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Unity has released its latest report on the popularity of multiplayer games. According to the report, 77% of people who game play multiplayer titles. This is partly due to the social aspects of multiplayer gaming as several gamers report deciding what to play based on what their friends are already playing.
Unity published this report in sync with an update to its UGS Multiplayer solutions. The new update includes several tools, including the ability to scale to millions of players. It also includes improved matchmaking and the official launch of Netcode for Game Objects.
According to the report, multiplayer titles have seen a spike in engagement this year. Jeff Collins, Unity’s SVP of engineering, told GamesBeat in an interview, “I think there were more people playing games during the pandemic, which motivated studios to make more exciting, new content, and that continued until this year. The new games and the consistent content seems to have kept the engagement even as we return to normal life after the pandemic.”
Collins added: “Multiplayer gaming will continue to grow in popularity. I think we’ll see cross-play tables and more walled gardens disappear, removing the barriers for people to play with each other on any device. I predict that we will see a growing interest in user-generated content and possibly see new models of a creative economy. “
Who plays what?
Unity created the report based on online surveys of gamers in the US, UK, Korea and Japan. It collected responses from about 1500 gamers. Of these, approximately 50% were “casual” gamers (defined as those who “played at least two hours a week, of which at least 30 minutes played multiplayer”) and “core” gamers (defined as those who spent “at least four hours a week on playing multiplayer games” in the traditional genres of Battle Royale, MMO, FPS, etc.).
As expected, not all multiplayer genres are equally popular. Battle royale and FPS are the most popular genres of multiplayer titles, according to the report, soon followed by sports and racing games. Several other genres have more specific audiences – MOBA and RTS, for example, do much better in Korea than FPS and racing games.
Popularity of a game in a particular place can also have to do with the social aspects of multiplayer. According to the report, nearly half of gamers reported that the deciding factor when playing a game is whether it’s a genre they already like. However, 34% also answered that a strong factor was whether their friends played it too. 31% also liked the ability to talk or chat with their in-game friends.
Commenting on these preferences, Collins said, “I think cultural/social norms play an important role in a game’s popularity. If all the people in your circle of influence are talking about a specific game, you probably want to at least try it.” , even if it’s not a typical genre that you have an affinity with. Ultimately, you may not be a frequent player, but at least it’s fun to join in on what your friends are doing together.”
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