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The 5 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Audience About Games
While general information about the gaming industry has become easier to find, these broad strokes may not be useful for brands to develop actionable plans for effectively engaging the gaming audience. We recommend understanding how your brand’s own audience interacts with gaming to best direct your brand’s gaming strategies.
When developing a survey or interview questionnaire for your current audience about their gaming behaviors, getting specific is vital. You ultimately want these insights to be actionable and specific to your brand and your KPIs, so you want to ensure that the questions lead to answers you can work with.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking to gamers and helping brands understand the way their audience plays and thinks about games. Here are five of our go-to questions to help unlock new insights and opportunities.
1. What games do they play?
This is one of the more direct questions to ask, and it may seem redundant. Why not just look at the top sales charts or what’s trending on Twitch? However, what’s popular in the mainstream might not be popular with your audience, and if you’re looking into potential partnerships or placements, you’re better off looking for where your audience already is to find people similar to them. In the same vein, you can ask what genres they play and if they prefer cooperative or competitive games, and then build out an affinity map for your audience to widen the scope of possibilities.
Don’t be surprised if the most popular games among your audience are the same as what’s generally popular, but look at what may be surprising or unique to your audience for more tactical insights. Do they over-index on mobile strategy games, especially interested in niche rhythm games, or predominantly play indie games over AAA titles? These details are opportunities.
2. How does gaming fit into their lives?
We might be cheating a little bit on our numbering because answering this question involves asking several other ones. How much do they play (e.g., hours per week), how often do they play (e.g., times per week), when do they play (e.g., relative to routines like commuting, after school, or on weekends), and where do they play?
These questions paint a picture not just of how much time someone spends gaming, but the kind of time they are willing to invest in gaming. This can inform your definitions of a casual or hardcore player, provide direction for potential device and out-of-home placements, and possibly reveal opportunities for additional services and value adds adjacent to their gaming experiences.
Are you looking for people with high exposure to games, people that are dedicated to games even if they don’t spend much time gaming, or people that play games in certain settings? By asking yourself the big question of how gaming fits into your audiences’ lives, you can choose a combination of specific questions that align with your goals, what you hope to discover, and how you ultimately want to segment your audience.
3. Who do they play games with?
While trying to understand the role of gaming for your audience, it’s useful to understand their gaming network: who do they play games with and how often do they play with others?
For some, gaming is a solo, independent activity, while for others it’s highly social and a key part of their social lives. You may find that your audience is particularly interested in games they play with spouses and partners, their kids, parents, or other family members. Maybe they mostly play with their friend group or have even built a friend group around gaming. Or maybe they’re like us at Twofivesix, playing with their coworkers as an ongoing team-building activity.
Comparing these contexts can also be insightful: how often do they play solo vs multiplayer? And do they prefer playing with friends or playing with strangers? And linking to earlier questions, does this line up with their preferred games or genres?
Learning about their networks can be useful in developing messaging or services around their lived experiences, and it also provides a glimpse into some of their values and motivations to game. You can emphasize connectivity for a more social gaming audience, or personalization for a more independent audience.
4. What gaming content do they consume?
If you want to engage with the gaming audience, going directly through games isn’t the only option. Gaming content ranges far and wide, from livestreams, forums, editorial, fanart, podcasts, and beyond, and you can gauge how much they’re interested in gaming outside of actively playing games. You can also ask about platform usage, influencers, and time spent on gaming content.
Understanding what your audience is interested in and where to find them opens up more avenues for channel activations, partnerships, and meaningful opportunities for engaging in relevant fandom and community spaces.
5. What are their spending habits on games?
Purchasing habits are especially vital, and spending on gaming can be an additional lens for understanding your audiences, especially because there are so many ways to spend on games. Does your audience prefer a one-time purchase, free-to-play games with in-game transactions, or subscription services? Do they purchase additional content like game expansions or in-game cosmetics? Do they spend more money on games or on devices and peripherals? Do they buy merchandise outside of games?
These questions offer insight into how much they’re willing to spend on games and can be especially useful when comparing against other purchasing habits for TV, music, events, and other services. By understanding their monetary investment into their gaming experiences, you can understand how much they value gaming and align your marketing strategies and services to fit the needs and expectations of your audience.
Bonus 6. Why?
When undergoing research and strategy projects with clients, one of the most common questions we get asked is “why?” — why do they spend more money on x, why do they like this specific game, why does this audience segment over-index on this platform, and much more.
While we provide substantiated hypotheses based on other relevant data and observations, these deeper motivations and nuanced experiences can be more difficult to capture in one-off surveys and limited quantitative research. Once you figure out your big, existential questions via wider quantitative surveying, we recommend investing in qualitative research to get real stories straight from the source.
What If You Want To Ask Even Fewer Questions?
While you can certainly ask every single one of these questions, chances are that you want to know what’s the most effective. This will depend on your goals and KPIs. If you’re focused on building awareness, consider which questions will provide answers for channel placements. If your main goals are sales, consider which questions will provide you with effective messaging insights for your services. If you need some guidance on how to dig deeper into your audience’s gaming behaviors, feel free to drop us a line.