Opinion: friends are influencers too, says IGN’s Dan Kilby

Last week on the way to work I overheard two guys talking and the conversation was going something like this: …and he keeps going on about how great this Horizon Zero Dawn game is, but I’m not sure whether to buy it or not.”

At which point I butted in with: You absolutely should, it’s fantastic. I’m on for the Platinum.” I had to explain what I meant by ‘Platinum’ (clearly I was bursting with nerdy energy) but otherwise they didn’t seem too phased by me railroading their conversation.

It was left that after one of them had finished Arkham Knight, he would go and get Horizon; while the other mumbled something about buying it for the weekend.

We’ve always known the importance of specialist media – just last year Ipsos Connect’s GameTrack survey showed specialists ranked more highly with users in regard to trust and influence than anything else.

But the exchange between two ordinary guys got me thinking about the everlasting importance of the Gamer Mate – the person who is actively playing, reading and watching more about games than the rest of their friends. The influential friend who shares so much knowledge, they can effectively decide what an entire friendship group ends up playing. Talking to the broadest possible audience is obviously tempting for any developer or publisher; but do not underestimate the influence of the Gamer Mate.

"In the past month, 63% of ‘gamers’ have been asked for a recommendation on a video game."

The hypothesis has always been that they influence their peers in pub / water cooler / WhatsApp conversations and we’re seeing that to be true.

In the past month, 63 per cent of ‘gamers’ have been asked for a recommendation on a video game; if you isolate IGN users that number goes up to 81 per cent (data from a 2016 study between IGN and Ipsos). Comparatively, the figure for ‘non-gamers’ is 15 per cent, so the importance of talking to the right people is clear.

We’ve all experienced moments when we’ve either been influenced or have influenced those around us, and that sphere is constantly growing. IGN’s Facebook comments are often filled with people tagging friends with a line something like this is that game I was telling you about.”

With the stakes and expectations rising for any given game launch, it’s absolutely crucial to work with people who understand games and the people who play them so that your marketing, PR, and community efforts don’t
go to waste.

If you can get them on board – and keep them onside – the Gamer Mate can be a most powerful ally.

Dan Kilby oversees the team responsible for Ziff Davis International’s integrated marketing and custom content output. In his spare time he tries to play all the games.

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