Category: Video Game Taxonomy

Game controlling

AAA Games: A Comprehensive Guide

This is Gameopedia’s Game Terminology and Taxonomy series, where we talk about the different kinds of game categories and aim to give our audience in-depth knowledge about them. This blog covers everything you need to know about AAA games.

 

In the gaming industry, the classification of games into categories based predominantly on the games’ budget, scope, and the like can be done into AAA, AA, and Indie games. These classifications are informal and used mostly by game developers and publishers for marketing purposes as well as e-retail portals to categorize game pages. They also provide information to customers about the games’ potential.

The video games industry generated almost $180 billion in 2020. While exact figures for all AAA game-related revenue is hard, Free-to-play (F2P) Triple-A games make up for a major chunk of income, with Fortnite: Battle Royale alone contributing a massive $5.1 billion revenue in 2020.

AAA title games have always been an eagerly anticipated bunch of releases by gamers around the world. What makes them so significant to the gaming industry though? Let’s dive in.

How do we define AAA Games?

We need to start with defining what exactly a AAA game is. Triple-A games are generally classified as those which have a significant budget for production as well as marketing, and which are conventionally developed by major studios and publishers. As a result of this, these high profile games are expected to be of excellent technical and graphical quality with top notch mechanics, minimal bugs, and high production values. The term came into existence in the 90s.

Below are some examples of AAA title games, where we also go into what makes them so. The characteristics we’ve noticed are:

 

  1.  Development budget: These games have a massive budget, usually ranging upward of $50 million. For example, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt had a development budget of $81 million. It is estimated that GTA V cost over $137 million just to develop.  
  2. Team size: The production teams for AAA title video games are huge, with at least 50 to 100 employees working on it. For instance, at Ubisoft, AAA game development involved 400 to 600 staff for open world games, split across multiple locations and countries 
  3. Game scope: These games usually have several features and modes and are narrative based. 
  4. Genres: Action, Adventure, Shooter, RPGs, and Sports are the most commonly seen genres.
  5. Graphics quality: They are expected to be high quality and have the latest in graphics technology such as real-time ray tracing, particle effects, and detailed textures.
  6. Technology usage: They tend to use the latest technologies like game engines, custom development tools, and more. These studios often develop their own proprietary game engines, such as Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and use expensive technologies like motion capture to render gorgeous cinematics and smooth character movement. These games are made for newer generations of consoles and a higher calibre of PCs.
  7. Marketing push: Marketing budgets can also be similar to or even higher than the development cost. An example would be Final Fantasy VII, which cost around $45 million to make, and had a U.S. marketing budget of around $100 million, back when it was released in 1997. Marketing often focuses on generating hype for the game through a large number of campaigns, sponsorships, collaborations, and the like. An example would be Madden NFL 2002 buying Super Bowl ads. Beautiful cinematic trailers and bonuses on pre-orders are other ways these games have improved marketing.
  8. Level of game polish/number of bugs: Triple-A games should ideally be well polished and have a small number of glitches or bugs due to the large number of people working on it and budget. Hiring famous and established voice actors and character models is a well-established process for these games.
  9. Franchise release: These games are usually intended to become a franchise post-success. For example, Skyrim, Dragon Age Inquisition, and FIFA.
  10. Studio size and whether they’ve made AAA titles before: These games are usually made by large, established studios or talent experienced in making them.
  11. Higher threshold for success: Ideally these games sell upward of 2~ million copies to break even if not be profitable, though this depends on their total budget. When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched in 2015, it sold nine million units that year. In May 2020, the developing studio CD Projekt Red announced it had sold 50 million units in a tweet.

Let’s look at an example.

Destiny 2

Destiny 2: A AAA game
Destiny 2: One of the most popular AAA releases.
  1. Development budget and marketing push: According to Activision Blizzard’s CEO, it costs $500 million to develop and market Destiny games.
  2. Team size: For Destiny, according to Butcher, the game’s lead engineer, “If you count all of the test and development and support staff then we’re over 400 people.” Destiny 2 has at least that many if not more, considering the new content they keep releasing.
  3. Game scope: The game features a multiplayer “shared-world” environment with elements of role-playing games. Like the original, activities in Destiny 2 are divided among player versus environment (PvE) and player versus player (PvP) game types. There have been several massive expansions as well, with the latest being new Halo guns being released as a reward as Bungie celebrates their 30th anniversary.
  4. Genres:  It is a free-to-play online-only multiplayer first-person shooter video game released in 2017. It was originally a pay-to-play release but in 2019, was made F2P.
  5. Critical reception: Destiny 2 received “generally favorable” reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Its gameplay and story were both highly praised by several reviewers and publications. It was nominated for and won Best PC Game of 2017 at the Game Critics Award.
  6. Graphics quality: The game’s graphics and gameplay were both highly praised by publishers. 
  7. Technology usage: It was released for the latest generation of consoles available then (the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) as well as Windows, though you would need a mid to high range PC to properly play the game. Later, when Google Stadia was released, Destiny 2 was re-released as an F2P game by Activision across all platforms. It has recently been upgraded for the new generation of consoles (the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S) as well.
  8. Level of game polish/number of bugs: Destiny 2 was relatively free of game-breaking bugs and came well-polished. The game’s frequent patches and updates tend to ensure this is consistent.
  9. Franchise release: This game is a part of the Destiny franchise, with similar gameplay elements and lore. 
  10. Studio size and whether they’ve made AAA games before: Bungie, the studio behind Destiny 2, is also responsible for creating the famous Halo franchise.
  11. Threshold for success: In 2017, post-release, Bungie shared that millions of people had played Destiny 2, with as many as 1.3 million doing so at the same time. It was also the second highest-grossing console game of 2017 in North America, and was Activision’s biggest PC release based on units sold. Activision also said that Destiny 2 set a day-one sales record on the PlayStation Store.

Why are AAA Titles Important?

AAA games are vital as they historically have driven the industry and pioneered innovation.  An example of this are the Triple-A titles produced during the late 1990s and early 2000s. They brought a shift towards more narrative-driven games that mixed storytelling elements with gameplay. With larger budgets, developers found new innovative ways to present narrative as a direct part of gameplay rather than as pre-rendered cutscenes. Half-Life was one of the first of these new narrative games to nearly eliminate cutscenes in favor of interactive storytelling mechanisms.

Half-Life: The game that turned cutscenes into narratives with gameplay.
Half-Life: The game that turned cutscenes into narratives with gameplay.

AAA title games are likely to continue in this manner. They offer recognition to their production and development teams which aids in getting talented personnel, epic entertainment experiences which attract large audiences, and access to new technology which fosters major innovations. Games and gamers will continue to evolve, but the scale and scope of Triple-A will continue to be vital to provide amazing opportunities.

AAA games can provide the resources, stability, and talent to make the games all of us aspire to play someday.

History of the AAA Game Industry

The term “AAA” started to be heard frequently in the late 1990s, when a few development companies started using the expression at gaming conventions in the US. The term was borrowed from the credit industry’s bond ratings, where “AAA” bonds represented the safest opportunity most likely to meet their financial goals.

One of the first video games that was developed at an Triple-A scale was Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy VII in 1997, which cost an estimated $40–45 million (post adjustment for inflation, $64–73 million) to develop, making it the most expensive video game ever produced up until then. It had unprecedented cinematic CGI production values, movie-like presentation, orchestral music, and innovative blend of gameplay with dynamic cinematic camerawork. Its expensive advertisement campaign was also a novel venture for a video game.

One of the first AAA games ever made
Final Fantasy VII: One of the first AAA games made.

This spurred on future AAA title releases to have a strong emphasis on innovation and narrative-driven gameplay set amidst state-of-the art graphics.

 

The Most Famous AAA Studios

Now that we’ve examined what exactly makes a AAA game, below are some of the most beloved and prominent Triple-A studios with their popular releases. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means- it is just meant to provide you with an idea of what kind of studios develop and publish these games.

  1. Square Enix (Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider)
  2. Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry)
  3. Riot Games (League of Legends, VALORANT)
  4. Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto)
  5. Nintendo (Mario, Pokemon)
  6. Activision (Overwatch, Call of Duty)
  7. EA (FIFA, Battlefield)
  8. Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout)
  9. Capcom (Resident Evil, Street Fighter)
  10. Sony Interactive Entertainment (God of War, Gran Turismo)

Prominent Genres and Trends of AAA Games

In one of our prior articles, we explored genre trends in the console market across the past five years for AAA, AA, and Indie releases. This graph below showcases the major variations in genre trends across the last five years related to Triple-A games.

AAA Genre Trends

You can see that two genres feature consistently at the top every year – Action and Adventure. Some of the popular games belonging to these two genres over the past five years include Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Action, Adventure), Red Dead Redemption 2 (Adventure), and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Action, Shooter). 

Some of the most well-received Role-Playing Games of the past five years are all AAA titles. These include Final Fantasy VII Remake (Role-Playing) and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Role-Playing, Adventure).

Sports games have been consistently popular with AAA publishers as well. There’s a reason for this: licensing costs for these sports leagues go into hundreds of millions of dollars and only AAA studios can really foot this hefty bill. 

FIFA: One of the most prominent AAA games
The licensing fee for FIFA and other franchises can skyrocket into the millions.

There are a few annual sports franchises – FIFA, NBA 2K, Madden NFL, and NHL – which make up for the bulk of sales and media attention each year.

Franchises

Quite often, AAA title games are intended to be a series of games under a similar title or set in the same universe. Popular characters come back and/or are referred to, and the storyline may continue. The technical definition of a video game franchise would be an iterative series of game products developed around a demand for the services/value of the intellectual property. Once a new single and unique game is released and copyrighted, the brand is established with the first iteration consisting as the IP’s basis of design and definition.

 

AAA titles are unique amidst other game types because they are developed often with the intention of being a franchise. The massive investment these games require means that they become franchises if the initial game is successful. An example of this not occurring would be Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. This was an action RPG game released in 2012 with a sequel planned, developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. The studio secured a $75 million loan guarantee from the economic development board of Rhode Island for establishing 38 Studios within the state and promoting job growth. The initial sales within the first three months post-release were around 1.3 million. Though impressive, Rhode Island recognized that the title was expected to have hit 3 million units by this point for 38 Studios to pay back the loan. 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a game that deserved but didn't get its sequel (yet.)

38 Studios defaulted on one of the loan repayments, leading to a publisher to pull out of a US$35 million investment in a sequel. The studio managed to make the next payment, but could not make payroll or other expenses, and shortly later declared bankruptcy by May 2012. On the contrary, games like Call of Duty, FIFA, and the like, once successful initially, have continued being a great source of revenue for their developers and publishers. 

Publishers like going for franchises because they already have a dedicated fanbase who would be interested in the game beforehand and this increases copies sold. It is also easier to build upon a pre-existing universe and lore. The most successful video game franchises have been made by AAA developers and publishers and remain popular till date because they have developed a large audience over time while maintaining a reasonable quality to their products to keep their players happy.

The Future of AAA Games

When AAA games started out, the focus was on pushing out innovative single-payment games with great narratives, gameplay, and state-of-the-art graphics. However, with budgets being so high for these games, they had to think out of the box to beat their competition and make a profit. One of the major ways they did this was after the release of the 7th generation consoles. Along with the internet capabilities of that time, these studios were now capable of releasing optional post launch content for games. Games received bonus content in the form of DLCs, which added new areas, quests, and storylines for the player to enjoy. 

A lot of AAA games these days follow the GaaS- games as a service. GaaS is a business strategy while F2P is a revenue model. The most successful AAA titles which use this model ensure that they are transparent about what players get by buying a subscription or season pass, and that this is more than the cost of entry. Another thing to note when it comes to GaaS games is how they manage tie-ups and sponsorships. Whether it is Valorant’s Zedd x Valorant series of gun skins or Fortnite’s various collaborations with movies, shows, and musicians, they capitalize on several fanbases to sell add-ons to their players that make them happy.

Fortnite
Fortnite makes a LOT of money off its skins from other famous franchises like Marvel, DC, and even anime like Naruto.

However, microtransactions, loot boxes, and the like which necessitate additional payment from players for uncertain rewards, especially when it’s hard to grind these rewards which are almost compulsory for game progression for free, have proven unpopular. These questionable business tactics have led several gamers to boycott such games. It is however heartwarming to see games like Borderlands 3- a game where loot boxes and microtransactions can thrive- outright stating that there would be none of those. And they kept their promise. Studios which manage to successfully make and sell games without resorting to microtransactions and loot boxes continue to be well received.

Another trend to notice: in the last decade, free-to-play GaaS AAA games have more than proved their mettle as revenue generators, with games like League of Legends, Apex Legends, and Fortnite generating billions of dollars in profit for their developers and publishers, while also driving a related industry up significantly- esports, which in turn improves their popularity and brings in more players. 

AAA giant Ubisoft said that they would be “focusing less on AAA games” and more publishers seem to be heading down a similar route as mobile games prove to be the area of largest profit. More and more Triple-A studios are looking towards GaaS and F2P games to bolster their profits. This however doesn’t mean that Triple-A games are dying. AAA titles will always be a dependable bastion for gamers to return to for their preferred franchise, such as the latest FIFA or newest Assassin’s Creed release.

It seems likely that the future of AAA games will proceed in three major directions: 

  1. An increase in adoption of the Games as a Service (GaaS) model for games which are extremely rewarding for their players and generate a good deal of revenue.
  2. The usual franchises remaining as popular as they always have been thanks to their dependable fanbases, as well as established AAA studios trying to make high-quality games for the new generation of consoles and computers.
  3. New developments in technology such as VR and AR leading to games that are the first of their kind.
Half Life: Alex
Half-Life Alyx: A stunning tribute to what VR gaming can be.

According to Harold Ryan, ex-president/CEO of Bungie, the studio that developed Halo and Destiny, “At their best, Triple-A games can be a generation-defining experience with an oversized cultural impact. They have the power to inspire and influence gamers to become developers.” While games at the end of the day derive their value from the enjoyment they provide to their players, AAA titles show no sign of losing their relevance now, or in the future.

We at Gameopedia have specialized in collecting and curating game information for the last 12 years and have been working with companies across the gaming ecosystem. From release dates, genres, and descriptions to in-depth game breakdowns, we strive towards providing the best to our clients. Reach out to us at services@gameopedia.com to learn more about our offerings.

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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 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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How e-Retailers and App Stores can boost Game Discoverability and Conversions with Quality Game Content and Metadata

The ability to collect from and analyse vast pools of information is expected of all enterprises with a digital footprint. This represents an increasing number of businesses and operations every year.

With more than one-third of all global retailers selling the majority of their products via digital platforms, and the rest expecting the gap between physical and digital retail to shrink ever further in the coming years, it is becoming ever more imperative for e-Retailers and App Stores to streamline their data usage in order to improve uniformity, efficiency, and cost. 

In order to take advantage of the ripe condition of the digital retail market, there needs to be both a mechanism for sourcing large quantities of data, as well as the ability to analyse, categorise, and easily communicate what that data means.

This is especially true in the video game industry, which is growing exponentially, both in terms of overall sales, but also in terms of how many of those sales are switching over to digital retailing.  

PC gaming has steadily been shifting from physical sales to digital sales, with the ratio being 4:1 in favor of physical sales in 2009 in the US, to an almost directly inverse 1:4 in favor of digital sales by 2018Gaming app download revenue was responsible for $20.9 billion, or 72.3% of all app revenue for Q3 2020, across both iOS and Android app stores

As a result of the current global pandemic, which has led many customers to turn to digital options for their needs, Sony has seen the digital sales for their console games grow by 154% this year alone, in comparison to their physical sales growth of 1%. In the same year, for the first time in their history, more than 50% of all their gaming revenue came from digital sales. This trend tracks similarly for other major game developers. A major reason for improved digital sales is good usage of video game taxonomy and metadata.

What is Video Game Metadata?

Game metadata consists of 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 allows the people who use this data to easily understand what the game has to offer and game content without having to purchase or play the game yourself.

Video Game Metadata

How Stores Benefit from Quality Metadata and Game Content

Video game metadata can be vital in increasing product discovery, as well as providing an enhanced customer experience for discerning customers keen to know more about a product, especially via a digital platform. This increases the transparency offered by a digital retail platform, further increasing the likelihood of a purchase, as well as the customer returning. Video game taxonomy helps in classifying and organizing games which makes it easier for your customers to find what they need.

The presentation of certain keywords regarding genre or gameplay specifications will also greatly enhance a platform’s SEO, allowing visibility across search engines, while simultaneously increasing visibility of related products on the app store or e-retail platform. Powerful video game taxonomy allows retailers to bolster their in-house personalization and search solutions.

Good metadata and  game content is capable of guiding the customer from when they arrive at the app store or e-retailer platform till the point at which they make a purchase. During the discoverability phase, keywords, SEO classifications, and relevant images help the customer along this journey. A varied database improves the targeting of a wider array of customers, leading to increased conversions.

An estimated 65% of users barely swipe or scroll beyond the first images and text they see. The remaining users, however, prefer to examine their products in detail. Access to well-organised video game metadata and game content caters to both types of users. In addition to this, the smart deployment of a well-curated database can keep customers engaged for longer periods, improving website traffic.

Despite the rapidly growing state of the global digital market, the presence of high-quality video game metadata remains minimal. In 2020, most e-retailers and app stores rely on data provided to them by suppliers, and their own in-house collection and sorting. This is an expensive and cumbersome process, with supplier data varying in its quantity, quality, and clarity.

How can e-retailers and App Stores gain the Competitive Edge in Video Game Metadata?

In place of these expensive and inconsistent options, e-retailers and app stores are better served seeking out services and products that specialize in providing metadata collection and curation.

This allows retailers to avoid the hassle and expense of organizing and maintaining their own databases, freeing up their time and capital to be invested elsewhere. It also ensures the accuracy and uniformity of game information across platforms. By utilizing a pre-existing and well-curated database for video game taxonomy, game content, and metadata, e-retailers and app stores will be able to improve existing personalization and product discovery with detailed descriptive tags and metadata.

With that being the case, an even wider, more varied customer base is likely to turn towards e-retailers and app stores for their video game needs. The ability to provide these customers with the most relevant information, organised and classified according to their individual search and spending patterns and quirks by using video game taxonomy, game content, and metadata, is a provably successful way of increasing the frequency a customer returns to purchase more.

With a database spanning 40 years of video game metadata across over 200 platforms, this is where Gameopedia and our products shine. We specialize in a niche suite of data services that improve game discoverability, enhance customer experiences, and increase conversion. Reach out to us for industry leading video game information for over 180,000 games.

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Game Content and Feature Comparison: The Secret to Identifying Untapped Potential

What Are Gamers Looking For?

Different people play games for different reasons. From wanting to feel a sense of competence to seeking an escape from real life, there are numerous motivations, desires, likes, and dislikes that need to be considered when making a game. A gamer’s needs are satisfied by a game’s various components; its genres, themes, art styles, and gameplay mechanics.

Game creators have to take all these factors amongst many others into account while building a game. Also, let’s not forget that each genre has a different set of features that are unique to it.

The Video Game Developer’s Challenge

Gamers know what they want and have always made their feelings clear. 

We all remember Anthem. The game TechRadar described as “a fun game wrapped up in a dull story and a repetitive end-game.” Anthem’s failure to capture the market was a very good indicator of why we should always put the gamer first and not the consumer. 

With repetitive gameplay, a weak storyline, boring NPCs, and messy combat mechanics, the game had everything and nothing. What was missing was a clear understanding of what needs to be included and what doesn’t. It did not understand what the gamer wants in their game content.

Enter Video Game Comparison.

The concept is defined in the name; comparing two or more games on a few specific categories like genre, price, platforms, ratings, and developer, just as you would compare products in any e-commerce store.

The limitation with video game comparison tools, free or paid, is they are mainly consumer-focused. The tools available today are merely skimming across an ocean of potential. And hiding in the depths are actionable insights and information that is useful to not just the consumer, but game creators as well.

All comparisons today are for the consumer and not the gamer. They compare generic criteria like the price, user reviews, platforms, and so on, which provide the consumer with important information but what about the gamer? Herein lies the need for a more robust video game comparison tool in the market.

Advantages Of A Video Game Comparison Tool

1. Understand Exactly What The Gamer Wants

The driving force behind any successful game is not the video game developer, publisher, or game designer, but the gamers who play them. The gamer who will advocate the brilliance of a game to their peers. We can all attest to the power of word of mouth.

No number of positive reviews, gameplay videos, or free merchandise, can ever take the place or provide the value that a “Hey. Have you tried this game? It’s awesome!” can. To leverage the power of word of mouth marketing, you need to understand your audience. You need to understand what the gamer wants from their video game content.

Here is where the power of video game comparisons comes into play. Putting two or more games next to each other, we can dive deep into what exactly led to a game’s success. We can identify the lynchpin (or pins) that made the difference; was it the narrative? The theme? The game content? The graphics? The gameplay? Or a combination of them all? As games get bigger and the market more competitive, an in-depth feature comparison analysis is not just a growing need but a necessity!

2. Identify Game Features & Mechanics That Work

While building a game, game developers have a plethora of features and mechanics to choose from. Granted, some video game mechanics and features are exclusive to a genre. For example, an MMO is defined by its massive online community and persistent game universe, without which the very essence of the genre would be lost. However, some game content and features are commonplace in most game genres like a leaderboard, a health system, enemies, and so on.

With a 360-degree view of the game’s feature-set in relation to others, game developers can identify the important and popular data-points that get the job done. They don’t have to rely on biased market analyses and unimaginative feedback from paid sources to understand what their game needs. They can look at the success of other studios and how they built their games.

3. Get A Holistic View Of The Competitor’s Offerings

You could build the best product in the world and become an overnight success but to continue doing what you love, you need to generate a constant revenue stream. This narrative is true in the gaming industry as well.

A truly successful game does not stop engaging its audience after the first playthrough. It continues to bring the player back again and again with new levels, characters, challenges, upgrades, and more- the list just keeps getting longer. Maybe it’s not the game content but the gameplay that is driving the player back to the game. 

Let’s take the example of Candy Crush. Why is this Match 3 puzzle game so popular with audiences of all ages? They have created an experience designed to keep the player engaged. Everything from the bright colors and peppy background score to the life system is designed to keep the player matching cupcakes. 

Throw in competitive triggers like the leaderboard and Beat the Clock mechanics and BOOM! You have a successful game in your hands.

 

4. Learn How To Stand Out In A Crowded Genre

A report published by Ars Technica in 2014 presented some interesting numbers. 

“…out of the roughly 781 million games registered to Steam accounts,…only 493 million, or 63 percent, have been played even once.”

Ars technica

These numbers were true six years ago and they stand true today. The gaming industry is booming and every month hundreds of games are released into the market hoping to capture an already over-engaged audience. And truth be told, studios are struggling to carve a niche out for themselves in the crowd.

To truly succeed, you don’t just need a brilliant idea and big money, you need to know where to invest that money and how to execute that idea in a sustainable manner. Even large studios, with a large library of successful games and abundant resources at their disposal, get video game content wrong more often than they would like to admit. 

Honestly, there is no right way to go about this. We can only choose the most effective way and if you have read this far, you probably know the answer; game content and feature comparison. 

Looking into thousands of games individually is simply impractical. To truly leverage the power of video game comparisons you need to look at them in small samples with multiple factors coming into play regarding game content like the narrative, game design, game length, character development, and so on. It’s not just about the numbers but the feeling that each element in the game invokes in the player.

To create impactful games that sell, it is imperative to understand your audience, the competition, and the market. 

Looking to create the next best-selling game? Reach out to us to learn more about how Gameopedia can help you do just that.

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