Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Fantastic Voyage: Further Research

    I decided that what I had for my market research may not have been enough. So I decided ot do some extra research and stumbled across a test run by the Wichita State University's (WSU) Software Useability Research Laboratory. In 2011 (unfortunately a few years before Advanced Warfare would come out, Activision is indeed doing a lot to cover up how popular the game is staristically) they did a group test in order to find out gaming trends.

First I should note about this data that the WSU's population pool was:
  • 341 people
  • 73.9% male, 26.1% female
  • ranged between 18 and 51 years old
  • 80% were students (73% full time, 7% part-time)
  • 73% white, 11% Asian or Pacific Islander, 3% African/American
The vast majority of the poll showed the following indicators that relate to my direction (the full data is in the bibliography below):
  • 75% played violent video games
  • ~70-75% classified themselves as "expert" or "frequent" gamers
  • Over 60% game on a PC while 32% game on a console
  • Out of those who were polled:
    • 177 currently or have owned an Xbox 360
    • 58 currently or have owned an Xbox
    • 118 currently or have owned an Playstation 3
    • 106 currently or have owned an Playstation 2
Figure 1: A poll of 314 that asked what their favourite video game series was. (Phan, 2011)
     It was an interesting discovery that so many of those polled in the test rated the Starcraft franchise their favourite game (Starcraft 2 was released in 2010 compared to CoD Ghosts, Black Ops 2, Modern Warfare and Halo 4 which came out after the test was run). When asked about what video games they had purchased with in the last year there was a very interesting trend with five of the top 10:
Figure 2: A poll of 314 people asking which games they had most recently purchased over the past year. (Phan, 2011)
    Save for Portal, all five of these franchises are shooters or violent games (Call of Duty and Battlefield only doing it recently) that feature some element of "used future"-style science fiction in-line with the style of Aliens, Blade Runner or The Matrix. I considered looking into Starcraft and Deus Ex as they both feature the two aesthetic elements I am going for: Industrial used future, and Giger-esque biomechanics. The evolution of video games, especially triple-A titles such as Battlefield, Starcraft, Call of Duty and Deus Ex means that as tiem goes on, games become much more cinematic, with the most recent Call of Duty games especially giving an atmospheric scope and general feel of the typical summer blockbuster.

    When looking at the broader scope, such as video game sales, the trend, while slightly different, the battle between CoD, Battlefield and Halo is not, and pretty-much line up with statistics from mid-2012:
Figure 3: List of the top 10 highet-selling first person shooters. (D'Angelo, 2012)
    Deus Ex or Starcraft might not be on this list, but the trend picked up on the survey was still very apparent: Call of Duty is the most popular, followed by Battlefield and by Halo in that order. I decided to look into the success of Starcraft to see how successful it is in the public eye as there is one thing these four games - Starcraft, Battlefield, Halo and CoD - all have in common: Their emphasis on multiplayer make them popular platforms for competetive gaming such as online multiplayer and e-sports tournaments.

Figure 4: Annual financial output of e-sports tournaments between 1998 and 2014 (Escaravage, 2015)
    Looking at e-sports tournament prize handouts between 1998 and 2014 (Escaravage, 2015), last year Starcraft was a much, much more profitable Esports arena than Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield combined. The profitability can be a potential measure of it's popularity and the scope of it's audience - a more popular game is more likely to draw more investors who will be more willing to take a risk and offer a larger payout. Granted with tournament games it's the mechanics that primarily matter as CoD and Halo were practically neck and neck in winning opportunities last year. In 2013 Statistic Brain published that the Starcraft franchise (Star Craft, Brood War and Wings of Liberty) had, by 2013, sold 14.1 million copies over their lifespans, which would theoretically put it above Battlefield 3 on the above list by VGchartz (granted if we went by title, Starcraft 2 would not even be on the list and Starcraft and Brood War, which combined sold 9.5 million copies would be under Halo 3). Because the statistics for Blizzard Entertainment were from 2013, it is hard ot say how much the expansions Heart of the Swarm and the upcoming Light of the Void would affect the game sales.

    However the sales revenue is perhaps another factor to consider: Combined, making Blizzard Entertainment $679million, the two game iterations would have surpassed the amount of money that Black Ops 2 had made on the day of release.

     Despite StarCraft 2s lack of success in the sales charts, there is little escaping the suggestion that these three shooters and Starcraft are all popular games that appeal to students, tech-heads and competetive gamers alike.

    I may have lost track on my target audience age range and to compensate I discovered a narticle by the Guardian that, while looking mainly at the numbers of female gamers in the UK, can potentially be used to gauge the average. As accordingot an initial paragraph, "Based on interviews with 4,000 UK residents, the research asserts that women now account for 52% of the gaming audience, up from 49% three years ago." Although the article uses the phrase "the stereotype of the teenage boy playing alone in his bedroom is well and truly dead." women are only a statistical majority (ot of 4000 polled) by a factor of 2%. (Stuart, 2014). The unisex results are one of the things I am interested in 

Figure 5: Despite a kink, the data appears conclusive that even with the rise of mobile gaming, it is
still the younger generations who are more at home playing video games. (Stuart, 2014)

    By the graph's account, 8-17 year olds (which is late primary to seconday school age) make up the highest single age-group-based gamer proportion of the poll, with 25 to 34 year olds coming a closesecond and 35-44 year olds coming in third. Even if they are the lead share of the polled gamer audience by 4%, they are the age group who are most likely to play a game in the span of six months. The article later states however that 54% of that number state the smartphone was their platform of choice, followed by the computer at 51% of the audience (The fact these two make the grand total 104% makes me believe these are preference rankings). Out of the 4000 polled, only 18% considered action, adventure or shooter as their favourite genre while 33% considered trivia, word or puzzle games their favourite. Shooters and action/adventure still came in second, with RPGs or strategy games making up only 10% of the polledp opulation's favourite genre. (Stuart, 2014)

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