For decades video games were, for the most part, enclosed worlds – digital spaces that no-one could enter other than you, and your fellow players. Sports games were obvious exceptions to this, embracing real-life car brands for racing titles or sponsorship deals for football. The odd fast food brand has also popped up, and the highly anticipated Death Stranding left players bemused when it included prominent product placement from Monster Energy.
Until recent years, fashion labels maintained a wary distance from the gaming world, but the rapid expansion of esports, mobile gaming, and streaming has seen many of these brands reassess matters.
On Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, fashion label Charli Cohen partnered with Selfridges to allow fans to shop a bespoke digital collection that could be worn on avatars across over 500 platforms, including an AR body tracking lens on Snapchat. Other recent crossovers include Axel Arigato partnering with the Aglet app to sell digital sneakers through its in-game shop, Balenciaga launching its own video ‘game’, and Asos signing a three-year deal with esports business Fnatic, that will include in-game activations and digital content. And there’s barely a brand that hasn’t done something in Animal Crossing.