June 2023

The Growing Symbiosis Between Social Media & Gaming

Last month, we broke down why gaming IP has risen to the top of traditional entertainment, but its growth isn’t limited to the big screen. Gaming’s surge in mainstream popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic led to more and more “everyday” consumers engaging with the IP, both on and off gaming consoles. Social media – and TikTok in particular – has transformed into a mecca for streamers, game developers, and more to not only connect on a deeper level with their communities, but also to drive discoverability. 

During last week’s GamesBeat Summit, Assaf Sagy, TikTok’s Head of Global Gaming, and Rema Vasan, TikTok’s Head of Global Gaming Business Marketing, unveiled that gaming content drove 3 trillion views in 2022, accounting for about half of the platform’s total monthly users. This rise in consumption resulted in 75 percent of TikTok users discovering new games and 36 percent of users purchasing and playing these games. Sagy now considers gaming a core tenant of TikTok’s content offerings, which in turn, directly influences gaming consumption trends.

In addition to acting as a discovery engine for new game releases, TikTok has driven long-time legacy games to reach new heights. Subway Surfers, the most-downloaded game of the past decade, tripled its TikTok following in 2022 alone, now boasting over 7.5 million followers to date. The game has also taken over the platform’s timelines through the “sludge content” trend, where users pair gameplay videos with their own content in split screen to maintain viewers’ attention. Subway Surfers’ viral resurgence has converted real downloads of the game itself, which claimed the title of the most-downloaded game of 2022 and just surpassed 4 billion lifetime downloads – a full decade post-launch. 

TikTok’s increased role in the space has even influenced how games are created and marketed. Aggro Crabs Games’ “Another Crab’s Treasure” has documented its development on the platform, providing users with opportunities to share ideas for in-game content, acting as a real-time “writers’ room.” Most recently, Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (TotK) has leveraged TikTok to dominate conversations across both social and traditional media.

Released May 12 as a sequel to the award-winning “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” TotK features new mechanics that allow users to build custom weapons, vehicles, and tools throughout the game. This creative sandbox sparked an immediate surge of conversation and content around games as creative outlets and virtual puzzles. 

Since its launch, the explosive growth of TotK content has proven critical to driving more players to discover, purchase, and play the game – supporting the title in shattering sales records and selling over 10 million copies in its first three days. Inversely, TotK content has become ubiquitous on social media, proving platforms to be essential tools for building strong fan communities, reaching wider audiences, learning gameplay tricks, and more.

This relationship creates a massive pool of players and fans with a rich desire for TotK content, making it a more desirable choice for content creators and media. This effect creates a flywheel, as the influence of creators and their audiences incentivize developers to double down on the products that fans crave, further fueling the cycle.

Beyond sales, this flywheel contributes to how some titles – such as TotK or Subway Surfers – transcend gaming success and become widespread cultural conversations. With this in mind, not only will more and more game developers tailor their titles to be adapted for social media content creation, but social platforms will continue to prioritize gaming content and audiences as key contributors to their growth. 

Intern Spotlight: Arantxa Landa Gogeascoechea

Tell us about yourself!

My complete name is Arantxa Landa Gogeascoechea, it’s a long name but we have two last names in Mexico: my father’s last name first and my mom’s last name second. I’m from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, and I’m 26 years old. I’m currently pursuing a Master of Arts in PR and Advertising at USC, with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Digital Media at Tecnológico de Monterrey based in Querétaro, Mexico. A fun fact about me is I know how to play the drums, I’m incredibly rusty but I did play for several years!

Why did you want to intern at JSA?

I learned about JSA through other USC friends who had interned here and had amazing reviews. After meeting Jenn and the team at USC events like the Career Fair or USC Center for PR meetings, I really appreciated their kindness and how open and warm they were from the moment I met them. After doing some research into their clients and the work they did, I just knew we were a perfect fit for each other.

What has been your favorite part so far?

Acquiring hands-on PR experience and managing tasks for clients in exciting industries like esports, gaming, and digital media. I like that I’m able to be part of all the current projects, attend meetings, and stay updated on what’s happening with every client. I especially appreciate how the team ensures a great employee experience and is very supportive of my professional growth.

What do you want to do post-grad?

GREAT question. As an international student, the future is a bit uncertain. But I definitely want to work in the PR or advertising fields, maybe creating campaigns for clients that combine the entertainment, business, and consumer tech industries.

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Thank You:

Thanks for reading JSA+Partners Monthly Digest! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or feedback. See you next month!