RESEARCH: How gamers discover what to play in 2024

By May 28, 2024 Industry News

According to Michael Douse, Publishing Director at Larian Studios, video game marketing “is dead”. But is it? With more than 14,000 games released just on Steam in 2023, arguably, it’s harder than ever before for publishers to reach their gaming audiences.

To find out where gamers really get their news and recommendations from, specialist video games PR and marketing agency Big Games Machine surveyed 1,000 US-based console and PC gamers on how they discover new video game titles, the channels they trust most and least and the key marketing influences that prompt purchasing decisions.

The survey called How gamers discover what to play in 2024’ shows that gamers get their news from a variety of sources, some far more trusted than others, with a preference for video-based channels and platforms. The kind of screens people use when reading about games makes a big difference, with younger gamers (18-24) far more likely to use TikTok and Instagram, mobile-first social platforms.

Key Findings:

  • YouTube (64%), TikTok (36%), Instagram (35%), and Facebook (34%) are the top platforms for game discovery, closely followed by Word of Mouth at 34%
  • 29% more 18–24-year-olds use TikTok to discover gaming information vs 34–44-year-olds (58% vs 29%)
  • The average gamer uses between four and five different discovery channels to inform themselves of the latest game news, updates and releases  
  • The least popular discovery sources were Metacritic Professional Reviews (3%), Metacritic user reviews (4%) and print magazines (5%)
  • YouTube was the most trusted source (52%), and the least trusted were X/Twitter (19%) and online ads (17%)
  • 40% of gamers are most prompted to play/purchase a new game if it’s part of a familiar franchise
  • 30% are motivated by inclusion in subscription plans and positive user reviews
  • 25% say influencer/celebrity endorsements prompt them to try new games

Social Platforms reign supreme in terms of discoverability. Younger gamers between 18 and 24 preferred TikTok and Instagram more than their older counterparts. However, respondents view most social platforms with a sceptical eye, trusting and mistrusting these channels equally. For example, TikTok ranks equally as the second most trusted platform and the least trusted one. YouTube is the only platform that consumers widely trust. 

While social media channels lead in game discoverability, 32% of respondents cited word-of-mouth recommendations as a key source for learning about new game releases. User reviews (30%) and the fact that a game comes from a known and/or respected developer (28%) were also top prompts for purchase, highlighting that market awareness remains a vital part of game launches. 

In addition, one quarter (25%) of gamers said influencer, celebrity, or gaming personality endorsements would prompt them to play or buy a newly released game – demonstrating the value of collaborations towards modern titles. 

However, the two biggest motivators for playing or purchasing a new game were if it was part of a familiar franchise (40%) or available through an existing subscription service (30%) such as Xbox Game Pass. 

James Kaye, Co-founder of Big Games Machine, said: “Respected franchises and subscription platforms are a huge driver of game discoverability – but this doesn’t mean games marketing is dead. In reality, most games won’t have the advantage of a known brand or a feature slot on a subscription service and will need to look at alternative methods to raise awareness. The complex mix of channels and influences our survey shows means that modern game marketing is nuanced, and developers shouldn’t bet the farm on a single marketing strategy. Games marketing is far from dead but requires a more thoughtful, omnichannel approach to produce the best outcomes for developers.” 

The full report is available for download at https://www.biggamesmachine.com/discoverability2024/

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