Everything was Fortnite (Photo: Epic Games)

A new gaming industry report reveals that a few live service titles will account for well over half of all games played in 2023.

Trying to make sense of The last few months of turbulence in the industry have been very difficult. Much of this is due to publishers failing to properly manage the end of the pandemic, but this is on top of the rising costs of producing modern games, which have only increased further in the new generation.

One answer to this problem has been to focus more on live service games, which have the potential to be more profitable, over a longer period of time, than traditional single-player titles.

However, a new report shows that publishers have other reasons for focusing on such games, namely that most gamers don't play anything other than well-established, free-to-play live service titles.

Data shows that the console and PC gaming market grew by 2.6% in 2023, which sounds good until you look at exactly what people played and for how long.

Included in the report is a series of top 10s for each platform, ranked by average number of monthly active users. Almost all games are primarily multiplayer titles, averaging seven years old, with Fortnite being the most popular game across all formats.

Roblox and Minecraft also rank highly, along with the likes of Grand Theft Auto 5, Call Of Duty and Rocket League. There are no primarily single-player titles on the PlayStation or PC charts, and Starfield is the only one for Xbox.

This certainly explains Sony's interest in live service games, but the Newzoo report makes it clear that it's not as simple as switching from single-player games to live service titles.

The percentage of live service games that are successful is very small, with 90% of new game revenue in 2023 belonging to just 43 titles. Furthermore, just 66 games accounted for 80% of all playing time last year.

MAU's Top 10 Video Games in 2023

These graphs make sobering reading (Photo: Newzoo)

Games released six years ago or more account for more than half of all gaming time, and that number is increasing rather than decreasing.

Just five games, all more than six years old, accounted for 27% of all gaming time in 2023: Fortnite, Roblox, League Of Legends, Minecraft and GTA 5.

Even so, half of the time spent playing “new” games (defined as a maximum of two years ago) was on annual streaks – mainly sports titles such as EA Sports FC and NBA 2K, and Call Of Duty.

Only a miserable 8% of total gaming time was spent on new, non-annual titles. This, and many of these other problems, are no doubt the result of the ongoing cost of living crisis, with customers' reticence to pay £70 for a new game also pushing publishers towards live service games.

Only “modest” growth is predicted for the gaming industry next year, which is expected to decline in the following years – which is precisely what concerns Sony and Microsoft.

As should have been predicted by the publishers, the total amount of playtime has decreased by 26% since 2021 at the height of lockdown, and much of the problem with the recent layoffs is because they thought (or were happy to pretend to investors) that the demand would remain at that abnormal level.

The report insists that “competition is fierce, but opportunities exist”, but of course the problem is not so much that the gaming landscape is changing, but that it is becoming fossilized, with only a small number of evergreen titles. to surpass everything else.

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