17th June 2014 by Thomas
Before my general update about April/May, I want to talk about the current hot topic, E3. Below is an overview of last week and the impact of E3 on the media coverage of video games.
The usual disclaimer applies:
The tool I am using is far from perfect. It gets hits on false-positives, some terms are impossible to get hits on and it is somewhat dependent on how clever I am when I create the monitoring criteria for a specific game if the name is quite generic. The tool is also dependent on the alerts I have entered. There are some prominent games that can be absent, I try to add them as I go but I know I always miss some. As I am expanding that list now, do not take the stats as an “end all” proof that X game is totally ignored by the media.
I am only sharing the graphs showing the number of articles for a given topic – we are also using a weighted value based on the sites’ reach, but this time around I wanted to keep things simple. So what you see here is relevant about quantity, not necessarily quality. It is important to note that we purge the results coming from fansites (dedicated to one game) and content farms (that just repost other websites’ content). I am just sharing the current results because I feel they are interesting at illustrating the trend for [the week of E3].
[EDIT - the graph on the games were showing a few games twice (Uncharted and Call of Duty). We are currently tracking games in different ways, one of them is to track the brand name rather than the game name. I have fixed the graph to show the proper result for the game. In the case of Uncharted, the brand name was coming with extra restrictions to avoid false positives, so there were fewer results for it than for "Uncharted 4" that didn't have any restrictions as the false positives are highly unlikely. Bonus - I have added FIFA 15 that I wasn't tracking earlier.]
The press conferences
First order of business, I wanted to see the impact of the official press conferences and see their respective impacts on the games they are putting in the spotlight.
Because of the way they are set-up, I ignored the EA and Ubisoft conferences – their top titles had already been relayed at the manufacturers’ press briefings and while my methodology is not 100% perfect, for those, it would just not provide much insight.
Another important thing to have in mind is that I am using the time when the article was published to determine its dependency to the press conferences – and because they all happened at different times I tried to ponder the timings, but there is probably a good margin of error that you have to allow me here.
Sony / Playstation
Microsoft / Xbox
*Evolve is not an easy game to properly track – I am trying to avoid false positives and I might be a bit heavy handed on how I do it for now.
Nintendo / Wii
The percentage is relative to all the articles published over the week.
I wanted to see how front-loaded the coverage was for each platform. Nintendo, despite not having an on-site event, are still getting an incredible amount of coverage.
To give some perspective, if you look at the March analysis, Playstation was getting almost 4 times the same amount of coverage as Nintendo across its games and devices, and Microsoft close to 3 times the same amount of coverage. The concentration of attention given to the industry at this time is really helping them as they don’t tend to draw as much attention usually.
The other point it highlights for me is that their format to make their announcement is not less efficient than Sony’s or Microsoft’s, and it is a lot cheaper, with an underlying message that their event is as much for their audience as it is for the press – putting both at the exact same level.
On top of Microsoft being way more front loaded than Sony, the sheer volume of coverage is significantly in favour of Sony. In March, Sony had about 30% more coverage on the PS4 than the Xbox One was generating. For the E3 conferences, Sony got 34% more coverage (despite them going second and having a slight disadvantage in my methodology), and overall for the week, 41% more coverage.
So purely from a perspective of media exposure, it seems this E3 was a significant win for Sony over Microsoft.
This also provides us a very interesting benchmark for the event and the attention it gets. In a week, Sony attained half the amount of total coverage it would normally have in a month.
The whole week
All the data below was collected from Sunday the 8th of June to Sunday, the 15th of June. Weekends are traditionally incredibly slow days for video game media, so it should offer a proper snapshot of the E3 week in that regard.
I have limited the list to the games that got the most coverage.
Clearly, a portion of the AC Unity coverage is also coming from the female assassin backlash/controversy and it would have been better without it.
FPS games are still getting a lot of the attention (with Call of Duty surprisingly lagging behind though), and Nintendo’s front hitters are also incredibly well covered with Zelda and Smash Bros ahead of some massive franchises such as Call of Duty, Halo and Tomb Raider.
I almost feel bad about putting the Ouya in there. I had to actually check to see if they were indeed attending E3. They had more articles on Monday following up their interview with Polygon than on any day of E3 itself.
Morpheus and Oculus
Still pursuing my personal interest in the world of VR, I wanted to have a specific look at the media coverage that Oculus and Morpheus both got throughout the week. And with E3 being so much about consoles usually, I have to say I am impressed by the fact that Oculus kept ahead in terms of media attention – of course, if Sony had pushed its own device more heavily, it would be very different – but it is still an excellent performance and testimony to the brand that Oculus is building.
A year worth of data
I have started tracking media mentions for almost a year now, even though I have only started presenting and discussing this data quite recently. This project started a couple of weeks after E3 2013, so I sadly I cannot make any comparison between this and last year’s event. However, what I have is still a year’s worth of data and I wanted to share one last graph, showing the number of articles that mentioned the Playstation 4 every day, from the 1st of July 2013 to yesterday.
See if you can spot the following milestones: gamescom; launch of the console; Christmas; and E3 2014…
11th June 2014 by Thomas
Last week, I was attending the Web2Day event in Nantes (that’s in France if you are wondering) to talk about crowd funding. This is not a video game event, and so, I had to dive into our data on crowd funding to talk beyond games. Considering the audience was mainly composed of technology entrepreneurs (don’t let the name of the event fool you, there were a number of non-web companies represented there), that’s what I dissected this time around.
I usually look at the data when there is a specific need – whether I want to check on a trend or I am preparing for a conference – and it allows me to look at them with fresh eyes (usually). And so, as I was checking the different numbers for the technology category, it was nice to find out that the Oculus acquisition has had zero effect for Kickstarter projects that published their campaign after the announcement:
Whether you look at the total amount pledged or the number of projects successfully funded, it is clear that there has been no Oculus/Facebook backlash. And this is despite some very vocal negative feedback from disappointed backers (and early supporters) on that deal.
You can find the slides of the presentation on Slideshare as usual:
And there is a video of the presentation itself as well: http://www.mediadone.net/video/vod-634/micro-june-4th?t=02:27:54
11th April 2014 by Thomas
This week I was in Berlin for the 2014 edition of Quo Vadis. The event is visibly growing every year and it has shed its German skin to become more international (I think that 3 or 4 years ago, english-speaking lecture were the exceptions, the past two years had zero German-only content; that’s quite a quick change).
I won’t go into the panel about luck in business that I was sitting in on Wednesday, not because it wasn’t interesting, but mostly because one big fascinating chat and I couldn’t take notes. It was great though. Just believe me. Or ask someone who was there and took notes.
Yesterday, I presented a “State of crowdfunding for video games” and as usual, I am sharing the slides of the lecture:
Looking at the slides again, they are not all very self explanatory but the recommendations in the end should help significantly. If you have questions, hit the comments.
7th March 2014 by Thomas
A growing activity for us is our PR services that we provide under the ICO Media brand. While this is a topic that we have very rarely discussed on this blog, we are developing in many ways and I might share more on the topic in the future (it is unlikely however, that I will discuss anything specific related to the work we do for our clients).
So, we do PR. But as you may have noticed, I tend to like data and I value information that is backed by numbers and not just intuition. For the past year we have been developing a couple of tools in order to make the team’s work easier and/or more efficient. As a “happy accident” from the building of these tools, I have now a monitoring tool that tracks articles mentioning specific game-related terms in our database of websites (about 5,000 sites IIRC). I have been feeding the tool with specific search for a few month now and what I will share today are the results for the month of February for a number of video games and video games platform.
4th March 2014 by Thomas
After writing my blog post on the 2013 numbers for games on Kickstarter, I felt like there was even more information to provide. While I am mostly following the crowd funding phenomenon in relation to games, the way we datamine Kickstarter means we have a lot of data for other categories too – sharing these is just a matter of taking the time to collate and make them presentable.
With Kickstarter hitting its first $1bn pledged this week, it appears to be perfect timing to provide more information to crowd funding enthusiasts. I hope you find it useful.
10th January 2014 by Thomas
With a new year starting, it is time for two customary types of blog posts: retrospectives and new year wishes. Here, I have decided to combine them both for you.
Considering how much time I have spent looking at and talking about Kickstarter data, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to join the crowd of analysts of the platform in giving my own take of the past year – with my usual focus on games in general, video games specifically.
[reminder - for the purpose of our data analysis, we re-qualified the Ouya as a Technology project]
2013 and Kickstarter
Games represent the largest category on the platform, in front of Films, and by a large margin.
Video games in 2012 and 2013
2012 was a remarkable year – it saw the Double Fine Adventure project put Kickstarter on the map for independent video game developers all over the world and the number of video game projects explode on the platform. From $1.2m pledged in 2011, Kickstarter went to close to $44m in 2012.
Throughout that year, a number of projects reached very impressive numbers for their funding and 2012 can be seen as Kickstarter Year One for video games for sure.
So what about 2013? We saw that games as a category did very well, but you have to account for the fact that the category itself accounts for both video games and tabletop games projects.
Yep, that’s right. Tabletop games represent almost half of the money that was pledged for games on Kickstarter in 2013. Being a board gamer, it makes me incredibly happy. But more on this later, I will keep looking at video games for now.
2013 was to be a key moment – would the trend of growth continue and was it going to be steady? Or was there to be a collapse as the first large projects got delivered and a certain fatigue for crowd funding crept in?
Purely looking at the total of money pledged for video games projects, it is obvious that 2013 was a better year than 2012. About 30% better. But such a snapshot can be a bit misleading – 2012 had a slow start with the Double Fine Adventure explosion happening after February.
Looking at 2012 and 2013 month-by-month is interesting: you see that the end of 2012 and the end 2013 had almost the exact same volume of money being pledged. The difference between the two years mostly happens in the first half. It is not a big stretch to imagine that a plateau has been reached and that variances are created by the “hits” (post $500k projects). And, to be honest, I am less interested in those large project performance than I am by the potential of the platform for small projects.
For Kickstarter to get a foothold in the game industry as a source of funding of interesting projects, we need to see projects of all kinds being successful on the platform.
It is reassuring to see that a similar number of projects funded in 2013 compared to 2012, and a much better indicator to see if the model is sustainable.
The following graph shows the number of successful projects per “funding tier”. The funding tiers are based on the amount of money the project raised and were empirically set by me. I think they represent meaningful tiers for independent games budgets.
So basically, between 2012 and 2013, the number of $500k projects is essentially the same (around 20), but there has been 25% more projects raising between $100k and $500k. 80% more projects raising between $50k and $100k, 60% more projects raising between $10k and $50k and 50% more projects raising less than $10k.
And to me, this looks like good news overall. It shows a wider selection of projects can get funded via Kickstarter, and not just the very cheap or the very famous. I would be ok for 2014 to see fewer shiny, large projects if that would mean a larger number of projects found a way to get funded. I think this evolution stems from the development of a community of video game enthusiasts embracing the crowd funding principles. A growth from the bottom up sounds a lot healthier overall.
Graphs are nice, but you probably want to have some direct numbers from all this. Worry not, I am very happy to provide the ones we have (all for video games projects):
|Number of pledges made||
|Number of projects submitted||
|Number of projects funded||
|Number of projects that failed getting funded||
|$ pledged to video game projects||
In 2013, Kickstarter expanded its platform to new countries: Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And we also now have a full year with the British platform. I explained my thoughts on some reasons why this dones’t necessarily mean much, but if you want to know the repartition between the currencies, here it is:
$ pledged – Video Games
(Currencies converted into USD equivalent)
Tabletop games and video games
So, tabletop games got huge this year on Kickstarter:
It personally makes me very happy (and I did contribute actively to that category myself) as I love board games, but it also makes me wonder what video game projects creators could learn from tabletop game projects.
The main problems their funding is to solve are fundamentally different. Video games have a high, fixed cost (the game development) and board games have a high, flexible cost (production and shipping of those games). That’s why the crowd funding works so well for board game as they can scale their main cost based on their popularity, a luxury video games don’t have. On the other side, video games have a lot of flexibility in the way they can deliver their projects and the way they can spread their development process over time – Double Fine and Revolution both deciding to deliver their games in two parts is clearly playing to that advantage.
But I digress as I think there is a lesson to learn from the success of board games (just FYI, the success ratio of tabletop game projects in 2013 was 53% compared to the 24% of video games):
Aim for the smallest amount that guarantees you can deliver your project.
Kickstarter is a platform that is perfect for projects that don’t aim for the moon, but promise a quality experience for the amount they ask for. I get to review a lot of projects on a regular basis from video games studios since I have started blogging about the crowdfunding of games – the vast majority of them are simply too ambitious and too expensive when considering the studio’s track record and its reputation. This is not the only point of failure there is, but this does seems to be the most common.
So, if I have a wish for games on Kickstarter for 2014, it might be “be more humble, be more successful”.
Special thanks to Potion of Wit for their help in the data-mining process.
Oh, and I didn’t forget that I promised this blog to cover two purposes: have a wonderful new year, we wish you and your families all the best for 2014!
1st November 2013 by Thomas
Anyone who met us at gamescom this year know that we have been working on two new reports on the game industry and we are very pleased to announce that our market research on the Turkish video game market is now available to everyone on our website.
It was a very productive collaboration with Smart N Digital Marketing whose insight in the market was essential as we prepared the report. We also received a lot of support from local actors who answered a lot of questions and shared their insight with us.
You can find details on the report content over here.
We made an infographic to illustrate some key data on the market:
3rd September 2013 by Thomas
It has been some time since I last checked on the progress of Kickstarter in the UK for the blog. With Kickstarter launching in Canada next week, it seems like an excellent time to look at the performance of the GBP projects again. I have pulled some data (from early July) and tried to get a feel for the current trend.
24th June 2013 by Thomas
I have promised to write a post-mortem on the Strike Suit Zero Kickstarter for a while now. I haven’t done so for many reasons, but the main one was that I wanted to have the game out and most of the rewards delivered before doing so. The fact that the game has been released is one of the most interesting points here, and a good way to get a complete view of what the Kickstarter did for the game beyond the campaign.
For lots of reasons outside of my control as well as the studio’s, I won’t be able to share sales number for the game. It is unfortunate but hopefully, there will be enough to learn from here to still make it valuable.
As a short side note, I probably need to clarify my role with the studio: I am a Non-Exec Director of Born Ready Games and worked as an executive producer for the title (not hands on, providing on-going feedback on the project). ICO has been providing the PR for the game in Europe since it was first announced (back in 2011).
18th April 2013 by Thomas
I have been a bad boy. It has been weeks since my lecture at the Indie Game Summit during GDC and I haven’t put the slides on the blog. Hopefully, anyone interested in them already got a look at them on SlideShare, but I do need to share them here as well, and I need to share more.
First things first, here are my slides from GDC:
13th March 2013 by Thomas
With Diane taking a much deserved break, I took on to write on the regular blog post on what we think are going to be the trends in our space for the coming year. Not to put her to shame, I decided to be even more late in delivering this than she usually is. It is also likely to be a different kind of look at the trends, hopefully, it will be equally interesting. If not, come back in a year.
Tags: 2013 trends. console, Android, crowdfunding, esport, F2P, Gala Net, gamstick, indiegogo, iOS, kakaotalk, kickstarter, line, merchandising, MMORPG, nvidia shield, occulus rift, ouya, PC, trends, whatsapp
26th February 2013 by Thomas
I will be talking at 2 events in the near future, in both occasions, it will be about crowd funding and Kickstarter. While this probably comprises less than 2% of my time, I think it makes feel event organizers that much more comfortable in inviting me talk about the topic.
I am not selling anything to the audience and I have no agenda when I come as a speaker. It makes me scratch the itch, so we are all winning in the end.
So, what’s cooking?
16th January 2013 by Thomas
Kickstarter launched in the UK a bit more than 2 months ago, I wanted to have a look at the initial set of data. That data sample is quite small still, projects usually run for 30 days, so you only really have 2 months and half (kinda – see below) to look at, but still, it seemed interesting to check the early days.
I also want to point out that the data collected was done differently this time. I have gone away from the manual collection of data and now run a fairly simple script to collect my info. This is still limited to successful projects only, but there is no lower limit on the amount those projects have raised as opposed to the $10 000 I had set before (I still think there is a point in excluding the small projects for my purpose in the analysis I am doing, but here, this is very useful). Read the rest of this entry »
14th December 2012 by Thomas
In preparation for this week’s panel at Evolve, I refreshed the data collected on the successful Kickstarter Video Games projects. We decided at the last minute to focus more on projects stories rather than talking about data on the platform, but as the work was done, and it was 3 months since the last time I had a look, now is the perfect opportunity for a blog post on this. Read the rest of this entry »
21st November 2012 by Thomas
First of all, you can find a summary of the event over at Thisisgame: http://www.thisisgame.com/en/2012/11/19/gstar2012-wrap-up
As highlighted in the article, the most impressive change from last year’s event was the very strong switch to mobile that Korea is operating. So, of course, there were still many online games present, but having probably around 50% of the B2C showfloor taken by mobile publishers was very impressive (and think about it, how much space is usually taken by mobile games at other shows?).
And that’s my biggest take away from this year discussions – Korean developers left that online corner they stayed in for so long and a lot of them moved to mobile. Last year, there was an interest in social games, but this is nothing like it.
There are multiple reasons for that strong change in the developing landscape, but the biggest one mentioned is the stellar (recent) success of Kakaotalk in the game space.
Kakaotalk is an online chat app for mobile (with VOIP as well) that has been very widely adopted in the country. It runs on iOS and Android (and Bada and other OSes that don’t matter much) and many operators bundled it and its adoption is crazy.
In July, they launched their first games (on the Appstore for iOS obviously, and Google Play for Android), including Anypang, a match-3 game, heavily using the Kakao contacts as a social graph (leaderboards and gifting). The game has been *very* successful. They report 10m DAU, in a country of 50m inhabitants (I think users outside of Korea are negligible), and significant revenues (that figure varied a lot depending on who you talked to but it averages around $1m per day).
It has created a lot of attention to the mobile space in general and Kakao in particular – with many studios lining up to integrate with them. It also means that money from investments is quickly leaving the MMO space towards the mobile space.
If you are interested in that market, I recommend you to have a look at the Kakaotalk app: http://www.kakao.com/talk/en
And Dragon Flight, the current game doing very well for them (Google Play link):
Discussing the Kakaotalk success last week, I was asked why I thought it worked so well, compared to Facebook for instance (or Skype). I think a short answer should be: “Check the app!”.
It is very easy to use, very quick to load and does what it does very well. This is a Dropbox case: service existed before, but was overly bloated (see Skype – I won’t launch the app on my phone, it takes ages to launch, ages to load, difficult to navigate). Kakaotalk also works on every device.
It seems that in Japan, The Line, a similar app, might get the proper momentum and build a similar success and start challenging DeNA and Gree presence. And we might have other apps doing the same in different countries. Whatsapp was mentioned (SEA and Spain), as well as Tango (North America)…
Interesting to see how this will develop…
When discussing with local developers and publishers, I collected a few rough estimates on the mobile market make up. Take those with a grain of salt, but it does help in getting an impression:
In the past year, the mobile OS distribution seems to have completely shifted. Where iOS was the main one a year ago, Android has taken over (through Samsung devices mostly but not exclusively). I was told 89% Android, 10% iOS, 1% margin of error for others – it is probably exaggerated but it highlights the current trend.
Another change, the carrier Android app stores have lost lots of market share, with Google Play being currently the main App store (about 50%), followed by Tstore – the android app store of SK Telecom (30%), Apple App Store (10%), and Others completing the count.
That change seems to have happened through users getting educated about the ecosystems (and not liking being tied to their carrier for their apps) as well as Kakaotalk pushing all its android distribution and payments through Google Play.
One last bit of relevant info: I was told that there was close to no piracy on Android in Korea.
Like every year, going to Gstar was a very good experience. We had excellent meetings, we were able to have a peek at trends from a very different territory and we met with local industry people that we don’t have the opportunity to catch up with at other events.
31st October 2012 by Thomas
After having observed for some time the Kickstarter ecosystem and crunch its numbers extensively, I have found myself involved in a Kickstarter campaign with one of my client.
The game in question, Strike Suit Zero, has been in development for a while, and I have been involved with it since the very beginning (and the game is NOT an online game, a very unusual occurrence for me). Its campaign is in its second week, and doing very well with 90% of its objective reached. I am obviously very excited by the current situation, but my point here is not to talk about this project specifically. This will likely come later, probably as a post mortem on what I assumed it was like to run a Kickstarter and it was really like to run one.
4th October 2012 by Thomas
I have run the same numbers (same methodology) as last time and made a short presentation under the same format to see where it was going. You can find it below: Read the rest of this entry »
30th July 2012 by Thomas
I have to warn you, this might end up being a rather long post. I am on my way home, coming back from Seattle where I was attending the IGDA Summit and Casual Connect Seattle and I have seen and heard a number of things I really feel like I should share around.
13th June 2012 by Thomas
New success stories emerge regularly, and there are now 10 games successfully funded that way beyond $500,000. Not a small feat!
We’ve been working on a Kickstarter project with a client, and as this progressed I grew very concerned that the popular perception of Kickstarter = success is not complete, and that anyone thinking of funding their project this way should look at it very closely before going there and asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars. There aren’t a lot of data points to check, so we decided to do some research to understand the platform and its current capacity better. Read the rest of this entry »
24th February 2012 by Diane
A quick chart I built that can be a good addendum to my last post about the online gaming trends in 2012:
Also, a friend on Facebook noticed that I didn’t even talk about console games in the trends, which is true. My answer would be that it’s still very difficult from an operational and business point of view to run 100% online games on the current gen of consoles, and that the console business this year is likely to be suffering in at least some parts of Europe as the retailers struggle, so there isn’t much money and effort invested there. There’s a good article today on Gamesindustry.biz about that.