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New Research Reveals 64% of British Gamers Have Increased Their Playtime Over the pandemic

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Future plc, the global platform for specialist media and home to leading games sites Gamesradar+ and PC gamer, has shared the results of a new research that examines the state of gaming in the UK.

The research reveals 64% of British gamers have increased their playtime over the pandemic. While two-thirds put this down to increased free time, more than a quarter (27%) said it allowed them to socialise with friends and 16% with strangers.

The research, completed in January 2022, was collected via an online survey of 1032 UK respondents – all recruited independently through Future plc’s independent research platform The Lens. All respondents owned a gaming device and had expressed an active interest in gaming during the previous six months. The nationally-representative survey contained in-depth questions about console and device ownership, next-gen consideration, and other related gaming behaviours among British gamers.

The survey found women are more likely than men to have embraced gaming through the pandemic, with 24% stating their interest increased compared to 15% of men. This trend is especially clear in the mobile gaming space, with women on average spending 11 hours and 50 minutes gaming on phones or tablets per week, compared to 10 hour and 37 minutes for men. Mobile gamers as a whole listed puzzle and word games as their favourite genre, a passion reflected internationally this year with the Wordle “phenomenon” resulting in the New York Times’ purchase of the popular vocabulary puzzle.

Another widely-reported trend, the explosion of digital driven by the pandemic has re-shaped the industry, with the Big Tech giants investing in streaming, digital-only formats, and the “Metaverse”. However, the physical format is still beloved by a significant number of gamers. While 56% of UK gamers have purchased a game digitally in the past 12 months, 42% have bought physical copies, representing a still significant slice of the revenue pie for games manufacturers.

When it comes to consoles, the PlayStation 4 remains the most popular among gamers (29%), followed by the Wii (21%) and Nintendo Switch (18%). Meanwhile, the uptake of next-gen consoles is increasing steadily despite ongoing supply chain issues limiting availability, with 54% intending to buy one in the next year. In this area the PlayStation 5 wins the market; 17% of gamers own one, compared to the 8% who own the XBox Series X and 7% who own the Series S. However, next gen units have ground to make up compared to legacy consoles, with many respondents stating they do not spend enough time gaming to warrant an upgrade (24%). When asked what they would consider purchasing in the future, almost all respondents (96%) cited buying peripheral items related to gaming, led by more than half (51%) who desire a VR headset.

The survey also revealed a passion for PC and Laptop gamers to invest in their devices, with 60% of this audience in the UK intending to upgrade either their whole unit, or parts within it. Future’s audience, in particular, is more likely to invest further in improving their gaming setup than the total population, creating a significant opportunity for gaming hardware manufacturers to reach this passionate and informed audience, and influence where this considerable passion-spend will go.

“We have studied and tracked consumer behaviour in gaming to help us react quickly to the changing demands of our 61.2m global gaming enthusiasts. It’s clear from the study, the gaming industry has flourished during the pandemic, with more people than ever choosing to spend their free time on their favourite device. The rising number of female gamers – especially in the mobile sector – should come as no surprise for those who have been paying attention over the last few years, but they are still an underserved portion of gamers. Though FIFA, Call of Duty Warzone and Call of Duty Black Ops proved to be the most popular games this year, our survey revealed women players prefer casual games which should make advertisers pause for thought,” Richard Thomas, Insights Director at Future, said.

“With Future now reaching 52.6m adults in the UK on a monthly basis, in sectors that include women’s lifestyle and wealth, as well as tech and gaming, our audiences are crucial for gaming brands looking to hit the sweet spot with their ecommerce and advertising campaigns. As gaming becomes increasingly mainstream amongst people in all walks of life, the ability to reach audiences in a variety of sectors and niches will be crucial for the gaming industry through 2022 and beyond,” Richard Thomas added.

Gaming

How game studios can avoid common network and infrastructure issues

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How game studios can avoid common network and infrastructure issues
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Mathieu Duperré, CEO and Founder of Edgegap

It’s common for video game developers to launch a day-one patch for new releases after their games have gone gold. The growing size of video games means it’s inevitable that some bugs will be missed during the QA period and go unnoticed until the game is in players’ hands.

Some of the most common issues experienced by game developers at launch are related to network and infrastructure, such as the connection issues causing chaos in Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, as some players experience issues connecting to matches. And while there’s no way of eliminating lag, latency and disconnects from multiplayer games, developers can minimize the chances of them occurring and the disruption they cause by following a few simple steps.

 

Plan for the worst, expect the best

For many video game developers, the best-case scenario for the launch of their game – that it’s a huge hit and far more people end up playing it than they expected – can also be the worst-case scenario for infrastructure-related issues. An influx of too many players can lead to severe bottlenecking, resulting in lag and connectivity issues. In a worst-case scenario, servers become overloaded and stop responding to requests, usually leaving players unable to connect to online matchmaking.

Another worst-case scenario is planning for big numbers at launch and building the necessary infrastructure to support this, only for your game to launch and have nowhere near the traffic you were expecting. Not only is this a big problem for your bottom line, but things can get worse if you rush your search for an infrastructure provider and forget to read through the T&Cs properly.

Some infrastructure suppliers will onboard new studios on a fixed contract, not letting them scale back if they’ve overprovisioned their servers. Some infrastructure providers offer a lot of free credits, to begin with, only for those credits to expire after the first few months. Game studios then discover they’re responsible for fronting the cost of network traffic, load balancers, clusters, API calls, and many more products they had yet to consider.

With that in mind, try not to sign up for long-term agreements that don’t offer flexibility for scaling up or down. Your server setup has a lot to gain by being flexible, and your server requirements will likely change in the weeks following launch as you get a better idea of your player base; under-utilized servers are a waste of money and resources.

 

Test, test, and test again

You haven’t tested your online matchmaking properly if you’ve tested your servers under the strain of 1000 players, but you’re expecting 10,000 or 100,000 at launch. Your load tests are an essential part of planning for the worst-case scenario, and you should test your network under the same strain as if you suddenly experienced a burst in players.

Load testing is important because you’ll inevitably encounter infrastructure issues as your network comes under strain. Still, it’s only by facing those issues that you can identify them and plan for them accordingly once your game launches.

Similarly, you want to test your game in as many different locations as possible because there’s no way of telling where your traffic will be coming from. We’ve had cases where studios released a very popular game overnight in Chile but needed data centers. Thankfully, you can mitigate issues such as these by leveraging edge computing providers to reduce the distance between your players and the point of connection.

Consider the specific infrastructure needs of your game’s genre

Casual games with an optional multiplayer component will have a completely different network requirement to MMORPGs, with thousands of players connected to a centralized world. Similarly, a first-person-shooter with 64-player matchmaking will have a different network requirement than a side-scrolling beat ’em up or fighting game, which often requires custom netcodes due to the fast-paced nature of the combat.

People outside the video game industry assume all video games have similar payloads, but different game genres are as technically different in terms of infrastructure requirements as specific applications.

With that in mind, it’s essential for game studios, especially smaller ones, to regularly communicate with infrastructure partners and ensure they’ve got a thorough understanding of how the multiplayer components of your game will work. A decent infrastructure provider will be able to work with you to not only ensure load testing is carried out correctly but also help diagnose any broader issues.

Too many tools and not enough resources to use them

One thing that large network providers are very good at providing is tools, but these are often complex and require specific knowledge and understanding. It’s worth noting that large game studios have dedicated teams of engineers to manage these tools for AAA games with millions of players.

Smaller studios need to be realistic about the number of players they expect for new game releases and their internal resources to manage network and infrastructure-related issues and queries. You should partner with a provider that can handle all of this, so your studio can focus on making the best game possible. The more automation you can plan into your DevOps methodology, the better!

 

Takeaways for small game studios

While game studios likely encounter many issues as part of their game development journey, working these three pieces of advice into your DevOps pipeline is a sure way of minimizing infrastructure-related headaches.

Don’t reinvent the wheel – We’ve seen many studios trying to build bespoke systems rather than automate and use what’s already out there. If you can develop your netcode, engine and manage your Kubernetes, that’s great! But is it necessary, or is building these things from scratch just going to create trouble further down the line?

Understand your workflows – Plan for everything, use tech-agnostic vendors to remain flexible, get real-time visibility and logs for your matchmaking traffic, and have a 24/7 support plan for when your game is live. The more potential problems you’re aware of, the better.

Load testing your game – Build tiny tools and scripts to generate as much traffic as you can, breaking your system as often as possible.

 

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Cryptocurrency

BetGames Will Start Accepting Fasttoken (FTN) as a Supported Cryptocurrency

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BetConstruct is pleased to announce that BetGames, the leading provider of premium gaming solutions, is planning to add FTN to the list of supported cryptocurrencies.

FTN is the official cryptocurrency of the Fastex ecosystem as well as the adopted cryptocurrency of the leading betting and gaming software provider BetConstruct.

The inclusion of FTN in BetGames’s supported cryptocurrencies will start from January 26th.

To learn more details about FTN, feel free to visit the website www. fasttoken .com.

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Gaming

Game Wave Festival invites everyone to watch the live broadcast of Nordic Game Discovery Contest Grand Finals!

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Game Wave Festival invites everyone to watch the live broadcast of Nordic Game Discovery Contest Grand Finals!
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Game Wave Festival announces that it will broadcast Nordic Game Discovery Contest (NGDC) Grand Finals November 28 at 19:00 – EET (18:00). Everyone can join for free on Nordic Game Vimeo channel and Game Wave Festival YouTube channel.

Three days left to the Game Wave Festival and those who are not in the travel mood, can join online sessions as well as have the opportunity for one-on-one meetings. Register with Black Friday 30% off promo code (WHITEFRIDAY) at https://www.gamewave.eu/ and meet 35+ speakers who will share the knowledge on various gaming industry relevant topics.

In addition to that, on-site and online participants will be able to join Panel Discussions, Workshops and Nordic Game Discovery Contest Grand Finals. Right after NGDC Grand Finals kicks off the Game Night – Open Microphone event. Everyone will have a chance to go in front and present a game, service or talk about actual topics! See the full agenda here: https://www.gamewave.eu/agenda

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