A Facebook gaming survey shows that casual gamers are critical to the development of the metaverse
Gamers are bombarded with press about the metaverse, from think tanks to product announcements, but what do they really think of it? Facebook Gaming and Newzoo have teamed up to launch a survey in 2022 to get insights into gamer sentiment, from their opinions on the press to their expectations of technology, products and developers – and most importantly, how it differs from player to player – players on the hyper-casual end of the AAA console, publisher, and developer side.
In a virtual session at GamesBeat Summit 2023, Stephen Gray of Facebook Gaming at Meta shared his insights from this important industry research. He then discussed the future of the Metaverse for gamers with Tim Lion, Facebook Gaming’s Head of Gaming Marketing at Meta, and Alexis Pamboris, Research Partner at Newzoo.
“The goal was to build industry knowledge to the point where we could offer advice to developers,” Gray said. And through the research, they’ve found that the range of player willingness and enthusiasm for a metaverse is vast, and success depends on meeting your consumers where they are in their metaverse journey.
Here’s what they found – and what it means.
The main takeaways
The survey covered six markets and surveyed respondents who gamble on any platform for at least an hour a week, Gray explained. In the end, there were four segments: the casual gamers, two separate mid-core groups (one leaning toward the casual gamer, the other more serious), and the true hardcore gamers. The poll went deep into player sentiment, but Gray highlighted four key takeaways:
- About half of all players know what the metaverse is – but that number is determined by the hardcore player. Roughly 50% of respondents love it, but again, response varies across gamer spectrums.
- Gamers are already engaged in the Metaverse and Advanced Technology experiences, with about a third using VR and AR and nearly half using cross-platform gaming.
- On the hardcore gaming side of the spectrum, gamers are passionate about gaming, while casual gamers are far more interested in non-gaming metaverse experiences like virtual travel.
- Gamers are as familiar with crypto and NFTS as they are with the metaverse, but sentiment isn’t as positive.
Mapping the player base
A key objective of the survey was to break down the breadth of Metaverse knowledge across the larger cohort of gamers. Therefore, when designing the survey, very conscious attention was paid to the segmentation of the respondents, from casual to mid-core to hardcore, explained Pamboris.
“It was based on gentle motivational questions, attitudes, reasons people want to play games, and what platforms they played on. There were also a few factual questions in there,” he said. “We wanted to imagine this spectrum so that we could then look at the differences.”
This segmentation, as well as splitting the data by industry such as age, gender, etc., also allows them to identify key individuals, making it easier for survey audiences – the developers and companies that serve these gaming populations – to create action points.
Understand your cohort—and the wider audience
One of the most urgent points of action is something developers already know, but it’s something to keep in mind, Lion said.
“Gamers are not a monolith,” said Lion. “We’re finding more and more that there’s a lot of diversity in the gaming space: people, even if they don’t necessarily identify as gamers, but they play and interact, to people who really identify as part of the gaming community identify.”
And while the industry is talking about the metaverse, making it a buzzword and associating it with VR and blockchain, the consumer world is on a whole different level, Gray said. Most people who play don’t play Fortnite – they’re moms who play Words with Friends every day and never consider themselves gamers.
“They don’t even know what to make of this stuff. It’s important that we think about it,” he added. “You need to think about the metaverse in a way that fits your players’ expectations. I know I’m the consumer researcher who says you have to do consumer research, but that’s what I want to address. You really need to make sure you understand your player base.”
Why casual gamers are critical to mass adoption
Gray pointed out that consumer reaction to the metaverse will determine its evolution.
“The core and console side will influence us, but I think it’s more the casual gamers that will lead to mass adoption,” he said.
Pamboris agreed it’s important to understand what these groups want from the metaverse — and key to not leaving an entire population behind. Core and mid-core gamers are much further along the acceptance scale, he said, but there will come a point when casual gamers will realize that increasingly commonplace technology has completely left them out.
“All signs point to slow development, and when we talk about Metaverse features for developers, they have to look at the games they’re making and they have to say what to expect in the next few years.” That’s now kinda new?” he said.
In the PC and console environment, this technology is easy to imagine as crossplay is already widespread and players expect support for it. Or it could be something similar to Epic’s recent move, which combined perks and purchases between Rocket League and Fortnite for Fortnite Crew subscribers. Casual players could soon expect to be able to share their results, chat with other players, exchange tips, and maybe even receive rewards and lives in the short to medium term.
Ultimately, success in the Metaverse realm depends on staying in touch with your players, their game motivations, and their expectations. But don’t overdo it on casual gamers and don’t think they’re looking for Candy Crush VR.
“A more correct way to think about future development cycles is to implement persistent social features and make casual gaming more of a connected experience – these are probably closer to what you want to think about now,” Gray explained.
At their core, they are already familiar with metaverse concepts; After all, World of Warcraft has been around for more than 20 years, along with the idea of persistent economies, social avatars and so on.
“You can get a little more creative here,” he said. “Never deviate from the crypto tech stack. Concentrate on making good games. Focus on good gaming experiences and let them evolve as they come.”
Ultimately, as gaming culture becomes more mainstream, the promise of the metaverse will become mainstream, Gray said.
“The future will see games becoming more and more integrated into our lives,” he said, “and as a result, the idea of a consistent digital world will naturally evolve.”
Don’t miss the full discussion – View the entire discussion here.