Gamers are bombarded with press about the metaverse, from brainstorming to product announcements, but what do they actually make of it all? Facebook Gaming and Newzoo have joined forces to launch a survey in 2022 to gain insight into gamers’ sentiments, from what they think of the press to what they expect from technology, products and developers, and most importantly, how it differs between players starting with different players. players in a hyper casual ending from AAA panel, publisher and developer.
In a virtual session at GamesBeat Summit 2023, Stephen Gray of Meta at Facebook Gaming shared his insights from this important industry research. He then got into a discussion with Meta’s head of game marketing at Facebook Gaming, Tim Lyon, and Newzoo’s research partner, Alexis Pamboris, about the future of the metaverse for gamers.
“The goal of this was to develop the knowledge of the industry to the point where we can give some advice to developers,” Gray said. And through research, they learned that the spectrum of player readiness and enthusiasm for the metaverse is huge, and success depends on meeting your consumers where they are on their metaverse journey.
Here’s what they found, and what it means.
The main means
The survey covered six markets and tapped respondents who play at least one hour per week on any platform, Gray explained. They ended up with four segments: the casual player, two separate secondary groups (one leaning towards the casual side, the other more serious), and those really hardcore players. The survey delved deep into player sentiment, but Gray singled out four key solutions:
- About half of all gamers know what the metaverse is, but that number is determined by the hardcore gamer. About 50% of those surveyed are excited about it, but again, that response varies across the spectrum of gamers.
- Gamers are already engaging in metaverse and related technology experiences, with roughly a third using VR and AR and nearly half using cross-platform play.
- On the hardcore gaming side of the spectrum, gamers are excited about playing games, while casual gamers are much more interested in non-gaming metaverse experiences like virtual travel.
- Players are as familiar with crypto and NFTS as they are with the metaverse, but the sentiment isn’t all that positive.
Drawing a player base
The main goal of the survey was to break down the metaversion knowledge spectrum in a larger cohort of players, so when designing the survey, they were very intentional about the way they segmented respondents from casual to moderate to hardcore, Pamboris explained.
“It was based on soft motivational questions, attitudes, reasons why people want to play games, what platforms they play on. There were also some factual questions,” he said. “We wanted to visualize that spectrum so we could then look at the differences.”
This segmentation, along with slicing the data across verticals like age, gender, etc., also allows them to identify key personas, making it easier to create action points for the survey audience—developers and businesses that serve this gaming population. .
Understanding your group and wider audience
One of the most pressing action points is something developers already know, but it needs to be kept front and center, Lyons said.
“Players are not monolithic,” Lyons said. “More and more we’re finding a wide variety of games, people, even if they don’t necessarily identify as gamers, but they’re playing games and interacting with the very people who really identify as part of the gaming community.”
And while the industry talks about the metaverse, turning it into a buzzword and linking it to VR and blockchain, the consumer world is on a much different level, Gray said. Most people who play games don’t play Fortnite. they are moms who play word games with friends every day and never think of themselves as gamers.
“They don’t even know what to think about that stuff. It is important for us to consider this,” he added. “You have to think about the metaverse in a way that aligns with the expectations of your players. I know I’m the consumer researcher that says you should do consumer research, but that’s the point I want to make. You really have to make sure you understand your player base.”
Why casual gamers are crucial to mass adoption
Consumer response to Metaverse is what will guide its trajectory, Gray noted.
“The mainstream and console side will help influence us, but I think it’s really more about the casual players that will lead to mass adoption,” he said.
Understanding what these groups want from the metaverse is important, Pamboris agreed, and it’s important to not leave entire demographics behind. Core gamers and mid-core gamers are much further along the adoption scale, he said, but there will be a point where casual gamers will realize that increasingly mainstream technology has completely left them out.
“All signs point to a slow evolution, and when we talk about metaversal features for developers, they have to look at the games they’ve made and have to say what can be expected in the next few years. it’s kind of new now.” he said.
It’s easy to imagine the technology in a PC and console environment, as cross-play is already commonplace and players expect support for it. Or it could be similar to Epic’s recent move to combine bonuses and purchases between Rocket League and Fortnite for Fortnite Crew subscribers. Casual players can soon expect to be able to share scores, talk to other players, share tips and maybe even rewards and lives in the short to medium term.
Ultimately, success in the metaverse space depends on connecting with your players, their motivations for gaming, and their expectations. But don’t get distracted by random people and think they’re looking for Candy Crush VR.
“The better way to think about upcoming development cycles is to introduce permanent social features and turn casual games into a more connected experience; they’re probably closer to the point where you want to think about it right now,” Gray explained.
Basically, they are already familiar with metaverse concepts. After all, World of Warcraft has been around for over 20 years, along with the idea of sustainable economies and social avatars and such.
“You can be a little more creative here,” he said. “Never jump on the crypto stack. Focus on making good games. Focus on a good gaming experience and let it develop as it comes.”
Ultimately, as gaming culture becomes more mainstream, the promise of the metaverse will become just as mainstream, Gray said.
“The future of gaming is becoming more and more integrated into our lives,” he said, “and with that, the idea of a consistent digital world will naturally evolve.”
Don’t miss the full discussion. watch the full discussion here.