Today, young audiences call the shots when it comes to entertainment choices, with 60% of household streaming decisions heavily influenced by children. The emergence of new streaming platforms, the transition to hybrid and direct-to-streaming releases, and a seemingly endless variety of titles have fostered an increasingly competitive landscape. It is imperative for both traditional and streaming entertainment studios to win with kids (under 13) and Young Teens (under 16) to remain in the household and fill the theater.
But engaging these audiences can be challenging. This generation expects to interact with content seamlessly across digital and gaming environments. Additionally, the youth digital landscape is complex and fast-moving, requiring those who want to join in to navigate digital privacy laws and keep kid-safety best practices top of mind.
SuperAwesome Gaming is our in-house team focused on helping brands build gaming strategies to engage with younger audiences. DreamWorks Animation recently partnered with SuperAwesome Gaming to promote the release of its movie, Spirit Untamed, building an innovative studio integration into an established Roblox game. Read more to learn why a gaming strategy is essential for entertainment studios, how we brought Spirit Untamed into the gaming ecosystem, and key learnings for entertainment brands to create immersive in-game experiences.
Why do entertainment studios need a gaming strategy for younger audiences?
Kids and Young Teens are spending more time online than ever before, with much of this time being spent in gaming environments. In 2020, players spent 30.6 billion hours in Roblox: over half of all kids in the United States have an account.
As a result of this, youth content consumption preferences are evolving. While watching content passively was status quo in the prime of linear television, today’s fragmented media landscape demands both passive and active ways for kids and Young Teens to engage with their favorite content and characters. This seismic shift in youth content consumption preferences has fostered a new generation of fandom. Instead of passively waiting to experience their favorite content, young fans can now actively seek out ways to interact with and immerse themselves in 360-degree fan experiences. Entertainment brands that tap into these fandoms and passion points are those that will delight younger generations.
How SuperAwesome Gaming brought Spirit Untamed into the youth gaming ecosystem
DreamWorks Animation leveraged SuperAwesome Gaming’s expertise in creating safe and engaging digital experiences for young audiences and its global creator network to build an exciting studio integration into the Roblox game Horse Valley. Horse Valley is a hit franchise on Roblox, with over 2 million monthly players. DreamWorks Animation worked with SuperAwesome to integrate Spirit, in addition to other key movie characters and elements from the Spirit Untamed storyline, into the popular game.
Kids love in-game experiences, but they also actively seek content tied to their favorite games and influencers. SuperAwesome used its technology platform and its SuperAwesome Creators offering to develop an exciting and kid-safe creator-led distribution strategy for DreamWorks Animation, led by top YouTube influencer ItsFunneh. To complement the influencer activity, DreamWorks used SuperAwesome’s KidSafe Social Video solution to safely amplify the campaign on YouTube. This empowered fans to engage with their favorite influencers and create and share their very own Spirit-themed videos, bringing awareness to the Spirit franchise globally.
Navigating the youth gaming ecosystem: 3 key learnings for entertainment studios
“When it comes to kids and Young Teens, the world of gaming can be even trickier to navigate than the general market landscape,” shares Nick Walters, Managing Director of SuperAwesome Gaming. Nick shares his top tips for entertainment studios looking to create safety led and immersive experiences for kids in gaming environments:
- Lean on existing fanbases: Integrating Spirit Untamed into the popular Horse Valley franchise allowed DreamWorks to connect with the right under-16 audiences — those who were most inclined to be passionate about horses and fans of Spirit — in an exciting and interactive way.
- Think beyond the game itself: Beyond gameplay, games must serve as an engine for community, engagement, and content production. A thoughtful youth influencer strategy will allow young audiences to connect with your brand in multiple ways, both actively and passively, while raising awareness of your brand.
- Leverage a non-toxic technology partner: Our research shows that while kids crave the recognition, excitement, and social experience that gaming can bring them, they want to enjoy these experiences in safe and respectful environments. Youth gaming strategies need to balance high-quality gaming experiences with safe play and non-toxic community. DreamWorks Animation relied on SuperAwesome Gaming’s expertise in creating engaging and kid-safe experiences to protect its young audiences.
Get started with your youth gaming strategy
For kids and Young Teens, the gaming ecosystem has become so much more than a place to play games. As the majority of under-16 audiences today either identify themselves as gamers or engage with gaming-related content online, brands must develop a safe, long-term digital strategy to reach them in these environments.
In our free webinar, hear more from Nick about what’s trending in the gaming ecosystem, current guidelines and best practices to be aware of, and cutting-edge gaming practices to apply to your youth digital marketing strategy.