New Study: Subscriptions are the Future of the Video Game Industry
More than one third of global gamers already buy into at least one gaming subscription, and the majority indicates that they play video games more frequently while on a subscription
[San Francisco, CA], [October 14, 2020] The Global Gaming Study: The Future of Subscriptions* conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, and Dynata, an independent market research institute, revealed that gaming subscriptions are widely attractive to all gamers and that video game subscriptions which provide access to a library of games are poised to change the way gaming is offered and bought. The study, based on a representative sample of more than 13,000 individuals across 17 countries during the months of May and June, also suggests that there is a strong appetite for a wide range of offerings, including both high-end and low-end offerings, as more than three quarters of current subscribers express interest in more than one subscription service.
While subscriptions are a global trend, there is plenty of opportunity for growth
Study results show that 35 percent of global gamers have already adopted the subscription model to meet their gaming preferences – in the US, this number is slightly lower at 20 percent of gamers. Naturally, subscription rates differ significantly between the various segments of gamers, with 61 percent of serious gamers (>20 hours per week) as compared to 27 percent of casual gamers (<five hours per week).
Internationally, more than 70 percent of gamers indicate that they spend more time gaming when on a subscription – in the US, half of current gaming subscribers indicate a tendency to play more due to their subscription(s). However, we could expect to see these numbers grow, as 61 percent of current subscribers indicated that they expect to spend more time gaming following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a huge opportunity for subscription services to become the primary way consumers access games, and based on our findings, will also increase gaming’s share of a valuable asset – consumers’ time,” says Nick Zarb, Partner at Simon-Kucher. “Subscriptions will compound stellar industry growth rates already amplified by COVID-19, but time is of the essence to capture market share and become established contenders, particularly in countries where penetration is low.”
Price is not the foremost factor in purchasing decisions – quality of games tops the leader board
When considering a gaming subscription, all segments of gamers agreed that the quality of games was the most important factor in their decision-making. For casual gamers, price was the second most important factor, followed by number of games and diversity of games. Diversity of games was the runner-up for moderate gamers (six –20 hours per week), followed by price and then number of games. When it comes to serious gamers, diversity of games, number of games, and lastly, price, rounded out the top four factors impacting purchasing decisions.
Overall, subscribers expect to pay approximately $10 – $40 per month for their ideal gaming subscription, a range wide enough that the market can support either multiple subscriptions or premium tiers. Moderate and serious gamers represent the higher end of the range, indicating a willingness-to-pay of $20 – $40+ per month, suggesting they might be open to premium tiers (e.g. with earlier access to AAA titles).
“Similar to other subscriptions, such as for TV, we see that quality and freedom of choice are the driving factors from a consumer perspective – not the price,” says Lisa Jäger, media expert and Partner at Simon-Kucher. “Knowing this, publishers should highlight these criteria in their communication.”
For those who don’t use subscriptions, price was the leading deterring factor, followed closely by the desire to own, rather than stream, games.
There’s room for all when it comes to subscription
Of current subscribers, 80 percent indicate an interest in multiple subscriptions – yet only nine percent currently subscribe to more than one service.
“Gaming subscriptions are still at an early stage, similar to where we saw Netflix and company during the early days of movie and TV subscription services. People generally start with one subscription, and as more players enter the market and users experience the convenience of these services, it becomes a common thing to subscribe to multiple offers. Publishers should try their utmost to participate in this growth trend – also to benefit from the recurring revenue streams that investors like so much,” says Jäger.
Full study report available upon request
*About the study: The Global Gaming Study: The Future of Subscriptions was conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners and Dynata in May—June, 2020. More than 13,000 people across 17 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States) were surveyed about their gaming preferences and behaviors.
 Willingness to pay data based on analysis for North America & EU, includes US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, UK, Netherlands; Source: Simon-Kucher & Partners Global Gaming Study 2020
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Simon-Kucher & Partners, Strategy & Marketing Consultants:
Simon-Kucher & Partners is a global consulting firm with more than 1,400 professionals in 39 offices worldwide focusing on TopLine Power®. Founded in 1985, the company has 35 years of experience providing strategy and marketing consulting and is regarded as the world’s leading pricing advisor.
Dynata is the world’s largest first-party data and insights platform. With a reach that encompasses 62 million consumers and business professionals globally, and an extensive library of individual profile attributes collected through surveys, Dynata is the cornerstone for precise, trustworthy quality data. The company has built innovative data services and solutions around its robust first-party data offering to bring the voice of the customer to the entire marketing continuum – from strategy, innovation, and branding to advertising, measurement, and optimization. Dynata serves nearly 6,000 market research, media and advertising agencies, publishers, consulting and investment firms and corporate customers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Learn more at www.dynata.com.