A Good Game for Beauty Brands

Beauty companies have been among the most active of corporate marketers when it comes to entering the virtual worlds of gaming and the metaverse. Many have been creating promotions and/or offering digital palettes to be used within the games, for example. Conversely, owners of video game properties have increasingly been dipping their toes into physical beauty collections, either as part of broader digital partnerships that include the beauty brand having a presence in one of their games, or as standalone collaborations.

Some examples of recent beauty ranges inspired by video games:

  • Last month, Microsoft’s Xbox brand announced that it had partnered with OPI for a spring 2022 Xbox palette of 12 brightly colored mix-and-match nail shades with a variety of different finishes. U.S. customers making a qualifying purchase at Ulta Beauty also receive exclusive in-game content for Forza Horizon 5 and those doing so at Amazon secure the same for Halo Infinite. In another example last fall, Microsoft paired with MAC Cosmetics to create a makeup palette for Halloween looks inspired by the Xbox Game Pass titles Halo, Sea of Thieves, and Psychonauts.
  • The Tetris Company partnered with NYX Professional Makeup for a cosmetics collection, in a deal that was announced in March 2021 and debuted at Ulta on April 4 of that year. The packaging, the jumbo Tetris board of eyeshadow hues, the colors and design of the other products, and all the elements of the collection hewed closely to the blocky, retro look-and-feel of the brand. All told, the collection included five eye liners in bold colors, lip kits in two pink-neutral shades, and the 80 eyeshadow hues in the Tetris Jumbo Shadow Palette. Meanwhile, back in its 35th anniversary year of 2019, Tetris paired with Ipsy on a themed Glam Bag containing two eyeshadow palettes with six shades each—with some of the bold shades available as singles—plus three color-shifting lip balms, silver and gold lip glosses, a golden highlighter, and five makeup brushes.
  • In January 2021, Nintendo paired with Colourpop for an Animal Crossing collection of 11 pieces. They included four eyeshadow palettes, each inspired by a different character in the game; three lip sets; two powder blushes based on in-game flowers; a metallic Super Shock Shadow (the company’s signature cream powder formula); and gold glitter gel. Fans could visit the Colourpop Island in the video game to celebrate the launch, or purchase from Colourpop’s website or at Ulta stores.
  • Also in January 2021, EA partnered with MAC for a collaboration that included 12 new digital makeup looks to be used in The Sims 4, as well as a physical collection for U.S. consumers that included a palette of nine skin-color shades that were billed as being inspired by the game. The two partners had previously created a similar initiative in June 2020.
  • In March 2020, Nintendo partnered with Monosense’s Lovisia brand for a Kirby collaboration available in Japan only. The pink-centric collection—inspired by the character’s color—included three eyeshadow sets, three lipstick sets, and a mirror. The products were sold in shops across Japan, where both companies are headquartered. Lovisia is known for its products based on video game IP, including Pokémon and Detective Conan tie-ins as well as the Kirby range.

The rise of collections such as these makes sense, as beauty companies are increasingly collaborating with entertainment and character properties of all kinds to create innovative and colorful pairings for fans of dramatic beauty products and especially for aficionados of the collaborative IP. Partnering with a video game gives the beauty marketer the additional benefit of in-game promotional possibilities, as well as access to fun creative elements to help inspire products that stand out from the crowd.

Being innovative is certainly key to success in this sector, something MAC and EA found out with the Sims 4 partnership mentioned above. It immediately generated a backlash, with fans of both the game and the brand pointing out that the products had virtually no creative connection to the game’s colors, look-and-feel, or branding, and noting that the collection was almost identical, except for a simple new box design, to one that was released in 2017.

The other pairings mentioned have received mostly rave reviews from lifestyle publications, beauty influencers, and gamers, all of whom cited the collections’ creativity, wearability, and fit with the properties on which they were based.

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