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Most gaming time is spent on older titles like Fortnite and Minecraft, report says

Why it matters: Anyone following the video game industry probably knows that live-service games like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto Online have been the most popular trend among big publishers in recent years. However, a new market report paints a stark picture of how much a familiar set of live-service titles currently dominates playtime.

According to Newzoo’s recently published 2024 PC and Console gaming report, gamers spent most of their time on a handful of popular evergreen titles throughout the last couple of years. The analysis also projects relatively sluggish industry growth through the middle of this decade.

Over 60 percent of playtime in 2022 and 2023 went to games at least six years old. The finding applies to 37 international markets, not including China or India. Unsurprisingly, the older titles are live-service online multiplayer games.

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Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V, and Rocket League dominated the lists of the top 10 PC, PlayStation, and Xbox games in terms of monthly active users for 2023. The most popular PC titles have the highest average age at 9.6 years, a figure influenced by esports pillars like League of Legends, Counter-Strike 2, and Valorant. Readers should note that Call of Duty Modern Warfare III and Counter-Strike 2, which were both released last year, replaced the executables of their predecessors, and Newzoo stacks their activity on top of the prior games.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Six: Siege is more popular on PlayStation and Xbox, which have an average most-played game age of around seven years. Interestingly, EA Sports FC 24 only made the top chart on PlayStation despite being available on every platform. The only game from a new franchise listed among all four platforms is last year’s Starfield, which is in eighth place on Xbox.

The Nintendo Switch ranking breaks from the trend of older games. While Fortnite, Minecraft, and Fall Guys remain popular on the handheld, with Fortnite on top for all four platforms, Nintendo’s first-party franchises consume the rest of the list. It’s the only system with multiple games in the top 10 that came out last year – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Super Mario Wonder, and Hogwarts Legacy. Those three and Starfield are the only strictly single-player games shown. The Switch also has the lowest average popular game age at 3.9 years.

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Newzoo’s data defies 2023’s historically packed roster, which included critically acclaimed hits like Baldur’s Gate 3, Alan Wake 2, the Resident Evil 4 Remake (which rekindled interest in the 2005 original), and many other popular titles. However, despite delivering several fun games, 2023 saw only a 2.6-percent rise in revenues, driven mainly by the PC market.

Like other tech industries, gaming in 2022 and 2023 saw consumer engagement drop from the pandemic boom of 2020 and 2021. Analysts expect hardware markets to make a solid recovery in the coming years, but Newzoo predicts more tepid growth in gaming. Its pessimism is partially based on 2024’s relatively light release schedule. Analysis from Circana also predict challenges for the sector in the near future.

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