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Fans Prefer Traditional Games But Games-As-A-Service Dominates, Survey Reveals

A new study from Fandom reveals what fans do and don't like about games-as-a-service.


In the past decade, the "traditional" game release model has seemingly been overtaken in interest, popularity, and commercial opportunities presented by the games-as-a-service model. A new study from GameSpot parent company Fandom shares some additional datapoints around this, helping to understand and explain what fans generally do and do not like about the games-as-a-service model compared to the traditional release setup.

The Fandom survey found that fans generally prefer the more traditional release model over games-as-a-service because it requires less effort and obligation on their behalf. 61% said they preferred the traditional release model compared to 39% for games-as-a-service.

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The biggest reason why survey respondents said they don't prefer games-as-a-service is because they don't want to sign up for a subscription to play a game. Fans also reported that it's too much work to keep up with live-service titles. What fans do like about the live-service model includes how there is always something new and interesting to play in a game, along with being able to play for free. Indeed, games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, both of which are free, offer up new content and events on a regular basis to keep drawing players back in.

The Fandom survey also found that, as one might imagine, games-as-a-service titles like Genshin Impact have a generally more active playerbase, with 63.2% saying they are actively playing the game. This compares to only about 19.8% of Zelda players--a "traditional," non-live-service title cited in the study--who said they were actively playing the game.

Despite fans cited in this study being generally more enthusiastic and interested in "traditional" games, the games-as-a-service model is rocketing forward across the industry. Sony, for example, will have 10 live-service games in the market by 2026 and is clearly very enthusiastic about the opportunity given it spent billions of dollars to acquire Destiny developer Bungie.

All of this is further impacted by the explosion in growth of the mobile gaming category, where the live-service and games-as-a-service is commonplace. Whereas console/PC revenue has been largely flat in recent years by some estimates, mobile gaming is surging ahead and leading the charge when it comes to growth (though growth has slowed downlately as the pandemic eases).

The surging popularity of the games-as-a-service model isn't necessarily coming at the expense of the traditional release strategy completely. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo continue to release high-profile single-player-only games as a complement to their overall portfolios. Sony, for example, just launched God of War Ragnarok, and it's expected to be a huge hit.

The Fandom study also touches upon trends across the wider entertainment landscape. It found that there are 102 million Star Wars fans in the US alone, which is greater than the population of Germany. It also reveals that 84% of Marvel fans report that they are burned out by the constant stream of new MCU films. At the same time, MCU films are as popular and lucrative as ever at the box office, and Marvel has a major slate of regular releases coming out in the future.

Fandom will detail the study in full during a live webinar today at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET hosted by actor, writer, and producer Colton Dunn--you can watch it here.

The 2022 Inside Fandom Report is Fandom's fourth annual research report that looks into the "changing mindset" of gaming and entertainment fans. It is based on a survey of 5,000 gaming and entertainment fans aged 13-54 in the US and UK. It uses Fandom's proprietary data.

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