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Innovative In-Game Marketing Techniques: Who's done it best?

why in game marketing?

One of the biggest questions brands find themselves asking is how to engage with Gen-Z authentically. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that increasingly more brands are adopting innovative in-game marketing techniques to meaningfully reach their target audiences.

Gen-Z are a notoriously tricky group to reach. Possessing an average attention span of 8 seconds and commonly opting to ‘cut cords’ towards streaming and social media (only 33% of Gen Z watches TV).

Alas, one emerging marketing channel has officially grabbed their attention – gaming. Moreover, it has even been noted as the most important aspect of youth culture.

This growing revelation has led to various innovations in the gaming realm from brands, musicians, filmmakers and politicians alike, who have employed a diverse range of methods to infiltrate the gaming word, with the aim to target younger audiences who are inherently more engaged while gaming because of the platforms’ command over their attention.  

Attempts to utilise the video-gaming arena have led to a fascinating array of innovative in-game marketing techniques, a handful of which we will shed light on below. 


The fusion between music and gaming is arguably the most established, due to the wealth of iconic soundtracks (Tony Hawk’s Skater Pro, FIFA and Grand Theft Auto all spring to mind) which are often equally as beloved as the game itself. For this reason, video games are often considered an essential aspect of marketing plans for musicians and managers – Fifa is viewed as one of the foremost annual showcases for international artists today and Aerosmith’s collaboration with Guitar Hero made the band more money than any of their albums

The recent evolution of this marriage between video games and music has been intriguing, as various experimental collaborations which have arisen. This has often resulted in traditional forms of music consumption being replicated – in GTA V, Frank Ocean launched his own in-game radio station to promote his album. Concerts were the next to be virtually reproduced, with Lil Nas X taking to Roblox, preceded by Travis Scott and Marshmello performing in Fortnite, each boasting tens of millions of attendees.

Marketing in Gaming: Marshmello Fortnite Event
Marshmello Fortnite Event – Credit:

The aftermath of these performances has indicated a staggering success for the artists involved. Travis Scott debuted a song in his concert which consequently topped the Billboard one hundred, on top of accumulating 1.4 million Instagram followers. Also, the playable skins of Scott and Marshmello which were released on Fortnite after each performance, essentially act as a constant stream of promotion. 

The concert wave continued just last month, when Post Malone will animated himself to celebrate Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary. Expect to be busting some virtual moves to your favourite artists on plenty of occasions in the near future.


Politicians perhaps seem the most unlikely group to dip their toes into the video gaming realm, yet their involvement dates back to 2008, when Barack Obama placed campaign banners in 18 video games, including Burnout Paradise, NBA Live 2008 and Guitar Hero 3.  

Cut to 2020 and this trend has continued into the contemporary video games sphere, where the US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez streamed herself playing Among Us to over 400,000 people, reportedly one of Twitch’s most watched streams by a single broadcaster.  

Ocasio-Cortez was not alone in her exploits, as in the build-up to last year’s presidential election Animal Crossing players could pay a visit to ‘Biden Island’ where you were greeted by a virtual Joe Biden and could pick up virtual beanies, caps, hoodies, and T-shirts with the Biden-Harris branding. Trump also attempted to connect with gamers by streaming each of his rallies on Twitch. 

Marketing in Gaming: Joe Biden Campaign in Animal Crossing
‘Biden Island’ in Animal Crossing – Credit: Nintendo

pop culture

Celebrities also took to video games to campaign: Lebron James collaborated with 2k sports to create a series informing players how to vote while the game loaded. Political activity is not limited to external participants onlyduring the height of the Black Lives Matter movement last year many players set up virtual protests on various games including The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft. It seems that gamers are not only using video games as a means of escapism, but a medium to drive change in the world at large. 

The sky seems to be the limit as far as marketing in gaming is concerned and almost every industry is clamouring for a piece of the action. Last year, Christopher Nolan arranged Fortnite screenings for 3 of his previous films to promote his latest film ‘Tenet’ and Balenciaga released their Fall 2021 fashion collection on their self-manufactured video game Afterworld.  

The world is finally acknowledging that video games have long been cemented in pop culture and as a consequence the power which the video games industry wields is now undeniable. After the breath-taking success of various hybrid gaming collaborations, expect to see many more mainstream stars and brands popping up in your consoles.