Filmmaking Magic With Breakwater Studios Founder Ben Proudfoot

On this 226th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Ben Proudfoot, founder of Breakwater Studios.

In today’s episode, Proudfoot talks all about how brand films can thrive and closing the gap between the brands and the filmmakers. We also discuss how he has been able to produce a multitude of films during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proudfoot’s career as an entrepreneur and filmmaking began after his success as a junior magician in Canada, becoming an international champion at a very young age. We discuss how that success led him to the University of Southern California. Proudfoot shares how his films bring “sometimes ordinary, sometimes extraordinary people’s stories to life.”

Proudfoot then discusses how today’s younger generations won’t trust brands who are not clear about who they are or solely focused on making money. We discuss how the recent deaths of his father and other people in his life have taught him that “our life is so fragile and so short and could be over at any moment…and it’s intensely motivating to me.” This discussion teaches many lessons on brand-filmmaking today.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Becoming a championship magician as a teen. 1:37
  • Magic became a career in filmmaking. 3:58
  • Changing his mind from a career in magic to one in film. 5:25
  • A short viral documentary launched Ben’s career. 7:08
  • Establishing a relationship with The New York Times. 8:38
  • There are a plethora of layers to all of Ben’s stories. 11:30
  • Sometimes there is no more elegant way to tell a story. 12:50
  • Ben can be compared to the anti-Ken Burns. 13:48
  • Why Ben chose to do branded films. 15:30
  • It is incredibly difficult to make content that serves the brand. 17:57
  • How marketers can work directly with filmmakers. 19:10
  • The problem is that marketing and advertising get all the money. 22:00
  • Bridging the long-term and short-term schools of marketing. 23:20
  • Staying neutral will cause your audience to distrust you. 24:45
  • Young people don’t trust companies that exist to make money. 26:10
  • Clarity in brand identity leads to success and options. 28:00
  • The pandemic has led to innovation in the film industry. 29:20
  • A series of death-related experiences have shaped Ben’s driven mindset. 32:15
  • Advice that Ben would give to his younger self. 34:30
  • An impactful purchase that has cost under $100. 35:53
  • Brands and causes that people should be taking note of. 37:05
  • The biggest opportunity in today’s industry. 38:59
  • The biggest threat to filmmakers/brands right now. 39:52

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

How Warner Bros. Super-Served Fans At DC FanDome, Its First-Ever Virtual Convention

At a time when in-person events are canceled until further notice, finding ways to enliven consumers in the age of coronavirus can be tricky. Yet Warner Bros. did just that when it celebrated DC properties across film and television at DC FanDome, a two-part live-streamed convention that super-served loyal comic fans and influencers from around the world through hours of free content including panels, premieres, masterclasses and after-parties, plus shoppable merchandise.

On August 22, Warner Bros, kicked off DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes, an eight-hour event live-streamed on, which over the course of 24 hours repeated three times to give fans everywhere a chance to watch. 

Warner Bros. announced the event over two weeks in advance with a TikTok challenge called #DCSuitUp. Each video featured a different celebrity comic character—including The Rock, Gal Gadot and Javicia Leslie, to name a few—whose covering of the camera lens with their hand prompts fans in cosplay to appear as that celebrity’s character.  

The studio says DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes drew in 22 million views across 220 countries and territories over its 24-hour run, Variety reports.

Part two of the virtual experience, DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse, which debuted on September 12, was once again all about the fans. Available for 24 hours after premiering, the over 100 hours of on-demand programming included panels, an escape room, original content, fan art and masterclasses from talent across DC television, film, publishing and games.

Other immersive experiences at Multiverse included a chance for fans to create their dream ride with the new 2021 Chevy Trailblazer; vote for their favorite fan art, and cosplay and fandom finalists; and tweet reactions to DC FanDome in real time.

Warner Bros. even made it a point to enhance attendees’ customer service experience. In fact, the company created a separate Twitter account named @DCFanDomeHelp solely to answer fans’ questions about the event. Similarly, to make it accessible to people in different countries, videos were subtitled into nine languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Traditional Chinese.

Warner Bros. also created a merch site, which feels like an online mega-mall for DC FanDome fans. The store features graphic t-shirts featuring comic cover art, DC FanDome-inspired Lego sets, all the DC movies and shows, in addition to DC collections from Uniqlo, Hot Topic and Eleven by Venus Williams.

Like with any virtual event, the Multiverse activation wasn’t without snags. Upon trying to access panels on launch day, many viewers received 502 Bad Gateway errors and took to Twitter to express their frustration.  

The event ended with yet another interactive experience designed to entertain fans—an Instagram live version of the second annual “Blerd and Boujee” Hall of Heroes after-party hosted by DJ D-Nice, who also co-moderated a panel celebrating women of color in the DC universe.

NPD Group: Consumer Spending Across Video Games Reaches $3.3 Billion In August

In August, consumers spent $3.3 billion across video game hardware, content and accessories, a 37 percent increase year-over-year, The NPD Group’s latest US video game sales report shows. Spending on content, hardware and accessories each increased by over 20 percent since August 2019.

According to NPD, year-to-date video game spending reached $29.4 billion, a 23 percent increase from August 2019.

Among the largest growth segments were digital content on console platforms, mobile content and subscription spending.

Video game content spending reached $2.9 billion, a 37 percent surge when compared to a year ago. Content spending YTD now exceeds $25.9 billion, a 22 percent increase YoY.

Hardware spending grew 37 percent to $229 million, while YTD spending on hardware reached $2 billion. Nintendo Switch helped boost hardware sales as its unit sales volume more than doubled, helping achieve a new US August record for hardware dollar sales.

Consumer spending on accessories grew by 42 percent, reaching an August record of $166 million, fueled in part by the best-selling accessory of August–the PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Black.

Spending on accessories YTD surged 26 percent to an all-time high of $1.4 billion.

The best-selling titles of August include Madden NFL 21, which saw double-digit percentage dollar sales growth compared to the release month of Madden NFL 20; UFC 4; Final Fantasy VII: Remake; and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The industry’s August performance follows a strong Q2, when total consumer spending on video gaming in the US reached a record Q2 $11.6 billion—a 30 percent increase YoY and a seven percent increase from Q1.

NPD Group: Consumer Spend On Video Gaming Reaches $11.6 Billion In Q2

The gaming industry is seeing massive growth during lockdowns. According to the NPD Group’s Q2 2020 Games Market Dynamics report, in Q2, consumers spent a record $11.6 billion on video gaming in the US—a 30 percent increase year-over-year, and a 7 percent increase from Q1’s record $10.9 billion.

Video game sales during Q2 reached $10.2 billion, a 28 percent increase YoY fueled by gains across physical content, digital console and PC content, mobile and subscription spending, as per NPD Group.

Hardware category sales saw a whopping 57 percent increase to $848 million due to strong growth across Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Sales on video game accessories like gamepads, headsets and steering wheels ballooned in the same way, increasing 50 percent to $584 million.

The NPD Group says top Q2 titles included Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Candy Crush Saga and NBA 2K20, to name a few.

As the gaming market surges, the ways people engage with games are changing. Newzoo’s revamped Gamer Segmentation data debunk the misconception that young, unemployed men dominate gaming. In fact, Newzoo’s found that nearly 46 percent of game enthusiasts are women.

Women comprise 40 percent of ultimate gamers—what Newzoo defines as the most dedicated gamers who are infatuated with all things playing, viewing and owning—and 41 percent of the hardware enthusiasts group—those who are more engaged with tweaking and optimizing the game system’s internal components.

Another common misconception Newzoo’s findings negate is that only teenagers interact with games. At 27 percent, gamers aged 21 to 30 represent the majority of gamers, followed by 23 percent for teen gamers and gamers aged 31-40, respectively.

In addition, most gamers are medium to high earners with full-time jobs, according to Newzoo.

New to Newzoo’s consumer insights this year, the lapsed gamer persona—or those who played games in the past but now neither play nor watch game content—present an opportunity for game publishers as 29 percent of lapsed gamers intend to play games again in the next six months. It’s interesting to note that 35 percent of lapsed gamers who plan to return are women between the ages of 36 and 65.

Newzoo Expects 2020 Global Games Market To Reach $159 Billion

This year, the global video games market will reach $159.3 billion, a 9.3 percent increase year-over-year, according to Newzoo’s annual global games report.

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of the already steadily rising gaming market.

Since stay-at-home orders were implemented, most game segments have seen an increase in engagement and revenues. Mobile games, the largest segment in 2020, will generate $77.2 billion in revenue—$63.6 billion from mobile games and $13.7 billion from tablet games—growing 13.3 percent YoY. Console games, despite being adversely affected by the pandemic, will generate $45.2 billion, a 6.8 percent growth YoY. Downloaded/boxed PC games will reach $33.9 billion, a 6.7 percent growth YoY.

The only segment that will see a decline is browser PC games, at $3 billion. This 13.4 percent decrease YoY is a result of browser games transitioning to mobile.

By the end of 2020, Newzoo says there will be 2.7 billion gamers worldwide—2.5 billion playing on mobile, 1.3 billion playing on desktop and 800 million on console—an increase of over 135 million from the previous year driven by emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Dominating the global games market is Asia, which will generate revenues of $78.4 billion, accounting for 49 percent of the market and representing a 9.9 percent growth YoY. The 1.4 billion total players there will account for 54 percent of all players worldwide.

The second largest region by revenues will be North America, which will account for a quarter of this year’s global games market at $40 billion, or an 8.5 percent increase from last year. However, the US will have the fewest players of any region this year (210 million).

Europe, the second most mature gaming market after the US, follows closely with $29.6 billion, a 7.8 percent growth. There are 386 million players there.

Gaming will increase in Latin America by 10.3 percent to $6 billion, making up four percent of the market this year. The region includes 266 million players.

The Middle East and Africa will reach $5.4 billion, a 14.5 percent increase. Combined, the regions have 377 million players.

Many new players in the aforementioned growth markets, however, have entered gaming via mobile, whose free-to-play business model makes it difficult to convert them into payers and eclipses the growth of paid games on mobile. In-game transactions accounted for 98 percent of mobile game revenues. Newzoo sees the figure reaching 100 percent in the coming years.

Newzoo also expects full-game revenues to be marginalized by the increase of in-game revenues, which will be a focus of publishers and developers as subscription revenues replace full game sales.

By 2023, Newzoo predicts the games market will reach $200.8 billion, with the number of players worldwide surpassing the three-billion mark.

Given the inherently social experience they provide, gaming platforms will continue to undergo a cultural shift into fully functional social networks. Whereas before younger generations ditched traditional media for social media, now they’re leaving behind social for the interactive experiences gaming can offer. Amid lockdowns, gaming became even more popular as people searched for alternative ways to socialize.

Another trend expected to shape the games market is next-generation consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 leading to new business models. If these brands’ cloud gaming services can replicate the experience of playing on next-generation consoles, a monthly fee will act as an alternative to a console’s upfront cost.

Gaming has also proved to be a viable alternative to in-person events. In April, Fortnite displayed this ability to bring people together in lockdowns when it hosted a virtual Travis Scott concert, which drew in 12.3 million viewers.

The globalization of China’s games market will also influence the industry. In 2018, China’s games market was disrupted by a nine-month-long licensing freeze. To offset the fallout and lost revenue, Chinese game companies shifted their focus to overseas markets after having long operated in a vacuum. As a result, Chinese companies are now creating development studios for all platforms around the world. 

Findings are based on a survey Newzoo conducted in February and March 2020 among over 62,500 invite-only respondents, between the ages of 10 and 65, across 30 countries.

Where The Next Wave Of Creativity And Innovation For Mobile Games Will Come From

Coming on the heels of the pandemic, mobile games are leading the growth of digital game consumption. According to App Annie, 2020 will be a blockbuster year for mobile games; spending is on track to extend its lead to more than 2.8 times over PC gaming and 3.1 times more than home game consoles. For last week’s LA Games Conference, a panel of industry leaders discussed where the next wave of creativity and innovation for mobile games will come from and how they see the industry evolving post-pandemic and beyond.

Here we share some highlights from the panel, which was moderated by Ayzenberg president Chris Younger and featured Lisa Anderson, SVP, Studio Operations, Jam City; Andrew Paradise, CEO, Skillz; Chris Petrovic, SVP and head of corporate strategy, M&A & business development, Zynga; Soojeong Song, gaming vertical lead, Google; and Mark van Ryswyk, executive VP, Glu Mobile. 

On Seizing The Moment

“To your point about this aggregate increase in play time, when we look across our portfolio, we’re seeing a marked movement in terms of the amount of play time across casual and core products. It’s particularly pronounced in the casual space. One of the reasons for that is there are a lot of consumers looking for forms of entertainment right now. These are non-traditional gamers discovering games for the first time. Shelter in place has allowed us to access this new audience, which is demonstrating the same behaviors of our existing player base.”

Mark van Ryswyk, executive VP, Glu Mobile

On Cultivating Community Through A Cause

“Late last year, we launched an initiative called Gaming for Good and we’ve raised over $500,000 to date, with half the funds in Q1. Our bigger partnership in April was with Extra Life, to partner to raise funds for children’s hospitals to combat COVID. It’s a double-win because it’s helping causes around the world engage with younger audiences in a new and important way. At the same time, it’s driving higher retention and engagement for our consumers—they’re happier to be able to play for a cause.

—Andrew Paradise, CEO, Skillz Inc.

On Conversions After COVID-19

“One bigger long-term trend I see is conversions will be a key opportunity. We’ve already seen a rise of super-casual games. Moving forward, to capture a wider audience, I see the blurring of lines as games borrow from each other to combine the best of both worlds. We’re seeing a shift in business models as well. In April, we saw that casual games, which are classically ad-funded, saw an in-app purchase increase in revenue. Whereas social casino games saw an increase in ad revenue. Games have begun to blend their monetization strategies while players shift behavior as well. Studios will continue to converge this hybrid model to appeal to a broader audience coming to mobile.”

Soojeong Song, gaming vertical lead, Google

On Finding Other Revenue Streams

“A fascinating thing that’s happening for Skillz and the businesses on our network is that during the pandemic we’ve seen a huge acceleration, particularly with offline brands, in areas like sports or retails where they’re looking to build a more meaningful digital presence and engage with video game content. I think you can expect us to be announcing a number of meaningful partnerships with brands and deeper brand integration into the games on the network over the next few months.”

—Andrew Paradise, CEO, Skillz Inc.

On Enhancing The Channel Mix

“When we think about the playbook moving forward, we’re looking at growing social channels like TikTok and Snapchat, as they continue to improve their ad serving capabilities, as an area we want to continue to test as well as traditional avenues like television. We’ve been running some spots for [Disney] Emoji Blitz and so far we’re seeing some really encouraging results there. It’s really a mix of looking at new opportunities from a channel mix standpoint as well as some of the more traditional things.”

—Lisa Anderson, SVP, Studio Operations, Jam City

On Meeting Consumers Where They Are

“I think it behooves all of us to be able to support the notion of making our games available to wherever consumers want them. That model has proven itself time and again in other parts of the world, specifically Asia. The world is increasingly recognizing that games are such a connecting force and that it’s helpful for platforms to have games as an offering because of the unique interactivity and social density that they offer. We’re excited as game makers to be able to bring that to whoever.”

Chris Petrovic, SVP and head of corporate strategy, M&A & business development, Zynga

On The Discovery Journey

“Re-engaging players has been really important, so reminding them why they enjoy our games with initiatives like Play Apart Together. Jam City did its own version of that with our Care-A-Thon which is designed to give back to our players. When shelter in place went into effect, we reached out to our players letting them know we’re here for them and that we’re listening to their feedback. We were surprised to see how much it resonated with them.”

—Lisa Anderson, SVP, Studio Operations, Jam City

Mark van Ryswyk On Why The Pandemic Is A Unique Moment To Reach New Consumers

By the end of Q1, Glu Mobile’s revenue increased 12 percent year over year to $107.3 million and bookings saw a 15 percent increase year over year to $106.5 million. Design Home, the Glu franchise that lets players live the life of an interior decorator, hit a new all-time record—11 percent year over year growth at $46.8 million. Glu’s other female-focused franchise, Covet Fashion, also thrived with record quarterly bookings.

With the pandemic becoming a source of competitive advantage for mobile game companies, we spoke with Mark van Ryswyk, executive vice president of Studios at Glu Mobile, where he oversees Glu’s casual products, leading the Crowdstar and GluPlay Studios. The portfolio includes the successful “DASH franchise” as well as Crowdstar’s Design Home and Covet Fashion. Van Ryswyk shares why he believes the pandemic is a unique moment to reach new players, how the cancelation of fashion shows this year will impact mobile games and how the pandemic is shaping the creative experiences Glu delivers across its games.

What do you predict will be the changes that will affect creativity and innovation in the mobile games market during and post-COVID-19?

This is a unique time in the mobile games space, and the most important thing is to have awareness and empathy for our audience. When we listen to our players, anxiety is running high, and games provide a safe refuge, which we need to deliver on. Over the next year, we will continue to seek out how we can understand evolving consumer needs and discover how games can deliver meaningful play and value.

As consumer appetite for online entertainment has grown, shelter in place creates a unique moment to reach new consumers, who don’t consider themselves to be gamers or are seeking out mobile games, sometimes for the first time.

This is a new opportunity to rethink how the gaming industry can introduce and familiarize concepts, such as gaming economies and participating in a social space. 

How much of Covet Fashion and Design Home’s audience comprises female players and how does Glu cater to their creative experiences?

Glu takes player privacy very seriously. We don’t collect demographic information from our players in our games. Based on user research, surveys and community interaction – we serve a wide demographic across both games from ages 28-45-years-old. Our mission for both games is to enrich people’s lives through creative play. Players are drawn to the idea of styling digital clothing, furnishing beautiful homes and remain captivated (sometimes for years) by our games stunning artwork, a sense of autonomy and creative expression.

Covet Fashion saw its strongest Q1 ever this year and Design Home had record quarterly bookings. How will the pandemic change the role that its gamers play in the growth of mobile games?

In the casual games space, players typically do not consider themselves gamers, yet they enjoy playing games such as Design Home, Covet Fashion or Candy Crush. Shelter-in-place has created a new opportunity to reach this audience and introduce them to the casual games space. I believe this audience will continue to drive growth of the mobile market as they seek new and entertaining experiences that are more relevant to their interests and passions. The continuous growth of lifestyle games, such as Covet and Design Home, reflects this belief, as they provide a creative outlet and opportunities for players to learn and connect with others. 

During shelter in place, Design Home players have shared sentiments that are thinking about their home surroundings more than ever, and compared to remodeling and refurnishing a real home, Design Home offers a playful means of entertainment and creative expression. 

Over the last few weeks, Covet Fashion has also seen a rise in engagement as players have shared heartfelt sentiments that the game provides a relaxing comfort and creative escape into the world of fashion and styling. The Covet Fashion team rose to the occasion to make it easy for players to give thanks and celebrate the essential workers by participating in game challenges to style delivery workers, grocery store managers, hospital workers and nurses. 

With fashion month likely to be canceled for the rest of 2020, how do you think the digitization of fashion shows will impact mobile games?

With fashion shows and in-person events canceled, consumers will refocus their attention to new creative channels. Fashion games like Covet Fashion will continue to evolve beyond an entertaining and creative gaming platform to a disruptive, influential and innovative force in the fashion world. Brands will seek new channels to reach consumers, such as partnering with fashion games and apps. Already, Covet Fashion fosters deep integrations with over 150 brands, including Badgley Mischka, French Connection and Calvin Klein, driving passionate consumers to deeply engage with brands by discovering the latest fashion trends, exploring their brand identity and building long-term familiarity with their products through competitive styling.

Glu has plans to extend Design Home to the PC web browser by this summer. How has cross-platform play contributed to Glu’s success?

Design Home is always exploring new ways for players to live the life of an interior designer. We have heard from players they are interested in expressing their creativity across a larger canvas, beyond the existing experiences on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. We are currently planning testing of an early version of Design Home as a web browser experience and will have more details to share at a later date when the final experience is available.

Andrew Paradise On The State Of The Mobile Games Market

Q1 2020 was the largest quarter for mobile game downloads ever, with over 13 billion installs across Google Play and the App Store. That upward trajectory continued as the average weekly mobile game ad spend surged from about $700,000 in February to over $1.4 million in March and reached even higher levels in April at just under $2 million. 

But the industry didn’t need the pandemic to prosper; in 2019, Sensor Tower estimated that players spent about $61.7 billion on games. That represents a 12.8 percent increase from 2018 and its $54.7 billion total. Now where do mobile games go from here and what does that post-pandemic journey look like? Ahead of this week’s virtual Los Angeles Games Conference panel on the growth of mobile games, we spoke with Skillz Inc. CEO and founder Andrew Paradise about his thoughts on the changes affecting creativity in the arena, what role fundraising tournaments have played in COVID and the mobile game trends he foresees emerging.

What do you predict will be the changes that will affect creativity and innovation in the mobile games market during and post-COVID-19?

Since the pandemic began, the mobile gaming sector has fared better than most forms of entertainment because the majority of our content can be built remotely, whereas many other types of entertainment require large groups to work in studio or office settings. Recent months have shown how resilient mobile games are, both as an industry and a form of digital entertainment. As cities and economies have shut down around the world, Skillz players have turned to their favorite games as much needed entertainment, while our developer partners continued building and launching new games from their home offices. I think this pandemic is also showing us how powerful mobile gaming is as a way to stay connected to friends and family. After hours, I love to compete with my friends in some of our favorite games. It’s a fun new way to socialize after a long day of video calls.

What role have fundraising tournaments played in Skillz’s response to the pandemic?

Skillz has a proud history of leveraging the power of our platform to give back to important causes. During this pandemic, we mobilized the Skillz platform to fund Red Cross blood drives across the country and raise money for 170 children’s hospitals fighting COVID. We have long helped nonprofit partners like the World Wildlife Fund and American Cancer Society reach younger, mobile-first demographics, quickly launch large scale digital fundraisers, and engage new donors through fun, competitive games. The Skillz commitment to giving back is core to our company’s values, and we are honored to be part of the fight against this pandemic.

What area of the mobile games market do you feel has been most impacted by COVID? How is Skillz addressing this?

COVID-19 has tragically disrupted the global economy, but like all forms of digital media, mobile gaming has become an important form of comfort and entertainment during the pandemic. The Skillz business has remained strong, and we’ve seen increased interest from brands looking to leverage our platform as a new way to reach consumers now that stay-at-home orders have disrupted many traditional marketing models.

How is Skillz further bridging the gap between disruptive ads and a seamless player experience?

Skillz offers a new way to monetize mobile gaming content that’s proven to be 5-20x more effective than traditional models. Legacy monetization models like interruptive advertising and in-game purchases can put developers at odds with players. Skillz enables developers to focus solely on what they love and do best: building great games.  Skillz helps indie developers build multi-million dollar franchises by enabling social competitions in their games. We provide an easily integrated solution with patented technology to rate players’ skills, ensure fair player matching, and protect against fraud and cheating. 

What kind of creativity and innovation is required for the mobile games market to become more accessible and enjoy sustainable long-term growth post-COVID-19?

The great news about mobile games is you can take them anywhere! If people sheltering in place discover a Skillz game they love playing, in all likelihood they will continue playing that game when they are back on the go. Most importantly, games are not specific to the traditional stereotype of “gamers” – in reality, everyone plays games. Our developer partners continue to inspire us with creative game concepts that expand the popularity of our platform. For instance, a recent hit game on Skillz reimagined Bingo and shot to the Top 25 in the App Store. 

Gaming Live Streaming Activity Balloons Amid Pandemic

Game live streaming activity has ballooned during the pandemic: on average, weekly viewers of live streams have increased by 70 percent year over year and watch time has increased by 35 percent year over year. That’s according to a report from Torque Esports, “Stream Hatchet Q1,” which explores COVID’s impact on streaming audiences including what gaming entertainment people are watching and how.

Gaming remains one of the world’s biggest entertainment platforms, with 4.9 billion hours of live-streamed content watched during Q1 2020, a 35 percent increase compared to 2019, according to the report.

As the coronavirus lockdown continues, the average viewers watching video game live streams have increased more than 100 percent in April.

Twitch still holds a majority of gaming platform market share; 65 percent of all gaming content is watched on Twitch, down from 76 percent in Q1 2019. This year’s viewers have watched over 15 percent more hours on Twitch.

YouTube Gaming has seen steady year over year growth, seizing 22 percent of the live stream market in Q1, up two percent year over year. Viewers watched 51 percent more gaming live streams on YouTube Gaming year over year.

Facebook has displayed the fastest growth, taking 11 percent of the gaming platform market share in Q1, up from no share in Q1 2019. Viewers watched a whopping 900 percent more gaming live streams on Facebook in Q1 2020.

In April, Facebook announced the early launch of its dedicated Android gaming app called Facebook Gaming, which features a “Go Live” feature that enables users to share gaming streams directly to their Facebook page. Facebook reportedly has 700 million monthly users engaging with gaming content.

Mixer’s numbers, however, have been dwindling, even despite Twitch mega-streamer Ninja joining the platform in October 2019. Mixer viewers watched eight percent less gaming streams in Q1.

In the first week of April, Riot Games released the closed beta of Valorant. Breaking live streaming records, the game amassed more than 323 million hours watched during its first four weeks of video game streaming—twice as many as Apex Legends, the second-largest launch in video game streaming. In its second week of streaming alone, Valorant generated 131 million hours watched, one million more hours watched than all the other top five games combined in their second week.

Esports racing content has also seen a massive spike in popularity during COVID, growing by nearly 1,000 percent in Q1. Audiences of racing games like iRacing and Formula 1 have increased from 700,000 to over 6.8 million in April year over year.“Do we expect some of these numbers to level off in the long run? Yes, but the interesting thing is that virtual sports content will be something that leagues will continue to investigate . . . We know this by the level of inquiry we’re receiving from brands, companies, publishers, and leagues,” said Stream Hatchet co-founder and CEO, Eduard Montserrat.

Social Distancing Campaign Picks: Week Of April 20th

What a crazy time to be a visual storyteller. We’re generally out in the world, surrounded by inspiration and bombarded by stimuli. Of course, we still have our devices, we still spend lots of time devouring news of the virus and we still binge an infinite number of great shows. Nevertheless, social isolation due to coronavirus is having an impact. Something very different is going on here that is akin to Thoreau separating from the world at Walden Pond to get to something deeper and more meaningful.

Throughout quarantine, I’ve been following brands that are trying to find an authentic and thoughtful way to connect with their audiences. What do you do when you can’t write a script, hire a director, put a crew together and go shoot and edit a story? You have to be open to exploring new ways to create moments for telling those stories. 

Here at Ayzenberg we’ve been on the R&D path since the very first week of the “lockdown” and are already pitching ideas to clients on how to adapt to this new reality. There are incredible opportunities to tell a story that is screaming to be told, one that is authentic and socially resonant.

Each week, I’ll be sharing my take on a few brands that have been brave enough to put something out there that really hits all the marks.

Ikea – Make Home Count

Ikea’s 55-second home-made spot celebrates “the simple joys that come with making home count,” spotlighting parents reading to their son, a woman watering her plans and a little boy sitting on his working-from-home dad’s lap. This was the first spot I encountered that really had a clear perspective on what we were all going through. I love how Ikea positioned the glass as half-full.

Why it matters: Right now, our heads can’t help but be filled with fear of the unknown and it’s so easy to let that consume us. Brands that focus on what’s really important—the things that make us who we are and our connection to the tribe—in such a poignant way will stand out amid the pandemic. It’s also a reminder that whatever you are doing today or tomorrow, to just make it count.

The details: I love that creative agency TBWA\Singapore asked their staffers to film themselves at home to capture all of these human moments and to showcase the fact that our homes have now become our playgrounds, our schools, our offices and all things in between.

Goodby Silverstein – Toilet Paper

In this video that advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners posted to its Instagram channel, staff are shown at home passing a roll of toilet paper to each other on a conference call, accompanied by the message, “Please don’t squeeze or hoard the Charmin. Pass it on!” Apparently the idea spawned from the way the agency was using video conferencing in a 5×5 grid to conduct their internal meetings. I also love that they used the Benny Hill theme song to give it it’s appropriate tongue-in-cheek tone. So fun!

Why it matters: For me, in its simplest form, this is a celebration of who we are as creatives and why what we do matters. Yes, the video was solely created as a morale booster for the agency, but the takeaway here for brands is to use a comedic vehicle to comment on what is happening in our world—in this case, people who panicked at the news of the lockdown and hoarded more toilet paper than needed. I doubt a toilet paper shortage is anything any of us have seen in our lifetime, so good on Goodby for entertaining us while landing an important messagedon’t just think of yourselves, be kind and share.

The details: As the father of two middle schoolers, I was amazed at how quickly and seamlessly we were all able to transition to work from home and school from home using video conferencing technologies. This piece showed up right as the toilet paper shortage issue was affecting everyone, and what’s really inspiring is that this team decided to use their video conferencing technology, while working from home, in a playful way to land the message that some things that we take for granted can easily take on new meaning in our lives. Hats off to ya’, Goodby!

Activista – Social Distancing And Classic Album Covers

After noticing people were ignoring stay-at-home orders amid coronavirus, founders of the agency Activista, Beto Fernandez and Paco Conde, redesigned vintage album covers to help enforce the safer-at-home message. The ensuing project, which they named 6 Feet Covers, displayed acts of social distancing through updating images that already resonate in popular culture. For example, they revamped Abbey Road to show all four Beatles spread out down the road instead of in the crosswalk together.

Why it matters
: Activista landed the stay-at-home message in a more personal way that highlighted the seriousness of staying inside—a balancing act marketers must achieve in today’s climate to ensure they’re showing consumers they’re doing their part to respond to the pandemic without being insensitive.

The details: I’m an unapologetic classic rock fan so I was instantly drawn to this work. Unable to create content from scratch, Activista took a very simple and artful approach to mirror the new normal and promote the important message of staying home to flatten the curve. Be it ‘The Beatles’’ Abbey Road or ‘KISS’’ Destroyer, these iconic images have been in my life for as long as I can remember. Seeing them now through the lens of proper social distancing protocols just nailed it for me. The power of Activista’s idea is that it carries that spirit forward into our current reality.

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