Social games responsible for drop in console sales

Friday, 23rd September 2011 03:34 GMT By Jessica Citizen

The numbers don’t lie. There’s been a noticeable decline in console sales – both hardware and software – in recent years. Where are they all going? Simple: More and more are getting their gaming fix from Facebook.

Until recently, it was believed that gamers who had access to core platforms such as the PS3 or Xbox 360 weren’t the same people as played casual games on social networks. A new survey of 1,400 qualified respondents has shown that nearly 70% of social, casual gamers also have access to consoles – and a third of those are playing less on the PS3 or Xbox 360 because games are so readily available online.

Develop has the full story, but these findings are sending shockwaves around the industry.

Spending habits have also decreased. 22% of the surveyed, self-identified “social gamers” had paid more than $100 on core games over the past year, with twice that paying $50. Despite these numbers, a quarter of the gamers said they were investing less money on core titles.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is changing. May I introduce to you the Hardcore Social gamer, a force to be reckoned with.



  1. Phoenixblight

    Its a correlation not a cause. Apparently most people like playing Skinner box games. This study is not something to take seriously because they don’t show the demographics of people. It just says “qualified” people, that can mean anything. They could be people that explicitly play FB games. 1.4k is not a lot of people to be extrapolating info from and then basing your decisions upon.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. AJacks92

    @1 Stat class has also changed my view on Gallup polls and such…forever. There are too many factors for these “statistics”. Also -disregarding this statistic not being a large enough sample size- they never said how they got this sample of 1400. Was it simply middle-aged people? Were they all 18 and below? Did they split the sample to male and female? Too many factors to consider, therefore, this is not a viable statistic.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. OlderGamer

    Aging hardware. Expensive software. Content held back for DLC. And a game shelf over run with Online MP Shooters. Toss in yearly and reocuring sequels. And so on and so forth.

    Online PC games are often free, easy to get into and can be found everywhere. Take my case, I play Phantasy Star Blue Burst. Its a core game, but it is a dead game(sega no longer hosts servers for it). It costs me nothing to download and nothing to play. My wife and two kids each play it too. Not exactly farmvile, but the comparison works.

    In that is doesn’t cost me anything to get and play, yet it has thousands of hours of gameplay avilble.

    I mean come on. I am bearly making it month to month. How much cash does the games industry think people have, and how important are new games to people that don’t have jobs or people eating ramon noodles and PBJs?

    I have to be extremly selective in my games these days. I am letting my preorder of BF3 go, for example. I just can’t swing it or its expected dlc. Screw 60usd games and 20usdplus day one DLC. For me its mostly arcade/indie/steam sales/ and free online PC games .

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Phoenixblight


    Seriously OG just because you have issues with getting games doesn’t prove or disprove anything studies have shown on average how much “gamers” put in to their hobby. Just in this little survey it had shown people were putting 100$! into a Skinner BOx game on FB so they can buy more fruit or crap for their farm.

    So this group is not proving anything you are talking about.

    Just for reference:

    #4 3 years ago
  5. OrbitMonkey

    Farmville confirmed for ps4 launch.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. OlderGamer

    Many of the yoy numbers I have been reading have been down PB. That ties very much into what I was talking about. This “survey” if you can even call it that proves nothing. We all know that.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight

    The numbers for the YoY are not directly linked to what games are coming out or have been released you would surely see when a big Triple AAA game from known publishers like Rockstar will see that year it has gone up. WHen they have done them for the summer and its dipping its because its the summer hole not a lot of Triple games release in that time period, they usually push until December. Again its a correlation not a causation of what is going in in the industry if you look at the actual numbers the industry is going up in profits even through a recessation.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. GrimRita

    I think the problem is right at the door of the games industry. The new platforms(Smart phones) have created small, free/cheap and different games to play, whilst the console market is stale – full of the same generic piles of shit that will end up seeing it be its downfall.

    It’s about time that creativity came back to the industry instead of releasing half baked (insert name of generic triple A game here) games at prices they simply cannot justify any more.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Blerk

    I can’t quite believe this, to be honest. Difficult to imagine someone who was actually into ‘proper’ games deciding that a throw-away Facebook click-a-thon is a decent enough replacement for proper games.

    I’d have found it more believable if they’d said that it was free and Indie titles that were drawing people away, but not Facebook.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Lahanas

    Facebook etc is not real gaming. If this is really happening, if this is the future of gaming, it’s disgusting.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. nofear360

    #8: Bullshit! As Keiji Inafune recently pointed out nicely, social games and console games cater to different audiences (I didn’t say there’s no overlap!). It’s like professional high-end cameras and cameras on mobile phones. Do you think that just because cameras are so widespread on phones today, it means someone who wants to take mega high-res, BEAUTIFUL photos will go for a crappy 5MP phone camera as opposed to what he/she used to buy before, that is high-end cameras? I think you know the answer to this question (or at least I hope, so more people won’t be subjected to your BS – some might even believe it!).

    #11 3 years ago
  12. GrimRita

    @11 you must be a generic FPS lover then? Of course the industry is to blame. Clearly there is a HUGE market for ‘social’ games – an area that Microsoft are desperate to get a slice of that pie – hell even EA joined the pack with Sims Social because they know its another revenue stream and importantly, a growing one.

    The decline in sales of games of these past couple of years also demonstrates that the industry needs to do something instead of releasing FPS TITLE 5, FIFA 8 billion etc etc etc because its clearly boring the wider market

    #12 3 years ago
  13. nofear360

    @12: I back console games, therefore I MUST be a FPS fan! TOTALLY makes sense, yeah. No seriously, while I like shooters, I am in no way a fan of them. I’m more of the adventure type of guy, you know. Uncharted, Enslaved, BioShock, Mass Effect, Infamous and such like. Strictly a single-player gamer at that. So, yeah, sorry to disappoint you ;).

    Just because there’s a huge market for social games, which I didn’t say there wasn’t, mind you, it doesn’t mean that console games and social games can’t coexist without eating into each other’s pie. Just because EA and Microsoft start releasing casual, social games it in no way means anything bad for the console market. They are just expanding their product portfolio to cater to new market segments, that’s it! It’s not a sign of “Oh console games, you’re DOOMED!!”

    Given the rise in sales of such annual titles as Call of Duty (wow look at that, me giving CoD as a good example – ironic when my soon-to-be-done thesis criticizes Activision for their poor strategy – just thought you should know), FIFA, NHL, and Madden, I’d say it’s not boring the wider market at all. Do you think that the increase is because hardcore gamers said “Oh look, a new NHL title, let’s buy that over Rage, Battlefield 3, etc.” No, it’s the mainstream who is most responsible for the rise and it’s understandable. They only buy a few titles a year – Need for Speeds, FIFAs, and CODs – so of course they’ll come back for more year after year. I used to be the same back when I was new to the console space in the early 2000s (boy, was I still misinformed back then :)). Of course, along the way they tell their friends to get these as well and then there’s the growing user base of consoles each year – not a radical increase, but enough to account for some of the increase in the user base of such franchises.

    Also, while on the subject of sequels, I also think many of them are not evolved properly, Call of Duty being the main offender imo. But that’s my opinion, the opinion of a relatively very well informed hardcore gamer. Many CoD players, especially of the mainstream nature, don’t give a rat’s ass about whether or not there is proper incremental innovation in a new release. They are just back for more CoD goodness, that’s it. And then there also hardcore gamers who just happen to like CoD for its fast-paced gameplay (however, I also think the network effect of CoD is a huge factor here, as it is for the mainstream audience).

    Whether we like it or not, sequels will continue to be the main revenue generators in this industry (when it comes to console software sales). I, for one, am not complaining, as I’m happy to play more of Batman, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Elder Scrolls, BioShock. These, I think, are innovating enough (incrementally, again – innovating too much will change the core product and will upset fans – Dragon Age 2 says hi).

    I went a bit off on a tangent there, but still, I seriously doubt social games are to blame for the decline. To me and to many others, it’s mostly due to the rise in digital (not social games, just games bought online), huge decline in Wii software sales, and the demise of music rhythm games, which, please don’t forget, accounted for much of the sales growth when they were in their prime.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. GrimRita

    I dont disagree with your valid points but my points are that the industry have shot themselves in the foot by not being more creative, or taking risks like they used to. They are simply all relying on sequels and, what doesnt help is over crowding Q4 with all their key releases.

    With money being tight for everyone, can gamers really afford to spend £40×3/4 in a single month for their favourite games? Being a PC gamer myself, its shaming that the social space has seen a huge increase in gaming(my god, farmville, sims social, all make my balls tight) but at least on the PC right now, most of the triple A titles are released through out the year and this is something that might/probably will benefit the console market in terms of increasing revenue, in addition to the points I made :-p

    #14 3 years ago
  15. silkvg247

    Meh, as an actual gamer as opposed to a “researcher” looking at “statistics” I can tell you why I personally invest less in hardware and software now.

    Simply put, there’s too much of it.

    I currently have a backlog of steam games that I’ve picked up in the sales for ridiculously cheap prices that I am slowwwwly wading through one game at a time.

    I also have a collection of Xbox and PS3 games that I need to get around to playing.

    I have about 5 year’s (in gaming time) worth of games to get through in total. Yes, I worked it out by average hours each game should take to complete.

    So do I go out there and randomly buy games like I used to? Hell no. I’ll buy a triple A title if I’m really excited about it, like Diablo 3, Battlefield 3. The real biggies. And I’ll buy the good games that I had “some” interest in, once they go budget. And by budget I mean either <£4 on steam or under £10 on console.

    I'm reaching the point where I am turning my nose up at those offerings as well, because I know I just have too much to be playing, and so I now ask myself.. what's the point? I didn't buy two worlds 2 in the steam sale recently for example. Very interested in it, was a very good deal, but I simply don't have the time.

    A movie will last usually between 90-180 minutes. A game on the otherhand? 5 hours is considered "small". I've been playing HOMM5 lately, already taken me 40 hours. FORTY! That's like watching 15 films. Just Cause 2 I'm not even 40% completed and have 36 hours clocked. Then you have your never ending online offerings.. WoW I have.. erm.. like 150 real days in total. Scary, glad I cancelled. BFBC2, 200 hours, TF2, 120 hours.

    Games take time to finish. Multiplayer games are neverending. It's actually at the point now where more games that "I like the look of" come out in a year, that I'd actually have time to play/complete in a year. Do games take too long to complete? Do developers spend too long making a game because it is deemed games "have" to take a long time to complete to be worth their price tag?

    Would it not be an idea to release smaller games, or games in chapters, at smaller prices?

    As for why social gaming is in the meantime taking an upturn. Completely irrelevant. The people playing those games are NOT the people like "me". The real gamers. I don't fvck about with fartville or whatever it's called. But your facebook masses will, it's called word of mouth. More people sign up to facebook, more people play flangeville, social gaming goes up. Shocker.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. nofear360

    @ 14: Hmm, true that most gamers can’t afford multiple console games upon release, but that’s been the case for the last decade, I’d say. If we look back at the previous holiday seasons, we can see they were also crowded and dominated by sequels. This is nothing new. And simply spreading out titles over the span of a whole year wouldn’t make poorly evolved franchises any better, now would it? :)

    I’m not sure I agree with you on the subject of sequels not being OK. I think that as long as they evolve in-between releases, so they don’t seem exactly like their predecessors (case in-point: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, CoD: Modern Warfare 3; sports games are a different breed, I’d say), they are good. It’s like TV series. I love it when new seasons of my favourite TV series are announced and I love watching new episodes of these (Dexter, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc.). Are they also wrong? Of course not. I don’t see people complaining “A new season of Community is coming, fuck man, not another season!!111″. I don’t see how this is any different from sequels in the game business. They are some which fail to be fresh and start to stagnate, but not all of them are like that.

    @ 15: Very good point. I also find myself with less and less time to play games as I get more and more busy in real life – studies, work, “social” life, etc. A true episodic model for high-budget console games (I know PC has a lot titles like these but consoles don’t) that are new (not like Fable 3 did it) to at least be an option alongside the traditional buy-it-all-in-one-package model would be most welcome.

    #16 3 years ago

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