Gamers engaging differently across platforms and games during COVID-19 pandemic
In this post, we dive into how gaming audiences have changed the ways they engage with desktop, console, and mobile platforms during the coronavirus pandemic.
It would stand to reason that as gamers spend more time at home during social distancing efforts, they have more time to engage with their favorite games. However, how has this varied by platform? We dug into the data powering Comscore’s new weekly gaming report to examine how engagement has changed, down to the individual game level.
Large Increases in Engagement on Desktop and Console; Mobile Relatively Flat
Though time spent overall with mobile games has risen in recent years, recent shelter-in-place programs have highlighted an interesting insight for the industry. PC gaming and console gaming have risen both in player base as well as minutes spent, while mobile gaming has remained relatively flat in engagement. This could simply be an indication of less on-the-go (mobile) activity, or it could mean that the additional time at home gives gamers the time to engage with more time-consuming or in-depth games on desktop and console.
In looking at top games in the PC gaming category, average aggregate daily unique visitors (UVs) rose by 14% and average engaged duration (which is the total time spent with the desktop game in the foreground) increased by 17% when comparing post shelter-in-place engagement metrics from March 9 – April 19, 2020 to the benchmark weeks of Jan. 27 – March 8, 2020. Console games also saw huge boost: +19% in average households per week engaging with top games, and +6% in average active days, which is the number of unique days a console is used per week. As previously noted, mobile was essentially flat.
"Sandbox" PC Games Showing Significantly Higher Engagement
To understand if there were any pattern to the type of games for which we saw increases, we analyzed our custom reporting for engagement duration among top PC games.
The two games which showed the largest increases were not a surprise – “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Hearthstone” both had recent new game or expansion releases. However, looking further down the list, some interesting titles emerged. For example, both “Terraria” and “Minecraft” are “sandbox”-style games, which do not have set narratives or plots, but rather allow players to be creative with a customizable world. The data would suggest that as consumers have had more time at home (and time available to play games), these more open-ended games have become a significant outlet for gamers, and this is evidenced by the dramatic increases in overall engagement.
Other top games with increased engagement included perennial top multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games “Dota 2” and “League of Legends,” as well as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft,” first-person shooters “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Overwatch,” and battle royale standard-bearer “Fortnite.”
During this time, Comscore will continue to monitor how consumers are adapting to radically changed circumstances. For additional information on Comscore’s new weekly audience consumption reports or gaming consumption, please contact us or reach out to your Comscore team.