The UAE is ranked fifth globally for gaming influencers, with 13 per cent of those polled banking on these social media personalities, a study by London-based data analytics firm YouGov revealed.
Out of that percentage, 34 per cent are aged between 25 and 34 years, indicating that influencers appeal strongly to Generation Z (those in the 10 to 25 age bracket) as of 2022 and, more significantly, millennials, who are aged 26 to 41.
China and Indonesia were tied atop the rankings, with 20 per cent of their gamers following influencers, with India (17 per cent) next and then Hong Kong (14 per cent), implying the stronghold they have in Asian markets.
"Gaming influencers attract a very loyal and distinctive fan base. This high level of appeal is significant: the stronger the connection between influencer and audience, the more likely fans are to develop a favourable opinion of the influencer and the content they create," YouGov said in its report.
"This becomes an important building block for developing the trust that brand partnerships are often centred around."
Gaming influencers have created a massive community around themselves with a common interest in video gaming. Their global reach is increasing exponentially, providing lucrative partnership opportunities for brands to reach new audiences and connect with current ones differently.
The market for influencers is projected to reach $373.5 million by 2028, from $179.1m in 2021, according to Statista data. Influencer marketing platforms are mainly used in search and discovery of clients, campaign management, influencer relationship management, analytics and reporting, it added.
The global gaming market, meanwhile, has more than three billion players, according to Newzoo data, with the industry set to grow at a compound annual rate of 8.7 per cent from 2019 to 2024. Its value is expected to hit $218.8 billion in 2024, a 21 per cent rise over 2021, it added.
UAE gamers are more inclined to use mobile devices, with 76 per cent using smartphones or tablets, the YouGov report revealed. Around 55 per cent said they also play on desktops or laptops, while 43 per cent use gaming consoles.
Mobile games have become the biggest and most accessible form of entertainment and relaxation for billions of people worldwide, with about 62 per cent of those in the UAE saying they play because it relaxes them and helps to relieve stress, a recent AdColony report said.
Gamers who follow influencers are mostly moderate, or those who spend three to 10 hours a week playing, YouGov said. Light gamers – who spend less than two hours – comprise 34 per cent, while heavy gamers, who spend beyond 11 hours, rest at 17 per cent.
Seven out of nine gaming influencer fans, or 77 per cent, follow influencers on YouTube, comfortably ahead of Instagram with three in five followers (60 per cent) and Facebook (51 per cent), highlighting the importance of smartphone-centric platforms when it comes to keeping abreast with influencers.
"Brands of all shapes and sizes are increasing their attention and spend on influencers to promote their products and marketing messages through social channels, including YouTube, Instagram and Twitch," YouGov said.
However, gaming influencers are followed by just one in 11 consumers globally, or about 9 per cent, making it only the 11th most popular category of influencers followed, a list led by food (16 per cent), health (12 per cent) and celebrity (12 per cent).
Men account for a bulk of gaming influencer followers, at 76 per cent, whereas just one in five women, for whom gaming is the least popular category when it comes to social followings, follow gaming influencers, YouGov said.