Generation Media: Why cinema is ‘vital’ for games marketing

Generation Media: Why cinema is ‘vital’ for games marketing

As the dust settles on another explosive E3 show, the latest titles appear to be capturing the hearts and minds of generations X, Y and Z more than ever. 

The way in which gaming advertisers are now reaching these adapting audiences is substantially evolving, especially in video. However, as the influence of TV continues to decline, with online taking the majority share, cinema can remain a pivotal part of communication strategies. Let’s delve deeper into the gaming consumer and their association with cinema before assessing how advertisers are using the medium to talk to and engage with this audience.

In order to not only reach but engage with these consumers, it is important to understand their media consumption habits. ’Console kings’ are that demographic of gamers that play mostly blockbuster games on home consoles and are more likely to have a variety of interests outside of gaming (source: TGI 2017 Q1). 

Among the variety of media content that they consume, cinema plays an avid role. As much as 92 per cent of this audience are cinemagoers, with 43 per cent of those being heavy cinemagoers. Furthermore, 82 per cent of heavy cinemagoers are more likely to be ‘absolute gamers’ who live and breathe gaming in attitudes and behaviour. Of the films they see, action/adventure and science fiction are the genres that over index with this audience. To ensure that advertisers are promoting their products and services to the console kings in expansive, engaging ways, cinema needs to have a share of the AV marketing mix.

This is reflected among many audiences with the cinema industry experiencing a boom in recent years, driven by a continually strong film slate including live action reboots, a constant slew of top superhero content and new Star Wars releases.

With the increase in spend in cinema, there is an even greater pressure to provide innovative creative solutions to engage with a captive audience.


Admissions for 2017 are predicted to reach 171 million, with admissions over the past five years remaining at a consistent level, averaging 166 million per year in the UK. With an audience that has fluctuated less than the likes of TV and print media, cinema sales house Digital Cinema Media (DCM), which commands an 82 per cent share of the market, has seen an increase in investment from advertisers. 

With a roster that includes Star Wars: Episode 8, Dunkirk, Thor Ragnarok and Blade Runner 2049 to name a few, 2017 is predicted to generate more than £91 million in gross revenue, a 47 per cent growth compared with 2013. Gaming has seen one of the largest areas of growth, with advertisers spending 51 per cent more in 2016 versus 2014.

With the increase in spend in cinema, there is an even greater pressure to provide innovative creative solutions to engage with a captive audience. It’s not to say gaming advertisers are not investing in traditional spot advertising, but brands have begun to strive for innovation in the medium to provide standout. Much like frequently used ad break takeovers on TV, PlayStation deployed a takeover of the ad-reel before the trailers around the release of Horizon Zero Dawn (pictured), which featured a two-minute creative alongside a host of impending Sony titles, such as Farpoint VR and Wipeout Omega. The campaign provided PlayStation with the perfect opportunity to air an engaging gameplay vignette for its key focus title but also demonstrate its wide roster of upcoming games. Elsewhere, Xbox invested in 4DX technology for Forza Horizon 3. There are now ten 4DX cinemas in the UK, which utilise both 3D technology and motion/sensory influences to bring films to life. 

The Forza creative put fans in the driving seat so they could experience the full force of the title, blurring the boundaries between gaming and linear entertainment. Both demonstrate the creative possibilities of cinema, while foyer takeovers and sampling are just a few more of a range of ways to engage the gaming audience in the unique space of cinema.

As the technological gaming landscape changes, so does the way in which gaming advertisers need to communicate with their audience. It’s clear that faith in the medium has increased in the past five years, with the gaming industry utilising cinema to form a vital part of the marketing mix.

If the budget allows, cinema is an excellent addition to complement the rest of a campaign. 


For more information about how to create a dynamic cinema advertising campaign with DCM for your latest title, get in touch with joseph.phelan@generationmedia.co.uk

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