Millennial Expectations for Future Video Game Support


Bloodborne was a PS4 exclusive and functioned as a system-seller. Image: From Software


Practically every modern day market has had to pay heed to one aspect in particular in order to maximize their success, and that aspect is demographics. It’s essentially a given that certain products or certain markets will have better appeal with one socio-economic group or another, or one age group or another.

In the case of the video game industry, a key demographic of theirs is that of the millennials. If one demographic had to be singled out, it would likely be the millennial generation that has had the biggest impact on the video game industry. Being the first generation of people to grow up with video games being a fixture in their everyday lives, millennials have a certain attachment to the industry that persists to this day.

In a study conducted by the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) it was revealed that among the populations that play video games, the age group that had the highest share was that of people between the ages of 18 and 35—essentially hitting the nail square on the head for the age range of the millennial generation.

With all of this taken into consideration, it is safe to hazard the statement that millennials are, at the very least, fairly important to the success of the video game industry, and with that in mind, they are a demographic worth holding onto.

As with any type of consumer, there are certain features that they desire as a part of the product that they are supporting—certain expectations that they would like to be met. Highest of all among these desires is that of accessibility. What is accessible is oftentimes also what is most convenient, and the appeal of convenience is not unique to millennials, rather, it is very much cross-generational (the monumental financial success of Steam is a testament that what is convenient also tends to be what is popular.)

A primary concern of people of the millennial generation is that they may not be able to play games that they would like, and this is usually the result of games being restricted to platforms that they may not have access to—this is the issue that will always be a thorn in the side of video games that are exclusive to a single platform. Certain games have a wide range of appeal, a particular amount of interest about them, that they are made into platform exclusive titles—these games are built to be system sellers, the games that incentivize consumers to transition to the current generation of consoles from the past one.

These titles fill a role in the industry that is demonized more often than it is not. Since they are restricted to being sold on a single platform, they are in essence gating-off anyone who is not willing to purchase the platform in question. Considering that current generation consoles typically sells on the market for several hundred dollars and don’t depreciate in value for a very long time, this sort of negative reaction is one that is fairly understandable.

Among millennials, many will remark on how they need to get a certain amount of value from their purchases, and that buying an entirely new system for the express purpose of playing a single game is in no way cost efficient. Titles such as From Software’s Bloodborne (exclusive to the PS4) and Platinum Games’s Bayonetta 2 (exclusive to the Wii U) are examples of games that experienced a degree of backlash for being limited to a single system; it is important to note, however, that in certain cases, such as Bayonetta 2, were it not for the funding of Nintendo, the game never would have been made in the first place.

The preferences of demographics such as millennials are seemingly simple, but carry much heavier implications than are immediately apparent, and it is important that consumer wants are factored into marketing decisions in order to benefit all sides as much as possible.