Influencer Marketing for Video Games: The Complete Guide

Ioana Cozma
May 14, 2024
February 2, 2024

Video game influencer marketing can increase your visibility, engagement, and sales in the gaming community.

But you have to build a solid strategy, and this guide will show you how. You’ll learn:

  • What makes video game influencer marketing different, and how to turn those differences into opportunities
  • The best channels and types of social media influencers for your marketing goals
  • Insider tips to drive your campaign’s success
  • Hands-on examples that move the needle

Keep reading below to find out some insider tips from a top gaming marketing agency.

TL;DR

  1. Introduction:
    • The gaming industry has evolved, with influencer marketing playing a pivotal role in game promotion.
  2. Understanding influencer marketing:
    • Types of influencers: Mega, macro, micro, and nano-influencers.
    • Importance: Influencers provide authenticity, relatability, and can effectively drive user engagement and acquisition.
  3. Picking the right channel for promotion:
    • Popular platforms: Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter.
    • Channel choice: Based on target demographics, content type, and influencer preference.
  4. Nano-influencers & their impact:
    • Despite having smaller communities, nano-influencers can have a high engagement rate and niche appeal.
  5. Influencer selection criteria:
    • Factors include follower size, relevance, content quality, authenticity, engagement rate, demographics, brand compatibility, track record, and fees.
  6. Content creation & measurement:
    • Collaboration with influencers on content ideas, ensuring authenticity, setting clear goals, and tracking relevant KPIs is crucial.
  7. Successful campaign examples:
    • Hearthstone: Amplified its outreach through the Creator Program.
    • Brawl Stars: Successfully reached pre-launch registration goals by partnering with niche creators.
    • Vainglory: Built trust and community by partnering with PewDiePie and letting fans join in gameplay.
  8. Key takeaways:
  • Begin with a clear goal to drive effective influencer marketing strategies.
  • Select the right influencer based on campaign objectives.
  • Community building and authentic engagement are pivotal for long-term success.

5 Benefits of Leveraging Influencers for Game Promotion

    Video game influencer marketing is different from leveraging influencers in other industries. And you can turn all that into assets that help you reach your marketing goals:

    1. Gaming Culture

    Video game influencers are popular figures who elicit a high level of engagement. And that’s because streamers are the vectors that create the gaming culture.

    Influencer marketing for video games can take advantage of:

    • The ensuing community engagement: Streamers film themselves playing for typically eight or ten hours per day – if not more. That lengthy period allows gamers to get to know their audiences and vice-versa.
    • The bond of trust between streamer and audience: Gaming influencers share their own in-game experiences rather than just sponsoring products. You can use that trust to shorten the sales funnel and present your games as part of the culture.

    To back that up, here’s a neat study from Tubular Labs showing that gaming influencers have:

    • 53% more loyal audiences than the average.
    • 17% more loyal audiences compared to brands.
Tubular Labs Study

2. Increased Reach

The gaming audience is diverse and includes both men and women, as well as a wide range of ages.

That means you must choose influencers carefully to ensure they align with your game’s target audience.

But more on that in a minute.

For now, let’s see how influencer marketing for video games can help you attract a new, wider audience, expanding your reach. According to Google:

  • YouTube alone is home to over 20 million gaming how-to videos, equivalent to half the population of Canada. And that’s excluding other influencer marketing platforms for gaming like Twitch or TikTok.
  • 74% of gamers on YouTube say they watch these how-to videos to improve their skills.
  • Gaming unboxing videos on YouTube add up to over 40 million hours of watch time for mobile devices. That’s the equivalent of over 4, 500 years of uninterrupted watch time.

Besides:

We could go on, but you can agree that’s a wide market you can access with gaming influencers.

Is video game influencer marketing worth it, though?

That brings us to the next point:

3. Gamers Buy Stuff [that Influencers Recommend]

Another difference between typical influencer marketing and influencer marketing for games is that the gaming audience is purchase-oriented.

There’s proof:

A joint study between Google and Ipsos MediaCT encompassing 4, 803 US participants reveals that:

  • Gamers are between 1 and 1.5 times more likely to buy specific products than the large population.
  • 74% of gamers are open to paying more for quality media and entertainment products.

And that’s not all. These gamer influencers can also sway your target audience because:

  • 87% of gamers who bought such products claim they typically recommend these products to their peers.
  • 69% of them will also leave ratings and reviews.
  • 40% of respondents who purchased a media and entertainment service (i.e., your possible game) admit to being influenced by gaming creators.

4. Gaming Influencers Create Professional Content

Top-performing gaming influencers in LA or any other city are professional content creators who can:

  • Sway their audiences.
  • Adapt to your content.

How can gaming influencers do this?

Well, games are inherently interactive, and influencer marketing needs to reflect this. Influencers must showcase the game in action and authentically engage with their audience.

Is that really important?

The same Google and Ipsos Media study above outlines that this type of content is essential for your game audience.

  • 83% of gamers need entertaining brand-related content.
  • 75% of gamers want video game content that taps into their passion.
  • 70% of game players need useful information about your products and services.

Now, you could technically create branded content that touches all these points.

But gaming influencers have the advantages of increased trust, persuasion, and engagement. Besides:

5. Influencer Marketing Is Cheaper Than Branded Content

That statement above depends on the social media platform and the type of influencer you’re partnering with.

Side note: Larger brands like Path of Exile or World of Warcraft already have a loyal customer base, so their content can elicit similar engagement to influencer content. But smaller brands may have more success using influencer marketing for video games.

Still:

  • Influencer marketing is cheaper than paid advertising if we’re talking about the same scale and reach.
  • And if we’re talking about organic content you’re posting on your TikTok or YouTube channels, influencers are more trustworthy and engaged.

Pro-tip to decrease your costs:

Many games now offer in-game features and benefits that your influencer marketing strategy can tap into. For example, give your influencers exclusive in-game items or levels about which they can brag to their followers.

After reading the section above, you know more about YouTube influencer marketing’s particularities and advantages.

We’ll analyze the right platforms to harness them below, but first, here’s a quick comparison table:

PlatformAudienceContentAdvertising optionsInfluencer cultureBest for
TikTokGen ZEntertaining and engaging short-formMultiple options to slash CPAs and ad fatigueExperienced influencers across nichesYoung gamers; entertainment
YouTubeDiverse and broadMostly long-form, with short-form catching upGood ad optionsGame reviewers, podcasters, and streamersHow-to videos; game reviews
TwitchGen Z and Millennials; usually malesLong-form streamingHighly targetedMostly streamersEngagement and sales
InstagramDiverse and broadGames’ visuals, behind-the-scenes content, and gameplay footageGood for shoppable contentExperienced influencers across nichesVisual content; sales increase
TwitterMillennials and Gen XNews; releases; shareable contentGood targeting and analytics optionsGame journalists and news writersOld school gamers; shareable news

1. TikTok

TikTok is a good social media channel for video game influencer marketing because:

  • TikTok’s audience is young and highly engaged with the platform: These people heed influencers’ advice and interact with them closely. If your audience falls in the 18-24 age group, you can benefit from this trust and engagement.
  • Short-form video format: TikTok’s short-form video format makes it easy for influencers to create and share game-related content in an entertaining way. This format also encourages TikTok users to engage with your content more.
  • Influencer creativity: TikTok encourages creativity, so TikTok influencers use the app to showcase their skills and personality. This means you can create content that entertains and taps into your audience base’s passion – just how they want. And that will help you reduce CPAs and ad fatigue considerably.
  • Advertising options: From in-feed ads to branded effects and top-view ads, TikTok is your oyster in terms of ads. So, use influencer-powered TikTok ads to reach your target audience unobtrusively.
  • Influencer culture: TikTok has a vibrant influencer community, many of which are interested in partnering with game developers to create sponsored gaming content. This partnership culture makes it easier for you to find and work with influencers whose values align with your brand.

Todd Cruz runs the Insight Gaming News channel on TikTok. In the TikTok below, Todd creates desire for the Meet Your Maker game like a pro:

Insight Gaming News channel on TikTok

Notice the hooks, screenshots, and imagery used. All these build social proof and create desire.

2. YouTube

YouTube is another great option thanks to:

  • Large audience: YouTube has a massive user base, with over 2 billion monthly active users.
  • Diverse content: YouTube offers a wide range of content, including video game reviews, walkthroughs, gameplay footage, and tutorials. This diverse content allows you to tailor your influencer marketing campaigns to specific audiences and topics.
  • Long-form content: The long-form content on YouTube lets your influencers present your game more in-depth. They can satisfy their audience’s needs for info and how-to tutorials, showing them tips & tricks to improve their gaming skills.
  • Good advertising options: YouTube ad options include sponsored videos, display ads, and overlay ads. Influencer-generated content can power up these ads and reach a wider market.
  • Solid influencer community: YouTube has a large community of streamers, game reviewers, and players. These influencers have built considerable followings and have solid reputations thanks to their high-quality content. Working with them can help you build credibility and reach a broader audience.

That said, some video game influencers produce funny YouTube shorts too.

Here’s famous influencer Alexandra Botez showing how one of her opponents started flirting during an online game:

Bumble in-feed ad

The options to leverage those short-form videos and even flirty in-game interactions to market your video game are virtually endless.

3. Twitch

Twitch has some unique options too:

  • Live streaming: Twitch is a live streaming platform that allows influencers to showcase their skills and connect with their community of followers in real-time. That leads to increased engagement rates and trust.

Here’s a neat example from Path of Exile streamer Zizaran:

Path of Exile streamer Zizaran
  • Targeted advertising: Twitch offers targeted advertising options so you can reach specific audiences based on their interests, demographics, and behavior. That means you can maximize your influencer marketing campaign’s results.
  • Solid influencers: Twitch has a large and active community of gamers and streamers who people watch for long hours. These influencers are perceived as experts and are highly engaged. Even better, they recommend each other’s channels to keep their viewers entertained and watching.

Pro tip: Those recommendations help you build a map of interconnected creators to target your audience with the same message. The process is called influencer mapping and is usually done by B2B brands, but you can apply the same principles for a niche game.

4. Instagram

Instagram has some specific advantages for video game influencer marketing:

  • Visual content: Instagram is a predominantly photo and video-sharing platform. This helps you leverage Instagram to showcase your games’ visuals, create behind-the-scenes content, and promote gameplay footage.
  • Engaged audience: Instagram has a large and highly engaged user base, with over 1 billion monthly active users.
  • Good collaborative content options: Instagram facilitates tight collaboration between video game developers and influencers.
  • Sales-oriented content: Instagram allows you to sell your video game. One option is creating an Instagram shop your creators can link to. Another is for your influencers to include shoppable links directly in their Instagram Reel ads or posts.

You can also use Instagram for influencer gifting, a tactic that brings increased attention to your game company.

Twitch gamer Alliestraza is also an Instagram micro – influencer. Game brands invite her to their conferences, like HearthStone:

Alliestraza HearthStone Content

Or send her specific gifts, like Blizzard:

Alliestraza Blizzard Content

5. Twitter

Twitter has some massive benefits for your gaming promotion campaign:

  • Real-time engagement: This feature lets you and your influencers respond to real-time customer feedback.
  • Audience: Twitter has an older audience base of old-school gamers. You can use this platform to attract Millennials and Gen X gamers with industry news, releases, and other viral content. That brings us to the next point:
  • Viral potential: Twitter is a platform that lends itself well to shareable content, such as short gameplay clips, news, and hashtag campaigns. These types of content can quickly spread throughout the gaming community.
  • Analytics: Twitter provides video game marketers with excellent analytics tools to track the performance of their game influencer marketing campaigns.

Here’s Twitch star Kripparrian promoting Summoner’s War on his Twitter account:

Kripparrian Promoting Summoner’s War on Twitter
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Types of Influencers and Selecting the Right Ones for a Specific Game

Apart from picking the right platform, it’s also essential to choose the right influencers.

Let’s review the most common types of video game creators and the factors to consider when picking them:

1. Mega-Influencers

Mega influencers typically have over 1 million followers, so they’re an excellent pick to attract a broad and diverse audience.

One good example is PewDiePie, with a massive audience of 111+ million followers on YouTube at the time of this writing.

PewDiePie YouTube Profile

His videos usually have millions of views and comments.

On the other hand, NYC gaming mega-influencers like Avori Henderson or Scott Wozniak are more expensive and likely busy, so they partner with major brands.

And it’s even more expensive to tie a long-term partnership with them.

2. Macro-Influencers

Macro-influencers following sizes typically range between 100, 000 and 1, 000, 000 followers. These people have a broad enough audience, but they have more time than mega-influencers and more openings for brand collaborations.

mbXtreme is one such YouTube influencer, with 117, 000 subscribers at the time of this writing.

mbXtreme YouTube Profile

As you can see, mbXtreme is focused entirely on Path of Exile, especially recently.

Notice how he presents different features and weapons in this game. This tactic achieves two purposes:

  • Education: As people play PoE more proficiently, they will stick to this game and recommend it to others.
  • Creating desire: PoE remains top of mind for his customers who try mbXtreme’s tactics to hone their own techniques.

Remember: A macro-influencer like mbXtreme can increase your reach, active players, time spent in-game, recommendations, and other relevant metrics.

3. Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers typically have 10, 000 to 100, 000 followers.

Although the reach is lower, these people have more time to:

  • Help you with content ideas and useful feedback for your social listening efforts.
  • Interact meaningfully with their audience.

Pro tip: Judge these things by the influencer’s main social media channel. For example, Kripparrian has 1.5 million followers on Twitch but only 45, 300 on Instagram.

His engagement rate is also pretty low on Instagram, but that’s because Instagram is not his primary social platform.

Here’s what our intuitive engagement rate calculator shows:

Kripparrian Instagram Engagement Rate

4. Nano-Influencers

Nano-influencers have small, engaged communities. These creators have an awesome potential for niche games.

And they can also increase your sales massively because they are highly engaged and, therefore, can talk to their audience about your game more.

Here’s Hearthstone streamer @rdu.hs doing a giveaway on his TikTok channel:

Hearthstone streamer @rdu.hs doing a giveaway on TikTok

Rdu.hs counts as a nano-influencer because he has below 10, 000 followers on most gaming platforms. Even on Twitch, his main social channel, he barely gets 14, 500 followers.

Notice his impressions, though.

Rdu has 1153 followers on TikTok at the time of this writing. But his giveaway post has 1, 029 views, 47 likes, and 76 comments.

That’s a massive 99.91% reach.

Now look at the views some of his other posts get and compare them to his 1, 153 follower size:

@rdu.hs TikTok Posts

Remember: You, too, can benefit from the same massive reach if you partner with relevant influencers, or hire a nano-influencer agency.

That brings us to the following point.

5. Factors to Consider When Selecting an Influencer

The factors to consider when selecting an influencer include:

  • The follower size: Judge this in terms of your marketing and business goals. How many people do you want to reach, and how important is that reach to you? You may need a larger following in visibility campaigns, especially for larger brands.
  • Relevance: The influencer should strongly connect to the target audience and the game they will promote. Otherwise, they can face significant backlash from their followers.
  • Content quality: The influencer should create high-quality content that aligns with the brand and resonates with their audience.
  • Authenticity: Choose an authentic and transparent creator who can promote your game genuinely rather than just for compensation. You should also ensure the influencer has an organic following, with no fake profiles to boost his stats.

Pro tip: Use our free fake follower checker to perform profile quality checks for your potential influencers.

For example, PewDiePie has an exceptional audience profile, with zero fake followers from his 21.7 million Instagram audience. And his other stats look amazing as well:

PewDiePie Metrics on inBeat
  • Engagement rate: A high engagement rate is typically better, especially if you aim to increase downloads or the number of active users.
  • Demographics: The influencer’s demographics should align with your target audience. Remember, Kripparrian has 1, 5 million followers on Twitch but just 2, 782 on TikTok. That’s because his audience demographics is different.
  • Brand compatibility: Pick a content creator whose values and type of content align with yours.

Side note insider tip: That’s why at inBeat, we build the creative brief before selecting influencers to ensure they can fit our creative strategy.

  • Track record: Ideal influencers boast a track record of success in influencer marketing. However, this factor may not be crucial if you notice the influencer is responsive and interested in collaborating.
  • Fees: The influencer’s fees should be reasonable and aligned with your campaign budget.

4 Tips for Creating Engaging Content with Influencers and Measuring Campaign Success

The previous sections showed you how to choose influencers and channels for your video game influencer marketing success.

Now, let’s see some insider tips that will boost your campaign’s performance:

1. Collaborating With Influencers on Content Ideas

Influencers respond to openness. Like all creators on the wide web, they also appreciate ego baits.

Use that insight:

  • During outreach: Instead of sending a cold collaboration request email, ask for their guidance. Let them know your main priority is delivering valuable content to your shared audience and ask for their opinion.
  • During and after the campaign: Video game creators have tight-knit relationships with their audience. Use those insights to optimize your communication and in-game features.

2. Encouraging Authentic and Creative Content

At inBeat, our influencer briefs outline general expectations and requirements like so:

inBeat Influencer Brief Sample

    As you can see, this type of brief leaves a lot of creative freedom for the influencer.

    And that’s important because:

    • Gamers are very sensitive to fake content.
    • Video game influencers probably know your audience better than you do.

    Pro tip: Remember to take precautions and check the deliverables to ensure they align with your brand. Do the necessary edits and only post valuable, persuasive content for your audience.

    3. Setting Clear Goals and Expectations

    Having clear goals and expectations is essential because:

    • It helps you build an effective creative strategy based on a unique selling proposition.
    • You can set correct KPIs to measure your campaign effectiveness.
    • You can communicate your expectations to your influencers better.
    • You understand the marketing budget necessary to achieve those goals.

    It’s also important to remember that each video game and campaign will have different marketing goals.

    Let’s say your goal is to increase user acquisition.

    Effective tactics may include:

    • Product seeding: Give influencers early access to the game and incentives to share their experiences with their audience.
    • Influencer-led content creation: The most convincing content for user acquisition is gameplay videos, reviews, and tutorials.
    • Influencer challenges: Launch challenges or contests encouraging influencers’ followers to engage with the game, such as completing specific levels or achieving certain milestones.
    • Cross-promotions: Collaborate with other famous gaming influencers or brands to cross-promote the game, expanding the campaign’s reach and driving more traffic to the game.

    Conversely, let’s say you want to increase user retention. In this case, you must focus on building a strong relationship with your audience and providing them value.

    Potential tactics that would help you reach this goal include:

    • User-generated content: Gameplay videos and screenshots can build excitement and engagement around the game, showcasing unique features and experiences.
    • Influencer-led events: In-game events or live streams with influencers facilitate interactions and give your audience behind-the-scenes insights into the game. This community involvement can build loyalty among players.
    • Create desire: Influencers can create exclusive in-game content, such as skins or special items, that your audience can obtain only by playing the game and following the influencer.
    • Educate your audience: Give influencers access to advanced features or techniques in the game. They should create content that helps your target audience improve their skills and enjoy the game more.

    4. Tracking Performance Metrics and Analyzing Results

    The last step in your campaign is monitoring and analyzing your influencer marketing efforts.

    That will be easy to do if you’ve picked your goals correctly and determined the most effective KPIs.

    For example, an user acquisition campaign can monitor:

    • Installs
    • Downloads
    • Conversion rate
    • Ad revenue

    A user retention campaign should focus on:

    • In-app purchases
    • User retention rate
    • Average session length
    • Customer lifetime value

    Pro tip: Assess these results to get a bird’s eye view of your marketing efforts. Look for specific insights that could help you optimize future campaigns, such as top-performing creators, type of content, and channels.

3 Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns in the Gaming Industry

This guide took you through the theoretical aspects of video game influencer marketing, though we analyzed some examples from top influencer marketing agencies in Paris and other cities along the way.

Now, let’s look at some successful examples and see what we can learn from them:

1. Hearthstone: How to Scale Up Ambassador Collaborations

Hearthstone is a card-playing video game. The company has partnered with numerous ambassadors across following sizes and social platforms.

Just look at how many viewer hours these Twitch streamers add up to:

Hearthstone Ambassadors

    We already pointed to Rdu.hs, who is a nano-influencer, but you can also look at Christian Hearthstone’s profile.

Christian Hearthstone YouTube Profile

    This YouTube creator produces hours of content each day, reviewing different cards and spells.

    And that’s what most Hearthstone influencers do, helping players hone their skills and spend more time playing the game.

    These influencers also created a tight Hearthstone community of loyal players.

    But here’s something even more important:

    Hearthstone took things to the next level with its new Creator Program, a platform that helps Hearthstone connect with its community of influencers more efficiently.

    This platform encourages more gamers to seek out a collaboration with the brand. This gives them special perks such as:

    • Direct communication
    • Coupon codes for their audiences
    • Access to special events
    • Influencer merch

    2. Brawl Stars: Creating Desire with Niche Creators

    Brawl Stars’ game developer decided that a unique influencer campaign was just the thing to announce the game’s launch.

    Supercell partnered with ten YouTube influencers and gamers who streamed videos playing Brawl Stars.

    Here’s the secret ingredient:

    These creators weren’t the largest or the most popular. But they were relevant in the niche of Supercell games.

    MOLT, Papadog, and Powerbang are just a few creators competing against each other to trigger the audience’s curiosity and desire:

Supercell Games Creators

    And Supercell had a clear goal: getting sufficient pre-launch registrations. Seeing that over 5 million people registered, we’d say Supercell reached its desired results even with niche influencers.

    3. Vainglory: Build a Community through Shared Gaming Experiences

    Vainglory took a different road to video game influencer marketing, partnering with mega-influencer PewDiePie.

    The unique approach in this campaign was that regular people could join PewDiePie in the gameplay.

    Yes, you can do that with the YouTube Let’s Play video format.

    The advantages are:

    • Creating desire as more people want to play alongside a famous YouTuber and game influencer
    • Creating social proof because more players will share this exciting opportunity within the gaming community
    • Creating trust by letting your audience test your game with no strings attached
    • Creating a community based on those shared experiences and brand trust

    Just notice the inside jokes and conversations in this video:

PewDiePie Vainglory Content

Key Takeaways

  • Set your goals first to help you choose the right creative strategy to persuade your audience.
  • It’s essential to pick the right influencers and social media platforms to promote your game. Let your goals guide you.
  • Don’t be afraid to partner with nano-influencers. Although they have smaller audience sizes, they can create desire by addressing their captive audiences directly.
  • Scale up any successful ambassador campaign, as Hearthstone did.
  • Facilitate audience interactions; people who bond over your game build a strong community that increases sales over the long run.

Scale Your Video Game Influencer Marketing

This guide showed you how to build an influencer marketing campaign, from setting your goals to monitoring your results. You now know which channels, influencers, and tactics to pick.

Follow the tips and use the tools we recommended above, and your video game influencer campaign will succeed.

But if you need more assistance, we’re right here.

Book a strategy call, and we’ll help you find and implement a personalized strategy for your marketing goals.

Want more examples of successful influencer marketing strategies? Check out our case studies.

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