It’s no secret the late night talk show circuit has changed dramatically over the past decade. For years the game was dominated by a familiar and routine formula run by giants David Letterman and Jay Leno, but the game and the audience has changed with hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brian trying out new ideas. One audience these two specifically have a way to target that Letterman and Leno never could (or would) is the gamer.

Video games have evolved to be more a part of our society as the years have gone by. People of all ages are gaming like never before, and video game companies are getting in on the late night TV circuit like never before as well. Fallon and Conan have done well in branching out and capitalizing on this once overlooked audience. For example, for a few years now, Conan has had a recurring segment called Clueless Gamer, in which our red-headed late night host gets a chance to play some of the latest video games that are far beyond his skill set. After all, he’s supposed to be clueless about what’s going on, and he most certainly is.

Recently, Conan tried his hand at the brand new Final Fantasy title with Elijah Wood. What makes the segment work is Conan’s on-the-spot humor and commentary about what he is witnessing in the game, but the real draw is getting a look at the game itself. This is why publishers have been eager to get their latest hardware and software in the hands of the late night veteran. Even if Conan rips the game, it’s all about the exposure.

For a developer, the real victory comes when they have a game Conan genuinely enjoys and can pick up and play. For some, there is no better selling point than showing you have a game anybody can pick up and play. That may not be the case with a game like Final Fantasy, but this tends to be an area where Nintendo thrives. Nintendo has been no stranger to being a part of Conan’s segments, but this week Nintendo took an opportunity on Jimmy Fallon’s show on NBC to show off the highly-anticipated mobile app, Super Mario Maker, as well as show off the upcoming Nintendo Switch and the next title in the Legend of Zelda franchise.

Conan and Fallon have developed a knack for being the go-to late night hosts to show off new and upcoming video games, and they each do so in a different fashion that works best for them. These two also know the entertainment value of the gaming industry and the benefits it brings to them for their shows and audiences. Gamers are not going to go to late night TV for the latest video game news, but the parents of gamers of all ages may be watching and getting their own look at what their kids want too.

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.