What can we expect from the gaming industry in 2020? - The Social Element
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What can we expect from the gaming industry in 2020?

With the next generation Sony and Microsoft game consoles releasing this year, and pre-orders expected to begin imminently, we delved into upcoming trends and changes in consumer behaviour.

Releases follow very similar trends each time a key industry player has a new product – monumental hype builds until consumers are able to lay their hands on their new, prized possession. Every announcement and titbit of information is analysed, pored over for hidden extra specifics by the avid gamer, until the manufacturers deem it appropriate to fully disclose the vital details. 

According to GlobalWebIndex data, 16% of gaming fans are planning on buying a new console in the near future – with 8% doing online research before making a purchase. 

Social media will play a key role in pushing consumers to make a new purchase, underlined by the purchase intent of gamers, who are heavy users of social media – with purchase intention rising to 18% within this category. 

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When comparing the two consoles’ war for attention on Twitter, we see the PlayStation 5 dominates by a clear margin: 91% of conversation around the two upcoming products mention PlayStation, and a huge 96% of purchase intent discussion. It should be noted this research is specifically limited to people mentioning the new generation of console.

Interestingly, 21% of gaming fans purchased a games console in the last 3-6 months of 2019.

This suggests, that despite the current generation of consoles coming to a close, there is still an appetite for the hardware – potentially more so than for the upcoming newest generation. This is made even more interesting by Microsoft’s announcement that it intends to discontinue most of its current generation consoles.

Demographical Intent and Strategy

A wide range of demographic data can be utilised to create a broad approach strategy, which could be undertaken by companies releasing consoles in the near future.

Looking at age categories: 25-34 had the highest desire to purchase, with 20% of this category stating an interest in picking up a new console. A slightly higher proportion of parents are planning to purchase, compared to those without children. Suggesting a similar marketing strategy to the Nintendo Switch, pitching new consoles as a fixture for the whole household, could be beneficial. 

In the UK, the highest volume of people planning to purchase indicated they had a household income of £60K-£100K, followed closely by £24K-£29K. 

When looking at the UK overall, those with “high” income, 80% reported they try and find the best deals for products, slightly more than those on “low” income at 79%. Suggesting that price could play apart in all purchase decisions regardless of income, with brands offering deals perhaps being favoured over those that do not.

Moreover, just under half of gaming advocates stated that they tend to buy the premium version of a product.

With two different versions of the PlayStation 5 announced, and rumours of a second, lower spec, Xbox that has yet to be revealed, this suggests that there may be a slightly higher drive for the cheaper options.

Though it is very close, Sony fans appear more likely to buy, but Microsoft has a larger volume of fans.

When examining the data of those that indicated they already have an affinity to either Microsoft or Sony, Sony had a higher percentage of fan purchase intent at 21.%, vs Microsoft’s 19.8%. However, as more people declared themselves as advocates of Microsoft, the 19.8% accounts for more people.

Fan base could also play a part in the decision-making process for consumers; particularly those on high incomes, who are 27% more likely than the UK average to buy a product solely to be a part of the brand/product community. This audience is also more likely to be swayed by both advertising (+19%) and people’s opinions (+16%), for which an influencer strategy, featuring those from the gaming community, could highly influence purchasing intent. 

Survey data suggests purchase intent for the new console is largely dominated by males, 71% to 29%, but when cross referenced against comments expressing anticipation and intent to purchase on social media, we see that the PlayStation has a higher proportion of females (38%); far in excess of women showing interest in the new Xbox (8%).

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We are currently seeing a higher proportion of negative comments relating to the PlayStation than those regarding the Xbox (16% compared to 5%), with a large amount of this negativity focused on anticipated pricing of Sony’s new console.

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The higher level of anticipation for the PlayStation 5 over the Xbox Series X on social media, leads to the conclusion that Sony’s domination of the current generation may well continue into next – though there are still key battlegrounds to be fought. The most significant of these being: who will launch first, who will take the lower price point, which company will pull the trigger first with making their console/s available to pre-order and when will both companies announce the full line up of day one games.

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The answer to these questions could have a massive sway over which company is holding their head high come launch day.

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