Video games are big business – just look at the recent Fortnite World Cup, in which teams competed for their share of a $30m prize fund. Yet, as brands flock to sponsor glitzy mass-participation e-sports events and tournaments, one of gaming’s biggest names has an alternative message for marketers.
Activision Blizzard, which owns popular franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush, argues that brands stand to gain more from targeted, in-game ads. The company claims one in three consumers plays online games, and that it has 272 million players engaging with the mobile games it gained following its mammoth $5.9bn acquisition of King in 2016.
The firm has set up an advertising arm – Activision Blizzard Media – through which brands can access inventory on the mobile games it acquired with King, including Candy Crush, and reach those users opting in to receive rewarded video ads. It also aims to dispel the stereotype of gamers as young men sitting their basement, emphasising that 40% of its user base is female.