Gaming and eSports influencers on YouTube have grown in popularity over this past pandemic-driven year. Using social media analytics, let’s explore 25 leading gamers and why brands love them! (Hint: it’s because consumers do.)
And if you’re not convinced of the power this segment has, here are some supporting statistics on the rise of gaming and its influence:
- Women over the age of 18 make up 48% of the gaming population.
- In 2020, there were over 2 billion gaming related tweets
- Esports streaming numbers for 2020, rose 69%.
Let’s dive right in to our five gaming influencers to watch, and then we’ll explore the many facets what draws consumers to them!
Gamers Grabbing Attention
Felix Arvid Ulf Kejllberg aka PewDiePie – Felix currently holds the number two most subscribed YouTube channel and specializes in playing Esports games. He’s also built The Minecraft Series, which includes individual characters created by him (such as, Jorgen and Sven, etc.). And Felix has the heart of the good samaritan.
He began a “Water Campaign” for charity, where he raised $446,462. A testament to his influence, gaming company Super Evil Megacorp recently partnered with him. His success with his followers can be credited to allowing them access to his personality, as authenticity is something consumers crave.
Evan Fong aka Vanoss Gaming – Evan rarely shows his face on camera, which adds to his mystique. He holds the 13th most subscribed and 32nd most viewed channel. His videos consist of he and his friends, other notable players such as H20 Delirious, playing and reacting to eSports games. He’s dedicated an entire series to Black Ops II. It’s his diligence and continuity, two critical ingredients for any brand, that keep consumers coming back.
Richard Tyler Blevins aka Ninja – This American Youtuber created his has gained a large number of followers and created a career for himself through streaming and professional gaming. After graduating high school, Richard went on to play professional gaming tournaments, first competition featuring the eSport, Halo 3. He experienced an upswing in popularity once he started streaming the Fortnite Battle Royale esports event. He currently has the most subscribed channel in the Fortnite community on YouTube. Red Bull saw a star and partnered with Ninja to host a Fortnite Tournament that gifts the winner $5,000.
Olajide Olayinka Williams aka as KSI – Olajide Olayinka Williams “JJ” Olatunji is better known as KSI, which stands for knowledge, strength, and integrity. He incorporates vlogging and comedic sketches. His on-going beef with influencer Logan Paul led to a boxing match, which led to his boxing career and resulted in many views and new subscribers. Olajide is a prime example of just how far being an influencer can take you. And his commitment to his platform resulted in having the second greatest number of subscribers on YouTube in the United Kingdom, and he has the most subscribers as a person of color.
Alia Marie “Lia” Shelesh aka SSSniperWolf She is a British-American Youtuber considered to be one of the biggest female gamers in history. Her career began in 2013, when she began uploading content centered around Call of Duty Black Ops II, Fortnite Battle Royale, and Minecraft. She’s tenacious and has received a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Gamer in 2019. And she has a second YouTube under the name Little Lia where she talks crafts, art, beauty and more. Alia shines in the male-dominated field.
Why Brands Love Gaming Influencers
So, why do brands love these influencers so much? Understanding this requires understanding what the gaming conversation is. We’ll uncover this using social media analytics to discover emerging trends in the gaming world along the way.
Our map (below) illustrates conversation about the world of gaming. Everything’s covered from Gaming Setup to eSports, though Girl Gamers takes the lead. Searching the blogs, posts and articles contained within the latter, leads us to this statistic around gaming: Women over the age of 18 make up 48% of the gaming population. This could be credited to the fact that 30% of the audiences are, in fact, female.
This revelation doesn’t fit the ‘nerdy teenage boy’ stereotype and is a vital piece of market intelligence for any brand looking to message out in this space. Here are some other female gamers to note:
- Jessica Fangs, aka Fangs – She’s the “Queen of FIFA”, or soccer. She has 1.4 million fans following her gaming videos. More than that, she connects on a deeper level, sharing Q&As and IRL (“In Real Life”) content.
- Elizabeth “Lizzie” aka LDShadowLady – She is well known for her upbeat Minecraft series entitled Shadowcraft. With 5.47 million subscribers, she’s also plays Gary’s Mod, Portal, and Sims 4, as well as horror games like Outlast, Slender, and Jeff the Killer.
- Candace, aka CookieSwirlC – Her channel has 14.5 million subscribers. Aside from gaming, her channel features positive, family-friendly videos inspired by iconic toys and cartoons. Mattel recently came out with an official CookieSwirlC Barbie.
More to Gamers Than Surface Personas
Social media analytics can uncover previously unexplored or overlooked factors about your audience. For example, gamer Tiffany Michelle Herrera aka iHasCupquake – who is known for her Five Nights at Freddy’s walk throughs among others – also offers DIY projects, cooking tutorials, and non-gaming vlog content. Her 6.9 million followers aren’t just gaming fans, but lifestyle audiences.
YouTube is one of the most popular video platforms out there with around 5 billion videos watched per day. That’s a lot of potential exposure for brands. And understanding who makes up your audience is a critical first step in any campaign.
Analyzing demographics allows us dig up details on anything from gender to ethnicity. In this case, we’ve chosen age. The two largest age groups within gaming are 25-34 and 18-24, a good mix of millennials and Gen Z:
Selecting the Right Influencer for Your Audience
Now that we know a little bit more about our gaming enthusiasts, selecting the right influencer to reach them is critical as well. These next gamers are a mix of people who’ve partnered with brands and some who would be great candidates for companies looking to reach this influential age group!
- Luis Fernando Flores Alvardo aka FErnanfloois founder of one of the best gaming YouTube channels with 40.1 million subscribers. TGN Gaming partnered with him in creating his app ‘Fernanfloo’ which was downloaded 2.3 million times within the first week of release.
- The Family Gaming Team aka FGTeeV is an entire family, including Mom, Dad and their three sons and daughter. BarbarQ a multiplayer mobile game chose this family to market their game by doing a play through, demonstrating how the game works throughout the video. It had 1.3 million views.
- Guillermo Diaz Ibanez aka WillyRex has a channel with 16.5 million subscribers and is dedicated to Fortnite gameplay videos. He also plays Kamraum, for Microsoft, which has been download over two million times.
- Sameul De Luque aka VAGETA777 has a 32 million subscriber base and is famous for his gameplays of Minecraft, Battlefield & Saint’s Row. Considered to be one the best gaming YouTube channels, he includes a movie-like scenario to his gaming videos.
- Ajey Nagar aka CarryMinati plays Counter Strike while mimicking famous actors, bringing his 28 million subscribers something to smile about. His second channel Carryislive focuses on livestreaming of PUBG and has 8 million+ followers.
- Mark Fischbach aka Markiplier – not only drives game downloads by posting the video for his 28 million plus subscribers, Fishbach showcases Social Point Games for its philanthropical efforts. And Markiplier may have hit the jackpot combination, as 87% of customers are willing to switch from one brand to another based solely on interrelatedness with charities.
Which begs the question, what else do these young gamer consumers care about?
Gaming Consumers Care About Giving Back
Our timeline (below) demonstrates which segments of conversation have continuity, and which ones are dying out. This is a great way to spot emerging trends.
For example, Girl Gamers has been constant, and in the last week or so, Best Gaming Consoles is experiencing a hike in interest. This would be something to monitor to see where it goes. It likely ties in with CES, but there could be more. And, using tags, another subject sprinkled throughout our categories, we again see – charity. A few instances are called out below:
With so many of gaming consumers being within the Gen Z and Millennial crowd, it’s no wonder giving back is on the radar. 84% of Millennials give to charitable organizations and Gen Z is known for supporting brands who hold the same ideals as they do. As a result, gamers are getting good at giving. Here are a few notably charitable gaming influencers:
Matthew Patrick aka The Game Theorists – With 13.6 million subscribers, this channel is popular for uncovering secrets and stories in video games that have an educational approach. And his channel raised $450K for children with cancer, partnering with Markiplier and Dawko.
- Jimmy Donaldson aka MRBEAST – When MrBeast reached 20 million subscribers on YouTube, he decided to celebrate by planting 20 million trees. It became a collaborative project with more than 600 YouTubers participating, raising over $20 million dollars for the Arbor Day Foundation. And he currently has 51 million subscribers.
- Seán McLoughlin aka Jack Septiceye has 26 million subscribers. He organized a digital fundraiser which generated more than $1.7 million for Covid-19 relief, with almost $659,000 alone coming directly from his efforts.
- Daniel Middleton aka DanTDM has 24 million subscribers. He is known for Minecraft and charity work for the ALS Foundation.
- Jordan Payton aka Legiqn has 707k subscribers. This giving guy played in a game-a-thon to raise money for the charity Gamers for Giving. He’s also known for buying toys for kids and giving them away.
- Maya Higa has 74k subscribers. For her birthday, Maya raised more than $32,000 from 700 donors for the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.
- Justin aka Jess No Limit is a Mobile Legends professional player. He has 20 million subscribers and is known for helping disabled people from Indonesia.
- Game Grumps – This group of influencers are known for their game playing and comedy. They have given to many charities over the years but most recently donated to Healing Horse Therapy Center.
Lots of Goodwill in Gaming to Go Around
In 2020 there were over 2 billion gaming related tweets posted. Wouldn’t it be great if your brand were a part of that consumer generated content (CGC)? Consumers talk and our word cloud listens. Top emotions expressed about gaming and esports show sentiments of happiness marked in green.
Exploring the word love reveals these two posts (below). One gushes about a gaming chair, while the other needs a deeper dive for context. Which our social media analytics can do! Clicking on the post, we see it’s in response to gaming safety and Xbox’s Platinum Rule, which is about treating people well.
And this raises a great point for any brand to build into messaging that targets younger consumers: Esports streaming numbers in 2020 were up 69%, and with that, there has been increased conversation around cyberbullying. This is a hot topic, with 25.9% of gamers reporting being the victim of bullying online. Xbox must have known this and applied their platinum rule, receiving praise from parents, as seen in the post above.
Brands seeking to partner with an influencer in this space need to be aware of every conversational emerging trend, and connect with an influencer who will represent your brand well. There are any number of somewhat insensitive types out there, and that may not play well with your audience, and certainly not with your brand. Due diligence is a must. And these gamers below have their personas in tip top shape!
Gamers for Good
- Simply known as RaynDay Gaming, this influencer made a video specifically aimed towards dealing with online bullying. A hero? His 344k followers think so!
- Philip Michael aka Amazing Phil. This gamer and radio host joined forces with other YouTube personalities to put out a PSA against cyberbullying. His 4 million+ followers come back for his funny videos and animal crossing playthroughs.
- League of Legends – Though this is more of a larger platform for gamers than a person, it has 13.6 million followers and is important to note here. They have taken strides to set an example for online conduct in their Summoner’s Code, which “serves a blueprint for positive behavior on and off the Fields of Justice.”
Gaming has opened the door for all sorts of partnership opportunities with influencers. As we’ve uncovered Millennials and Gen Z are leading the conversation and online gaming is rising in popularity daily. Top brands are noticing and getting involved.