Players’ interactions with video games are becoming more social as the industry’s stranglehold on home entertainment and popular culture grows, leading to an evolution in players’ spending habits.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, many consumers hunkered down at home in 2020 and 2022, leading to a rise in video gaming. This new generation of gamers returned once normalcy was restored in 2015, yet they still valued virtual and in-person interactions with other players.

AnalyticsIQ, a marketing data firm, defines “social video gaming” as the likelihood to meet someone in real life after getting to know them virtually. More and more people are meeting new friends in online video game communities.

Digiday collaborated with AnalyticsIQ to extract unique data from its forthcoming Social Gamers Research Report, which polled about 8,500 self-identified social players about their motivations for gaming and spending money on games. This data sheds light on how the rise of social gaming has actually affected customers’ gaming and spending behaviours.

The aforementioned market data shows that social video gaming is a popular pastime among people of all ages. Younger gamers (Millennials and Gen Z) are far more likely to meet their romantic partners online than their elder counterparts. This indicates that social video gaming provides a glimpse into the future of gaming. Since most members of Gen Z will be social players as they mature into the 18-34 demographic that most brands want, it is important for online marketers to understand how this kind of player thinks.

“Consumers are more than simply the varieties of their demographics and purchase habits,” said Travis Meeks, vp of marketing at AnalyticsIQ. “These are the people who have successfully transitioned their online friendships into offline ones; perhaps attending live events or having more in-person experiences is a way to reach them.”

There has been a significant movement towards social players with the rise of free-to-play and live-service video games. While over half of 2015 gamers told YouGov they were interested in this category, 62 percent of social gamers said they were more inclined to play subscription-based video games. To encourage more people to play, the most naturally sociable and massively multiplayer games of today, such as “Fortnite” and “Among United States,” are typically offered for free. These massively multiplayer, free-to-play games stand to gain as social gaming expands.

Ivan Trancik, CEO of video game creation studio SuperScale, has said, “In a multiplayer video game, you are the material—the gamers are the material.” When player counts start to drop, it’s time to start turning off the servers.

According to AnalyticsIQ’s findings, social gamers are far more likely to utilise on a daily basis compared to non-social players. The percentage of everyday gamers is higher among social players (69%), compared to those who are not social (43%). This data suggests that social connection plays a major role in motivating the most passionate players to turn on their PCs or consoles, which is important knowledge for any video game producer hoping to record the attention of highly unpredictable home entertainment clients.

More opportunities for genuine social contact in games will be rewarded by higher levels of player engagement, an increasingly important statistic as subscriptions and in-game purchases become game developers’ primary revenue sources.

Social players are really open up to brand-new streaming and non-traditional television services

More than 80% of social gamers are still interested in paying for a non-traditional TV service, and over 64% are very inclined to subscribe to a new streaming service. Furthermore, the analysis by AnalyticsIQ found that compared to the average consumer, social gamers are 300 percent more likely to switch streaming providers during the following 12 months. Although social gamers can be a bit of a wild card for businesses, they provide an excellent opportunity for streaming services looking to expand their audiences.

As video games become a key front in the streaming wars, and as services like Netflix beef up their internal video game development departments, it’s possible that the brands that encourage social interaction through their video gaming content will be in the best position to retain customers in the growing social gaming market.

According to Meeks, extroverts are “clearly more happy to meet new people, more open to a discussion with another person, and more open to try new things.”