Continued engagement has a lot of positive externalities beyond just selling people more stuff. If you play a game for a few hours and quit, you might have some pleasant memories of it when the sequel rolls around or you might not. However, if you play a game for two hundred hours, chances are far far better that you’ll engage with it beyond just the game itself. For example, if you play one game for 200 hours, you’re much more likely to…
- … talk to your friends about the game
- … tune in for news about the franchise in general
- … engage with the game’s online community
- … be interested in other, similar games that are offered on the platform (e.g. other games in the franchise)
- … be interested in other franchise merchandise or media (toys, plushes, animated/TV series, spinoff games, card games, posters, t-shirts, etc.)
- … be interested in physical or digital events for the game (CitizenCon, BlizzCon, Pokemon Go Fest, Final Fantasy FanFest, DOTA International, eSports, etc.)
- … engage with or create fan content (cosplay, fan art, fan fiction, speed running, streaming, video creation, memes, etc.)
These various activities all hold value for us for a variety of reasons - we care about continued monetization of the franchise, we care about having a community that is willing to support the franchise, we want to make content and games for players who like the franchise. Some percentage of those who continue to engage within the game are going to engage outside of the game, and the more of them there are, the more “earned” media we get for marketing and improved franchise purposes. Having more of this means that we get additional marketing for future games in the franchise because we have cultivated a vibrant community that really likes playing our games.
This isn’t to say that shorter games with lower engagement can’t do these things too, but it is much much more difficult for them to establish this kind of presence because the community is just naturally so much smaller for low-engagement games. Even if the games are fantastic, the transient nature of players playing and moving on means that the community generally doesn’t reach that kind of critical mass - the players who loved the game will move on to other games as newer players start playing, resulting in a more revolving-door community than one that is there for the longer term.
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