The Decline of Platform Exclusivity

The year was 1991 and Sony had just suffered a public humiliation at the hands of Nintendo. On May 28, Sony had announced that it was working with the gaming company to build a new console with a CD drive. Nervous about Sony’s intentions regarding the gaming market, Nintendo publicly rebuffed the company a day later, declaring that it would be partnering with Phillips instead. 

 

Nintendo had inadvertently helped create a juggernaut that would crush its competitors until Microsoft joined the fray. In the ’90s, the console wars had all been about Sega and Nintendo, but with its first PlayStation console (1994), Sony outsold the Nintendo 64 by a huge margin, and with the PS2, it finished off Sega as a console player. Microsoft realised that a new entrant could disrupt the market, and released its Xbox to compete with the PS2 – and this is why we talk about Sony vs Microsoft today, rather than Nintendo vs Sega. Nintendo still thrives in the console market, largely by not competing directly with Microsoft or Sony, and appealing to a wider, casual demographic. 

In this article we will discuss how platform exclusives – games released solely for one platform – have been the deciding factor in every iteration of the console war until the ninth generation of consoles. We will also delve into the reasons why companies are now moving away from platform exclusivity toward an inclusive approach that involves PC ports, multi-platform game subscription libraries and cloud gaming solutions.

What are Exclusive Games and non-Exclusive Games?

An exclusive is simply a game that can be played on only one platform – no exceptions. Such games are locked down to a single platform, such as the Xbox or the PlayStation, or even the PC. Halo 5: Guardians (2015) – the best selling first-party Xbox One game, can only be played on that console or the Xbox Series X|S, Shadow of The Colossus (2005) can be played on the PS2, the 2011 remaster can be played on the PS3, and the 2018 remake can be played on both the PS4 and PS5 – in effect, the title is restricted to the PlayStation console platform. Dota 2 (2013) and League of Legends (2009) – both major esports – are exclusive to PC. 

A timed exclusive is an exclusive that can be released for different console platforms and/or PC after a specific timeframe lapses. Timed exclusives such as GTA III (2001) and GTA: Vice City (2002) are among the best selling PS2 games of all time. Mass Effect (2007) was a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360, before being ported to PC in 2008, and to the PS3 in 2012, and Mass Effect 2 (2010) was a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360 that was ported to the PS3 in early 2011. Both the first and second part of Mass Effect are among the best-selling Xbox 360 games

Both exclusives and timed exclusives can be called ‘platform exclusives’ – they are released for only a specific video game console or to one company’s console platform, and not available on any other platform, either permanently, or for a set duration. 

A console exclusive is available and playable on one console platform, but not on the other, while being available on PC or another non-console platform. Halo Infinite (2021) can be played on both the Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, but it can’t be played on any PlayStation console, and Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) can be played both on the PS4 and PS5, but it can’t be played on any Xbox console. While both Halo Infinite and Horizon Zero Dawn are available on PC, a gaming desktop would be required for the best experience. Like platform exclusives, ‘console exclusives’ are meant to sway potential buyers toward their respective platforms – Halo fans will opt for the latest Xbox consoles while fans of Sony exclusives would choose the latest PlayStation console.

Many prominent games such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (2011), The Witcher 3 (2015), GTA V (2013) and Elden Ring (2022) are non-exclusive – they offer vast worlds, great stories, engaging quests and more, and none of them are locked behind a single platform. All these games are available on PC, Xbox and Playstation and thus maximise the potential audience they can garner. 

In the next section, we will deal with how platform exclusives determined the victor in several iterations of the console wars, until Microsoft adopted a multi-platform ecosystem policy mid-way into the eighth generation of consoles, signalling a shift away from platform exclusivity. 

The Prominence and Decline of Exclusives in the Console Wars

Most video game consoles are sold at a loss for the first few years – the strategy being to gain consumers for the console’s library of games – eventually, console sales, along with sales of games available on it, may more than make up for the cost incurred in developing the console.

For multiple generations, the success of a console was largely dependent on its exclusive library – it was the deciding factor for someone looking to buy a console. Sega pulled in gamers with exclusives like Sonic, Nintendo did the same with Mario and Zelda, and Sony and Microsoft would continue this trend with a plethora of exclusives Hence, any history of platform exclusives is inextricably linked with the console wars – in the sections below, we discuss such exclusives in the larger context of competing console makers.

Gen 1-3: Atari, Sega and Nintendo Come to the Fore

The first generation home consoles often supported only one game, usually a variation of Pong, such as Pong Doubles, Quadrapong, and Breakout. The success of consoles like Magnavox Odyssey and Atari’s Home Pong series resulted in hundreds of inferior console clones hitting the market, eventually precipitating a market crash in 1977. In the same year, Nintendo would release several dedicated home consoles – the Color TV-Game series – that would support multiple games. The first console had six ball-and-paddle games. A later console would feature a racing game and the last would contain a port of Nintendo’s arcade game Computer Othello. With a bigger library, Nintendo’s Color TV-game series outsold all others, at 1,500,000 units

Home consoles of the second generation used game cartridges, which spurred the development of multiple games for each console. Space Invaders (1980) became the killer app for the Atari 2600 (1977), quadrupling sales of the console. The ColecoVision (1982) also boasted the successful Donkey Kong, which it licensed from Nintendo. The Atari had an extensive game library and dominated sales with 30 million units sold, while Mattel’s Intellivision sold 3,000,000 units and ColecoVision, 2,000,000 units. The second generation would also end in a market crash in North America, due to market saturation and poor game quality (apart from a few exceptions) 

Nintendo’s revolutionary NES (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1983) would dominate third-gen consoles and revitalise the industry, selling more than 60 million units on the back of a top-notch gaming library that used the computational power of 8-bit processors. Titles like Super Mario Bros (1985), Mega Man 2 (1988), and The Legend of Zelda (1986) set the standard for the third generation and Zelda was a runaway bestseller, selling over 6 million copies – both Zelda and Mario were system sellers as well. Phantasy Star and Alex Kidd in Miracle World were landmark titles for the Sega Master System, though neither Sega nor Atari could compete with the NES – The Atari 7800 sold less than 4 million units, (helped in part by licensed conversions of Nintendo games) and the Sega Master System sold 13 million units

Fourth Gen: Sonic vs Mario

By the fourth generation, Atari had exited the market due to the 1983 crash and the prominence of Nintendo and Sega, who would become the primary combatants in the ensuing console war. For the Genesis (1988), Sega came up with the infamous marketing slogan, Sega does what Nintendon’t, indicating it would compete directly with Nintendo, especially with Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), a title that would give Mario a run for his money. Other Sega Genesis games include Streets of Rage 2 (1993), Phantasy Star IV (1994) and Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994)

Nintendo responded with the Super NES (1990), releasing more industry-standard games such as Chrono Trigger (1995), Super Metroid (1994), Street Fighter II (1992) and The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past (1991), which is considered one of the greatest games of all time.

However, Sega held its own: Sonic the Hedgehog became the best-selling game of 1991, selling 2 million copies worldwide. Sega did not win the war – it sold over 30 million Genesis units while the SNES sold over 49 million units, but it had proved that it could go up against the industry giant. 

Fifth Gen: Sony Rises to the Top with Game-Changing Exclusives

Until the fifth generation, the major players in the console wars had been Atari (until the fourth generation), and Sega and Nintendo. That would change with the advent of Sony’s Playstation. 

The original PlayStation home console changed the game, quite literally, with Final Fantasy VII (1997). FF publisher Square Enix had developed games exclusively for Nintendo until Sony convinced the company that its ambitions for FF VII would only be realised with the PlayStation, which used CDs rather than cartridges, and supported the latest 3D graphics. Square took full advantage of the PlayStation’s capabilities – introducing full-motion video cinematic cutscenes that would become a major selling point for the game. 

Like FF VII, other Sony exclusives such as the original Tekken (1994), Resident Evil (1996), Crash Bandicoot (1996) and Metal Gear Solid (1998), capitalised on the new console’s technological capabilities. Sony became the platform of choice for third-party studios such as Capcom, Konami, Electronic Arts and Namco, which it had eagerly courted from the outset. From 1996 to 2000, the Crash Bandicoot games were exclusive to the PlayStation consoles, Titles in the Metal Gear Solid series also began life as PS exclusives before being ported, and they rank as some of the best games of all time.

Both Sega’s Saturn and the Nintendo 64 failed against a better-designed console with a host of third-party exclusives that set a new standard for gaming. Sony sold 102 million PlayStation units, Sega sold a mere 9.24 million Saturn units, and Nintendo sold 32.93 million N64 units. With its first gaming console, Sony had become the market leader.

Sixth Gen: Sony Exclusives Redefine Gaming, Halo powers the Xbox

Sony’s PlayStation 2 (2000) also boasted a strong library of games. With titles such as Shadow of the Colossus, Ico (2001), Okami (2006), Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (2001), Final Fantasy X (2001), God of War (2005), God of War 2 (2007), GTA III and GTA: Vice City, Sony continued to redefine what people could expect from a gaming experience. 

While both GTA III and GTA: Vice City have since been ported to other platforms, Sony entered into timed exclusivity agreements with the publisher, allowing it to gain a ‘stranglehold on the competition’. Sony’s exclusives helped make the PS2 the best-selling home gaming console of all time.

Microsoft’s first console – the Xbox (released 2001-02) , was going up against an industry titan with few competitors. But the Xbox had a killer app – Halo. The original XBox could not match the PS2’s success – Microsoft sold 24 million units as opposed to 158 million PS2 units – but Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) was the beginning of one of the biggest franchises in gaming, and proved that Microsoft could be a contender in the console market. Microsoft has sold 6.43 million copies of Halo: Combat Evolved, and the Halo franchise has sold 81 million copies worldwide – it is still one of the biggest reasons to buy an Xbox console. 

The Dreamcast (1998) preceded both the PS2 and the Xbox, but failed against the PS2 because of a lack of third-party content and Sega ended production before it even had a chance to compete with Microsoft’s console. Sega ceased to be a player in the market – the Dreamcast was its last console. 

Seventh Gen: Wii Wins by Appealing to a Wider Audience

Microsoft closed the console sales gap in the next generation – the Xbox 360 eventually sold 84 million units while the PS 3 sold 87.4 million units. The Xbox 360 (2005) had a strong exclusive line up, including Halo 3 (2007), which doubled sales of the console, and other hits such as Gears of War 2 (2008) and 3 (2011), Forza Motorsport 4 (2011) and Forza Horizon (2012).

The release of Metal Gear Solid 4 in 2008 boosted sales of the PS3, but as the final tally indicates, the seventh generation was a closely fought race for Microsoft and Sony – many developers found it hard to develop for the unique architecture of the PS3, leading to an underwhelming exclusive line up that gave the Xbox 360 an advantage.

The PS3 eventually caught up with ambitious exclusives such as the Last of Us (2013), God of War: Ascension (2013), Heavy Rain (2010) and Gran Turismo 5 (2010), but the generation was characterised by franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy, whose third-party publishers released their biggest games on both consoles to reach a wider audience. 

The real winner of the seventh generation console war, however, was the Nintendo Wii (2006), whose Wii Remote could be used for both traditional input and motion sensing. Wii Sports (2006), a game bundle that recreated popular sports at home using the Wii’s motion detection, became the best-selling Nintendo game ever, and helped the Wii become the best-selling console of the seventh generation, at 102 million units. With its lineup of family-friendly exclusives such as Mario Kart Wii (2008), New Super Mario Bros Wii (2009) and Wii Play (2006), the Wii won by attracting a much wider, casual audience, which neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 targeted. 

Since the Wii, Nintendo isn’t participating in a war so much as playing its own game: the Switch (2017) is yet another innovative console – a hybrid hand-held and home gaming platform. It has sold 103 million units as of February 2022, and its exclusives appeal to both core gamers and casual players. Many of its game franchises, such as Mario, Zelda and Pokemon, are huge system sellers  and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) has powered Switch sales.

Eighth Gen: Sony Wins by Sticking to an Exclusive Strategy

The scales swung back toward Sony in the next generation of consoles – both the Xbox One and the PS4 were launched in late 2013, and Sony’s console would outsell the Xbox One by a huge margin, primarily by adding steadily to its library of top-notch AAA titles. Despite an underwhelming exclusive lineup at launch, the PS4 would go on to become the second-best selling home console of all time after the PS2.

After a shaky start, Sony released a string of hit exclusives  – Bloodborne (2015), Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016), Horizon Zero Dawn (2017), God of War (2018), Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), and Ghost of Tsushima (2020) – all of which were integral to PS4 sales. 

Microsoft, on the other hand, was impaired by an identity crisis, as a ScreenRant article puts it. The tech giant pushed extras like the Kinect, which few cared for, and announced a controversial digital rights management (DRM) policy that required gamers to connect to the internet to play offline games, and also limited sharing physical copies with others. Widespread backlash forced them to abandon their DRM measures. 

Sony, meanwhile, offered a cheaper system that was more powerful, and also came with a solid library. Having only a few heavy hitters like Forza Horizon 2 (2014) and Halo 5: Guardians (not yet ported to PC), the Xbox One only managed 51 million units, less than half of PS4’s 117 million units. The Xbox One lost to the PS4 not only because it lacked a good roster of exclusives, but also because it tried to build an ecosystem hostile to gamers. 

Microsoft Begins the Move Away from Platform Exclusives

When Microsoft launched its Xbox Play Anywhere program in 2016, it got DRM just right – it allowed users to buy a game once and play it ‘anywhere’ (meaning on both PCs and Xbox consoles, but not PS consoles). It also enabled gamers to carry over their saved games, addons and expansions with them when they resumed playing on a different platform.

The Play Anywhere service was enabled for a slew of games, including Gears of War 4 (2016), Forza Horizon 3 (2016) and ReCore (2016), and the program signalled a major shift from exclusivity to an ecosystem for both Xbox and PC players, even in the face of repeated criticism regarding the Xbox One’s lack of exclusives. The roster of Play Anywhere games has since grown steadily.

After the Play Anywhere Program, Microsoft launched the successful Game Pass game subscription service for Xbox in 2017 and PC in 2019, and added Xbox Cloud Gaming to the Game Pass later that year. Microsoft’s cloud gaming solution would lead to speculation that consoles would soon become unnecessary

Sony, on the other hand, would take a few years to realise that its time-honoured exclusive-first strategy for its consoles restricted it from reaching the wider audience that Microsoft had attracted with its content services. 

Why are More Games Non-Exclusive Today?

In this section we will look at the various factors that have contributed to the decline of platform exclusives – changing industry attitudes, the release of prominent platform exclusives on PC, and the advent of cloud gaming.

Changing Industry Attitudes

In a June 2020 interview with BBC Click, Xbox head Phil Spencer said: ‘Our strategy does not revolve around how many Xboxes I sell this year.’ He added that Microsoft was focused on delivering services through the Xbox Game Pass. 

Months before the launch of the Xbox Series X|S consoles, Xbox head Phil Spencer also insisted that the Xbox brand was not built around exclusives. In a July 2020 interview with gamesindustry.biz, the game industry veteran said that the idea of locking people away from being able to experience games was completely counter to what gaming meant to him. 

He also characterised the Series X|S consoles as an upgrade rather than a complete departure from previous consoles, and promised backwards compatibility for thousands of games. Later that year, he announced that Microsoft would release all next gen titles for both Xbox and PC, with first-party titles arriving on the Game Pass subscription. 

Spencer – and Microsoft – could make such claims on the strength of the Xbox Game Pass. By 2020, many outlets were calling it a success, and even the Guardian took note when the service hit 10 million subscribers during the lockdown. With 25 million subscribers as of 2022, the Game Pass subscription service has helped Microsoft reach a far wider audience – especially as the Xbox cloud gaming solution is available on multiple platforms, including PC, console and mobile devices. The subscription service also accounts for a significant portion of Microsoft’s gaming revenue. A PC gamer article provides an apt summary of Microsoft’s core business strategy: selling game content through subscriptions or direct purchases. The device on which you play does not matter – in fact, Microsoft can shun the platform exclusive, and disregard console sales, simply because it can afford to. 

The PS5 and the Xbox Series X|S were released at roughly the same time in late 2020. Sony stuck with its policy of lining up a compelling set of exclusives, which led analysts to predict that the next-gen Xbox consoles would suffer poor sales because of Sony’s superior library. 

Despite the PS5 boasting a strong library at launch, the Xbox Series S actually outsold the Sony console in the 2021 November holiday season – the pandemic-period chip shortage and other factors had led to low PS5 stock, which led in turn to poor sales.

November is a critical month for the game industry: sales spike as Americans buy up game consoles and games to give as gifts. The Xbox Series S was readily available and also benefited from its low cost and the release of the much-anticipated Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 (2021). Forza Horizon 5 broke Xbox records, passing 10 million players within its first week

An exclusive strategy built around a console requires the console to be readily available, and the PS5 shortage may have impelled Sony toward a dramatic change in policy. In May 2022, SIE president Jim Ryan stated that the company’s focus on building a strong portfolio of narrative-rich, graphically beautiful single-player games, had restricted it to a ‘rather narrow portion of the gaming market’. 

A chart from a 2022 Sony presentation showing the rise in PC/Mobile Releases (Courtesy Sony)

By expanding to PC and mobile and offering live services, Sony could move from a single part of the market to ‘being present pretty much everywhere’. In a mid-term strategy meeting, Sony released a presentation detailing its move away from a ‘walled garden’ approach to releasing content on more platforms and mediums. Sony now wants around half of its games to be available on PC and mobile by 2025. 

For Microsoft, platform exclusives are no longer part of its business strategy, which now involves multi-platform subscriptions and streaming services. For Sony, moving into multiple platforms gives it the chance to be present in all gaming segments. In the next section, we will discuss how both industry giants have approached the PC ecosystem.

Microsoft and Sony Double Down on PC gaming

Microsoft has led the charge in making all its games available on PC – the tech giant’s next-gen games will be available not only on the Microsoft Store, but Steam as well. Microsoft has also added to its game library by acquiring companies such as Activision Blizzard and Bethesda, both of which have released prominent games on PC and other platforms. With the Game Pass’ cloud solution, such games are available to stream as well, on multiple devices (except PlayStation consoles). 

Microsoft is also enticing publishers into the Windows Store ecosystem – in 2021, the tech giant reduced its revenue cut from Store games to 12% from 30%, encouraging more developers to create games for the digital storefront, which is of course, available on Xbox consoles as well. 

Sony is also catching up, releasing some of its exclusives on PC. In fact, releasing PC ports is seen as one of Sony’s strategies to reach a wider audience and give gamers a taste of the quality they can expect from a PS5 console. In August 2020, Sony released a PC port of the much-lauded Horizon Zero Dawn and ported Days Gone (2019) in 2021. It then made a stunning announcement later that year: 2018’s God of War, one of Sony’s greatest exclusives, would be available on PC by 2022. 

Sony now plans to release four more games on PC this year –  Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will be bundled as the Legacy of Thieves Collection, though no release date has been confirmed yet, while Marvel’s Spider Man Remastered (2020) will be available on August 12, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020) during fall 2022. Sony’s announcements have led multiple media outlets to declare that exclusivity and the console wars are over for good. 

A slide from a 2022 Sony presentation growth in revenue via PC Ports (Courtesy Sony)

Sony is committed to its PC gambit – in 2021, it launched the Playstation PC label on Steam and a year later, it acquired the porting specialist Nixxes Software, and later confirmed that it would collaborate with Nixxes to bring more PS4 and PS5 titles to PC. In April 2022, Sony put out a job listing for ‘senior director of PC planning and strategy at PlayStation Global’, and a month later, the company forecast that its PC game sales would jump a whopping 275% to $300 million by the end of the next fiscal year. 

It is apparent, however, that Sony is making PC ports of its platform exclusives a while after their release on PlayStation consoles, enabling the company to walk a fine line between drawing people toward its consoles, and reaching a wider audience with ports.

The Advent of Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming services could actually bring exclusives back into play, if they follow a model similar to media streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+. ‘Exclusive’ media franchises such as Stranger Things on Netflix, and the Star Wars and Marvel franchises on Disney+ impel consumers to pay monthly subscriptions for multiple streaming services. 

Enabling gamers to play on any device with a strong network connection is a key value proposition for any cloud gaming service. Xbox’s cloud gaming solution (part of the highest Game Pass tier) is available on Android, Windows, iOS, iPadOS, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Steam Deck.

With its robust library, Sony’s PlayStation Plus service is characterised as “the Game Pass alternative that many people believed Sony would never offer”, and as the highest tiers of both the Game Pass and PS Plus feature cloud gaming, gamesindustry.biz argues that a new war, now between competing streaming services, is about to begin. The Playstation Plus Cloud Streaming Service is available on PC – as such, no streaming exclusive can be considered a platform exclusive. 

However, cloud gaming services are still in the nascent stage and 5G networks – integral to the game streaming experience on mobile platforms – are far from ubiquitous and the ‘deprioritization’ of Google Stadia has raised concerns about the viability of cloud gaming

Conclusion: Is Platform Exclusivity Dying?

During the console wars, platform exclusives, timed or otherwise, played a big role in determining the success of a console. Current trends suggest that the once-mighty platform exclusive may be past its heyday. 

Microsoft appears to have decisively moved away from platform exclusives, especially with the Game Pass, its multi-platform Store, and its cloud gaming solution. But even Microsoft wants to keep some high-profile titles as console exclusives – Xbox chief Phil Spencer has all but announced that The Elder Scrolls VI will be playable only on Xbox or PC and Starfield, Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years, is exclusive to PC and Xbox. Responding to the ensuing backlash, Todd Howard, chief of Bethesda, insisted that exclusivity would lead to a better product

Sony seems unwilling to fully relinquish platform exclusives. It has many platform exclusives scheduled for the PS5, and revealed in 2021 that the company had spent $329 mn on third-party exclusives for the console. But a year later, Sony announced that it would spend $300 mn to help first-party studios develop games and release them on multiple platforms, suggesting a shift toward inclusivity. Sony is committed to its PC strategy, but it wants to make a compelling case for the PS5 as well – by lining up third-party exclusives, and releasing first-party exclusives on PC a year or so after they are released on the PS5 – attracting buyers to their consoles and reaching a wider audience with their games.

The platform exclusive might be dying – only for the service exclusive to take its place. Both the Xbox Game Pass and the PlayStation Plus service feature exclusive content that cannot be accessed anywhere else. Such exclusives may not be locked to a single platform – Game Pass exclusives can be downloaded to both PC and Xbox, and its streaming solution brings these exclusives to just about any device except a PlayStation console. The PS Plus’ streaming solution works on the PC as well. 

If subscriptions and game streaming solutions become prevalent, and turn into major sources of revenue, Microsoft and Sony may be at war yet again, on a new front, and may even face challengers offering innovative game content services. The decline of the platform exclusive may well usher in a new era of multi-platform gaming, but gamers would then have to decide between subscription services rather than consoles. Gameopedia’s data curation team amasses information about all sorts of gaming hardware, gaming services and games. Reach out to us to learn about our game data solutions and more.

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The Ultimate Guide To Video Game Genres

Understanding Video Game Genres

The dictionary defines the word genre as “a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.” When extended to the realm of video games, a video game genre refers primarily to what players do in them. The word ‘primary’ is important here, because it is not uncommon for games to blend several video game genres in an attempt to appeal to the widest possible audience.

A Video Game Genre is a term that summarizes the core gameplay concepts and elements present within a game. Unlike movies & other media, a Video Game Genre is usually assigned to a game based mainly on its gameplay, not the story, narrative, or lore.

Apex Legends
Apex Legends (Courtesy EA) - An Action Genre Game

For example, an ‘Action’ genre game involves challenging a player’s reflexes or hand-eye coordination. A game like Apex Legends would fit perfectly here.

The classification of video games into genres began in the 1980s. Various authors used classifications to categorize games in their books, but the most prominent taxonomy was the one used by Nintendo. In order to maintain control over the quality of games released for their console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo came up with eight genres: Adventure, Action, Sports, Light-Gun, Programmable, Arcade, Robot, and Educational.

This list was later modified to remove some and add more genres, but it also introduced genres as a concept to the entire video game market. Gradually, sub-genres started popping up, building upon the foundation of their parent genres. This is where things started to get a little murky as several lists of genres and sub-genres were being maintained by different stakeholders as per their convenience and reasoning. We at Gameopedia have simplified and streamlined genre classification through our home-grown Game Taxonomy that is trusted by tech giants across the globe. In this article, we will cover some of the most popular genres to better understand the pulse of the video game market.

Why Do We Need Video Game Genres?

With thousands of video games coming out each year, a robust game taxonomy is necessary for consumers to identify what they would potentially buy and for sellers to recommend the most suitable games to their customers. Parents who are buying games for their younger children may like to avoid certain genres like ‘shooter’ or ‘fighting’, where some games might have gore and realistic violence . However, adult gamers might want to explore the same games for exactly the same reason.  On the other side of the equation, online game stores and game streaming platforms can leverage classifications to improve game recommendations and create more personalized experiences for their customers.

On a broader scale, the popularity of certain genres helps developers and publishers identify the direction for their next project. Making video games is an unforgiving business and therefore being able to gauge the performance of various genres in a particular market is a powerful tool to minimize financial risk.

How Are Video Game Genres Defined?​

There is no official body that classifies or defines game genres, although age rating boards do classify games based on the age groups they are considered to be appropriate for. Genre definitions are a mere understanding between the developers and the audience, and occur organically.

That being said, Gameopedia defines game genres as a term that describes the core gameplay concepts and elements within a game

Modern video games almost always contain a healthy mixture of genres instead of focusing on a single one. This makes a game more enjoyable, rather than monotonously focusing on a single gameplay element. As a result, a single game may feature multiple genres, of which some are considered defining and the others sub-genres. The defining genre is the game’s main gameplay focus, while the other genres present to a lesser extent are the sub-genres. We will cover sub-genres, genre mixes, and descriptive genres in detail in our later blogs.

The List Of Video Game Genres

At Gameopedia, our game taxonomy team is exclusively made up of gamers. As a group, we exhaustively play games belonging to every genre across all platforms. Using our own 200+ years of collective gaming expertise and taking industry standards into consideration, we have come up with a set of genre definitions that cover the gamut of choices available in the market. In the next part of this article, we are going to explore genre definitions in detail.

But first, here’s the list of Video Game Genres:

  • Action

  • Adventure

  • Driving

  • Educational

  • Exergaming

  • Fighting

  • Flying

  • MMO

  • Music

  • Party

  • Platform

  • Puzzle

  • Racing

  • Real-World

  • Role-Playing

  • Shooter

  • Simple Activity

  • Simulation

  • Sports

  • Strategy

  • Trivia

  • Virtual Life

Genre Definitions

Now let’s deep dive into each of these video game genres while looking at some of the games that fall under each category.

  • Action: Possibly one of the oldest genres out there, Action games focus on challenging the player’s reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and reaction times. It is important to note that violence is not a criteria that’s necessary for a game to be classified into this genre. Games like Call of Duty, Spider Man: Miles Morales, Street Fighter, and Temple Run fit the ball.
Spider Man: Miles Morales, Example Of An Action Video Game Genre
Spider Man: Miles Morales(Courtesy Sony Interactive Entertainment): An Action Genre Game
  • Adventure: Games in the adventure genre generally involve a player exploring the world within the game while experiencing the story through the eyes of a protagonist. Games such as those in the Tomb Raider series or the Uncharted series are prime examples. Adventure games need not necessarily rely on high-octane exhilarating moments but may focus more on thoughtful, philosophical, or relaxed endeavours. Games such as Gone Home are also adventure games.
  • Driving: Games that are classified under this genre mainly involve players spending all or most of their time driving ground/water vehicles like cars, trucks, heavy machinery, trains, boats and ships to name a few. It’s important to note that the driving mechanic in the game must involve physics like gradual acceleration, gradual braking, and turning for example. Games such as Euro Truck Simulator 2, Train Simulator and World of Warships among others, are part of the ‘Driving’ genre.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 , An Example Of A Driving Video Game Genre
Euro Truck Simulator 2 (Courtesy SCS Software) : A Driving Genre Game
  • Educational: Every now and then, we come across games designed specifically with the purpose of helping players learn about certain subjects or a concept. They very well could focus on a historical event, reinforce development or could be entirely focused on helping players learn a particular skill. In order to make the experience more engaging, the game might involve a narrative or more game-like elements from other genres. Games such as Minecraft: Education Edition and Educational Games for Kids are notable examples.
  • Exergaming: Games in the ‘Exergaming’ genre require the player to perform a physical activity to complete an objective, generally with the intent of making the player exercise. Some examples of objectives could include walking 5 kms or doing 15 push ups in order to progress. Most exergaming games are complemented by certain accessories or equipment that track fitness, body movement, and reaction times. Games such as Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, and Cyber ExerCycle fall under this category. Due to the integration of technology and physical activity, a game like Wii Fit has even been used in real-life physiotherapy treatment.
Wii Fit (Nintendo) : An Example Of An Exergaming Video Game Genre
Wii Fit U (Courtesy Nintendo) : An Exergaming Genre Game
  • Fighting: Games in this genre have a major focus on the players’ character fighting in real-time against one or several foes via hand-to-hand or weapon-based combat. Due to the core gameplay being heavily dependent on hand-eye coordination and reflexes, fighting games are always action games as well. Some of the more popular games of this genre belong to franchises like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat
  • Flying: The ‘Flying’ genre mainly focuses on flying a vehicle, object, character, or even a creature/animal. Within such games, the player has to take into account some or all flying-related physics that could affect gameplay like gravity, inertia, roll, wind and resistance among others. Games like Tom Clancy’s HAWX, Freelancer, Flappy Birds, and Microsoft Flight Simulator can be classified as ‘Flying’ genre games.
  • MMO: ‘Massively Multiplayer Online’ genre games are self-explanatory. The primary criteria is that it should require the player to play online simultaneously with numerous others (could be in the hundreds or even thousands). Some common features across MMOs include persistent online worlds, guilds, clans and parties, social interactions, raids and Player Vs Player combat. They could also have Guild Vs Guild/Realm Vs Realm combat and an ‘Endgame’ through which the player remains invested, despite having completed the main story or having reached the maximum level cap. Popular examples are World of Warcraft, EVE: Online, and Guild Wars 2
World of Warcraft Shadowlands : An Example Of An MMO Video Game Genre
World of Warcraft Shadowlands (Courtesy Activision Blizzard) : An MMO Genre Game
  • Music: ‘Music’ genre games are those where the main focus is on music-related activities. A player could be creating, manipulating, and composing music or could simply be playing, performing, or dancing to it. Music genre games like Guitar Hero have actually had a cultural impact with some publications even deeming it as a “Cultural Phenomenon”. Other popular entries in this category include the likes of SingStar and Amplitude.
  • Party: ‘Party’ genre games refer to games that are intended to be played by a group of people together during a social gathering with family or friends. They are designed to be easy to play and simple to learn. Party games almost always include a local multiplayer that can be enjoyed by both players and spectators. Games such as those in the Mario Party series and Buzz! Series are some of the more well known games in this genre.
  • Platform: This genre of games focuses on traversal between platforms suspended in the game environment while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Some modern games have also introduced more complex obstacles for the player to clear, with a few offering physics-based environments to make the levels more realistic. Games such as Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Meat Boy Forever, and Psychonauts are good examples of platform games.
Super Meat Boy Forever - Platform Video Game Genre
Super Meat Boy Forever (Courtesy Team Meat) : A Platform Genre Game
  • Puzzle: These games are for those who like to put their brain to use and find the thrill in solving puzzles. Whether simple adaptations of real-world puzzles like Sudoku or full-blown puzzle games meant to be explored in a video game environment like The Witness, there’s a lot of variety on offer. They test the player’s problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. Puzzle games continue to find millions of fans, especially on mobile phones where games like Candy Crush Saga are extremely popular. 
  • Racing: A ‘Racing’ game mainly focuses on racing a vehicle, animal, monster/creature or object, on land, water, air, or in space. The player usually races against an opponent, the clock, or both. The gameplay may be anything between a hardcore simulation or a simple arcade racing experience and can be based on real-life events and tracks like F1, or completely fantastical like Mario Kart. Some popular examples are the Need For Speed and Forza series.
ForzaHorizon4 - A Racing Video Game Genre
Forza Horizon 4 (Courtesy Xbox Game Studios) : A Racing Genre Game
  • Real-World: This genre consists of digital adaptations of actual games that exist in the real world. Card games like Poker and UNO fall into this category. Other examples include games that are played with physical machines in the real world, such as Pinball and Slot Machines.
  • Role-Playing: A Role-playing video game (RPG) primarily involves the player taking control of a character and progressing gradually by upgrading, levelling up, and/or increasing the character’s power as they progress through the game. Common features of RPGs include but are not limited to skill / ability unlocks, levelling up, experience or training systems, NPC interactions, and side-missions. Some examples are Final Fantasy VII, The Witcher, and Monster Hunter Stories.
Diablo III (Activision Blizzard): A RPG Genre Game
Diablo III (Courtesy Activision Blizzard): A RPG Genre Game
  • Shooter: One of the most popular video game genres is arguably the ‘Shooter’ genre. ‘Shooter’ games often require the player to aim and shoot at objects/enemies throughout all or most of the game. Games like the Call Of Duty series or the Battlefield series are commonly known ‘Shooter’ games. This genre is not just limited to shooting guns or weapons; a game like Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets or ‘Spellbreak’ where the player shoots magic qualifies as well.
Doom Eternal (Bethesda) : A Shooter Genre Game
Doom Eternal (Courtesy Bethesda) : A Shooter Genre Game
  • Simple Activity Game: The games in this genre offer a simple activity (such as drawing, dressing up, cooking and the like) as their core gameplay loop. They are meant to provide a stress-free and relaxed environment to the player, where there is a minimal to non-existent learning curve and very little challenge faced while playing. A lot of such games are developed for mobiles, allowing players to unwind and play on the go. Some prominent examples include Star Girl, Little Tailor 2, and Little Panda’s Bake Shop.
  • Simulation: In 2010, Gran Turismo 5 was launched. It was the first game in the series to provide a Damage Model. It also featured weather effects that were available for specific circuits. Such games that are realistically modelled to simulate real-life (driving a race car or flying a plane for instance) or hypothetical (space exploration games) experiences/events taking into account most or all possible parameters, fall under this category. For example, in a simulation car driving game, the player will have to watch the fuel gauge, obey traffic rules, change gears and account terrain to name a few. Games like the aforementioned Gran Turismo 5, Star Citizen, Assetto Corsa, Farming Simulator Series, and Elite Dangerous are prime examples of the “Simulation” genre.
  • Sports: From virtually playing a real or fictional sport to managing the activities around it sports games have always found a firm footing among gamers. Games like those in the F1 series or the FIFA series fall under this category.
FIFA 21: A Sports Video Game Genre
FIFA 21 (Courtesy EA) : A Sports Genre Game
  • Strategy: Games under the ‘Strategy’ genre are primarily focused on measured planning and tactics to either defeat opponents or achieve a goal. Such games may present strategic, tactical, and even logistical or financial challenges. Some notable examples of this genre are the Age of Empires series, Total War series and the likes of X-COM 2, Cities: Skylines, SimCity: BuildIt, and Civilization V.
  • Trivia: Games that fall under the ‘Trivia’ genre, just like their real-life counterparts, focus on asking players questions on various subjects or themes and scoring them based on the accuracy of their responses. Some well known trivia games are Scene It?, Trivia Crack, QuizUp, and Lights, Camera, Action.
  • Virtual Life: ‘Virtual Life’ games are focused on virtually recreating the mundane, day-to-day activities of real-life. This usually involves the players’ character performing tasks like sleeping, eating, bathing, shopping, working, and visiting friends to name a few and leading a relatively full virtual life. The Sims Series of games is a very popular example in this genre.

Conclusion

The sheer number and variety of games released every year makes it tough to keep track of the evolving trends, including the rise of new video game genres. This is where a deep and nuanced taxonomy created by passionate gamers and industry veterans, like those at Gameopedia, can help. With a coverage of over 180,000+ games, we can help online retailers, game streaming platforms, and the like categorize games on their platforms more efficiently, thus improving discoverability, recommendations, and personalization. 

Drop an email at [email protected] to talk to our experts.

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Car racing video game at an arcade

Why Large Firms In The Video Gaming Ecosystem Rely On Niche Partners Like Gameopedia

The Current Demand For Video Games

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of people to stay indoors. One pastime that has seen a spike in interest as a result of this forced isolation is video gaming. This sudden increase in the demand for video games has been a huge boon for the Video Game industry. The number of gamers have increased on all platforms, be it mobile, console, or PC. Video game publishers and stores have also reported rapid growth during this period. Even better, this growth has been observed across all sectors of gaming, ranging from the big AAA market to the niche Indie/AA market.

This growth has led to increased collaboration between large companies and smaller firms to tackle the rapidly changing trends in the video game ecosystem.

Video Gaming Ecosystem

Traditionally, large companies find it a challenge to be agile when it comes to decision-making. Their policies are controlled by a huge leadership team, which in turn is influenced by the interests of the company’s investors and shareholders. As a result, bigger companies turn to outsourcing to adapt to changing trends. They partner with smaller, boutique firms that can provide them with various services at a fraction of what it would have cost to set up the same in-house. These smaller firms are focused on a very specific niche in the industry, such as Game Teardowns or Sentiment Analysis of game reviews. This sharp focus allows them to become subject matter experts faster than most large firms. This is just as true in the gaming ecosystem.

Benefits Of Working With Niche Gaming Partners

Let’s see why using niche firms is a more attractive proposition as compared to setting up a new business unit in-house:

  1. Focus – A niche market offering is all about solving those crucial time-consuming and error-prone problems faced by businesses. Niche players do not cast their net wide but are very specific about whom they serve and how they do it. This focus helps bigger companies as they get to take advantage of an expert team’s services without a huge upfront investment.
  2. Scale – Large firms are often skeptical about collaborating with other larger players. Niche firms are a safe bet, as they are more focused on developing their expertise, and the smaller scale at which they operate negates the risk of competition, thus making them an ideal partner for larger firms to collaborate with.
  3. Speed – Niche firms in general do not deal with a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. They operate with much leaner and faster processes, which enables them to constantly adapt to their clients’ needs. This in turn makes it possible to deliver results faster. This speed can rarely be found when collaborating with a larger firm. 
  4. Customizability – Expanding on the previous point, given that niche firms are more flexible with their processes, they are also able to offer more customized solutions without compromising on speed. Their clients are also comfortable discussing more customizable options, as they know that the dedicated team of experts will do their very best to meet the requirements. This is not to say that a larger firm would not be able to offer the same, but it would likely take much longer to get back with a similar offering, not to mention at a significantly higher cost.
  5. Pricing – Speaking of costs, hiring niche firms remains profitable for most large companies, as the former have a small employee base. Every person hired in these firms is chosen after careful consideration and this reflects in the very reasonable pricing structure offered to clients. In these uncertain times, these firms place great emphasis on building relationships, so they are unlikely to increase their rates overnight. This makes them an economical choice to work with.
  6. Dedication – While every service firm does its best to treat its clients with equal priority, the fact remains that the larger the firm, the more likely it is that the client will be given only as much response as contractually obligated. Smaller firms realize the need to treat their clients with utmost priority and can focus on delivering the very best customer experience.

Services that Niche Gaming Firms Can Offer to the Video Game Industry

  • Video Game MetadataMetadata provides essential information about a game such as its developer and publisher, release date, age ratings, and so on, including custom game data as well if necessary. This data is essential to maintain several kinds of game databases and plays an important role in data analysis as well.
  • Game Teardowns – Looking into what makes a game successful can help other developers and publishers understand what makes a game tick. A game teardown offers a vast and comprehensive breakdown of what a game consists of and how all of its moving parts work. This work is best done by experts in the gaming ecosystem who do similar work on hundreds, if not thousands of games each year.
  • Game Insights – Part of the process of making a game involves understanding how the market is reacting to certain elements in a game. A proper analysis of multiple games which have already been released in the market can provide these insights, and not every developer can or will want to do this analysis in-house.
  • Sentiment Analysis – Another service that niche firms in the gaming ecosystem are best suited to offer is sentiment analysis. This involves analyzing the conversations and general sentiment about a game after its release. A game may garner varying opinions from critics and the public. As it is these reviews that influence sales in the long term, understanding these sentiments is important for developers of upcoming games.
  • Game Content For Reference Fingerprints –  Automatic Content Recognition helps identify the game being played on a screen, be it a Smart TV or a Smart Device connected to a TV. ACR data is used by several players in the market, and for the recognition to be made possible, Reference Fingerprints of the game being played are required to match against the sample collected from the consumer.
  • Video Game Media – Some companies – especially stores – require specialized video game media to use on their portals. This includes custom box art, descriptions, short clips, and so on.
  • Customized Services – There are services which are unique to the company looking for them. These services may not have been defined by the industry yet. Resolving them requires a team of experts from the gaming ecosystem who are well-versed with the multitude of games coming into the market each year and can provide custom game data and solutions.

While the gaming industry has been fortunate to come out strong during the pandemic, the world economy continues to remain uncertain. It is also riskier for large firms to take new initiatives in these unpredictable times. In such a period, it is beneficial for large firms to entrust niche companies in the gaming ecosystem to help them adapt to the changing trends, instead of trying to develop new in-house capabilities from scratch.

Gameopedia is one such provider of niche solutions in the gaming industry amidst the video game ecosystem. For more than a decade, we have been building our expertise in providing game metadata, recommendations, and insights, which makes us the top choice for meeting these niche services. We offer a wide range of solutions in the gaming ecosystem that cater to various companies. Interested in what we have to offer? Reach out to us to learn more about our service offerings.

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The Definitive Database Of Video Games

With an estimated market size of $167.5 billion, the video game industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings around fifty years ago. Once marketed almost exclusively towards kids and teens, video games have now matured to create unique experiences for adults as well. This is helped by the fact that the children who grew up playing video games in the 20th century stuck to their hobby and are now adult gamers.

A natural consequence of this evolution is that there are now multiple genres of games to choose from, with each game further having several sub-genres and other elements that make it unique. Even for the most passionate gamer, it can be hard to keep track of the multitude of games arriving in the market each year. This is one of the reasons for the existence of a Video Game Database.

What is a Video Game Database?

A Video Game Database contains intricate video game data on multiple aspects of each game. There were some databases that started in the 1990s, became popular and in fact continue to thrive today. These were almost always crowd-sourced and worked as a good source for gamers and enthusiasts. 

Since then, Video Game Databases have continued to evolve and gave rise to niche Professional Databases for more intricate requirements. They are maintained by teams of video game experts, who take great care in curating the data entered into the database. Their goal is to provide curated and classified high-quality video game data for the gaming ecosystem. 

Before we dive deeper into the two types of databases mentioned above, let us examine the need for a Video Game Database in the first place.

The Need For A Database Of Video Games

With thousands of video games releasing on just one popular marketplace (Steam) every year, it is clear to anyone who works in the industry that there needs to be a process through which one can organize and study data regarding major releases. This is where a database of video games comes into the picture. A properly managed database can provide accurate information about an assortment of games.

The two major types of Video Game Databases – crowdsourced and professionally managed – are both essential to organize and understand the huge stream of data pouring in each year. This video game data, when used efficiently, has several applications, the most prominent of which is to help consumers make smart purchases.

Now let us compare the two major types of databases, looking at the benefits and limitations of each one.

Crowdsourced vs Professional Databases

Video Game Database

What does a Video Game Database contain?

  • Video Game Metadata (Basic information) – This includes information like the game’s release date, developer/publisher, age ratings, release platforms, and so on. Video game metadata is used to quickly identify core information about a game, which can then be used to find games with similar data. 
  • Game Breakdown/Teardown  – A breakdown/teardown of a game breaks down the various concepts and components that make up a game, to analyze what makes it tick. This builds upon the information included in the metadata and adds on data like Genre, Gameplay Actions, Game Concepts (Design choices used in the game), Perspective, Types of Elements used (weapons, mods, and so on). Building upon information collected in a game breakdown, Games can be classified into groups. This classification helps in identifying patterns between games. 
  • Game-related multimedia– These include screenshots, high-definition trailers, and gameplay videos.
  • Relations – This information analyzes how a game is related to other games in a series or franchise. For example, a series includes games that continue their story with sequels. An example of this is the Halo series. A franchise is a group of games that all revolve around a common theme, but have their individual stories. An example of this is the Assassin’s Creed franchise (which, interestingly, also has a series of sequels included)

This varied mix of information enriches the value that a database can provide, giving rise to many potential applications. So, who exactly taps into this potential?

Who Needs A Database Of Video Games?

  • eCommerce Stores – Digital game purchases have gone up by leaps and bounds in recent years. This makes it important for online game stores to ensure that they provide accurate data that are always up to date about each game to their customers using high quality video game metadata. It is also in their interest to provide smart game recommendations for returning customers. These recommendations are powered by algorithms, which in turn need a database to feed them.
  • Game Developers & Publishers – Market research is a key phase in the development of any video game amidst the video game industry. Game developers of all sizes spend a considerable amount of time analyzing the in-trend game features and their competitors’ games to make their games better. Such video game data can easily be provided by a professional database.
  • Advertisers – Advertisers can use video game data for creating better ads, powered by sentiment analysis. This allows advertisers to pick an opportune moment to run their campaign, by reaching out to a targeted and engaged audience, that is already invested in the kind of game(s) being advertised.
  • Media outlets – As competition heats up in the media space, larger outlets can differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing richer and up-to-date video game data to their users via an API that is powered by a stream of data fed by a Video Game Database. The data is then supplemented with high-quality screenshots, trailers and artwork related to the games. 

And it’s not just limited to these four; many digital distribution platforms, gaming websites and forums also require access to an up-to-date video game database.

Conclusion

The recent boom in gaming due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to sustain well into the future. As the number of gamers across the world increases, businesses in the video game industry will need to serve this rising audience more efficiently. Using the functions of a well-maintained database is a step in the right direction.

Gameopedia’s professionally maintained database and high quality video game data can serve multiple needs of businesses in the gaming industry. We provide a vast array of customizable services, powered by our database that contains more than 5 million video game facts/insights and up to 13,000 Game attributes for more than 180,000 games.

Our database keeps growing every day and we are excited to work in the dynamic, ever-changing video game industry. Get in touch with us to know more.

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Everything You Need To Know About Metadata For Video Games

What is Video Game Metadata?

Metadata describes an item, i.e. it is any information that summarizes basic details about the item, which can make finding and working with particular data easier.  For example, the ingredients listed behind a box of cookies is metadata describing the contents of the cookie. 

Similarly, video game metadata refers to descriptors about the game that not only give you an overview of the game like the developer’s name, publisher’s name, release date, game description, and so on, but it also helps the people using this video game data easily understand what the game has to offer without having to purchase or play the game themselves.

What Constitutes Video Game Metadata

Video game metadata could be any information that gives the reader insights about the game. From the release date to the game franchise it belongs to, any information that tells us something about the game can be considered game metadata.

Let’s take the example of Borderlands 3 – an action role-playing first-person shooter. The metadata for this game would look something like this.

Metadata for video games

The information above may appear to be basic but its applications are invaluable to certain sections of the industry. 

This leads to our next question:

Who Needs Metadata For Video Games?

Everybody that is a part of the gaming ecosystem, from the retailer to the consumer, uses video game metadata at some level. The format in which the data is presented and how it is used can vary depending on the requirement. Let us explore this in detail. 

e-Retailers & App Stores

A retailer’s goal is to engage their customer and attend to their needs or solve a problem they have. 

Your first thought might have been retailers want to sell more but it might be more prudent in the long run to gain the trust and loyalty of their existing user base. And gamers are a loyal bunch.

The best way to gain a gamer’s trust? Understand what you are selling inside out. 

With detailed and descriptive metadata and good metadata management policies, the store can display the right games to the customer most likely to buy them. What are these “right games”? They are games which have the features that a customer wants, or a game by the same developer whose earlier work the customer enjoyed for example. This is information that the customer needs to make a decision. By offering the right games, the store improves not just the customer’s user experience but also instills a certain sense of loyalty in them. You gain their trust by putting the customer first with recommendations and search results that solve their problem.

Let’s consider the example of Cyberpunk 2077. Even though it was the most anticipated game of 2020, not everybody was looking forward to the game. This segment of your user base would prefer not to be inundated with content and promotional material regarding the game. For these users, “Cyberpunk 2077” is the definition of not being the “right game”.

Metadata for video games - Cyberpunk-2077

Combining comprehensive game metadata with user behavior, your game store can display content that actually appeals to the audience, making their experience more personalized and improving conversions. But above all, you put the customer first, building their trust in you and retaining their loyalty.

For more information, have a look at our video game metadata offerings for e-Retailers.

Advertisers

People use the same item for different purposes. These purposes are defined by the users’ requirement. For example, while a gamer could be looking for a mouse suitable for gaming, an office employee will look for a mouse more suited for day-to-day use. Depending on their requirement, the features they are looking for can also change.

This means that to advertise the right product to the right consumer, it is vital to understand the “why” and not just the “what”. That way, you don’t just show the user the item that they were looking for, but you also solve their problem.

Let us look at this through the example of a game. The “Mario Kart” franchise is an incredibly popular series of games, having sold over 150 million copies worldwide. These games are enjoyed across all age-groups, by gamers who have different expectations from their gaming habit. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Metadata

Some gamers play because they like to win. They like competitive games.  There are those who play games purely as a social activity that they indulge in with family or friends. There’s another group of gamers who have a hard day at work, and would like to unwind in the evening, without having to worry about complex plotlines or learn advanced gameplay mechanics. 

The beauty of “Mario Kart” is that it has something for all the types of gamers described above, but an advertiser can’t expect to use one campaign to reach out to all three groups. Trying to sell a game in the “Mario Kart” series requires using a different pitch to sell to each of these three kinds of gamers. To do that, they need to understand how to appeal to these target demographics. What keywords do they look out for when making a game purchase? What features do they expect from a game? Do they expect their games to look simple, or photorealistic with complex mechanics?

Hence, the advertisers should not only align with “what” the consumer is looking for but also the “why”. With comprehensive game metadata, ad networks can improve their targeting, making it more personalized while providing context to why the said product is best suited for your needs, and not just the best on the market.

Advertisers can learn more about our data offerings that can benefit their campaigns.

ACR Platforms

With the rise of OTT platforms, we have seen a significant need for Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) – identification technology that utilizes a large database to recognize content (video, audio, or digital images) played on a media device. Using this technology, ACR platforms can not only extract user-specific viewing data like time of viewing, show title, and genre, but also prevent third-parties from pirating online content.

For example, major appliance providers like LG and Samsung do not have a way to track what content is being played on their Smart TVs via gaming consoles, making it difficult for these brands to understand user behavior and interests. Instead, they have to depend on the device manufacturer or third-party providers for this information.

In a world where gaming has become everyone’s new favorite pastime, this information is gold, and paying for this data is not feasible in the long term. This led to manufacturers using ACR to bridge this gap. 

ACR platforms utilize thousands of “fingerprinted” content to use as a reference in identifying the viewer’s on-screen content. With comprehensive game metadata, ACR platforms can tag game videos and screenshots with descriptive tags that describe key characteristics or elements that can be used to identify a specific piece of content.  

Read more on our data offerings for ACR Platforms.

Why Do You Need Metadata For Video Games?

Improve Search Results and Product Discoverability

In a study carried out by Kotaku, 40% of purchased games are never even played. From this information, it is clear that there are people to play games but they can never find the right one. So, to get the right game to the right individual, it is important to catalog these games properly using specialized video game data and metadata management practices.

With an exhaustive game metadata repository, you get access to descriptive tags and information that provide an in-depth understanding of the gaming product or service you are offering. This allows you to improve product placement and discovery.

For example, if a customer is interested in purchasing a popular RPG game called “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”, they would understand from the description that the game is an open world Action RPG with a medieval setting. But if they wanted to understand to what extent the open world and RPG elements are present in the game, they could be presented with additional information by using descriptive tags. For this game, some tags would be, “Open World (Defining)”, “Action (Key Feature)”, and “Role Playing (Defining)”. 

From these tags, the customer understands that the game heavily features open world and Role Playing features, while Action elements are strongly present without being the main focus. This additional layer of information can strengthen the customer’s resolve to purchase the game.

Understand and Use Your Data Effectively

The most common problem faced by people working with video game data is that it is not ‘clean’, i.e. it is not organized and easy to understand. This makes working with data difficult and time-consuming. 

With comprehensive metadata, people can make sense of the data presented to them quicker. This reduces turn-around times, and improves the quality of insights derived from the data. Conventionally sourced data would require a great deal of fact-checking and cleaning before you’re sure it’s employable. However, using an organized and quality-checked dataset and good metadata management practices, such as the ones provided by Gameopedia, means you can utilize it right away. 

Improve Trust in Your Data

Organized game data and information, collected in a standardized manner, means that the data is immediately ready for use and its in-depth nature provides transparency that would have been difficult to achieve otherwise.  Gameopedia has a proven track record in delivering standardized metadata consistently, with all the definitions and use cases being agreed upon by a team of gaming experts.

Properly managed video game metadata can help organizations better trust the collected data because they know that the information is curated in an organized manner.

The video game data that we collect can be used for a variety of purposes. How much data you collect and how you use it is at your discretion.  Powerful, descriptive metadata and proper metadata management makes the data easier to understand and use irrespective of the volume.

At Gameopedia, we look to provide informative game metadata to every member of the gaming ecosystem in order to empower their efforts and capture the gaming market. Reach out to us to leverage the power of our data that encompasses over 180,000 games spanning 200 platforms. 

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The Urgent Need For A New Game Taxonomy In 2021

As video games become more complex and have increasingly intricate features, there is a long overdue need for a new, comprehensive Video Game Taxonomy for 2021. In this blog, we will look at the need for a new taxonomy, as well the industries who need these levels of video game classification.

In the last decade, video games have become the world’s favorite pastime. With this massive expansion of the market, every member of the gaming ecosystem, from developers to retailers, now have a larger audience to build games for and sell them to. 

However, selling to this audience can be tricky. Developers and publishers need to understand the complicated formula that works for successful games and then build on it. Retailers, who now have thousands of games to feature on their portals, need to correctly identify and recommend titles that a customer is likely to buy based on their preferences. This is where a comprehensive, flexible, and actionable taxonomy comes into play.

The Definitive Video Game Taxonomy for 2021

Today’s games are complex works of art that are designed to continuously engage a wide audience. To think that only one aspect of a game makes it special is definitely foolish. For example, Candy Crush belongs to the Match-3 Puzzle genre, but is this the mechanic what led to its enormous success?

The answer is no.

The leaderboard, new level additions, timer, move-limit, and reward systems are some of the other attributes of the game that incentive the player to keep returning to the game. More screen time means more ad impressions which translates into more income for the developer, publisher, and ad networks. 

As you can tell from the example above, there are multiple factors that play a part in the success of a game. To identify the importance of these aspects in the game is what matters. And this is where Gameopedia’s Values System comes into play.

The Values System

Gameopedia has been delivering insightful game data to some of the biggest companies in the world since 2008. In the last 12 years, we have created detailed video game breakdowns for over 180,000 games. Over time, we have come to realize that while a genre, feature-set, mechanics, and graphic style may be useful in providing a high-level description about the game, it does not do justice to describe what the game has to offer. 

To help with this, we introduced a rating system that assigns a value to feature-sets and mechanics to help evaluate their importance within the game. Going back to Candy Crush, here is how our video game classification framework would break down the game:

This unique view into the anatomy of a game can reveal information that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. For example, although Puzzle is the main genre of the game, there are certain important attributes of the game like the Beat the Clock mechanic that is more prominently seen in Action games. Clearly, to exclude Action as a Genre would be foolish but it is definitely not more important than solving the Match-3 Puzzle when it comes to game progression.  

This extra layer to the data allows for a more comprehensive look into the game and its offerings. Additionally, you can identify exactly what makes the game popular among its audience and how it can be improved or modified to appeal to another demographic.

The Importance of Detail in Video Game Classification

Starting with Pong in the 70s, video games have evolved from a simple digital game with a couple of controls into more complex entities with multiple characters, storylines, mechanics, and so on. In this multi-billion dollar industry, game developers and publishers are innovating daily to engage a community with a goldfish-like short-lived memory. 

To break into the market, it is important that studios understand market trends, analyse their competition, and identify popular features to gain video game insights. But with thousands of games hitting the shelves each year, it is difficult to recognise what a new game can offer. This is where a well-defined, in-depth, and flexible Video Game Taxonomy can help. 

A comprehensive Game Taxonomy lets you deep-dive into every, single aspect of the game and decode where each feature and mechanic fits in the overall scheme. It also gives you insights into how the developer has designed the game to make it not just enjoyable, but profitable as well.  

How Gameopedia does Video Game Breakdowns using our Game Taxonomy

Let’s take a look at two of the most popular open-world games in the market today: Grand Theft Auto V and Mafia II. Both are relatively well-known but one is clearly more popular than the other. The reason for the crowd loving Grand Theft Auto V more than Mafia II is because of the well-thought out, vast world. Our video game breakdown reveals that Rockstar Games created a dynamic open-world environment with multiple side-missions, heists, and DLC content that immerses the player thoroughly, keeping them in a trance. Mafia II on the other hand, serves the purpose of delivering a more linear story experience, while still allowing the player to explore the open-world.

Both games have been successful in their objective and have proven profitable for their respective publishers. But for someone looking to replicate this success, it is necessary to understand what made each game tick.

Industry-Defining Game Taxonomy Designed With A Purpose In Mind

A comprehensive Video Game Taxonomy has use cases for a wide range of beneficiaries. Gameopedia’s Taxonomy has been created while keeping the pain points and requirements of the gaming ecosystem in mind. 

Retailers – They can help their customers find better results for the kind of games they are looking for. For example, a customer may want to purchase a shooter game. This is a huge genre that has drastically different games that can show up in a search result. A single-player game like Metro Exodus and a multiplayer title like Halo 5 are both shooters, but they are each meant for a different target audience. A well-defined taxonomy can help narrow down the results to suit the customer’s preferences, thus helping the retailer maximise the chances of a sale. 

AdvertisersAdvertisers can benefit from a good Video Game Taxonomy by having access to better ad targeting tools that are built by measuring trends in the community. Understanding the current mood towards popular genres and using these video game insights can help advertisers focus their attention towards maximising returns from markets that are highly receptive.

Developers/Publishers In order to ensure that their in-development game will get a strong start at launch, developers and publishers need to understand the market and analyze their competition. Releasing a game in a particular genre when there is negative sentiment in the market towards that genre can be bad for business. Similarly, releasing a game that is too similar to the competition can also be bad news. Therefore it is essential to do the research beforehand in order to come up with a strong launch strategy. This can be achieved by making use of a comprehensive Video Game Taxonomy and game classification to understand the competition as well as the market.

Conclusion

A good Video Game Taxonomy should ideally be consistent, flexible, and most importantly, up-to-date to keep in touch with evolving market preferences. 

At Gameopedia, our team of experts are constantly at work analyzing the changing trends in the video game market. Our taxonomy is well-researched and built to ensure that the most important aspects are covered accurately. It is vital that you have a good video game classification system such as ours to provide accurate video game breakdowns and get high quality video game insights. If you have a business problem that requires a customized solution powered by a comprehensive Video Game Taxonomy, get in touch with us to start making better business decisions using game data.

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