The growth of online gaming is a global phenomenon, but gaming conventions and the social side of gameplay are particular hotspots in Europe, according to the latest Adobe Digital Index report (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
Two of the biggest trends in the gaming market observed by the ADI Gaming Trends 2015 report are both around social engagement in gaming--the rise of gaming as an activity for spectators--rather than gaming itself. The first is the international growth of livestreaming, with YouTube and Twitch the channels of choice. According to Twitch figures, the number of minutes of gaming watched on the channel per month outside the US has almost doubled in just under a year, to 12bn. According to ADI spokesman Adam Lloyd, European vloggers dominate livestreaming.
“For example, there’s Tom Cassell in Manchester. He’s 22, and he streams his gameplay, usually of Minecraft, on Twitch and regularly uploads videos to his YouTube channel. He produces more than 150,000 social engagements a month, which is quite a sizable feat, if you compare it to the 200,000 mentions the English Rugby Football Union was pulling in during the Rugby World Cup,” Lloyd said.
The other trend is the growth of electronic sports (Esports). The analysis found this was particularly evident in the popularity of Multi-Player Online Battle Arena games (MOBAs).
“This is just one facet of online gaming. Put simply it’s a team sport, where five players set out to destroy the opposing team’s base, and it’s only growing in popularity,” Lloyd explained. “The usual sponsors of teams are tech and hardware companies, and they’re paying a lot less than it would cost to sponsor a soccer team.”
To show the relative popularity of MOBAs, ADI compared their social presence with that of UK football’s Premier League. The Premier League has about 32m Facebook likes and about 10m Twitter followers, compared to about 19m and about four million respectively for the four main MOBAs combined.
“The Premier League was founded in 1992, and has established a strong social following, MOBAs--which are roughly three years old on average--are quickly closing the gap,” Lloyd said.
The report also highlights the increasing importance of Europe’s conventions in the gaming world, particularly Germany’s Gamescom, which happens in August, and Paris Games Week, which takes place at the end of October. Gamescom generated almost 1m social engagements this year, compared to the 5m generated by E3 in Los Angeles, widely regarded as the world’s biggest gaming expo. But the report points out that E3 has been running since 1995, while Gamescom only began in 2009.
“Gamescom and the Paris Games Week are only going to become more important in the gaming world,” said Lloyd.
Gamers Taking To Tablets
ADI analysis shows that gaming’s audience continues to grow. Visits to gaming sites of all kinds show year-on-year growth of eight percent to August 2015, with desktop gaming visits up 10 percent for the period, and tablet visits up 23 percent.
ADI Principal Analyst Tamara Gaffney pointed out that almost all activities on tablets analysed by ADI show a decline.
“So 23 percent growth in gaming visits on tablet shows gaming is a specialist use case that’s developing,” she said.
And the report suggests that this use case could develop further as higher powered tablets come onto the market, meaning gamers will no longer be tied to the desktop for a high-quality experience.
The report illustrates the growing gulf in popularity between games and movies by comparing the relative performance in social media of the film Avengers: Age of Ultron and the game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, both released earlier this year. The game saw nearly twice as much social activity as the film on release day, bringing in nearly 80k social mentions.
“While Metal Gear Solid V is a big game, it’s not the biggest,” Gaffney said. “So that means something that isn’t even the biggest game beat one of the biggest movies of this year.
“The marketing potential of online gaming is not just in the size of the audience, it’s a coveted demographic for all sorts of brands. It’s a great place for marketers to play and I don’t think many know how big the space is. It’s way bigger than movies or sports, plus it’s global and immersive.”
The report attributes the additional social firepower of gaming to the live streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming. When a new game title is released people go to these sites to watch the gameplay. Broadcasters utilise social media to announce their playing of the new title and encourage their followers to “spread the word.”
“When a game is released, streaming personalities will play and broadcast games from day one for their audience,” Lloyd explained. “They reach out on numerous social networks so people know they are “playing X game right now, come watch and hang out”. As people watch, interest in a title is increased and consumers who might not have considered the title as one they would purchase are swayed and purchase the game. Movies don’t really have an option like that.”
Gaming Revenues Up
The rise in visits to gaming sites is mirrored by growth in revenues from gaming. Between August 2014 and August 2015, revenue was up by four percent.
“There’s a big spike in gaming revenues in November related to holiday shopping,” said Lloyd. “There’s also another big spike around June that relates to the E3 expo in the US, which which generates millions of social mentions globally, and major game titles are announced that they are available for pre-order.”
ADI analysed the performance of five major game titles from last year compared to five from this year. The report shows a 24 percent increase in orders from 2014 to 2015, and a 33 percent increase in revenue. All this despite a residual concern about pre-orders in the gaming community.
“Gamers look forward to the big-name releases, which puts more pressure on the developers to deliver high-quality games every year,” explained Lloyd. “Pre-orders carry negative connotations for gamers, since games can be rushed to market with problems that require extensive fixes. Despite this, gamers are still pre-ordering more.”
This view is reinforced by ADI analysis of social sentiment around pre-orders. This showed 18 percent Joy and the same figure for Admiration, plus two percent Anticipation, balanced against 33 percent sadness.
ADI used Adobe Social and Adobe Marketing Cloud to analyse more than 20m engagements (mentions, likes, shares, “official” page likes and followers) across blogs, Facebook, Google Plus, Reddit, Twitter, Daily Motion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, Wordpress and YouTube.
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Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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