Game industry’s approach to subscription is mixed. Microsoft is pushing Xbox Game Pass ahead of its hardware business, Sony and Nintendo are using subscriptions as a supplement and Google has stopped Stadia.
How are games different from music or video in terms of subscription? Are gamers interested in a huge library to play for a small monthly fee?
By clarifying how gamers are interested in other games, game platformers can get a better understanding of how they should design a game subscription service. Publishers can see whether providing their title to a subscription service brings new players. Investors can estimate the market size and landscape of game subscriptions.
To answer this question, we’ve looked into players of exclusive titles’ interest towards platforms. If the percentage is high, players are likely to play other titles within the platform. If not, players are devoted to their favorites but may not be interested in other titles.
It appears that not all exclusive titles’ fans are the same. While some show high interest in the platform, others don’t.
Measuring Customers’ Interest Through Twitter
How can we measure players’ interest towards platforms? Many turn to social media for new information. They follow accounts that seem continuously interesting.
Twitter provides limited but valuable information through Twitter Developer Platform. Using the data available, we’ve built a system called “Following Analysis” to answer our questions. Following Analysis measures how an account’s followers are following other accounts. It reveals how fans are interested in other brands, products, platforms, media and influencers.
Halo players’ interest towards Consoles
The chart below shows how many followers of Halo are following Xbox, Nintendo America, and PlayStation. Since Halo is a Microsoft exclusive, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation players do not have a chance to play unless they own multiple hardwares.
What does this tell us?
This is a high number from our experience. Therefore Microsoft’s strategy with Xbox Game Pass and the acquisition of Activision Blizzard seems to be a good way to bring new customers with exclusive titles and keep them playing within the platform.
But not all exclusives are the same.
Flight Simulator players’ interest towards Consoles
Microsoft Flight Simulator(@MSFSofficial) shows a different trend. 32.1% of their followers follow Xbox, lower than other exclusives. Maybe this is because Microsoft Flight Simulator has a long history as a PC game before Xbox arrived. We cannot draw solid conclusions just from this data. But it does show that fans of exclusives show different interest in its platform.
Animal Crossing’s players’ interest towards Consoles
Let’s look at another platform’s exclusive. The chart below features Animal Crossing (@animalcrossing), a Nintendo exclusive.
39% of Animal Crossings’ followers are following Nintendo. Compared with Halo’s 60.7%, this is not high. Since 63.0% of Zelda(ZeldaOfficialJP)’s followers follow Nintendo Japan, not all Nintendo exclusives have low numbers. (Zelda does not have an English account, so we compared Zelda’s Japanese account with Nintendo’s Japanese account).
Again, different exclusives show different levels of its players’ interest towards the platform.
Commonality matters in game subscription
Players of exclusive titles have different degrees of interest towards their platform. This suggests that while some players appreciate collections of games, some prefer to focus on what they really like. In other words, there are games that fit well together with other titles, and games that are better off as a live service or sold as a standalone title.
What kind of games go well together? With music or video subscription, trying new titles is easier. Users click on recommended titles, and just listen or watch. With games, players need to learn the rules and get used to the control, for each title. Recommendations may work for some players. But many players would prefer something common, a foundation where players could use their knowledge, skill and resources across titles.
What should the games have in common? Is it a genre, like First-person shooter (FPS)? Is it the atmosphere, a virtual world mentioned as metaverse? Is it a brand with characters such as Disney or Pokemon? Is it a community of players, creators and viewers? Is it a market-like-world with reusable items and characters using blockchain technology?
All of the above create new experiences, but no one knows for sure which will succeed financially. What can be said though, is that game subscriptions can take many forms, and that providers do not need to stick with the business model successful in music or movie industries.
Let us know your thoughts
Although we’ve surveyed exclusive games, we did not compare third party and cross platform games, where players can choose from different hardwares and platforms. Are gamers’ interests different from what we’ve learned?
Players’ interest towards current game subscriptions is another topic. How are Halo players following Xbox Game Pass?
We will cover these topics in other posts. Please let us know your thoughts and questions via our Twitter account.
Thank you for reading and we are looking forward to hearing from you.