How game companies can take advantage of a booming holiday season — and beyond

This article is part of a Gaming Insights series paid for by Facebook.


The pandemic triggered a boom for games and players, a bright spot in a darker world. In their home, avid gamers could play more and discover more titles. New players came into the fold and played casual and mobile games and first-person shooters alike; all players were able to connect with each other. And in general, the market rose to unprecedented heights.

But as the world returns to something closer to the old normal in many parts of the world, the forecast changes. The total gaming market is expected to hit $ 175.8 billion in 2021, which is actually down, for the first time in a few years[1], up 1.1% from $ 177.8 billion. in 2020.

“The global pandemic resulted in more people playing than ever before, but one thing to be aware of when we anticipate we will see a shift in consumer behavior as we get a little less time for leisure and games,” says Brian Colbert , director of gaming sales for America, on Facebook. “It’s going to be an effect we all have to navigate around in the coming months.”

The biggest single development this year, however, has been Apple’s new demands on mobile advertising and the step towards transparency in ad tracking (ATT). Since April, the changes in iOS14.5 have affected gaming companies advertising their mobile apps, as well as those who make money using ads in the app. The gaming industry has historically been dependent on IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) for many years, providing opportunities to monitor and track consumer behavior – and companies are finding ways to adapt and evolve into the new advertising landscape.

“Consumers have rightly pushed back and said we deserve to have our privacy around what we review and consume protected,” Colbert says. “Advertisers and ad platforms need to evolve as we all work together to create business value with customized ads centered on confidentiality.”

Changes in the advertising ecosystem affect companies’ ability to reach people with relevant, timely ads. These changes are particularly disruptive to gaming companies that rely on third-party data used to reach people and optimize campaigns. The cost of achieving business results may have increased – but brighter times await.

Holiday boom in the 4th quarter of 2021

The holiday season is historically a key period for game sales, with mobile downloads and app revenue from games peaking at this time of year. This holiday sales season will be more important than ever, especially for gaming companies looking to close the gap. A number of macro trends point to the strong likelihood that this season will be big, says Colbert.

As we enter the end of this year’s holiday sales period, consumers are ready to spend. In fact, the NPD Group reports that 29% of consumers[2] plan to spend more on holiday shopping than they did last year. Consumer sentiment is at a historic level, economic optimism is up – and with consumers’ intentions for recovery, people are clearly ready to treat themselves and others.

The greatest blessing of all: the pie is bigger, with close to 3 billion people playing somehow, shape or form. Growth may slow overall, but there was still an impressive 5.4% increase from 2020 to 2021, and the market will still reach $ 218.7 billion by 2024[3] without sweating. Mobile gaming alone should bring in about $ 120 billion in 2021, or a 20% increase over the year average.

This will also be the first full year for the new consoles, with an audience of consumers eager to buy – or get one gifted – this holiday season. And everywhere, for both console and mobile games, there will be more titles available than there were after last year’s somewhat thin offer due to COVID-related delays for some game launches.

Now is the time for businesses to take advantage of the fourth quarter holiday marketing window to take advantage of this convergence of forces.

Take advantage of the 2021 holiday season

There are a number of ways in which gaming companies can ensure that they stay on top of holiday shopping trends this year, in addition to relying on the traditional bump in sales.

Auction prices are falling

In the years before, before COVID, consumers could get goods shipped at the last minute, just before the holidays. This year, given ongoing supply chain problems, Colbert predicts that some major retailers will move the window up a bit. As retailers close their marketing for the year in the earlier period in mid-December, it opens up less competition in any auction-based platform for gaming advertisers.

“We believe there will be opportunities for gaming companies to take advantage of this expanded marketing window by taking advantage of better auction prices,” says Colbert. “What hurts retailers can actually help gaming companies attract some consumers.”

Extended targeting

But this year, it’s also important that gaming companies not just rely on the tried and tested methods of attracting or targeting their hardcore users.

“As the audience for players has increased, developers can take advantage of this opportunity by expanding their audience – finding the newer or more relaxed players and converting them into loyal customers,” he says.

Global thinking

It’s also time to start looking at the entire holiday calendar. All over the world, there are a number of important holidays from early November to New Year[4]. Even in places where Christmas is celebrated, the window for gift transfer can vary considerably. Consider that timing your advertising buys carefully for the calendar.

Navigation of the new normal

The holiday season will be a huge boon for gaming companies, but in this new world where audiences are bigger and advertising is harder and more expensive, it’s time to start thinking about the long term.

Embrace AI-powered auctions

With Apple’s enforcement of ATT, advertisers needed a way to continue hitting KPIs (or business goals) with limited campaigns and optimization handles. Facebook’s Automated App Ads product allows advertisers to rely on machine learning to still find high-quality users despite these challenges.

“There’s a tendency for gaming companies to try to pull handles and knobs and manipulate their targeting on their own,” says Colbert. “The automated App Ads product uses a proprietary algorithm to find the best and most valuable users across our various platforms and do so in an automated way. ”

Develop user acquisition

User acquisition is crucial, but it can not be end-everything, be-everything. It is only part of a much larger equation for successful growth.

“The biggest advice I can offer is to take a full funnel approach,” Colbert says. “It’s something we’re trying to hammer home. Brand plus performance is where you need to go. ”

Although ATT has influenced user acquisition, it’s not the only reason to expand your strategy – it’s just the right marketing mix, he adds.

Reconsider the relationship

The question must go beyond how do we find customers, and become, how do we retain them?

“User acquisition has been the barometer of success in the gaming world, but I want to challenge both ourselves and our gaming partners to think about the customer relationship,” says Colbert. “It’s not just how you get that customer, but how you retain them, how you communicate with them, how you interact with them and delight them in the long run.”

Visit here for more insight into the best times to advertise your games on Facebook during the holiday season.

[1] Newzoo 2021, “Global Games Market Report”, July 2021; 2020 recorded significant growth associated with high growth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

[2] NPD, “29% of consumers plan to spend more on holiday shopping than they did last year, reports NPD,” September 2021; Source: NPD study.

[3] App Annie, “State of Mobile Gaming 2021”, 2021. Source: App Annie Intelligence; Downloads and consumer spending are combined across iOS, Google Play, third-party Android in China; Consumption is gross – including any percentage that the app stores charge

[4] Kathy Quinn, “Gift Transfer Around the World”, MTM LinguaSoft, opened October 7, 2021/


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