New study reveals 6+ year old video games account for majority of global playtime

A new study from Newzoo has revealed new games are competing with the likes of Fortnite and Roblox for attention.
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A new study of the global games industry from market research firm Newzoo has revealed the vast majority of video game players are spending the most time playing older, established games, rather than seeking out new experiences.

While the global games industry grew 2.6% in 2023, generating USD $93.5 billion, it appears growth is flattening, and that average playtime and habits are changing dramatically. As Newzoo notes, average quarterly playtime has decreased by 26% since Q1 2021, likely reflective of changing behaviour, post-pandemic. Of those who are playing games, 60% of playtime is derived from games that are six years old, or older.

The most popular games across multiple platforms include Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, League of Legends, The Sims 4, and Grant Theft Auto V. While there are newer entries, including EA Sports FC 24, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Starfield, the vast majority that make the list of the top 10 by Monthly Average Users (MAU) are older titles.

As a result, newer games are being forced to compete with established titles and audience bases.

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According to Newzoo, the biggest competition that publishers will face going forward will be Fortnite and Roblox, thanks to their unique content pipelines. With both games relying on audiences to create new experiences, both games remain fresh and consistently engaging for their players.

Fortnite and Roblox allow creators to build unique content, resulting in players getting new experiences on a consistent basis,” Newzoo said. “This third-party strategy lets gaming platforms like Fortnite and Roblox stay ahead of the content treadmill … It’s essential for studios to remember that they are competing with these platform behemoths for a share of limited player hours.”

Shockingly, the Newzoo report also outlines that new, non-annual titles only made up 8% of the total video game playtime in 2023, with the top five new titles played being Diablo IV (1.4%), Hogwarts Legacy (0.8%), Baldur’s Gate 3 (0.6%), Elden Ring (0.3%), and Starfield (0.35%).

There is hope for those looking to launch a new game in this environment, but Newzoo notes that publishers and developers will need to be aware of current market conditions, and which games are dominating the space, before they lean into new forays.

What’s most clear from Newzoo’s report is that gaming habits are currently shifting dramatically, with various factors contributing to older games being more popular and appealing to the current market. Any new games will seemingly face an uphill battle to find and establish their potential audiences in the coming years.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.