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A Look Into Gaming Fandoms on TikTok
In the past, we’ve discussed how marketers can connect with gamers on TikTok. We went over the basics of the platform and did a brief look into what gaming content looks like on the platform.
However, we only scratched the surface.
It’s time to look at the world of TikTok gaming fandoms and why marketers should consider gaming fan culture when engaging with gamers.
Let’s dive in.
What is Fandom in Gaming?
A “fandom” is defined as a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of camaraderie and empathy with others who share a common interest. There are fandoms for tv shows, like Supernatural or Game of Thrones, and for musicians, like popular boy band groups or K-pop artists. Fandoms in gaming can even be centered around a specific game, series, or even console.
And they’re much more prevalent in our culture than we might realize. For instance, the Mario Bros fandom would include people who love all things in the Mario Bros universe—from Super Mario World to Mario Party to Super Smash Bros.
It’s more than just playing the games or watching streamers and friends play them. People in gaming fandoms are interested in the lore behind the games, different kinds of user-created content, cosplay, and engaging with others in the community.
Fandoms in gaming can provide a sense of community for players who might not have access to that otherwise. It can be difficult to make friends as an adult, and fandoms give people the opportunity to connect with others who share their interests.
Fandom in gaming can also be a way for people to escape from the everyday stresses of life. It can be a fun and safe place to explore different aspects of your personality. And for some, it’s simply a way to connect with others who share their love for gaming.
Old and new games alike have a mass following on related hashtags on TikTok. Older games like The Sims 2, which is nearly 20 years old, have over 200 million views on its related hashtags and there are currently over 41.5 million views in the Minecraft hashtags. Legend of Zelda tags have over 657 million views. Animal Crossing New Horizon tags have over 10 billion views.
Why does this matter to marketers? Fandoms are loyal and the people in them deeply connect to the game characters and story.
This means that when a new game in the franchise comes out, or there’s some big news related to the series, these fans are more likely to pay attention and get hyped about it.
Marketers can leverage this data to create content that speaks to these fans’ interests and needs, whether it’s a targeted ad campaign that aligns with the new game or sponsored content from creators in the fandom.
They can also use it to understand which platforms these fans are using the most and where they’re spending their time. This way, they can make sure their message is reaching the right people on the right platform.
A good example of this is when Nintendo partnered with TikTok to promote Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The partnership resulted in over 10 million views of the hashtag #animalcrossing and helped the game become one of the most popular games of 2020. The hashtag is now sitting at 6.4B as of 2022.
TikTok has also been a valuable platform for developers to share sneak peeks, trailers, and gameplay for upcoming games. For instance, in April 2021, Mediatonic Games put out posts about a new in-game emote from Fall Guys all across social media–from Instagram to Twitter.
But on TikTok, they went the extra mile. Instead of simply highlighting an emote, they posted an in-game video focusing on a core gameplay experience from the game. When asked why, Mediatonic community manager Bianca Sarafian stated “TikTok is unique because, unlike other platforms, it’s not so much a broadcasting tool as it is a genuine way to create content and connect with people.”
This just goes to show that if you’re trying to reach gamers, TikTok should be one of your go-to platforms.
Of course, it takes insight into the fandom culture to know how to market new products to them. The more they understand things like the language and thematic elements of a gaming story, the better.
The Kinds of Content Created
Now that we know more about gaming fandoms, let’s look at the different kinds of content they create on TikTok.
Cosplay and gaming go hand-in-hand so it shouldn’t be shocking that #gamecosplay has over 65 million views.
But, what’s interesting about the cosplay community on TikTok is how creative they get with their videos. Some creators use TikTok’s AR filters to turn themselves into their favorite game characters. Others use props and special effects to make their cosplays more realistic and make transformation videos. Some creators even create entire skits and storylines based on their favorite games. For instance, Dungeons & Dragons players commonly make live-action skits where they act like different characters.
In a unique twist, Quincy’s Tavern is all about recreating recipes from games like D&D, Magic the Gathering, The Elder Scrolls Online, and more. Not only does he make the food look delicious, but he usually adds some gaming lore or announcement to go along with each dish.
It’s also not uncommon for Quincy to do paid partnerships in which he creates recipes based on video games or expansions. He created some delicious clam chowder for ESO’s High Isle expansion. This helped with marketing by keeping the new expansion top of mind for gamers with a love of food, MMOs, and, of course, Elder Scrolls.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets you explore several islands for an immersive gaming experience (and a chance to get away from money-hungry Tom Nook).
Harvey lives on one of those islands. He’s a hippie dog NPC who has a passion for photography—and all the camera equipment and props you’ll ever need. Other villagers can even join in on the fun.
So it makes sense that Animal Crossing players would recreate sitcoms and reality TV shows on the island. Everything from That 70s Show to Community, Parks and Recreation, or even Maury.
But that’s not the only game with recreations on TikTok. Animators recreate scenes from Among Us with characters and locations from the game. Well-known streamer Mark Plier even worked on an animation and got feedback from his community to bring it together.
This is a great opportunity for marketers to engage creatively. They can comment on TikToks that specifically mention their brand or product or they can collaborate with a creator on a recreation that incorporates their product and marketing messaging into the scene.
Music/Score from Games
TikTok is known for making music and sounds go viral as every video typically has a sound being used in the background. Mario Kart Theme, Coconut Mall music is commonly used in the background of TikToks, sometimes for cosplay, but more often for non-gaming content.
The Legend of Zelda’s lost woods music is also a popular choice. It has a calming effect that can make any video more pleasant to watch—even if it’s just someone making breakfast.
The Elden Ring theme is typically used to discuss lore from the game, but it’s also played during stream clips. The same goes for Overwatch music, which is often heard in the background of stream clips.
Gaming ASMR is also a huge niche on the platform. This is when the only sounds are that of the controllers or keyboards and in-game sounds. The clicky sounds are soothing to a lot of people. Hashtags like #fortniteasmr are super popular, getting over 55 million views.
Stream clips are also worth mentioning. Streamers upload clips from their Twitch or YouTube streams to TikTok to increase their views, gain more followers, and give viewers a sneak peek into what to expect from their streams. For example, popular streamer Ninja has a bunch of clips from his Twitch stream on his TikTok.
Marketers can take advantage of this trend by partnering with influencers to create content set to the music of their game, show, or movie. It’s a great way to build a positive image around your brand.
TikTok has been pushing live video content lately, which has been working well since Twitch streamers aren’t too happy about the new contracts offering them a smaller cut of the revenue. TikTok has been doing this by having more Live videos appear on people’s For You Page, where users scroll to consume TikTok content.
Low-tech gaming live streams and more lives appearing on people’s For You pages are making it easier for creators to stream on the platform and be found by viewers.
You probably don’t need to change your digital strategy too much. Digital ads generally work on all platforms. Streamers, cosplayers, and viral streamers can all contribute to your influencer marketing campaign.
That being said, fandoms are more niche than overall gaming audiences, so you need to adjust your strategy accordingly. To reach the gaming audience/fandom you are targeting, you need to pick specific hashtags and creators while understanding the subculture they have created around the game.
Think broadly about the gaming TikTok ecosystem and consider what matters to your brand. Cosplay, art, competition, personality, and story can all inspire your brand.
Consider trying our recommendations above and if you need more advice on how to market and engage with gamers, let’s find chat.