Players are bombarded with metaverse press, from opinion pieces to product announcements, but what do they really think of all this? Facebook Gaming and Newzoo joined forces to launch a 2022 survey to learn about player sentiment, from what they think of the press to what they expect from technology, products and developers, and most importantly, how it varies. between gamers, from the gamers on the hyper-casual end of the AAA console, publisher, and developer.
In a virtual session at GamesBeat Summit 2023, Stephen Gray of Facebook Gaming in Meta shared his takeaways from this pivotal industry research. He then dove into a discussion with Tim Lion, director of game marketing for Facebook Gaming at Meta, and Alexis Pamboris, research partner at Newzoo, about the future of the metaverse for gamers.
“The goal of this was to build industry awareness to the extent that we can provide some advice to developers,” Gray said. And in the course of their research, they learned that the spectrum of player readiness and enthusiasm for a metaverse is vast, and success depends on meeting your consumers where they are on their journey through the metaverse.
Here’s a look at what they found, and what it means.
The main conclusions
The survey spanned six markets and tapped into respondents who play at least an hour a week on any platform, Gray explained. They ended up with four segments: the casual gamer, two separate midcore groups (one leaning towards the casual side, the other more serious), and the truly hardcore gamers. The survey took a deep dive into player sentiment, but Gray highlighted four main takeaways:
- About half of all gamers know what the metaverse is, but that number is driven by the hardcore gamer. About 50% of those surveyed are enthusiastic about it, but again, that response varies across the spectrum of gamers.
- Gamers are already engaged in the metaverse and adjacent technology experiences, with roughly a third using VR and AR, and nearly half using cross-platform gaming.
- Towards the hardcore gaming side of the spectrum, gamers are excited about gaming, while casual gamers are much more interested in non-gaming metaverse experiences like virtual travel.
- Players are as familiar with cryptocurrency and NFTS as they are with the metaverse, but the sentiment isn’t as positive.
Tracing the player base
A primary goal of the survey was to break down the spectrum of metaverse knowledge into the largest cohort of gamers, and therefore, when designing the survey, they were very intentional in how respondents were segmented, from casual to midcore and hardcore, Pamboris explained.
“It was based on soft motivational questions, attitudes, reasons why people want to play games, what platforms did they play. There were some factual questions there as well,” she said. “We wanted to imagine that spectrum so we could see the differences.”
This segmentation, in addition to cutting the data with verticals like age, gender, etc., also allows them to identify key people, making it easier for the survey audience (developers and companies that serve these player populations) to create points. of action. .
Understanding your cohort and broader audience
One of the most urgent action points is something developers already know about, but something that needs to be kept front and center, Lion said.
“The players are not a monolith,” Lion said. “Increasingly we find the wide diversity in gaming, people, even if they don’t necessarily identify as gamers, but play and interact, to people who actually identify as part of the gaming community.”
And while the industry is talking about the metaverse, turning it into a buzzword and associating it with VR and blockchain, the consumer world is on a much different level, Gray said. Most of the people who play games don’t play Fortnite – they’re moms who play Words with Friends every day and never consider themselves gamers.
“They don’t even know what to think about things. It is important that we consider this,” she added. “You have to think about the metaverse in a way that is consistent with the expectations of your players. I know I’m the consumer researcher saying he needs to do consumer research, but that’s the point I want to make. You really need to make sure you understand your player base.”
Why casual gamers are crucial for mass adoption
Consumer response to the metaverse is what will guide its journey, Gray said.
“The console and core side will help us influence, but I think it’s really more about the casual gamers that will lead to its mass adoption,” he said.
Understanding what these groups want from the metaverse is essential, Pamboris agreed, and is key to not leaving an entire demographic behind. Core gamers and mid-level gamers are much further up the adoption ladder, she said, but there will be a point where casual gamers recognize that an increasingly common technology has left them out completely.
“All signs are pointing to slow evolution, and when we talk about metaverse features for developers, then they need to look at the games they’re making and say what’s expected in the next few years. Is that something new now?” he said.
In the PC and console environment, it’s easy to imagine such a technology, since cross-play is already commonplace and gamers will expect support for that. Or it could be something similar to Epic’s recent move, which combined perks and buys between Rocket League and Fortnite for Fortnite Crew subscribers. Casual players could soon expect to be able to share scores, talk to other players, share tips, and maybe even rewards and lives in the short to medium term.
Ultimately, success in the metaverse space depends on staying in touch with who your players are, their motivations for playing, and their expectations. But don’t go overboard with the casuals and think they’re looking for Candy Crush VR.
“A more correct way to think about future development cycles is to implement persistent social features and make casual gaming more of a connected experience; They’re probably closer to where you want to think about it right now,” Gray explained.
As for the core, they are already familiar with the concepts of the metaverse; after all, World of Warcraft has been around for over 20 years, along with the idea of persistent economies and social ups and downs etc.
“This is where you can be a little more creative,” he said. “Never turn on the crypto technology stack. Focus on making good games. Focus on good gaming experiences and let that evolve as it comes along.”
Ultimately, as gaming culture becomes increasingly mainstream, the promise of the metaverse will become just as mainstream, Gray said.
“The future is for games to become more and more integrated into our lives,” he said, “and through this, the idea of a consistent digital world will naturally evolve.”
Don’t miss the full discussion: watch the whole discussion here.