2023’s phenomenal slate of game releases reportedly outshined in playtime by older titles

Despite 2023 receiving widespread acclaim as one of the best years of new gaming releases, a new report on PC and console gaming suggests most registered hours of playtime belong to games six years or older.

According to Newzoo’s second annual game industry report, gamers as a whole are spending more time playing older games than newer ones. In 2021, games that were six years or older reportedly made up 45 percent of total hours played. That number went up to 57 percent in 2022 and then up again to 61 percent in 2023, according to Newzoo.

Gaming playtime distributed according to game's release date.
Gamers as a whole seem keen on sticking with what’s been out for a while. Screenshot by Dot Esports via Newzoo

The data does reflect the impact that the new slate of games in 2023 had, though, as games less than three years old had a higher share of playtime than they did in both 2021 and 2022. Last year was a landmark year for new releases, highlighted by the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3, Alan Wake 2, Spider-Man 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, among many others. But even so, the majority of newer game playtime came just from newer installments of established annual franchises, like Call of Duty and FIFA (now EA FC).

Across gaming altogether, though, most players are still playing games with incredible staying power that have been out for years, like Fortnite, GTA V, Roblox, and Minecraft. Both Fortnite and Roblox have the advantage of not just being a live-service game but also a “game-as-a-platform” service that allows user creations that can be easily shared to stoke player engagement over years. Both games also benefitted from major planned launches in late 2023; Fortnite launched OG and later Fortnite Festival and LEGO Fortnite, and Roblox launched on PlayStation.

This doesn’t mean that newer games are going away or should be viewed as less successful, however. The Newzoo report clearly says it’s very possible for new games that aren’t just an annual release to be successful, highlighting examples like Baldur’s Gate 3, Hogwarts Legacy, and Starfield. But a report like this does make it more understandable why there’s been such a push toward live service games over the past few years.

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