How Twitter is changing gaming as we know it
The past, present and future of where social media and gaming collide.
In the first six months of 2022, there were 1.5 billion - that is Billion, with a B - tweets sent, exclusively around the topic of gaming.
During the two years of pandemics and lockdowns, gamers and non-gamers alike turned to their PlayStations, Xboxes, Switches, PCs and everything in between in search of entertainment and stimulation in a world that had essentially taken it away from us.
On the far side of that tumultuous time, practically everyone who started or reignited their love affair with gaming has held on to it, thanks to releases like Elden Ring and Horizon: Forbidden West, and excitement for upcoming launches like God Of War: Ragnarok and Hogwarts Legacy.
With this huge surge in social popularity in gaming, JOE sat down for an exclusive interview with Reece Brown, Head of Gaming for EMEA at Twitter, to discuss the past, present and future of Twitter and its impact on gaming.
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First up, we asked about those 1.5 billion tweets, and the recent massive uptick in the online interactions around gaming.
Reece Brown told us:
"So, from a Twitter perspective, we absolutely saw an increase in tweet volume, from 2019 to 2020, I think it was upwards of a 70% increase in people talking about gaming. Twitter really is showcasing what's happening in the world, and whether you look at football, as an example, whatever it is, a big moment or a big game on, people go and talk about it, and you see the exact same thing within the gaming space. So, the fact that more people were gaming naturally meant that more people were talking about gaming.
"For us, we absolutely see Twitter being the home of that gaming conversation. Now, jump into 2022 and in the first half of the year, we saw over 1.5 billion gaming tweets, which was a record for us. That was the most tweets in the first of the year we'd ever seen.
"When we look at the first half of the year, you look at some of the big releases, like Elden Ring. Again, whenever there's a new game release people come to the platform to have those conversations, whether it's in the lead-up to it with the excitement when they see in the trailers dropped, or whether it's the weekend or the week of launch, where they want to get tips and tricks, and they just want to feel that community.
"That's typically the reason we see a lot of people come to come to come to Twitter to talk gaming."
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Why has Twitter become the hub for gaming conversations? YouTube and Twitch are where people come to watch games, but Twitter is where people come to talk games. Why might that be?
"First and foremost, when we're thinking about Twitter's role within the gaming ecosystem, we feel very, very comfortable and also empowered by the fact that Twitter is the home of that gaming conversation. So, to some of the points that I raised earlier, whenever they're in these cultural moments happening in the gaming place, and that could be a release, like with an Elden Ring, or it could be somebody's big conferences.
"Gamescom was last week and I was just pulling the numbers now, but you see the increasing conversation around launches and trailers, or people on the ground, just having these experiences and being in communities in real life. So, wherever gaming conversations are happening, they're fundamentally living on Twitter. I think that would be one of the biggest things for us in thinking about how we understand our role as at home of that gaming.
"Secondly, I think we were very much leaning into the fact that there is a unique opportunity because of that conversational element for us to really provide the best second-screen experience possible. When we talk about second screen, that could be someone consuming a League of Legends tournament on their big screen in their living room. But then being on Twitter to talk about it in a very similar way, you might watch the Champions League on your big TV, or on your laptop, but you're also on Twitter, engaging in conversation about what you're seeing.
"So, we very much leaned into that. On top of the conversation side of things, we very much leaned into providing added value for content that adds to the audience experience. Again, thinking about it, from an eSports side, things happen with a number of eSports teams and leagues to provide content and short-form content in real-time as those moments are happening. Therefore, that content is actually added value to the conversation that you're having.
"And that's the third thing that I would touch on; the fact that we have brilliant relationships in place, with brilliant partners who allow us to add that value to the conversation, through bringing innovative experiences, to Twitter, to help drive that conversation.
"And that could be audio products, like Twitter Spaces. Geoff Keighley is a brilliant example of this, when he does things like The Game Awards, straight after he'll be on Twitter, engaging with his community, giving a place for the people to come together and just really share some of their excitement around what they've seen or what they're playing or what they're doing. And I think audio space is exciting opportunity to do that."
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And, finally, what about the future? Can we potentially use Twitter as a tool to see what the next big trends in gaming are going to be?
Reece told us the following:
"Yeah, it's a good question and I think there are some kind of layers to the answer in that. I believe because a lot of the ways that I use Twitter is as that yardstick for what people are talking about and what's trending and what's bubbling. So, for example, we're seeing a lot of conversation around mobile games and we're seeing competition in mobile gaming continue to evolve.
"I think in terms of being quite specific to something like Netflix gaming, it's hard to say without looking at specific titles that they're releasing. What I would say is that there are brilliant tools on Twitter that allow you to curate the platform in a way that allows you to follow a niche community. You're able to do that on Twitter.
"Something like our communities product, it allows you to be part of a very specific community. So myself, I'm a big retro-gamer, so I'm part of retro gaming communities. If you're someone that was really into mobile gaming, you could join a mobile game community, allowing you to get closer to the direct conversation that's happening around those specific topics. And I think that's one of the things that we, as a platform, where we're very invested in allowing people to build community for the platform.
"The more you're integrated into those communities, I guess the more you'll see some of these trends start to evolve. That's probably the thing I would say that there's we are looking at ways that people can really engage with their passions which will also help them back to uncover somebody's trends as well."