Experiencing the Fandom of Gaming

Major trends and insights gained from BlizzCon 2019

By: Sashi Nair

Sashi Nair is the Senior Strategy Manager at Havas Sports & Entertainment.

BlizzCon is an annual celebration of the global player communities surrounding the Overwatch, Warcraft, StarCraft, Hearthstone and Diablo universes.

During an entertainment-filled weekend, more than 40,000 attendees from 59 countries descended on Anaheim, California to get their hands on the latest games, watch and participate in eSports tournaments, engage in dialogues with Blizzard developers and meet up with the rest of the community.

In order to be on the pulse of what’s happening with the gaming culture, you have to be at the epicenter of it. And there’s no better place than BlizzCon to speak to the fans, hear from the creators of some of the world’s most popular titles, and observe how brands are engaging this unique community. Here’s what I learned from being at the center of the Blizzard world.

The Panorama Diner by Coca-Cola

#1. Celebrating the fans

The cultural impact of Blizzard games cannot be overstated. The many worlds created by its games have inspired millions of people around the world for so many years.

To cater to this diverse community, brands are bringing the games to life in imaginative and interactive ways that encourage fans to fully experience these worlds without having to pick up a controller.

#2. Quality sets you apart

Overwatch Payload Tour by Facebook Gaming

In a community where no expenses are spared when building cosplay costumes and dropping hundreds of dollars
on collectibles is the norm, fans expect no less from the brands in attendance at BlizzCon.

This year, brands have not only leveled up their experience game with outstandingly creative, high-quality activations, but they have upped their swag game as well. From customizable posters, to the use of tech to augment the experience, to exclusive merchandise and collectible badges — brands at BlizzCon sure know how to keep the fans coming back for more.

#3. Multi-generational play

Video games have reached a point in culture where gamers who grew up with earlier Blizzard titles are now parents themselves and continue to enjoy their love for these games, but now with their kids.

It is fascinating to see families standing in line to play latest games and trading strategies during the Overwatch World Cup eSports tournament. Sharing this weekend experience together cultivates a new generational type of family bonding, allowing potential opportunities for brands in the near future to capitalize on this.

“There is the story. And there is how you tell the story.”

I thought this quote from The Writers Room: Building the Worlds of Blizzard was poignant to the great stories and immersive worlds that Blizzard has built. There are the stories and lore created by the games themselves. But the how in how you tell the story is the tangible opportunity that brands can harness to engage the community in multi-faceted ways to stand out, year after year at this event.

What is old is new again

The rise of retro is everywhere at the moment, even in the world of video games.

In the past couple of years, we have seen the return of classic consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and PlayStation Classic, and even updated game titles like the soon-to-be-released Final Fantasy 7.

BlizzCon had the Blizzard Arcade to celebrate the beginning of what made the brand great. It had an old-school arcade vibe where you could gather with your friends and experience some of the earliest things Blizzard has ever made.

It might just be a fad, but it will be interesting to see how brands can leverage this trend while not appearing to be outdated.

Video games have done a great job of balancing nostalgia with the new. And for brands to successfully follow suite, they must be able to get the balance right as well.

Havas Sports & Entertainment USA

Written by

In the USA, HSE is a group of passion experts who create meaningful relationships between people and brands.

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