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Most Gamers Played 6-Year Old Live Service Games Like Fortnite Last Year, Over Baldur’s Gate 3 & Spider-Man 2

There seems to be an existential dilemma in gamedev right now.

Some new research has come out with some curious findings about video games from the last year.

As reported by Kotaku, Newzoo’s latest published study found that the game industry grew in 2023 in terms of revenue, but people are actually playing less games. And this is not attributable to the end of pandemic quarantines and travel restrictions.

So, the industry made $ 93.5 billion last year. However, Newzoo’s list of top played games across platforms demonstrated the dominance of live service games. Across PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, the top played games were Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Counter-Strike 2, Roblox, Minecraft, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Fall Guys, Valorant, and Call of Duty.

Nintendo’s fans do prove their loyalty, as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom only fell short of Fortnite at being the most played game on the Switch. On PC, The Sims 4 hit number 5 on their rankings. On Xbox, Starfield got up to as high as number 8. If you hadn’t realized, each of these titles were all single player games on these rankings that were dominated by the abovementioned titles. On PlayStation, there was no single player game that hit the top of the list.

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And yes, 2023 was also the year that Insomniac released Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. As well regarded and popular as that game is among critics and fans, the numbers paint a picture those fans and critics may not want to acknowledge: that those dominant numbers of PlayStation 5 owners would rather play live service games than Sony’s premier titles exclusive to their console.

Newzoo has even more sobering information to share here. Out of all the games available across all platforms, 66 games made up 80 percent of the time they spent playing games. And 60 percent of all that playtime were spent on games that were made six years ago, or older. So most gamers didn’t even play any new games last year!

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A key number of live service games made a staggeringly large 27 % of total playtime in 2023, including Fortnite, Roblox, League of Legends, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto V. Most of the other popular live service titles out there, if you hadn’t realized, are also six years old, or older.

Now, if you were reading this site, you would be remembering our shared press sentiment that 2023 was one of the best years in video games, in terms of GOTY worthy titles alone. But that critical reception did not reflect how gamers actually played. As it turned out, those GOTY worthy titles, like Diablo IV, and actual common GOTY winner Baldur’s Gate III, only made up 8 percent of total playtime for the year.

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Some gamers may still want to tell themselves that single person games are still what matters most, that they represent the pinnacle of development and get the most fans. But the industry doesn’t listen to those people. They follow the money, and the money is clearly swinging towards making more live service titles.

As Newzoo concludes:

“It will be increasingly challenging to grow a game’s playerbase, particularly in our current landscape, where evergreen titles and robust content pipelines reign supreme.”

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