Future Publishing was founded on video gaming, and it’s remained central to our business ever since.
Over the last 30 years we have built up an unrivalled portfolio of magazines, websites and events that reach a larger group of gamers than any other specialist publisher – over 1.9 million every month in the UK alone.
We now have more ways to reach gamers than ever before: on print, online, on disc, on console through our innovative FirstPlay product (Europe’s first HD interactive show for gamers, available exclusively through Sony’s PlayStation 3), and on stage through our long-running involvement in the annual Golden Joystick Awards.
Future has identified its gaming audience as ‘high volume gamers’, and we believe this group is vital to the health of the industry. They buy more video games, play more genres and spend longer gaming per week than any other next-gen console owner.
Vitally, they are also the group that are most likely to pre-order or buy in the first week of release. This is not because they are motivated by price deals or exclusive DLC. They just want to get their hands on that game as soon as possible.
Finally, because they are known within their peer groups as the experts on games, their purchase influence is huge. By talking to high volume gamers early on, you can effectively use them as part of your marketing campaign; helping build anticipation and awareness, and making your broadcast media more cost-effective in the process.
Based on our ‘Big Game Survey’ research conducted in August 2010, our magazines and websites reach up to 1.69m PS3 owners, 1.72m Wii owners and 1.83m Xbox 360 owners – a potential total of over five million active consoles. This represents huge scale that can be generated effectively and with zero wastage.
But it’s not just the hardware that makes this audience so desirable. Compared to other next-gen console owners, our high volume gamers spend more than four times longer every week playing games (21 hours rather than five hours). This is vital when thinking about marketing and media selection. If they’re playing games for that length of time, they’re even harder to reach effectively through broadcast means – especially TV.
It’s worth noting that this type of audience are still happy to invest in their gaming media. Buying a magazine every month at £5.99 shows great commitment to their passion, which is reflected in the time they spend reading each issue – on average over four hours per magazine, per month (compared to less than an hour for a lifestyle title such as FHM).
21 hours gaming time each week gives plenty of time to play a wide variety of genres, too. First person shooters and RPGs are the most popular, however, more than 75 per cent of high volume gamers are also playing sandbox, third person action and stealth games. Over half play sports games, which means they should still be considered a key audience for the large annual
When we look at purchasing behaviour, it’s clear why this audience is so important to the industry. In the last six months, they purchased 12 full-price games on average, compared to three for other console-owning households – an average spend of £360.
Vitally, it’s their predisposition to pre-order or buy in the first week of release that gives high volume gamers the power to effectively make or break a new video game.
73 per cent of them pre-order or buy in the first week, and of these, 70 per cent are doing so purely so they can get their hands on the game as soon as they possibly can. It’s not price that drives them to do this, it’s passion – those guys queuing up on Oxford Street for the midnight release of Call of Duty: Black Ops? That’s what we mean by high volume gamers.
This early purchase behaviour generates two positive effects for your campaign. Firstly, it gives you a solid foundation from launch, ensuring when the first sales data is published that your release has the best possible chance of meeting your benchmarks for success.
Secondly, in getting you up the charts early, retailers have the opportunity to extend prominent display space and attain greater exposure to more casual gamers who may only buy two or three games a year.
Bear in mind that it’s more likely to be the casual audience who are more responsive to your TV and outdoor campaigns. The high volume gamer, who is fully informed through his gaming media, has in all likelihood already pre-ordered the product by the time your mainstream activity begins.
For this reason the catalytic effect of the high volume gamer cannot be ignored. By communicating to this audience early enough, they will take on a powerful word-of-mouth role in your pre-launch activity; 83 per cent of respondents to our ‘Big Game Survey’ said they influence the purchase decision of others within their peer group. So when a casual gamer walks past a store and thinks “I fancy buying a game today”, they recognise and are more likely to purchase the game advocated by their mate.
We’re not saying TV is ineffective; we recognise the numerous reasons there are for using it. But the evidence tells us that by engaging high volume gamers at the earliest stages of game development and with subsequent marketing activity, you can make broadcast media work far harder for you.
Future talks to this audience day in day out through our magazines, websites and live events. They buy more, play more and influence more than any other gaming tribe. We are the publisher they trust – that’s why we are ahead of the game.