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Key Takeaways from the Unity Gaming Report 2023

 

Welcome to our shortened summary about Unity’s Gaming Report 2023, a comprehensive analysis of the dynamic trends and developments that defined the gaming sector. We will delve into five key trends that have reshaped the landscape of game development.

So, are you curious how the gaming industry is doing?

Trust us, you won’t want to miss this report if you want to learn more about the dynamic gaming industry.

Trend #1: Indie developers are shipping games faster and working fewer hours

In 2022, a notable trend in the gaming industry was the increasing speed of game development, particularly among smaller studios. 

The game development landscape witnessed a big shift towards faster development cycles, and enabled studios to bring their titles to market more efficiently and effectively. 62% of indie developers and 58% of midsize studios were able to create and release games within a year. Also, they reduced development times compared to the industry’s historical norm of multi-year development cycles.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

This acceleration in game development was not accompanied by a large increase in working hours. In fact, developers across various studio sizes were found to be working 1.2% fewer hours, thanks to the efficient use of tools like Unity DevOps and premade assets.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

A key contributor to the speed of development was the extensive use of premade assets for prototyping and concepting. 62% of indie developers leveraged between five and 14 asset packages in their games, streamlining the early stages of game creation. 

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Moreover, the adoption of premade digital assets and components not only shortened development time but also allowed studios to focus more on gameplay and creativity rather than asset creation, contributing to efficiency gains.

Keeping projects organized, in scope, and on time are some of the biggest challenges faced by creators across the industry – 47% of indies and 59% of midsize studios identify these as production challenges.

In order to prevent scope creep, many studios are using DevOps tools like Unity Build Automation and Unity Version Control for:

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Trend #2: Studios are developing more mobile-only games than in 2021

Studios of all sizes turned their attention towards mobile-only game development, capitalizing on the widespread availability and accessibility of smartphones. 

Studios recognized that mobile games offer a vast potential user base due to the ubiquity of smartphones. With the development of increasingly sophisticated hardware for smartphones, it became easier to create high-quality mobile games that could rival the experiences traditionally found on PC or console platforms.

Amongst all studio sizes, large studios exhibited a remarkable 44% growth in mobile-only game production compared to 2021. This substantial increase was facilitated by smartphones’ capabilities, allowing these studios to deliver AAA-quality games on mobile platforms. Additionally, the shorter core gameplay loops and cycles in mobile gaming have created more opportunities for monetization, making it an attractive platform for large studios.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

The trend also highlighted the industry’s resilience, demonstrating that shifting economic headwinds did not slow down game development. Studios maintained their innovative spirit and enthusiasm, resulting in a 15.7% increase in the number of game builds.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

This trend was not confined to one geographical location but extended globally. New indie games saw substantial growth in several countries, including Kazakhstan, Romania, Poland, India, and Ukraine. 

In terms of game genres, the majority of indie developers focused on creating action and adventure games. Platformers were also common in this category. Larger studios, typically employing over 50 people, leaned towards developing racing, sports, and massively multiplayer or battle arena games.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Trend #3: Multiplatform games are becoming more popular among large studios

Large studios demonstrated a robust commitment to developing games for multiple platforms. This transition was reflected in a 16% increase in the number of multiplatform games released in 2022 compared to the previous year. 

This trend marked the continuation of a positive trajectory seen in recent years, with a remarkable 110% growth compared to 2019.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

A common trend among large studios was the development of cross-platform games, which allow players to play games on different devices. A survey revealed that 88% of studios with over 50 employees were actively involved in building games for multiple platforms, highlighting a significant commitment to this approach. 

When studios embarked on multiplatform development, they often selected a specific platform as their initial release point. The data illustrated that 76% of multiplatform developers typically opted for desktop as their primary platform, and this choice was popular among those also targeting consoles. This preference for desktop as the initial release platform was likely due to its fewer restrictions and requirements compared to console releases.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

In contrast to large studios, smaller studios, including indie and lower midmarket (LMM) developers, demonstrated a preference for single-platform releases. Chart 3.5 indicated that almost 90% of small studios released games on a single platform. In the midst of growing mobile game development, many indie studios chose to focus on desktop platforms.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Also, VR studios were notable for developing both single-player and multiplayer games, with 84% of them engaging in this dual approach. In contrast, a significant portion of web-based game developers chose to focus exclusively on multiplayer games. 

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Trend #4: The number of people playing mobile games has increased since 2021

Trend Four demonstrated the changing landscape of mobile game monetization in 2022, with more players but a decreasing percentage of paying users. 

The key findings showed that the median game saw an 8% increase in daily active users compared to the previous year. However, the percentage of paying active users decreased by 2% from 2021.

Player preference between ads and in-app purchases was quite balanced. The majority of players found in-app purchases and ads almost equally appealing. This balance implied that game developers could experiment and A/B test different monetization strategies to determine what worked best. A balanced approach to monetization was vital to adapt to shifting player preferences.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Various gaming genres experienced revenue shifts in 2022. Word games witnessed the most significant shift towards ad revenue, with a 48.7% increase. Simulation games began to rely more on in-app purchase revenue, while sports games experienced increases in both in-app purchase and in-app advertising revenue. These genre-specific changes highlighted the need for game developers to adopt flexible and balanced monetization strategies.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Monetization planning was a significant aspect of game development, with 70% of studios integrating monetization packages within the first 30 days of development. Early consideration of monetization strategies became crucial to the success of mobile games.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Trend #5: The lifespan of games is being extended by studios every year

In 2022, the lifespan of mobile games significantly increased, with games being extended by 33%. 

Many factors may contribute to this, including players’ willingness to stay engaged with a game if it is regularly updated and maintained.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Studios recognized that player retention involved more than just new content or rewards. Frequent game updates, including both technical enhancements and behind-the-scenes improvements, played a vital role in keeping players engaged. The data revealed that games with more updates generally achieved better Day 30 and Day 90 retention rates.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Challenges post-launch included user acquisition and retention. 54% of independent studios identified user acquisition as their primary challenge, while 49% of midsize studios found player retention to be their major post-launch hurdle.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Various player retention methods were employed across studios. Achievements and challenges were the most commonly used techniques (68%), with 67% of studios focusing on updating core game content. As studios expanded, they often incorporated additional methods like timed events, daily rewards or missions, social features, battle passes, and consumables.

Developers were paying close attention to player feedback, leading to the increasing popularity of features like battle passes and consumables in games. These features improved player engagement and encouraged longer-term retention.

Source: Unity’s Gaming Report 2023

Conclusion

Now you know the key gaming trends that shaped 2022. Notably:

  • indie developers are accelerating game production without overburdening their teams, thanks to premade assets and efficient tools
  • mobile-only game development surged across all studio sizes
  • large studios demonstrated a strong commitment to multiplatform game development
  • more and more people play games since 2021
  • game lifespans are extended year on year
 

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