Where are the 3 billion gamers Microsoft is talking about? - editorial

Where are the 3 billion gamers Microsoft is talking about? - editorial
All hunting for gamers. No longer just Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, the three gaming poles for years. For some time now, the multi-billion dollar video game market has come under the lens of Apple, Google and, with the announcement of the cloud gaming service Luna, Amazon, which already owned the main video game streaming platform, Twitch. The reason is obvious: there is half money, a lot of money.

Each of these companies aims to further expand the gamer segment. Each generation of consoles tries to take the extra step not only to consolidate the public that the previous generation paid good money to play, but to reach new people. The problem is here: no one has succeeded yet and it is not clear how this can be done. It goes a bit blindly.

When Microsoft, in recent days, announced its intention to acquire Zenimax Media and with it the games of Bethesda, id Software and Arkane, among others, did referring to 3 billion people who play video games in the world. This isn't the first time that Microsoft has talked about reaching "the next billion people" with its games and services when it comes to its goals.

There has been no shortage of experiments to expand the number of players (especially fetching the more casual ones). Some of the more successful ones have revolved around a simple concept, but one that also represents the great obstacle to overcome: accessibility.

Super Mario Run is an example of an accessible game: it is played literally with one finger. However, this limits its game mechanics compared to a chapter in the series on consoles. Give a controller to someone who has never played video games but who is intrigued. There is a very high probability that he does not know which way to turn: two analog sticks, no less than eight buttons, many of which must be pressed simultaneously; the system of interaction with video games is the first block. It is no coincidence that some of the recent experiments that have been able to embrace the most diverse audience have been Wii, with its movement recognition system, and Kinect, where it was enough to wave in front of a screen to kick a ball or take a slap someone.

And it is no coincidence that the medium that most cleared the videogame in recent years has been the mobile world. Super Mario Run, for example, allows you to play with just one finger. A method that cannot be more accessible: it is not a question of difficulty, but of involving both those who are familiar with complex commands and all others, including the disabled. Problem: When you simplify the controls, you generally also simplify the mechanics. Sticking to the example, in Super Mario Run the protagonist runs forward on his own, which drastically reduces the number of feasible situations and actions. In short, balancing the two aspects is not easy.

Although the main productions continue to be the prerogative of the console or PC world, in 2020 the mobile market will remain the main growing segment: + 15.8% compared to the previous year, a greater growth of consoles and PCs combined, according to forecasts.

Let's not turn around: video games are one of the most expensive pastimes in the world. For this reason, companies like Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are focusing on more manageable 'all you can play' subscriptions. To limit the expansion of the number of players there is also the economic question: video games cost. Much. Each video game costs 60 euros (net of budget collections and many independent games that also cost less than 20 euros); in the next generation they will touch 80 euros. Going to the cinema costs a maximum of 15 euros, just to make a comparison. Furthermore, to play video games you need either a dedicated console (hundreds of euros spent) or a gaming PC (the expense, in this case, is even higher).

It is no coincidence that the most played titles in the world are free, with all due respect to those who hate free-to-play mechanisms: Fortnite, League of Legends, Clash Royale, Dota 2. All the more so because they don't have great hardware demands and therefore also work on medium-low range computers, which many people have for work or school needs.

To overcome this obstacle, subscriptions such as Game Pass (which to date has reached 15 million of people) or the Amazon Luna mechanism, which will offer specific paid channels to guarantee unlimited access to hundreds of games. Definitely a friendlier solution for the wallet.

According to Newzoo estimates, there will be 2.7 billion players worldwide by the end of 2020. Most read now

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But then, these 3 billion people mentioned by Microsoft where are they? Newzoo's latest estimates speak of 2.7 billion gamers by the end of 2020; they will become 3.07 billion in 2023. They are found mainly in Asia-Pacific (54%); followed by Europe (14%), the Middle East and Africa (14%) and, finally, Latin America (10%) and North America (8%). So the 3 billion players are there? In conclusion. Newzoo includes in the gamer category those people who have played video games on PC, console, mobile or via a cloud gaming service "in the past six months". The frequency is not specified: is it enough to have played once in 6 months?

Even assuming those 2.7 billion people are regular gamers, reaching them all evenly is probably a mission impossible. Mentioning such a high number is an easy fact to throw in the face in corporate and shareholder releases, suggesting enormous expansion potential compared to the numbers that many video games and services have today. Read: no one really thinks that he will be able to create a service that, a bit like Facebook has managed to do, can gather billions of people. But the potential pool is very large.

What is certain is that the video game is by its very nature not very accessible. There have been commercial and technological experiments, but they have often been temporary: did those who played video games for the first time with Wii, for example, then continue to do so with subsequent consoles? Did he move to mobile or did he stop playing because he was no longer curious? In search of the answer and the right bait to catch as many fish as possible, the tech giants invest billions of dollars to try. The hunt is on.

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