By Kathy Fang, the Product Marketing Manager at Google for Games.
The ways in which players around the world discover and play games are ever-changing. With a wide variety of different discovery channels, tools to gauge interest, and current trends worth pursuing, it can be hard to know which path to take, and how to do so efficiently. Luckily, Google for Games is creating a series of four insights reports to help game developers choose the right path and make informed decisions.
The first 2022 Mobile Insights Report focuses on insights for mobile players across the game development lifecycle. The second 2022 PC & Console Insights Report features insights for PC & console players, a group that we’ve found to have differing behaviors, preferences, and motivations as it relates to games in comparison to their mobile counterparts.
Let’s dive into some critical takeaways and what you need to know from the Google for Games PC & Console Insights Report.
Optimise for your audience
Overall, we’re seeing PC & console players engaging more closely within game communities, spending more money on in-game content, and interacting more with industry trends and features than mobile players. Below is a snapshot of the relevant insights across the two reports:
- 55 per cent of PC & console players and 46 per cent of mobile players consider themselves to be a part of gaming communities
- 37 per cent of PC & console players and 29 per cent of mobile players spend money in-game to unlock new characters and customise the appearance of items or characters
- 17 per cent of PC & console players and 26 per cent of mobile players indicated that they do not interact with any current game trends (e.g., cross-platform gameplay, esports, cloud games, etc.)
- 47 per cent of PC & console players and 39 per cent of mobile players expressed their interest in participating in the Metaverse in the future
These statistics underscore the importance of game localisation when launching globally...Kathy Fang
Design for everyone
The report also surfaces localisation and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as two essential pillars from which to build upon when designing games. 63 per cent of global PC & console players believe that it’s very or extremely important that the games they play are localised to their country or region. This figure is largely driven by Brazil and APAC, with 81 per cent and 70 per cent of respondents sharing that same sentiment respectively.
These statistics underscore the importance of game localisation when launching globally. In this day and age, it’s not enough to merely translate strings of text and assume that the content will resonate worldwide. Developers need to ask themselves whether their game truly represents the people and cultures in these markets and whether global audiences can relate to the personas represented in their games.
When PC & console players were asked which features they were interested in engaging with in new games, the most common answer was “more diverse characters/character creation options”. Similarly, almost three-fourths of global respondents indicated that it’s very or extremely important that the games they play feature diverse characters and diverse stories.
Overall, there is a global positivity and eagerness among PC & console players towards diversity, equity, and inclusion within games, especially as it relates to playable characters, character creation options, and storylines.
Meet players where they are
Pre-ordering games continues to be a fairly common practice among PC & console players, with only 13 per cent of global respondents indicating that they never pre-order upcoming games. The most common motivations behind pre-ordering are to ensure that they can play it as soon as possible, get exclusive in-game items, or take advantage of a discount or sale.
...a highly effective way for game developers to reach and engage new players is by advertising their game on YouTubeKathy Fang
When it comes to discovering new or upcoming games, 40 per cent of PC & console players turn to YouTube videos, 39 per cent use ads on social media, and 38 per cent rely on recommendations from friends and family. But what actually pushes them over the edge to try out these new games includes a few key factors. Over half of global respondents lean towards game genres they are familiar with and enjoy already, and over 40 per cent focus on graphics fidelity, storylines, and positive reviews from gaming sites.
Given these game discovery results, a highly effective way for game developers to reach and engage new players is by advertising their game on YouTube using launch trailers, branded content, gameplay footage, and more! YouTube Ads uses Google data to match a game developers’ message to the right people at the right moment, meaning that viewers can be turned into active and engaged players on any budget.
Foster a positive community
Although only 55 per cent of PC & console players consider themselves to be a part of groups or communities related to games, 89 per cent engage with social features to connect with other players and 90 per cent find ways to interact with players outside of the game. This places a greater responsibility on developers and platforms to encourage and enable positive interactions.
89 per cent engage with social features to connect with other players...Kathy Fang
However, this is often easier said than done. In the embedded op-ed featuring Careen Yapp, Strategic Partnerships at Stadia and Jack Buser, Director of Game Industry Solutions at Google Cloud, they note that 81 per cent of players report suffering harassment during multiplayer games. When toxic behaviour escalates or piles up over time, some players end up quitting the game altogether. As such, it’s important to remain proactive in looking for solutions and tools to mitigate this damage.
Before launching your game, look for platform tools that can help you get a sense of how players might behave. Stadia’s Channels feature, for example, allows you to grant access to specific players, enabling previews and testing that can be helpful to understanding how players interact with one another. Post-launch, encouraging players to engage with platform features like public parties make it easier to establish in-game communities around genres like speedrunning or tips & tricks, boosting their sense of belonging and achievement.
YouTube also offers moderation for live chats, where you can assign moderators, filter chatting activity to just subscribers or members, or use slow mode to limit how often a particular user can comment. In addition to the aforementioned tools, Clean Chat by Google Cloud is designed to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to maintain and scale a solution that can identify and block toxic behaviour before it becomes problematic.
...it’s worth noting that 95 per cent of adults who engage in multiplayer games report positive social experiencesKathy Fang
Taking all of this into consideration, it’s worth noting that 95 per cent of adults who engage in multiplayer games report positive social experiences overall, whether this is due to chatting with others or just being part of something larger than themselves.
“Creating a positive, vibrant community is incredibly important to a game's success,” reads the op-ed by Yapp and Buser. “It's all about knowing your audience, knowing the type of players you want to attract, and making sure you have the right systems in place to make sure they're all having a positive experience. It's a big responsibility, but the emotional connection people will develop with your game is more than worth the effort.”
Later this year and into early 2023, Google for Games will be publishing its third and fourth insights reports that will present insights for mobile players that play specific game genres.
To read the reports as soon as they’re available, be sure to keep an eye on the “Reports” tab on the Google for Games website!