When the pandemic triggered lockdowns around the world last year, Rick Kelley, a Facebook gaming executive and Boston native who now resides with his family in Ireland, did what so many others did to create connections when IRL went on hiatus.
He played games. Words with Friends was a popular choice.
“I’m so connected to all these folks I can’t actually connect with because of the pandemic,” says Kelley, who’s been with Facebook for 12 years, currently as VP of global marketing solutions and global gaming.
“It’s that interaction and the community aspect, challenging people in my family … and, typically for me, getting my butt kicked,” Kelley jokes on AdExchanger Talks this week.
But Kelley’s experience illuminates a larger trend, which is that games are increasingly woven into daily life for a growing portion of the population – including new players who don’t consider themselves “gamers” at all.
Roughly 100 million people around the world who never played games before the pandemic started doing so during the past 15 months, according to Facebook’s research. Most of these players skew older – the fastest-growing segment is age 45 plus – and they tend to spend more money on games, because they have disposable income.
“New people have joined the world of gaming,” Kelley says, “and they are really profitable for the developer to acquire and form relationships with.”
Also in this episode: A deep dive on how Facebook supports game developers and distribution; trends in gaming ad sales; women in gaming; and Facebook’s investment into first-party signals as third-party identifiers become harder to come by.