Gen Z is the momentum generation. They are never satisfied with the status quo or the way things have been done. They are in a constant state of evolution — taking nothing at face value and never satisfied with leaving something the same for a long period of time.
To keep themselves stimulated, engaged, connected and in a constant state of transformation, they’ve turned everything into a game.
Just when you thought it couldn’t go higher, momentum for Video Games rose from an MFactor of 62 in February 2021 to a 76 this week. Even Deloitte is starting to catch on. Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey shows gaming (video games + esports) is Gen Z’s favorite form of entertainment. What their study didn’t show: Gen Z is fueling momentum for “gamification” across all areas of their lives — not just video games.
Brands and businesses that want to win over Gen Z need to meet them where they are and lean into what captures their attention. They are a multi-hyphenate group and their interests are ever changing. Understanding why Gen Z finds gaming so entertaining brings you closer to understanding what they value:
- Gaming requires active engagement — Gen Z doesn’t care for passive couch surfing or movie watching
- Their favorite games are becoming increasingly more mobile & on the go — they can play wherever they are, not just where they have a TV and console
- Gaming is becoming increasingly more social — connecting them with friends old & new
- The ever evolving, fast paced nature of video games suits Gen Z’s need for constant stimulation
- They get to be in control: customizing what’s on screen & personalizing the experience
DISRUPTION: Roblox brilliantly combined ALL of Gen Z’s pastimes — video games, social media, music and fashion — into a gaming platform that’s all about the shared and social experience.
Roblox, a gaming platform and app that offers players a broad array of user-created games and events, is surging in momentum and popularity because it is challenging traditional video games.
Roblox has 32.6 million daily active users, a majority of which are under age 13 — that’s nearly double the 2019 average of 17.6 million users.
Why is Gen Z so engaged?
- Social first: Roblox has a unique premise because it provides players with a virtual gaming experience coupled with regular social media features. Roblox isn’t a game in itself but a community that brings gamers from around the world to build and share games with one another.
- Expansive & ever changing opportunities to engage: Roblox operates what it refers to as the “Metaverse” where gamers can come together to create and play games in a virtual environment. Think Ready Player One but in real life.
- A recent study from the National Research Group found that “nine in 10 Gen Z are excited about playing games that change in real-time,” also discussing how “endless metaverses of games like Roblox are raising the bar for how young audiences expect to control and impact the content they consume.”
- Digitized real-world experiences: There are virtual fashion trends emerging from platforms like Roblox. There’s music that’s embedded in games, and the entertainment industry is still exploring opportunities that are arising as the metaverse is materialising. And consumers want to be a part of shaping their experience and expect a two-way dialogue with creators.
- Vice President and Global Head of Music at Roblox, Jonathan Vlassopulos, says: “Roblox is all about shared experiences, so we used virtual concerts to deliver immersive, interactive musical events that brought our community together and offered unique features that they may never experience in the real world. Our virtual concerts have allowed artists to still engage with their fans in a virtual space, performing and interacting with them almost in the same ways they would in real life.”
INNOVATION: Activision is evolving gaming from a solo sport into a community event, with free content that lets everyone get in on the fun. They are prioritizing meaningful social connections by improving free-to-play experiences across all gaming platforms.
Rob Kostich, president of Activision Publishing and the head of the Call of Duty franchise says: “We started announcing cross-progression, crossplay, new season pass, changing our monetization system. The big thing we wanted to do was get the community together and get them having fun. Now it’s become the focal point, the central point, the welcome mat if you will for the franchise as we go forward.”
POLARIZATION: Coca Cola vs. Pepsi? Xbox vs PlayStation? As the great debate rages on, Gen Z and Millennials are passionately picking opposing sides. Millennials Pick PlayStation, Gen Z Picks Xbox.
Why is Xbox the Gen Z console of choice?
- Exclusive rights to popular games among Gen Z like Minecraft, Destiny 2, Outriders and now MLB The Show.
- There’s hype building for Microsoft’s coming-soon “mega-games” like Halo Infinite, Perfect Dark, Avowed, Fable, Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6 (still years away). Infinite is said to be the biggest launch on Game Pass for a while.
- Social snowball effect. Gen Zers are more likely to choose the console based on what their friends are playing on because so many of the games have a social element. Gen Z kids picked up Xboxes, so all their friends picked up Xboxes, and it just sort of escalated until Xbox became the generational pick.
- Game Pass subscription model. Game Pass is a video game subscription service from Microsoft for use with its Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles, Windows 10 and Android devices via xCloud. It enables players to try and experiment with new games without paying the individual prices per game.
- Microsoft is going hard on Game Pass subs, bundling with Xbox Live, Cloud Streaming, pretty much everything it can to increase revenue from subs and value added for players.
- According to Forbes, Jez Corden of Windows Central reports that Game Pass has actually hit 23 million as of April 20, 2021 and Game Pass subscriptions more than doubled in the past year.
What is PlayStation doing to compete?
- Sony is taking aim at Xbox Game Pass with PlayStation Plus Video Pass… There is speculation they will start offering a new perk to PlayStation console owners: Sony movies with your Sony games — available exclusively to subscribers of Sony’s paid PlayStation Plus service.
STICKINESS: No longer just a man’s world, female gamers like Valkryae are gaining celeb status and getting their dues.
Immensely popular streamer Valkryae has made a name for herself in the video game / streaming world that has been long dominated by men. By opening up and being authentic to her audience, Valkryae has attracted legions of Gen-Z fans that tune into her streams daily.
For context: “Rae is the fastest growing live streamer in the entire world, and now the biggest female gaming streamer in the world” according to Stream Hatchet.
- In March 2020, over 650,000 fans viewed her playing the space-cartoon multiplayer game Among Us.
- Now she’s a company executive — this week she was named as one of six owners of 100 Thieves, the e-sports team juggernaut and lifestyle brand in Los Angeles.
What draws Gen Z to watch Valkyrae?
- Being outspoken about online threats: makes her relatable to her streaming audience, which is nearly half girls and young women.
- Unfiltered & goofy personality: Many of her millions of young followers even consider her as a big sister.
- “There is not a lot of yellow tape or privacy around her life,” Mr. Haag said. “In my mind, her ability to open up and be authentic is probably the genesis of her success.”
- Challenging gender stereotypes among gamers: “My girlfriends and I have been playing video games since we were 6 years old,” Valkyrae said. “It’s not that women gamers are new. What is new is that we are more visible now.”
SOCIAL IMPACT: Esports are inclusive and adaptive, allowing participants of all abilities to finally compete on the same level, widening the playing field.
Unlike traditional sports, Esports is an all-inclusive sport, as it also appeals to those with disabilities and allows everyone to compete on the same level. Esports allow for the ability to field larger, diverse teams that open opportunities for many to make strong connections with people they would have otherwise never met.
- Inclusion: All students can play esports. A clear value of esports lies in its inherent ability to be inclusive, which is especially important for groups that typically are underrepresented in collegiate esports such as students with disabilities.
- Esports, due to both its nature and the availability of adaptive equipment, allows students with physical disabilities to participate alongside their teammates and peers, following the same rules and competing at the same level
- Ability to be fully co-ed. 22% of women are involved in esports. Young men and women play and compete together on the same teams and are not segregated to men’s or women’s only teams.
- The ability to field diverse teams provides students with opportunities to make connections with individuals they may never have been exposed to and to collaborate and learn from one another. The college or university wins by churning out well-rounded graduates who bring the lessons and benefits of diversity to the workforce.
ON THE DOWN
Gen Z + TV (…or any show that’s not Marvel)