Multiplayer games are key when it comes to create long term value for players. Developers know that integrating multiplayer options leads to more dedicated communities around the game enriching their player experience. Even when multiplayer is not available, online features such as in-game purchases for faster leveling or tracking player statistics are in fact a lite version of multiplayer.
Additionally it’s a window of opportunities for new revenue streams coming from microtransactions, downloadable content and competitive events. That’s why publishers and developers are focusing their releases on less titles but with more periodic additions for their games. As result, gamers spent more time playing the same game, hungry for new content, improvements, activities and possibilities to get immersed into the game. We spent more money and time for fewer games.
In the other hand, the raise of mobile and social gaming has been a good example to show how this sector has added more features to connect their players despite the limitations in technology. One example is Zynga using Facebook as main platform for their games. Despite the difficulties they are facing as a company, their initial success is based on how casual players can interact with their Facebook friends by sharing achievements, comparing progress and at some extend, playing together. Mobile or handheld games are one step behind since the intense use of internet is still expensive. Yet this hasn’t been a constraint to introduce features like leaderboards for players and cross-platform sharing.
Kongregate has two case studies where they show how multiplayer customers generate the biggest stake in revenues. War Metal: Tyrant, developed by Synapse Games, is a collectible card game and uses factions (a type of guild) to build bonds among players to create both cooperative and competitive pressure in the game. This social interaction leads players who are in factions to have an ARPPU twenty times higher than non-faction members, and the 6% of users who are in factions make up more than 55% of Tyrant’s revenue. Dream World, developed by Playmage, is a turn-based fantasy MMO that features a substantial single-player campaign along with a sophisticated guild system. In-game guilds also help create social connections and encourage long-term user interest and retention. Guilds are a strong indicator of purchasing in the game — 80% of purchasers are in guilds, while only 13% of non-purchasers are in guilds.
Anthony John Agnello comments on Electronic Arts’ change of strategy towards Free-to-Play and cross-platform. He states EA talks up its future as a purveyor of free-to-play games played across all platforms. The casualty of this strategy? Single player games. This doesn’t mean single player campaigns are going to disappear, but multiplayer is shaping a social context to build stronger relationships between players and games. As a matter of fact, it’s almost unthinkable to design a game without considering multiplayer. More and more single-player games are getting the multiplayer treatment. Titles like God of War or Uncharted, originally designed for a single player experience, have introduced rushed & poor multiplayer options in their sequels strongly influenced by a growing market trend in order to boost sales.
Multiplayer games are shifting from a traditional hardcore-competitive gaming to a social and interactive way to play games aimed to attract a larger segment of players. For developers and publishers long lasting games lead to more revenues and create a deeper impact to gamers. Multiplayer is a main driver for users to create dedicated communities around the game, leading to more retention, brand loyalty and up-sales.
- Multiplayer games create long term value for players
- Mobile and social games are integrating more multiplayer and online options
- Multiplayer customers increase sales and generate most revenues
- Single-player only games are from the past, they will all be augmented with multiplayer and social modes