Study: High demand for multiplayer & cross-platform games

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Unity, a platform for creating and operating real-time 3D content, has released two reports revealing the high demand for multiplayer games and the importance of post launch content for sustaining player engagement.

Unity Gaming Services’ Cross-Platform Gaming Study conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Unity, revealed that over half of all Americans (56 per cent) played multiplayer games in the past year, with 87 per cent of those gamers playing cross-platform games. Illustrating the need to keep these players engaged, The State of Live Gaming in 2021 Report, developed in partnership with Akamai – a solution to power and protect digital experiences – details how post-launch content updates drive and sustain high levels of player engagement, particularly for mobile game studios who saw an increase as high as 86 per cent in in-app purchase revenue after a content drop.

Together, the reports emphasise the need for developers to have better post launch game management, which is part of Unity Gaming Services’ core remit as a new platform experience that equips developers of all sizes with the best solutions to quickly create multiplayer games and to effectively run their live operations.


“The ability to connect friends and communities across different platforms is increasingly becoming a player expectation and in turn is emerging as table stakes for developers” said Felix Thé, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Operate Solutions, Unity. “With this massive demand, it’s also important to ensure a pipeline of content informed by player insights to fuel ongoing engagement and to drive more growth. This is a huge call to action for the developer community, as gamers have spoken, and finding scalable solutions to both make and sustain cross-platform experiences will be critical to the success of multiplayer games going forward.”

Unity Gaming Services’ Cross-Platform Gaming Study unearths insights on the popularity of multiplayer games and explores players’ experiences with cross-platform games. Specifically, it reveals that there’s a massive demand for gamers to not only play video games together, but to play together across any device from console to PC to mobile. There is also a strong appetite for more games that can deliver this type of frictionless experience.

Some key findings from this study include:

  • Multiplayer games have been massively popular over the past year in the US – over half (56 per cent) of Americans played multiplayer games, including 62 per cent men and 50 per cent of women.
  • 87 per cent of multiplayer gamers have played cross-platform games in the past year.
  • Mobile is a very important platform for cross-platform gamers – among those who play cross-platform games, almost half (44 per cent) play on both mobile and console and nearly a third (29 per cent) play on mobile only.
  • 43 per cent of cross-platform gamers express that they want more cross-platform game options.

The State of Live Gaming in 2021 Report reveals important growth strategies for studios when determining the impact of new content on player engagement, and highlights solutions to help drive continued success post-launch. Ensuring a pipeline of ongoing content can often be a resource strain for developers, but the benefits have shown to be massive for scaling and sustaining player engagement.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • Sessions per daily active users increased by almost 8 per cent for the top end of mobile games in the week following a new content release.
  • When looking at the timing one week before and after a content drop, mobile game studios can see an increase as high as 86 per cent in in-app purchase revenue and 75 per cent in average revenue per daily active users.
  • Mobile game developers need to be mindful of file size as that can have an impact on app install rates – if the app size balloons upwards of 500 MB, install rates begin to drop significantly.
  • Gathering valuable feedback from players is crucial for studios to build a successful post-launch content pipeline.

“Players can’t play what they don’t have,” said Jon Alexander, Vice President, Product Management, Akamai. “While your audience may rely on the app stores of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers to download your game, that initial download will only get them so far. Updates, patches, additional level packs, match information and more also need to be sent to your audience on an ongoing basis to keep them engaged. For the best player experience, a scalable, highly distributed content delivery network partner can give you the reach that you, and your players, need to get the most out of your game.”

In order to meet the demands of players and to deliver the right content at the right time, studios need the best tools to help them achieve their goals. Last month, Unity launched Unity Gaming Services, an improved and streamlined platform to equip developers of all sizes with the solutions they need to rapidly create cross-platform multiplayer experiences, to handle all scenarios for running a live game and to monitor their performance in a single connected interface.


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