but do I think it will kickstart a revolution? No, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

“I think that all players, and all people in general, want to feel represented in the entertainment they enjoy and in the world around them,” said Pete Hines, VP for PR and marketing at Bethesda Softworks.

He explained that Bethesda didn’t make hardcore action and role-playing games such as Doom or Skyrim with any one demographic in mind. “Doom isn’t meant to be an inherently male or female game,” said Hines. “It’s just a game where you get to be a badass and kill demons. We don’t talk to people differently about what we make based on what gender they are … Games offer all kinds of experiences for all kinds of people, and you never know who will be into what. That’s how you end up with Skyrim Grandma.”

“The problem with video game marketing today isn’t necessarily that they’re not targeting directly toward women, it’s that they’re actively targeting towards men and leaving women aside,” said Rene. “I think that’s fixable if you make your games and marketing materials more targeted towards everybody instead of just men and teenage boys.”

To overcome stereotypes and better communicate with audiences, publishers need to broaden their view of the gaming community, not just in terms of gender, but also in age and playing preferences.

“As the gaming ecosystem encompasses mobile, PC, console and now streaming, I believe we need to think more broadly about the definition of ‘gamer’ across the board,” said Hession. “Unfortunately, I think the stereotype of a gamer is still tied to a ‘hardcore’ gamer and excludes the vast amount of the larger population of people who engage with games globally.”

Rene agreed that the definition of “gamer” should be thought of more inclusively. “We don’t want to see the video game business make marketing or creative decisions based on stereotypes, because that is leaving a potential audience on the table,” she said. “There has been an unfortunate trend where games that are considered ‘casual’ aren’t for ‘real’ or hardcore gamers. I would like to see those attitudes go away because if you play Candy Crush on your phone, you’re a gamer, just like if you play Madden.”