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A newly released game industry report by market researcher Newzoo shows that while the PC and console market grew 2.6 percent in 2023, overall playtime decreased as gamers spent more and more time in a smaller list of old games like Fortnite and League of Legends.

On April 2, Newzoo released its second annual game industry report, including a ton of data and information on what people were playing and spending money on during 2023. According to Newzoo’s data, the PC and console game market grew and reached $93.5 billion in revenue in 2023. That might seem like good news, but drilling down into the data, it becomes clear that it’s only good news for a small number of publishers and developers.

Newzoo’s data shows that the top 10 games on each platform (ranked by their average number of monthly active users, or MAU) are filled with old, established titles. Fortnite took the crown on all platforms, including Switch and PC. The rest of the lists included titles that won’t surprise you, like Grand Theft Auto V, Counter-Strike 2, Roblox, Minecraft, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Fall Guys, Valorant, and Call of Duty. Across Xbox and Playstation consoles, only one dedicated single-player game cracked the top ten: Starfield. 

A screenshot of the top played games in 2023.

Screenshot: Newzoo / Kotaku

To further prove that gamers are primarily focused on older games, Newzoo’s data shows that just 66 titles accounted for 80 percent of all playtime in 2023. And 60 percent of that playtime was spent in games that are six years old or older. In fact, in 2023, five old games—Fortnite, Roblox, League of Legends, Minecraft, and GTA V—accounted for 27% of all playtime in the year.

It gets worse. Of the 23 percent of playtime spent in 2023 on new games—defined as 2 years or younger—more than half was spent in big annual sequels like the latest Madden or NBA game. Only 8 percent of video game playtime was spent on new, non-annual titles like Diablo IV or Baldur’s Gate III.

While Newzoo’s report does point out that you can still be successful in this environment, the reality is that gamers are spending less and less time in new games and more and more time in already-established franchises and live-service titles, making it harder for publishers and developers to find an audience. That’s because unlike in the decades before, you aren’t just competing with whatever hot new game is on the shelves, but instead are fighting giants like Fortnite and Roblox, completely free games with endless amounts of content created by their users.

“It will be increasingly challenging to grow a game’s playerbase,” said Newzoo in the report, “particularly in our current landscape, where evergreen titles and robust content pipelines reign supreme.” In other words, good luck if you aren’t making a big sequel, remake, or annual entry in some popular series.

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