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Unity released its latest report, this one on the popularity of multiplayer games. According to the report, out of the people who game, 77% of those play multiplayer titles. This is in part due to the social aspects of multiplayer gaming, as several gamers report they decide what to play based around what their friends are already playing.
Unity published this report in sync with an update to its UGS Multiplayer solutions. The new update includes several tools, including the ability to scale to millions of players. It also includes improved matchmaking and the official launch of Netcode for Game Objects.
According to the report, multiplayer titles have seen a spike of engagement this year. Jeff Collins, Unity’s SVP of engineering, told GamesBeat in an interview, “I think that during the pandemic there were more people playing games, which motivated studios to make more exciting, new content, and that continued through to this year. The new games and the consistent content seems to have maintained the engagement even though we’re getting back to normal post-pandemic life.”
Collins added, “Multiplayer gaming will continue to increase in popularity. I think we’ll see cross-play becoming tablestakes and more walled gardens come down, removing the barriers for people to play with one another across any device. I predict we’ll see growing interest in user generated content and potentially see new models of a creator economy. “
Who’s playing what
Unity created the report from online surveys of gamers in the U.S., U.K., Korea and Japan. It collected responses from around 1500 gamers. Out of those, about 50% of them were “casual” gamers (defined as those who spent “at least two hours gaming per week, of which at least 30 minutes is playing multiplayer”) and “core” gamers (defined as those who spent “at least four hours per week playing multiplayer games” in the traditional genres of battle royale, MMO, FPS, etc).
As expected, not all multiplayer genres are equally popular. Battle royale and FPS are the most popular genres of multiplayer title, according to the report, followed shortly by sports and racing games. Several other genres have more specific audiences — for example, MOBA and RTS do much better in Korea than FPS and racing games.
Popularity of a game in a specific place may also be tied in with the social aspects of multiplayer. According to the report, almost half of gamers reported that the deciding factor in playing a game is whether it’s in a genre they already enjoy. However, 34% also answered that a strong factor was whether their friends were also playing it. 31% also valued the ability to speak or chat with their friends in the game.
In response to these preferences, Collins said, “I think cultural/social norms play an important role in the popularity of a game. If all the people in your circle of influence are talking about a specific game, you’ll likely want to, at minimum, give it a try, even if it’s not a typical genre that you have an affinity with. In the end, while you may not be a frequent player, it’s at least fun to join in what your friends are doing together.”
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