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News Kotaku: 60 Percent Of Playtime In 2023 Went To 6-Year-Old Or Older Games, New Data Shows

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Newzoo’s data shows that the top 10 games on each platform (ranked by their average number of monthly active users, or MAU) are filled with old, established titles. Fortnite took the crown on all platforms, including Switch and PC. The rest of the lists included titles that won’t surprise you, like Grand Theft Auto V, Counter-Strike 2, Roblox, Minecraft, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Fall Guys, Valorant, and Call of Duty. Across Xbox and Playstation consoles, only one dedicated single-player game cracked the top ten: Starfield.https://kotaku.com/starfield-the-kotaku-review-1850883627
To further prove that gamers are primarily focused on older games, Newzoo’s data shows that just 66 titles accounted for 80 percent of all playtime in 2023. And 60 percent of that playtime was spent in games that are six years old or older. In fact, in 2023, five old games—Fortnite, Roblox, League of Legends, Minecraft, and GTA V—accounted for 27% of all playtime in the year.
While Newzoo’s report does point out that you can still be successful in this environment, the reality is that gamers are spending less and less time in new games and more and more time in already-established franchises and live-service titles, making it harder for publishers and developers to find an audience. That’s because unlike in the decades before, you aren’t just competing with whatever hot new game is on the shelves, but instead are fighting giants like Fortnite and Roblox, completely free games with endless amounts of content created by their users.


Some interesting data here, though it mixes a few things. The stuff about GaaS is in line with what Circana's Mat Piscatella has said about "black hole games" that suck up most of people's playtime and that it's become increasingly difficult to pry gamers from titles they have settle on.

I can't entirely relate since I don't really play service/forever games but I also found myself gravitate more towards older titles, some of which I have played before. Thanks to a large backlog and (relative) ease of access to classic games I just don't feel as compelled anymore to grab every new release out of fear of missing out and I have family and friends that feel very much the same.
 
It seems slightly misleading, and it suggests the wrong conclusions, to say games like Fortnite are 6+ years old when they're continuously updated with new features and content. They aren't years old the way that, say, Breath of the Wild is.
 
It seems slightly misleading, and it suggests the wrong conclusions, to say games like Fortnite are 6+ years old when they're continuously updated with new features and content. They aren't years old the way that, say, Breath of the Wild is.
I don't think the report or the article are suggesting that these games have remained stagnant, quite the opposite:
“It will be increasingly challenging to grow a game’s playerbase,” said Newzoo in the report, “particularly in our current landscape, where evergreen titles and robust content pipelines reign supreme.” In other words, good luck if you aren’t making a big sequel, remake, or annual entry in some popular series.
 
Super Mario Wonder being on the list despite being a 15-hours-ish-to-100% game and releasing late in 2023 makes me wonder what is the average yearly playtime for those games. Because like, someone playing 15 hours of Fortnite thru all of 2023 doooesn't really strike me as that wild.
 
Super Mario Wonder being on the list despite being a 15-hours-ish-to-100% game and releasing late in 2023 makes me wonder what is the average yearly playtime for those games. Because like, someone playing 15 hours of Fortnite thru all of 2023 doooesn't really strike me as that wild.
The list in the OP is based on monthly active users which doesn't really say anything about average playtime.
 
The list in the OP is based on monthly active users which doesn't really say anything about average playtime.
Considering Super Mario Wonder sold 11.96 million by December 31st, I think this is a confident "No shit it made the list" moment. Nintendo's first party title sell enough to beat out the already best selling Mario Kart 8, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Smash Ultimate.

I honestly think the more interesting inclusion is Fall Guys, I'm kinda surprised it made the list in all honesty.
 
It seems slightly misleading, and it suggests the wrong conclusions, to say games like Fortnite are 6+ years old when they're continuously updated with new features and content. They aren't years old the way that, say, Breath of the Wild is.

yeah i'm not really sure i'd consider most games that are actively getting updates "old games" personally speaking

6 years of updates for a game can often mean an even bigger difference than a sequel would have been
 
Misread this as, 60% of all gaming hours in 2023 were by 6 year old children or older, meaning 40% of gaming was done by 0 to 5 year old children, so needless to say I was a bit confounded. 🧐
 
I'm not sure how exactly to word this (it's early, so sorry if I fumble this) but I do find it sort of amusing that Nintendo players are apparently playing the most new games (top 10 most-played has an average age of just under 4 years versus the ~7 of Xbox/Playstation and almost 10 years for PC), given the reputation of Nintendo and its fanbase for being hyper-focused on nostalgia and old shit and re-buying the same games over and over again

In general it's definitely a bit worrying to see a statistic like this. More and more, every game that comes out isn't just competing against any games that happens to release in the same window, but basically every game that's ever released, because a) games pretty much standardized 2 generations ago and 10 year old games still feel "modern enough" and b) so many people are apparently filling their time with "forever games" that came out ages ago. Probably a big reason why we've seen the erosion of that middle space and most games seem to either be runaway successes or huge misses nowadays with little inbetween

e: also interesting that, across PC/PS/Xbox, there looks to be only one new, single-player game (Starfield)
 
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I replayed Pikmin 1 2 and 3 throughout 2023 so I’m part of the “problem”

Though I don’t really see this as a problem tbh
 
big “weird stat done weirdly” energy

but if they’re gonna use it as a point of comparison… it kinda highlights how much I like the Nintendo approach (more weird first party games more often, interesting smatterings and not sole commitment to a monolith)
 
I replayed Pikmin 1 2 and 3 throughout 2023 so I’m part of the “problem”

Though I don’t really see this as a problem tbh

The 'problem' is we're on to them, and they know it.

'Them' being AAA video game publishers, who now have a problem.
 
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Part of me is also wondering if this is surprising in the first place. A large portion of the playtime on Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft comes from kids and teenagers and I remember also mostly playing Smash Bros., GoldenEye and Halo 2 with friends for years back in the day. It's just that nobody was tracking our playtime lol.
 
There's two things I take from this.

First is that the "value per hour" of high quality interactive entertainment is astonishingly low because of the amount of competition. You could buy a Series S and just play Fortnite, Apex Legends, Rocket League, Roblox etc for hundreds of hours and have a top-class time without ever spending a cent beyond the $300 you paid for the hardware and a ~$50 fee for online play. On the other hand, I just spent $20 to see Dune II which was 2-3 hours. The "price-per-hour" in the gaming industry just seems like it's at a floor due to F2P games, and I don't know if that's healthy.

The other is that both tech and game design have stagnated to a crazy degree. Decade old games being the most popular never used to happen in the 80s, 90s or 2000s because new tech and design would make them obsolete. But has game design really moved on much, if at all, since GTA V? Are we expecting GTA VI to include some revolutionary new control scheme, or animation tech, or NPC AI that would make the old game feel obsolete? I'm certainly not. It'll look prettier, that's for sure. But that's all that tech appears to be used for these days.

Almost all the game design innovations in the past decade have been either relating to monetization (yuck) or virtual reality (which has been amazing, but hasn't taken off with the mainstream). We've never known such a stagnant period for game design. Just makes me even more glad I was a kid during the NES -> SNES -> N64/PS1 era where every year brought entirely new wonders.
 
The title of the article says "old games" but what they really mean is "established multiplayer GaaS franchises." And it just makes sense that those will eat up more gaming hours compared to single-player games.

Still an interesting study though, showcasing how consumer dollars are consolidating around the few megahits.
 
The title of the article says "old games" but what they really mean is "established multiplayer GaaS franchises." And it just makes sense that those will eat up more gaming hours compared to single-player games.

Still an interesting study though, showcasing how consumer dollars are consolidating around the few megahits.
It's no wonder, then, why so many of the new "service" games fail. People already have their favorites and have sunk tons of time and money into them.
 
Obviously while PlayStation and Xbox will get revenue from those service games, it does further point to the pressures their business model faces. Climbing expenses, a stagnating total audience (PS + Xbox home console audience has remained steady for 20 years) and a desire to boost margins is a tall order in the face of an audience sticking with live service offerings from third party publishers. Now sure, those products will generate substantive revenues which Sony and Microsoft take a cut of, but it's an interesting point of comparison that there isn't a single 2023 title in the top 10 for either Xbox or PS, whereas Switch has three 2023 releases and a 2022 title in the top 10. Even with Nintendo pushing millions of legacy sales every year, their userbase is spending more time on more recent games relative to competing platforms.
 
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Part of me is also wondering if this is surprising in the first place. A large portion of the playtime on Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft comes from kids and teenagers and I remember also mostly playing Smash Bros., GoldenEye and Halo 2 with friends for years back in the day. It's just that nobody was tracking our playtime lol.
if they did this study in 1997 they’d be like “THE INDUSTRY IS CRUMBLING: 75% OF GAMEPLAY TIME IN 1996 WAS ON SUPER NINTENDO GAMES (OLD)😞😞😞😞
 
Only game I play on PC anymore is Team Fortress 2. I have 4000 hours in it and Its a game from 2007 that I have been playing since 2009 lol
 
The title of the article says "old games" but what they really mean is "established multiplayer GaaS franchises." And it just makes sense that those will eat up more gaming hours compared to single-player games.

Still an interesting study though, showcasing how consumer dollars are consolidating around the few megahits.
Yeah, the problem is really that it's become increasingly difficult to make games that appeal to people that are already playing Fortnite and other service games. Mihoyo recently ran into this issue with Starrail cannibalizing its own Genshin Impact (not sure how this has developed in the meantime).

So now on top of a portion of the potential customer base being captured by yearly IPs like FIFA or COD you also have games that constantly get new content and have become an integral part of players' social lives. Making a game in this segment must be super intimidating.
 
Misread this as, 60% of all gaming hours in 2023 were by 6 year old children or older, meaning 40% of gaming was done by 0 to 5 year old children, so needless to say I was a bit confounded. 🧐
Omg you're not alone, I read it that way at first, too. 😅

Also once I realized what the title actually says, I got excited to think that the stat showed older games are great, that people are going out into the market and discovering older stuff rather than just only ever buying This Year's Thing™, and that maybe even older-older games were contributing like from the SNES era and such.

But nope, by "older games" they mean "Fortnite." Meh.
 
Yeah, the problem is really that it's become increasingly difficult to make games that appeal to people that are already playing Fortnite and other service games. Mihoyo recently ran into this issue with Starrail cannibalizing its own Genshin Impact (not sure how this has developed in the meantime).

So now on top of a portion of the potential customer base being captured by yearly IPs like FIFA or COD you also have games that constantly get new content and have become an integral part of players' social lives. Making a game in this segment must be super intimidating.
That’s the thing, most people who play a live service game or a game that has ‘seasons’ or the like only really have the time and social group and such to play one, maybe two of them. And if you find one you like a lot and have friends who feel the same, then likely you’re going to just keep playing that - especially because when a game has been updating and adding features for years and years, it can make jumping into ‘the new hotness’ feel shallow since it just can’t compete with the level of depth and amount of content older games have.

Case in point, I have a friend group that plays Path of Exile regularly (that game’s over 10 years old!) and used to play Diablo 3 some as well. When Diablo 4 came out we jumped over there for a little while, but once we beat the campaign the endgame wasn’t really there, and the game just didn’t feel as fun or robust as Path, so… we went back to Path and haven’t looked back.
 
That basically sums up my current play list. Heck, it's probably more like 90% games that are over 15 years old.

I'm currently playing: FFVII (OG) & Pokémon Fire Red.
 
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Bizarre take-away and title for this piece on Kotaku's part. It's all live service shit, not "old games."
I mean, it's kinda both. Like, yes, it's all live-service, but it's also almost entirely live-service games that came out years ago (or annualized entries in legacy franchises like CoD or sports games, which are basically "same old live-service game as last year, different name on the box")

So in 2024, it's not enough to "just" make a good live-service game, but to really succeed you basically have to have already made a good live-service game 5-10 years ago because at this point a lot of people have already picked "their" flavor of forever game and its really hard to knock a sizable chunk of that audience loose for a sustained period of time. Folks might pick up a new flavor of the month like Palworld or Helldivers, but most of them end up going back to the tried-and-true giants they're already invested in. It's the kind of eternal stagnation around a few big names that has defined mobile games since roughly 2012 , seemingly finally taking hold of the console/PC space
 
this just further proves to me that my interests in gaming are so heavily skewed from the general public lol. i could never find fulfillment in GaaS titles, or even most online multiplayer-only games. even the nintendo offerings, like splatoon, do nothing for me.

a more interesting study, in my opinion, would be to gather and compare the gaming hours dedicated to single player games vs online multiplayer/GaaS titles over the past two decades (though including GaaS will obviously make it a bit skewed since that's fairly new.) has there really been a drastic difference? or just a shift or equalization in the way people decide to spend time? clearly single player games still sell (TotK), so maybe people are one-and-done'ing those and just spending the other 90% of the year on their fave soul-and-wallet-siphoning GaaS titles?
 
Yeah, it's no wonder AAA companies want that slice of the live service pie. The potential profits is absolutely enticing as well as potential of a continuous consumer base.

At the same time though, there's only so much audience to go around for new live service games, so flops really do flop hard. And when they flop features get cut because further investment is pointless, but that doesn't sustain an audience. It's a negative feedback loop.
 
AAA publishers wondering why a $70 game with microtransactions snuck in at launch competing against free games that everyone's friends are playing aren't bringing in "the youth"

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I wonder why they couldn't get more than 2 markets for their Switch comparison?

is Switch games data really that hard to track?

also... Suika game was robbed
 
I'm not sure how exactly to word this (it's early, so sorry if I fumble this) but I do find it sort of amusing that Nintendo players are apparently playing the most new games (top 10 most-played has an average age of just under 4 years versus the ~7 of Xbox/Playstation and almost 10 years for PC), given the reputation of Nintendo and its fanbase for being hyper-focused on nostalgia and old shit and re-buying the same games over and over again

e: also interesting that, across PC/PS/Xbox, there looks to be only one new, single-player game (Starfield)

Remasters/remakes might be old games but there's still counted as a title released in the current year and Nintendo has the most 1st party software release per year compared to PS/Xbox.

Personally I also don't think anyone should be surprised at PC being the platform with the oldest skewing games by quite a significant margin.
They've got the eternal GaaS games but also the reality of the PC market means that not everyone can play games coming out until they upgrade their machines and you've got the "Patient Gamers" bunch which will just wait for prices to drop and/or wait for performance/bug fixes until they play the game for the best possible experience.

The platform is also known for long legs due to a lot of players around the world buying games at very deep discount(80%+) during sales.

So in 2024, it's not enough to "just" make a good live-service game, but to really succeed you basically have to have already made a good live-service game 5-10 years ago because at this point a lot of people have already picked "their" flavor of forever game and its really hard to knock a sizable chunk of that audience loose for a sustained period of time. Folks might pick up a new flavor of the month like Palworld or Helldivers, but most of them end up going back to the tried-and-true giants they're already invested in. It's the kind of eternal stagnation around a few big names that has defined mobile games since roughly 2012 , seemingly finally taking hold of the console/PC space

Even some of the developers that have had success with a long lasting GaaS game are struggling to follow up their last output.
I'm thinking of what happened to PayDay 3 and Cities: Skylines II, both of which have daily CCUs well below their older game on Steam.
Others like the developers of Eurotruck Simulator 2 don't really have a plan to do a sequel even though the game is quite old and not a looker because well, they have done so many content packs for various regions of the world that players would probably not enjoy a sequel with wayyyy less locations at launch.

Don't make your game too valuable to players or else you'll be force to work on it forever and if your revenue is starting to slowly dwindle(and inflation) makes your profit margins lower, you're kind of stuck in a slow decline unless you take risks(which could cause even more financial harm in a faster time period). Bigger publishers can mitigate risks because they can constantly try to make more games with the revenue they're generating with their hugely successful GaaS, and diversify their success, but one studio all on its lonesome trying to navigate that situation are generally in a more challenging position.


this just further proves to me that my interests in gaming are so heavily skewed from the general public lol. i could never find fulfillment in GaaS titles, or even most online multiplayer-only games. even the nintendo offerings, like splatoon, do nothing for me.

How people like or don't care for GaaS/MP games is mostly a combination of two things: How competitive are you as a person and/or how much would you say emergent gameplay is appealing to you?
I have always played multiplayer games and my brain loves getting tickled and mastery of the mental stack and correct reactions to its many permutation is really fun for me. Similarly, I am not one of those players who replay much of their games, even if I would rate XYZ as one of my favourite games of all time. I love RPGs, but I won't be the one doing many runs with different builds.

This is also why the singleplayer games that I do "replay" would be genres like roguelites.
Just like the MP games, those type of games constantly ask me to make different choices at different times to test how much of the game I have understood really.
 
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Part of me is also wondering if this is surprising in the first place. A large portion of the playtime on Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft comes from kids and teenagers and I remember also mostly playing Smash Bros., GoldenEye and Halo 2 with friends for years back in the day. It's just that nobody was tracking our playtime lol.
Yeah, this is not surprising in the least bit. A lot of people just play a small amount of games that get tied into their social lives and routines, and if the games keep being updated in a way those people enjoy they'll keep playing them. Playing Fortnite with the homies has kinda replaced going out with the homies as an easier way of hanging out. Social gaming has been this way for ages really, the only different now is things get updated more and last longer themselves while less numbered sequels come out.
 
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i think the thing that actually makes this interesting to think about is that yeah, a lot of those games are established, 6 year old gaas games but like

6 years is a long ass time. borderline console generation length. it makes it kinda crazy to think about how sony, for example, apparently has 12(???) service games in the pipeline? and plenty of other folks trying to get into the gaas space as well. its no wonder so many of these things fizzle out lol
 
i think the thing that actually makes this interesting to think about is that yeah, a lot of those games are established, 6 year old gaas games but like

6 years is a long ass time. borderline console generation length. it makes it kinda crazy to think about how sony, for example, apparently has 12(???) service games in the pipeline? and plenty of other folks trying to get into the gaas space as well. its no wonder so many of these things fizzle out lol
How do you even justify a GAAS taking that long to make when you're responding to industry trends of now, or maybe 2 years ago?
 
I'm looking at the table, and it's funny that Xenoverse 2 content will outlive a lot of those games lol
 
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How do you even justify a GAAS taking that long to make when you're responding to industry trends of now, or maybe 2 years ago?
You don't, which is why a lot of these things don't do well. One of the things I've seen time and time again in the popular MP game space is that's it's really hard to predict what the next thing that will blow up is, and you have to be pretty quick to capitalize on it. AAA dev being extremely slow and cumbersome for a number of reasons really makes it hard for them to find success here. It's not like it can't happen, but it's still so unpredictable and difficult that it's hard to justify dumping all the money in upfront. Your best bet would be try to create something more new and unique that you think is ahead of the trends but good luck with that. The other is to take an existing game and just bolt on a GaaS addition and pray it takes off (see: GTA, Warzone, arguably Fortnite).

It doesn't make a lot of sense the way AAA chases GaaS in the way they are because they are taking on the inherent risk of this market while bringing in several weaknesses for not a lot of gain imo. AAA presentation and budgets don't seem to matter when you can just have something as lofi as Lethal Company take over for a bit. I don't really get why the big publishers don't try doing smaller teams with smaller budgets putting out smaller GaaS projects and seeing what sticks instead of goin straight to a Suicide Squad project. Hell Sony just had Helldivers hit which was a more modest project, and I tend to think you could go even smaller scale than that and still find hits to nurture and support for awhile.

Maybe since I don't really like to keep up with the economics of all this stuff too much there's some kind of reason the AAA approach can't be changed? Idk, it just makes no sense from the POV of somebody who is in the social game sphere a lot. There's also the counterargument to look at something like Valorant that did take 6 years to make apparently. That game came out relatively bare bones but nailed a lot of what people were looking for in the specific genre at the time. Might be worth looking into that to see another side of this kind of development that did end up working out.
 
i think the thing that actually makes this interesting to think about is that yeah, a lot of those games are established, 6 year old gaas games but like

6 years is a long ass time. borderline console generation length. it makes it kinda crazy to think about how sony, for example, apparently has 12(???) service games in the pipeline? and plenty of other folks trying to get into the gaas space as well. its no wonder so many of these things fizzle out lol

probably because when these things hit they can basically print money

they probably figure that even one big hit is enough to cover the inevitable failures
 
Yeah not suprised by that. GaaS that hooks players can last for a long time. World of Warcraft still makes good money for ActiBliz/Microsoft these days too. Of course these games are a massive gamble to make; you need a solid base product to work from, which the non-Nintendo top 3 reflects. All of those games are for the most part solid engines that existed pre-GaaS (or in the case of Fortnite, were bolted on top of a failing GaaS and took over in popularity).

How do you even justify a GAAS taking that long to make when you're responding to industry trends of now, or maybe 2 years ago?
Well, most of them do fail out of the gate because of that. The main difficulty is that unless you have a killer IP to piggyback from (and the fans are willing to treat your GaaS as an actual "thing" as opposed to a cashgrab, which y'know, that's not easy), you're essentially asking players to make this their "one game". That's a big ask for new IPs especially. Some devs can do it (I'd say the most successful big name that is only known for GaaS and had no prior reputation to work from is Mihoyo), but it's pretty difficult.

Often that takes way more time than investors find worthwhile and that's how you get a shutdown in a year because nobody is playing the fucking things and it's easier to shovel out a new one than it is to take the risk and repair them. OTOH repairing them can pay off very well (good examples for that is FF14, but FGO is another good example after a very rough first year).
 
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There are 2, 2d generations from the NES, and 4 full 3d generations from the PS1 onward and all the PC and handheld releases in that time and older or more obscure games.
Statistically there is just a lot to play and games are usually much bigger time commitments than TV/movies, where you can easily polish off a shorter season of something and be hungry for more new stuff.
That's before online/GaaS titles/trickle feed or always updated titles are considered which have tipped the scales further. Good luck to game developers, its a very competitive space.
 
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Even without GAAS the % of people playing old games vs new games should continue to skew towards old just due to time value. There's 40+ years of great games for someone getting into the hobby to sink 1,000s of hours into without ever even looking at a new release. Also as games get longer to make, less games will get made/released, even further pushing the old vs new in favor of old.

Then you actually factor in GAAS along with the popularity of modding giving games longer shelf lives then the devs intended, and it's GG.
 


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