According to DFC Intelligence the video gaming industry was worth almost $80 billion in 2012 and there is no sign of it slowing down. With the growth in popularity of social platforms and the ever increasing integration of social media into our internet behaviour, consumers are starting to expect the ability to 'share' everything, including video games. As the industry continues to evolve so too does consumer demand and expectations, and the increasing desire amongst video gamers to access digital games purchased across multiple devices shouldn't be ignored.
According to the Download on Digital report, a survey of more than 11,400 consumers across seven major global economies that have purchased video games and digital content in the last 12 months, commissioned by WorldPay, 84% of respondents wish that purchasing a video game on one device would give them access to the particular version of that game on a multitude of devices. Whilst this highlights consumer expectations that a video game shouldn't be restricted to just a single console, what are gaming platform providers doing to meet this demand and offer multi device functionality?
Restrictions have always existed around the ability to access video games across different devices but what's interesting is that an evolution is taking place, not only with consumers increasingly demanding how and when they access content and games they have purchased but video game platform providers alike. To the relief of many Xbox enthusiasts, Microsoft recently announced a u-turn on its Xbox One console which allows users to trade-in, lend, re-sell, gift and rent disc based games just as they can on the Xbox 360. This is just the start of the tide change. Playstation fans also rejoiced when Sony announced it will allow users to access their digital games purchased on a PlayStation 4 from any console, anywhere in the world through a simple login, creating a seamless experience for its users.
In addition to Microsoft's revised policies on how consumers can use games on the Xbox One, it has also issued an additional statement empathising with video gamers, stating that if the Family Sharing Suite, which allows users to share their game library with a group of 10 friends and family, is desired, then the functionality will be returned in due course. This highlights how certain players in this industry are acknowledging the power of the consumer and are agile and flexible enough to adapt quickly to its customers. What's interesting for merchants is that over half (55%) of the consumers surveyed for the report are prepared to dig deeper into their wallets and pay extra for this functionality.
What issues are contributing to this trend? One factor is that last year it was reported that GAME would close half of their 609 high street stores, limiting the ability for gamers to purchase physical copies of titles. A direct impact of the closure of high street video game retailers is that consumers have been lead to buy more digital and gaming content online. In fact, 69% of consumers said they prefer to purchase their video games online. This has resulted in 70% of video games and content being bought as digital purchases as opposed to physical hard copies, which is fuelling consumer demand to have the same freedom to access and play their online video games as they did when they purchased the physical equivalent.
We are starting to see more and more examples of video game providers offering new ways to procure and share digital and video gaming content. The fact that consumers have shown a willingness to pay extra for this functionality means video game providers should consider reviewing their rules around multi-device accessibility as it could present additional revenue streams and, more importantly, customer satisfaction. Whilst Sony and Microsoft seem to be leading the way in this aspect and have recognised an increasing need for integration and co-ordination between devices, we expect many others to follow as consumers continue to demand access to their digital content and games anytime and anywhere.