Gaming uptake soars during COVID-19, but this could spell trouble for AAA publishers
The specialist noted some of the immediate trends. Essentially all metrics are “skyrocketing”, and downloads for free-to-play games are up hugely. He also thinks that this is accelerating the general shift towards digital, and “that that will be one of the lasting effects”. Moreover, online games with “strong social and competitive elements are doing really, really well.”
However, the outbreak could prove problematic for AAA game publishers. The development of these games relies on in-person processes, and can involve teams of up to 400 people. “These guys are not very agile,” he explained. “They’re not used to working in small teams and they’ve never worked remotely.”
Not all of these impacts are expected to last, though: “it’s hard to call when this is going to stop and when we go back, what will be the residual effect.” The specialist discussed what could potentially happen.
When looking at the types of players engaging, there is a roughly 50/50 split of new and existing consumers on free-to-play. For pay-to-play, most of the engagement comes from existing players spending more time on the games.
The discussion moved to longer-term trends. One is AAA games moving to free-to-play, following the success of Call of Duty: Mobile. This would involve publishers working with Chinese developers, who have the technology to work with this kind of scale for 3D games. “The type of capabilities that are required to do what Call of Duty: Mobile did do not basically exist in the US right now.”
To access all the human insights from Third Bridge Forum’s Video Game Publishers & Coronavirus Impact – Activision Blizzard, EA, Take-Two Interactive Interview, click here to view the full transcript.
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