Licensing Opens up a Platform for Video Games to Reach Large and Engaged Audiences

Panelists from SEGA, Tetris, Paramount and CD Projekt Red delivered the opening keynote on Day One of Licensing Expo 2024.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

May 21, 2024

3 Min Read
“Video Games: Driving Billions to Play” keynote at Licensing Expo
“Video Games: Driving Billions to Play” keynote at Licensing Expo. (l-r) Ben Roberts, Ivo Gerscovich, Nick McWhorter, Doug Rosen and Maya RogersLicense Global

Video games and their global popularity were the subject of the opening keynote on day one of Licensing Expo 2024, taking place May 21-23 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Tapping into the event’s theme “Brands at Play,” the session, “Video Games: Driving Billions to Play,” brought together leading executives from four global gaming brands, moderated by Ben Roberts, content director, License Global.   

Panelists Nick McWhorter, director, global licensing, CD Projekt Red, Doug Rosen, senior vice president, games and emerging media, Paramount, Maya Rogers, chief executive officer, Tetris and Ivo Gerscovich, chief business and brand officer, SEGA of America explored the “why” behind gaming’s massive growth in popularity, what gamers look for in a brand and how the next franchise model will lead with video games, either from brand-new IP or the revival of heritage titles.  

It's estimated that 48% of the global population consider themselves either casual or active gamers. With mobile gaming capturing more players than ever before, the video game segment is building a community of billions.

The panel highlighted how this number shows the potential video games have to reach a large and engaged audience for brands. Maya Rogers emphasized the importance of creating seamless experiences across different platforms, while Doug Rosen highlighted the industry’s growth potential.

Speakers also discussed the complementary nature of gaming to TV and film and the need to engage with millions of people in a genuine way. “Coming out of COVID, you saw sort of this upswing of people playing games,” said Rosen. “It’s stabilized a little bit, but the growth trajectory is phenomenal. From the studio side, gaming is a complement to TV and film. It’s a great way to take an IP or brand and extend it out to a place where you can bring people in, in a way that they can engage.”

“In the beginning we were trying to stay away from the retro, being a classic game, but now we’re embracing it,” added Rogers. “For example, last year we had the ‘Tetris’ movie that came out on Apple TV which transcended the brand to a different medium. Video games on the big screen and TV is becoming more mainstream.”

McWhorter highlighted how this can open games up to non-gamers, who become consumers of the IP through their related consumer product programs.

Rogers also highlighted collaborations with non-profits, one of which is taking place on the show floor at Licensing Expo this week. “Tetris has teamed up with American Red Cross to increase awareness and taking blood donations on the show floor. We’re giving away limited-edition Tetris T-shirts to anyone who donates blood during the week.”

Nostalgia is a core theme across all of licensing, and gaming is no different. “‘New-stalgia’ is what we call it,” says Rogers. “People are rediscovering games that maybe they didn’t play before, because they were younger and maybe weren’t around when the Gameboy came out. But now they’re discovering new games, retro games as a new way to play.”

The speakers agreed that video games offer brands a unique opportunity to reach a large and engaged audience and that a well-executed strategy can lead to significant growth and awareness.

The session concluded with a look to the future of gaming, emphasizing the importance of quality, authenticity and emotional connection.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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