Creators have become increasingly more hands-on in their work for brands, and now some, especially those in the gaming space, are looking to parlay this work into corporate jobs that allow them to have a bigger role in creating original content.
How gaming creators are moving into corporate roles and bringing brands with them
YouTuber Karl Jacobs, a member of MrBeast’s crew, and Roblox streamer and YouTuber Forrest Waldron, known as Kreekraft online, are joining Misfits Gaming Group, a global esports and entertainment company. Jacobs and Waldron will head up Pixel Playground, a new game development studio that will build original Roblox games. Earlier this month, Jacobs joined Misfits as an owner and creative director, while Waldron will be a co-founder and the creative director for Pixel Playground. The Twitch streamer, YouTuber, and TV personality who goes by AustinShow has also joined the Misfits roster as a content creator and executive producer.
While none of the creators plan to stop making content, the new positions will give them support to branch into potential new careers.
“Not every creator can go the MrBeast route of going outside their core brand making chocolate and burgers. That needs a certain scale,” said Ben Spoont, CEO of Misfits Gaming Group. “It's important for creators to find the adjacent roles and companies within their ecosystem to allow them to keep expanding.”
Also read: What Roblox’s new ad policies mean for brands
Waldron and Jacobs will work on creating Roblox content, a platform attractive to brands because of its younger user base. Companies such as Vans, Walmart, Claire’s, Forever21 and Spotify have all set up their own branded worlds on the platform. Daily active users on Roblox were up 19% year over year, reaching nearly 60 million players, according to the company's earnings report from the fourth quarter. Users also spent 18% more time on the platform year over year.
“I was originally going to college for game development,” said Waldron. “But then I became a YouTuber, so this has been a great opportunity for me to step back into that world.”
The pandemic gave Waldron a moment to pause and reassess his routine.
“I used to stream for five to six hours a day, and release a new YouTube video every day,” Waldron said. “I was very burned out, so I took a step back and started looking at my long-term strategy and a way of doing streams, but still having free time. I wanted to make higher-quality stuff more often, not just grind.”
AustinShow has heard the same from other creators. “People aren’t gunning for retirement, but they are looking to reposition their brand for more episodic content instead of streaming for hours.”
For Misfit, the hope is that the new hires will draw brands to work with the company. In turn for receiving guidance from some of the most popular creators, Misfits will promote their individual channels.
As more brands embrace gaming and streaming as a marketing channel, creators' knowledge of the space can help companies show up authentically. For streamers themselves, positions at organizations can help them parlay years of community building and management, as well as the experience of working with brands for their own channels, into future careers.
Misfits isn’t the only gaming organization tapping into streamers’ hands-on knowledge. One of the original examples is Ronnie Singh, known online as Ronnie2K, the head of lifestyle and content marketing for 2K Games. Singh started as a competitive 2K player, who got a foot in the door when he became a moderator for the community’s forums.
“My growth has worked because I was a superfan before anything,” Singh said. “That allowed the company to invest in me, because I am authentically going to do what I can for the brand.”
In February, 31-year-old streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins became the chief innovation officer at GameSquare, an international gaming and esports company. Using his 10-plus years as a livestreamer, he aims to help GameSquare pitch to brands and have a hand in strategy. He will also head Ninja Labs, an incubator aimed at connecting with youth culture.
For Blevins, the role is an opportunity to start a new phase of his career, though he said he has no plans to stop streaming in the foreseeable future.
“Streaming and gaming do have a mental wear and tear—being live, performing all the time, keeping your energy up,” Belvins said. “But I’m getting older, and I’m enjoying my free time—walking my dogs, working out. I don’t need to be in front of the screen to have an impact as Ninja.”