One of the first dedicated home games consoles was launched 40 years ago in 1977 in the form of the Atari 2600, then known by the name of the Atari VCS.
Its success popularised the idea of dedicated games hardware in the home. Though as well as providing the games industry boom, its maker Atari also played a key role in the bust in 1983.
The industry recovered however, with new players emerging over the years and decades that followed, including today’s industry giants Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
Far from just the home console market, the industry spun off into other areas such as handheld, basic feature phones and eventually smartphones and tablets.
Today, hundreds and millions of people are playing more games than ever on more devices, and more often.
Watching versus playing
One of the more recent trends in the space is that of watching other people play games, whether via pre-recorded YouTube video or through live broadcasts on services like Twitch.
And a huge business has evolved around it. 15% of YouTube views are said to relate to gaming, with influencers building up highly engaged audiences in the millions.
The biggest YouTuber in the world, PewDiePie, built up his channel from playing games. He now has over 55 million subscribers and 15 billion views.
Another One YouTuber, Jacksepticeye, has more than 15 million subscribers and over seven billion video views.
So clearly, watching games is big business. But how big exactly?
New self-funded company PlayStats, which has offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Berlin, aims to answer that question. It has indexed online video activity for 25,000 games, including mobile titles, to measure the online video consumption of the games themselves – not just the influencer channels.
PlayStats’ findings claim that the ‘watch consumption’ of video games online is now worth 30% of total game consumption.
It has generated over one billion data points and harvested 50 billion hours worth of viewing time. It has set up multiple algorithms for automatic indexing, and has also formed a team to manually tag a further half a million videos manually, which it expected to be completed by Gamescom in August.
PlayStats’ findings claim that the ‘watch consumption’ of video games online is now worth 30% of total game consumption, with 70% made from actually playing the games. This is based on hours viewed and the estimated total hours played for each game.
For example, blockbuster game Grand Theft Auto V has racked up approximately 8.8 billion hours of gameplay from players according to PlayStats’ estimates, and a total of 2.8 billion hours worth of online video views.
That’s a split of 76% to 24% in favour of gameplay, but means a quarter of total game consumption comes solely from watching someone else play.
One popular YouTuber, Spanish influencer DaniRep, focuses on publishing GTA V videos. PlayStats estimates he has racked up 2.3 billion views on the game, with viewers watching around 153 million hours worth of content on the channel.
That represents 1.5% of total GTA V consumption (both gameplay and viewing).
Another example: when tracking IO Interactive’s Hitman across PC, PS4 and Xbox One, at an estimated 1.1 million sales and an average of 19.5 hours played per copy, the game has been played a total of roughly 21.5 million hours.
When it comes to viewing, 266 million views have been tracking worth 18 million hours.
That means that 45% of Hitman consumption is through watching videos of other people playing, versus 55% consumption in actual gameplay.
Game of stats
It’s clear from these measured examples just how big watching gameplay online is.
Online video consumption of GTA V is larger than one of television’s most popular TV shows right now – Game of Thrones.
But it’s not just big compared to gameplay, the hours racked up also rivals large TV broadcasters and hit TV shows.
In fact, the online video consumption of GTA V is larger than one of television’s most popular TV shows right now – Game of Thrones.
By taking a rough calculator of an estimated peak audience of 25 million watching series six of the show on TV, you can get an approximate total view time of around 1.75 billion hours.
That’s less than the 2.8 billion hours worth of online video views for Rockstar’s blockbuster game by a considerable margin.
It’s this incredible market for games that everyone knows about, but has barely been measured, that PlayStats aims to provide key data on.
So it’s indexing the online video activity of games to provide information on videos, views, engagement and the influencers themselves. Its ambition is to be to online gameplay videos what App Annie is to apps.
As well as offering key data, which it will provide to studios for free, PlayStats’ services include helping studios with their influencer marketing campaigns.
It’s currently looking to work with studios to map correlations between views and gameplay time.
You can find more information on the company’s website here, or get in contact directly with the team at email@example.com.
PlayStats will be at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco 2017 on June 27th and 28th where it will present the first data from the platform. As well as the games touched upon in this article, it will also offer stats on games including Supercell’s Clash Royale, MZ’s Game of War and Lowtech’s Slither.io.