Multiplatform and multiplayer games overtake single format and single player

Unity’s 2024 Gaming Report reveals a rise in multiplatform development and with a focus on multiplayer

Multiplatform and multiplayer games overtake single format and single player

Exploring the five key trends in game development right now, Unity’s 2024 Gaming Report has found a rise in multiplatform development and a focus on multiplayer, with more and more studios looking to deepen audience attachment.

Indie developers especially are taking the multiplatform route, having built 71% more multiplatform games over the past two years while the broader industry’s multiplat ambitions have grown by 40%.

This of course means larger studios are releasing more multiplatform games too, using the wider outreach to seek out a greater potential audience. According to Unity’s report, the number of games that launched on three or more platforms between 2022 and 2023 increased by over a third - up 34%.

From one platform to another

Of the 300 studios surveyed in Unity’s report, 55% begin to plot multiplatform strategies during preproduction. Lower-midmarket studios were found to be most likely to start this planning from day one, while some studios don’t focus attention on other platforms until development on a primary platform is well underway.

Notably, smaller studios with teams comprising fewer than 50 people are mainly developing for PC and mobile, not console.

Of course, the game’s genre does influence its desirable platforms too. Of the surveyed developers going multiplat, 38% were developing RPGs in 2023 while roughly 19% were developing racing games. Meanwhile, not even 15% of card games were being developed for multiple platforms, indicating card game fans are more concentrated in one place while RPG fans are more spread out - and thus multiplat games become worth the costs to facilitate reaching an audience across platforms.

Togetherness wins the day, and the pay

In addition to multiplatform, multiplayer is an increasingly prevalent focus for game developers, with Unity finding 68% of them are developing multiplayer games - be they online or couch co-op - for two or more platforms.

In 2023, mobile-only games with multiplayer aspects had a noteworthy 40.2% more monthly active users than purely single-player games. Not only that, but multiplayer games saw a rise in spending too - rising by 10% in 2023 while the broader industry struggled. This ultimately meant an additional $2.3 billion in multiplayer gaming revenue over 2022, and a further 7% rise is expected for 2024.

As with multiplatform considerations, different studios look at multiplayer potential at different development phases, though 63% start planning for multiplayer features by the end of preproduction. And of the surveyed devs, 38% consider "easy communication" as the most worthwhile multiplayer feature to implement. A lag-free connection came in at a close second, as one of the most valuable factors for 37%.

Unity’s full report includes advice on scaling a multiplayer game, from the prototyping phase through to post-launch player retention. It also explores the use of AI, which may not be the catch-all super-tool some first expected...

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