What The Gaming Industry Can Teach Corporates About Strategy, Security and Digital Transformation
What has billions of dollars and millions of eyes?
The Gaming Industry.
You only need to hear the phrase “video games outsold Hollywood’s entire box office” to start wondering how you too can grab a piece of that very lucrative pie.
In this article, we outline Solid State’s experiences of the industry, the latest innovations from gaming startups, and the commercial opportunities for the multinationals.
First, here’s a quick zoom on the industry. To play video games you need hardware, that totals up to £1.3 billion in the UK alone. Then you need the games, that’s another £3 billion. Then you’ve got live events/gamecons and merchandise, that’s another £100 million. In the UK alone.
But wait, there’s more.
Esports, aka Gaming As A Spectator Sport, is now approaching football in terms of popularity. More people are sat on their sofas watching dudes play League of Legends as are sat on their sofas watching the English Premier League. Brands have noticed this and are pouring in hundreds of millions accordingly. Even the Olympics Committee is considering inclusion (side note, “except those which promote violence” says some guy, cuz current Olympic events archery, shooting, pentathlon, wrestling, javelin, boxing and fencing aren’t violent at all).
Gaming is the holy trinity of emergent tech, entertainment and data. This means big opportunities for corporates and startups, so here’s a splurge to inspire you. There are a lot of satisfying links coming up, so get ready to open a ton of tabs. (Or, lemme send you a pdf to read later)
In our appjam at Solid State a few weeks ago, one team espied an opportunity for e-commerce in the gaming industry - namely that there are plenty of strong influencers who haven’t fully monetised their following. If something on the Internet isn’t monetised to death, does it really exist?
We applied our Add to Basket technology (which makes digital content shoppable) to influencers’ profiles on Twitch.tv, which is a bit like Youtube for watching streams of people playing games. We turned the influencers’ recommendations for PC components into shoppable links. Streamers were already recommending hardware purchases, so it made sense to speed up the buying process for streamers. Speed it up. Make it efficient. For streamers. Efficient…. Streamers… stream…lined…
There are a ton of startups who’ve noticed the commercial opportunities, here’s a selection along with the innovations:
Mobalytics trains gamers on a huge scale and it does it with big data drawn from APIs to give unique users heavily customised tips and post-game breakdowns. And it’s not just tip personalisation that it needs, Mobalytics customises tone of voice and vocabulary to give emotionally intelligent feedback to encourage, not heckle, players. So, e-learning and personalisation on a mass scale? I think that’s called a “licence to print money”?
There’s a ton of VR/AR gaming startups but check out this Lucid Sight video because these guys not only develop games in VR/AR, they’re creating an entire ad network for the games too. This vid shows how a 2D trailer for a film can exist in an immersive game.
There were more viewers watching the League of Legends World Finals than the NBA finals and the prize money for Dota 2 exceeds golf, Wimbledon and American Football. The most famous platform is Twitch, there are 100 million monthly users and 50 million of those watch more than 20 hours a week. That’s more than television. Oh and Amazon bought them for a billion dollars. Maybe they’ll live stream the founders bathing in dollar notes one day.
Discord is for gamers what WhatsApp and Slack are for friends and work. In a time when messaging apps are becoming the “new social media” and everyone is cashing in, Discord has captured a huge slice of users, distinct from Amazon, Google and Facebook. Gaming’s big advantage is that it’s intrinsically interactive entertainment, something media companies can only dream of. Even Youtube is fairly backseat and one-way communication, it’s broadcasting, not conversation. Conservation is so hot right now, that you probably didn’t even notice I didn’t write conversation but instead included a subtle reference to climate change. That’s how hot it is.
So, a messaging app with millions of users accustomed to exchanging interactive content? Marketing goldmine, potentially…
Either way, there’s a sense that where gaming is leading, everyone else will follow. The lifecycle of innovation relies heavily on smart people playing with things, and games companies can afford to do this, whereas say, the NHS, can’t.
There are opportunities here too. The obvious ones are marketing, just like the Superbowl adverts are massive events, so esports ads will drive new creative heights. Gaming influencers are approaching celebrity status enjoyed by actors, musicians, writers, and professionally attractive people. For marketers interested in influencers, video content and measuring their effectiveness, gamers hit the sweet spot.
Another obvious gaming opportunity is for HR departments, say goodbye to forced team bonding over funruns or canoe building, and say hello to murdering Bob from Accounts on Call of Duty. Everyone is going to feel better.
Those are obvious, but here’s where it gets really interesting: if we look at the top concerns of corporates for their digital transformation, which are strategy, security and operational efficiency, the gaming industry can supply the out-of-the-box ideas for every one of those concerns:
PwC released Game Of Threats, a head-to-head digital game that simulates the experience of executives when their company is targeted by a cyber attack. It’s only when the C Suite experiences the situation in real time that they can really get to grips with the issue and strategise for the real world.
That kind of gamification and simulation can be applied to any strategic problem, imagine planning a new territory expansion by playing some kind of Age of Empires, but instead of marauding invaders and pitched battles, you’re fighting off local startups, regulatory changes and PR disasters - with each challenge highly personalised to your business. That’s how you find your “unknown unknowns” in a strategy.
Gaming influences cybersecurity in two ways
Games companies use increasingly sophisticated technology to spot and prevent malware and hackers because online gamers are massive targets for naughty people.
Games are being created as education tools to teach humans how to prevent data loss.
An example of security products specific to gaming is this startup Panopticon - which helps game publishers discover anomalous in-game behavior, such as an abnormal monetary transfer, in order to spot the hackers and malware. The same idea can be applied to any software with hundreds of users in order to track down the one shifty user knicking everything.
As for games as education tools (GAET is the acronym which I’ve literally just invented), humans are by far the biggest weakness in the fight against data loss and ransomware. However most compliance and measures to prevent such losses are not that effective and they’re usually punitive “if you open an unauthorised attachment you’ll be in big trouble”, but companies like Digital Guardian have created games which reward the user for reducing data loss, as well as educate them - and it works.
Simple, zoom back up to Mobalytics for highly personalised coaching to get each individual operating in the best way. In the future, it may not be enough for software providers to simply provide software as a service, it may not even be enough to provide data insights as a service, nay, the extra value will be “education as a service”. Software may one day collate data, deliver insights, and teach individuals how to improve their use of the tool.
Surely, this is the better way to help users transition from legacy systems to new efficient systems in any digital transformation.
So if you want to start thinking how gaming technology could influence your business, even if at first glance it’s got naff all to do with it, or if you’re a consultant looking for ideas to promote to clients, email us your ideas, demo suggestions, and questions. We often team up with consultants for some blue sky thinking.
Then there is our Labs, which is where Solid State house the technical experiments that our smart people come up with while having fun.
Ermagerd, nearly forgot. Solid State made an actual video game too. Battle Royale. It’s for shooting other gamers live. You’re going to need a brain break after all this information so treat yo self to a quick game. If you tweet me, I’ll hop on and play too.