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64% of digital PC games purchased at discount or downloaded for free

36% of gamers find it difficult to discover new PC games to play

Ultra, a complete PC gaming hub created by AAA talent from companies like Ubisoft, Playstation and Nintendo, today releases the first findings from its forthcoming report, The Ultra PC Gamer Study. They reveal that 64% of digital PC games are either purchased at a discount or obtained for free with 87% of PC gamers saying discounts are important in their purchasing decisions.

The findings, drawn from an independent survey of 2,000 PC gamers across the United States and United Kingdom, demonstrate the vital importance of indie games to the PC gaming ecosystem. Three-quarters of respondents buy indie PC games while the same proportion (75%) report that AAA games are too expensive. Price sensitivity is far from the only factor working in favor of indie games, with gamers citing creativity (40%) and a desire to support smaller developers (28%) among their motivations for buying them.

The picture is more mixed for alternative game stores with low awareness of platforms beyond Steam and the Epic Games Store. However, the finding that 36% of respondents find it difficult to discover new PC games to play may offer some encouragement to challenger brands. Currently, gamers are most likely to discover games they haven’t heard of before on YouTube (38%) while 94% of gamers consider game reviews in their purchasing decisions.

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“These findings show a PC gaming market that’s currently shaped by gamers’ price sensitivity with players having to make careful purchasing decisions this holiday season,” the Co-Chief Executive Officer for Ultra, Nicolas Gilot, said. “This offers invaluable insight for developers, publishers and platforms and shows the scale of the opportunity for indie games and challenger storefronts even in the mature, prosumer PC gaming market, which has been growing and evolving for decades.

“PC gaming has always given players as much freedom as possible; whether that’s through the choice of titles, platforms, hardware, the ability to mod or simply fine-tune the settings of your favorite games. It’s clear that there’s an opportunity to evolve further; which we will discuss in the full release of The Ultra PC Gamer Study, which is to be published in January of 2024.”

Key findings

Purchasing Power: 75% of PC gamers feel AAA PC games are too expensive with 87% saying discounts are important in their purchasing decisions. Therefore, only 36% of digital PC games are purchased at full price while 32% are purchased at a discount or through bundles and 32% are obtained for free. Possibly showing the shifting business model of gaming, 68% of respondents say they buy in-game content such as battle passes.

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Indie Game Adoption: There’s a huge potential audience for non-AAA games with 75% of respondents saying they buy digital indie titles. The top reasons for doing so are the creativity of indie games (40%), wanting to try something new (39%), their lower price point (33%) and to support smaller developers (28%).

Indie Uncertainty: Of the minority who don’t buy indie PC games, 41% cite uncertainty of whether they’ll enjoy them, 32% don’t have enough time to play multiple games, 17% prefer franchise releases and 17% feel indie games are difficult to discover.

Store Wars: Steam is unsurprisingly the PC games store that’s most familiar with gamers, followed by Epic Games Store. The best-known challenger stores are GOG (15% awareness) and Humble Store (13%) and resellers such as GamesPlanet (19%) and CDKeys and G2A (both 13%).

Discoverability: 36% of respondents find it difficult to discover new PC games to play. Gamers are most likely to discover games they hadn’t heard of before on YouTube (38%). The next most influential channels are word of mouth (34%) and Steam promotions (18%). Twitch (12%) is significantly more influential than Kick (2%).

Reviews: Remain influential with only 6% of respondents not taking them into account. Customer reviews are most influential (53%) followed by word of mouth (49%). 31% of PC gamers are influenced by reviews from media outlets.

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These initial findings have been revealed ahead of Ultra releasing its full PC Gamer Study in January of 2024. To be among the first to know when the full report is released, follow Ultra on X (twitter).

Methodology

An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2,003 PC gamers in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The research panel had an even gender split (50% male, 49% female, 1% non-binary) and were all aged between 18 and 44. To qualify, gamers had to play PC games at least once a week, with 51% of respondents saying they play daily. The research fieldwork took place between October 13 to 16, 2023. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by MRS code.

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