Experience Virtual Worlds: Unlocking Opportunities in Consumer Engagement, Branding and Marketing

November 2020

Video games continue to capture new audiences, providing more ways to generate revenues and engage consumers. The role of virtual platforms grew in 2020, as they replaced “normal” social and brand activities during the pandemic. FMCG brands, services, entertainment, and sport entities have been building on the virtual worlds, also developing more authentic marketing messages. However, inevitable digital fatigue will necessitate long-term strategies to engage with consumers.

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Key Findings

Video games industry continues to capture new audiences

The video games industry continues to grow, providing fresh and expanding avenues of consumer engagement and revenues. The industry is positioned well to take advantage of the continuing digitalisation of play time and life experiences beyond gaming. Gamers and non-gamers are flocking to video games and virtual worlds that build on gaming platforms at record rates.

Virtual worlds expanding

Consumers are more likely during the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond to use digital platforms for entertainment, and to help alleviate stress, but also to fill in the void left due to the lack of large-scale socialising events. The wide variety of virtual experiences available has also allowed various brands and entertainers an opportunity to continue engaging with their consumers and fans, in a fresh and exciting style.

Establishing trust is key for virtual engagements

As Generation Z and millennials continue to expand their online presence, brands must search for new ways to engage with these consumers and consumers-to-be. The overwhelming availability of virtual content has turned brand activations into an added part of the entertainment. However, authenticity in messaging is paramount to establishing trust between consumer and brand.

Sports properties tap into virtual outreach

Sports properties have multiple incentives to tap into videogaming and e-sports: they are the best tool available to engage with the youngest segments of the population; they expand the target reach to non-sports fans through officially licensed teams in non-endemic video games; they also expand brand visibility, both property and sponsor, transforming digital exposure into a commercial asset.

Digital fatigue as mid-to long-term risk

As work, social and entertainment interactions have shifted online for the majority of consumers in 2020, there is a clear risk of digital fatigue. Consumers across the world have began showing an eagerness to return to physical sources of entertainment such as concerts and sports, in the search to reduce digital activities. In order to reduce the impact of consumers limiting their virtual access, brands must show a benefit to their interactions for consumers as part of an entertainment source that keeps them engaged when they are online.

Virtual worlds eco system: scope
Key findings
Acceleration of virtual experiences opens avenues for brand engagement
Video games grow and enable move to digital worlds
Gaming helps friends and family stay connected during COVID-19
Homes as theatres, stadiums, restaurants and all-day play areas
Take Two Interactive: combining hometainment with COVID-19 support
Virtual worlds beyond entertainment
FMCG industries: virtual worlds offer more than product placement
FMCG industries: making and doing, not just watching
Foodservice: Wendy’s, Subway expand into gaming experiences
Videogames as a platform to engage with younger people
Finances: easier access to virtual spending for younger generations
Authenticity of message a key to succeed with younger audiences
Game developers listen to the young who go beyond the care of self
Sports properties turn to digital entertainment
E-sports growth provides platform for sports properties’ engagements
E-sports are sports’ best tool for outer engagement
E-sports increase brand exposure for sports partners
Older generation and virtual worlds: opportunities and concerns
Long-term challenges for virtual worlds: overcoming the risk of digital fatigue
Key takeaways

Toys and Games

This is the aggregation of traditional toys and games and video games.



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