Paired with a tool that allows players to take, edit and publicly share images of these products within realistic environments, the opportunity for brands begins to materialise. What if players could share a high-quality screenshot of their character holding a branded drink, wearing a recent streetwear drop in an in-game apartment that aligns with their design tastes? With customisation and co-creation becoming increasingly sophisticated in the real world, a space is opening up for furniture, fashion, technology, and food and drink brands to innovate and inspire within the digital one.
Stepping back to consider the wider gaming sector, it’s a market with vast potential. By 2021, the global video games market is estimated to surpass a total value of $138bn (£105bn, €121bn), while some 64% of the US population describe themselves as gamers (sources: Statista, Nielsen).
It also comes at a time when downloadable content (DLC), which typically includes new in-game skins, character outfits and aesthetic materials, is on the rise. According to game distributor Capcom’s 2017 annual report, the DLC market value increased a staggering 121% in the seven years preceding 2017, and took 54% of the market share in the same year – a 34% increase from 2011.
As the realism of video games continues to improve, so too will the sophistication of marketing opportunities within the games themselves. Paired with a shifting consumer mindset that aligns the value of their digital assets with what they own in real life, as well as the social kudos that can be built from purchasing, customising and sharing these assets online, and the future potential for brands is hard to ignore.
Josh Walker is a freelance writer specialising in fashion.
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