Expert Predicts Restaurants Will Team With Gaming Publishers Even More In 2023

The issues that have most affected restaurants' profit margins in 2022 – notably, inflation and labor shortages – will still be a factor in 2023, according to QSR Web. What is likely to change are the strategies restaurants choose to use in dealing with these issues. QSR Magazine has already predicted that digital technology will be a major focus in 2023; meaning restaurants will continue to seek innovative ways to connect their customers to menu offerings, mobile app promotions, and loyalty program rewards.

One way to accomplish this, of course, is to use tie-ins with video games. "While the biggest brands are already extending their marketing into gaming to reach the 200-plus million video and mobile game players in the U.S., restaurants of all sizes are tapping into new technologies to promote their loyalty and mobile order apps with in-game rewards, offers, and other real-world rewards to gamers," notes Dennis Becker, CEO of connected rewards technology company Mobivity, via QSR Web.

The use of video game tie-ins by restaurants is not a new idea, of course. The concept actually dates back to the 1980s. Domino's branded 1989 video game, "Avoid the Noid," was perhaps the most famous early example of a restaurant chain using a video game tie-in, recalls Brands Untapped. One difference in 2023, however, could be the predicted rise in high-profile partnerships.

Why restaurants could use more video game tie-ins in 2023

There's likely to be competition among restaurants in 2023, says QSR Magazine, to lock in the best game publisher partnerships and gaming inventory. Why do these video game tie-ins matter so much? Connected rewards are the key to the strategy. These connected partnerships benefit both companies, Dennis Becker told QSR Web. Partnering with game publishers helps restaurants attract new customers, for example, while also providing interesting new features and rewards for their existing customer base.

These same benefits are shared by game publishers. But game-based rewards also allow restaurants to effectively give their customers discounts without cutting into their own margins. So not only does this strategy promise more profits through less costs, but it also helps restaurants to expand their customer base, and boost order frequency. As PYMNTS points out, a focus on digital and mobile apps helped restaurants goose sales during the pandemic.

But there's another reason for the long history between restaurants and video games, which according to Brand Untapped has led major chains like McDonald's and Burger King to champion their use as marketing tools over the years. In many cases, fast food and fast casual restaurants share a common audience with video game publishers. In fact, a 2021 Mobile Trends in QSR report by AdColony found that 35% of mobile gamers placed fast food orders one or more times a week. Overall, 65% said they ate fast food, marking an increase from the previous year, per Marketing Dive.