The consumption upgrade of young people with Gen Z as the main body will not only impact the basic logic of game development, but also lead to new changes in bargaining power, game modes, integration paths, and experience methods.
In the new era, games with strong cultural attributes, expressive power and carrying capacity are no less than traditional cultural media, and increasingly become modern cultural carriers.
The gaming industry is a typical consumer-driven industry, and the impact of demand-side traction on it is extremely significant. Games are also highly recognized by young consumer groups, and consumption is relatively high frequency, even close to rigid cultural consumer products.
According to the data of “China Game Industry Report 2020”, the number of game users in China will reach 665 million in 2020. According to the sixth census data, the total population of the post-80s, post-90s and post-00s generations in China exceeds 600 million. These two categories The crowd has a very high degree of coincidence.
Young people mainly composed of Generation Z (approximately those born between 1995 and 2009) have become the mainstream of game consumption. The consumption upgrade characteristics of this new consumer group have basically led the trend of the game industry.
Four characteristics of consumption upgrade
Specifically, the consumption upgrade of young people has four obvious characteristics:
▌Polarization of young people’s consumption in a “low desire society”
“Low Desire Society” is a concept proposed by Japanese scholar Kenichi Ohmae, which shows that the polarization between the rationalization of rigid consumer demand and the high frequency of spiritual demand of the younger generation is becoming more and more significant.
On the one hand, young people become more rational in rigid consumption. Young people, represented by Generation Z, show the trend of pursuing cost-effectiveness, long decision-making cycles, and low consumption rates for traditional “just-needed” consumption such as buying a house, buying a car, getting married and having children, and getting ahead.
But on the other hand, their consumer demand for spiritual and emotional experience is increasingly showing the characteristics of high frequency and rigidity. For example, POPMART, a typical representative of the “blind box economy”, has set off a lasting wave of purchases among Gen Z players by stimulating people’s curiosity, satisfying collecting nature and social needs.
The data shows that nearly 200,000 consumers spend more than 20,000 yuan to collect blind boxes each year. Consumers with the strongest purchasing power can even spend up to one million yuan a year to buy blind boxes, of which the post-95s accounted for the majority. Spiritual sustenance and emotional connection are the main reasons why the “blind box economy” can motivate young people to consume.
▌Consumption upgrade enters the 2.0 era
The current consumer upgrade has been upgraded from version 1.0 to version 2.0. The former is mainly reflected in the surge in demand for material consumption. Consumers are pursuing international first-line brands in brands and collectively chasing high-priced and high-quality products. One example of this is the prevalence of overseas shopping and purchasing services, and a large number of Chinese tourists have organized groups to Europe, America and Japan. Shopping has become one of the main factors promoting overseas tourism.
In the consumption upgrade era of version 2.0, as the post-80s, post-90s, and post-00s have become the main consumer groups, consumption behaviors show the following characteristics:
One is the tendency to be moved by feelings and pay for the spiritual world;
The second is to pursue exquisiteness and beauty, and focus on using consumption to show one’s own aesthetic taste and circle recognition;
Third, the demand for improving one’s own literacy through consumption has become stronger, which is reflected in the recognition of payment for content and knowledge by young people.
The transformation of the traditional two-dimensional website Bilibili is a landmark case that reflects this trend. Many famous teachers from Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University and other universities have settled in Station B, becoming the “Up Master” in the mouth of the Z generation. For example, Professor Luo Xiang from the School of Criminal Justice of China University of Political Science and Law took less than a year to become the second-largest Up host at station B, with tens of millions of fans, and passing on his cold legal knowledge to more. Group of young people.
▌The sense of cultural belonging and national identity are becoming more prominent
Generation Z has grown up with the rise of China, and its cultural self-confidence and sense of cultural belonging have also become stronger. The “national boom” that modernized and transformed traditional culture came into being. Take the Hanfu industry as an example. Its industrial scale has exceeded 1 billion yuan, among which the post-00s are the main consumer group.
Another example is the documentary “I repaired cultural relics in the Forbidden City”, which set off a wave of “Forbidden City fever”, enjoying high popularity and reputation among young people. As of November 2019, the film has been broadcasted 5.611 million times in station B with a score of 9.9. .
▌The urban-rural and intergenerational consumption circles are becoming more consolidated
On the one hand, the consolidation of urban and rural circles has intensified. Take live streaming e-commerce as an example. Kuaishou big Vs such as Dandan and Grand Master Yu are extremely well-known among young people in towns and villages, with tens of millions of fans, and they can create sales of over 100 million or even billion. Urban consumer groups may pay more attention to knowledge and popular science experts such as Lin Chao and Luo Xiang. Although the two circles have a huge amount of fans and the ability to carry goods, the two markets are relatively isolated from each other.
On the other hand, the trend of consolidation of the intergenerational circle is also intensifying. The popularity of cultural products in the past may be well known to all, but the current audiences of cultural products show obvious generational differentiation. Take “The Shepherd of the Cocoa Sea”, which is popular among middle-aged and elderly people in 2020, as an example, it is on the stage of the Spring Festival Gala. It has been popular in square dance scenes all over the country before, but most young people may not understand this song, and it is impossible to talk about it.
Consumption upgrades have spawned game trends
The above four characteristics not only impacted the basic logic of the development of the game industry, but also led to the following four changes and trends.
▌The bargaining power of the game changes
With the awakening of consumer awareness and the improvement of aesthetic taste, the bargaining power of the game industry has undergone a shift from “supply creation” to “demand traction”.
At first it was supply-led logic.
In the early days, the domestic game industry was imported, and overseas introduced games accounted for a large market share. FC games (a simulation game produced in the 1980s, representative works include “Contra Series”, “Super Mario”, etc.) as the representative The game cassette sales model, to the “Next Generation” game consoles selling CDs or digital versions of games, are all based on the logic of “one-time buyout”.
Then comes the point card payment logic.
In the early days, the business model of the domestic game industry was not formed. Instead, the main operation form was the introduction or agent of overseas mature card-point system online games. After absorbing and learning from overseas game commercial operation models, domestic game companies gradually explored Featured game payment form.
For example, point card games such as “Legend of Blood” represented by Shanda, “Western Journey” and “Fantasy Westward Journey” independently developed by NetEase, all use relatively low research and development cost game content, supplemented by game operation methods to improve players The retention rate is added to the game to participate in various “burning card” dungeon activities to increase the value of character equipment and other rules. PVP is used as an interactive competitive mode to encourage competition among players, and finally form a closed loop of the game, which invisibly increases the game time of players. Profit from time payment.
However, games developed based on this commercial thinking not only excessively extend the main storyline of the game, but also increase the “game entry cost”. Too frequent interactive content also prolongs the game time out of thin air, resulting in a decline in the player’s game experience and a gradual reduction in game quality.
The commercialization of games like these uses supply to promote demand, which weakens consumers’ right to choose independently. Consumers are more passively adapting to the market and accepting products. In this situation, the influencing factors such as the aesthetic taste, psychological needs, and game attributes of game consumption are restricted and fixed, and consumption habits are difficult to accurately match and promote.
Then there is the independent innovation of business models: “Free to Play” and “Pay to Win” logic.
As the game market of the point-to-pay business model has gradually become saturated, domestic game companies have realized that they need to cater to more consumption levels to expand consumer bodies, and reducing the “game entry cost” has become the key to the development of the game industry. Therefore, The free game mode came into being.
The game business operation model has begun to change from the traditional point card revenue as the main source to the sales of virtual equipment and value-added services as the main source. Free games are developing rapidly. Players can experience the game for free and are not limited to the game time, and the rule of winning the game is to drive the player to greatly enhance the game ability by purchasing virtual game props.
The business logic of “Free to Play” uses a free-to-play model to lower the threshold of experience, attracting more audiences of players, and then use the “Pay to Win” game rules to encourage players to purchase items in-house to obtain revenue, so that the game’s playability is guaranteed. Players also have a better gaming experience.
These two business models have contributed to the transformation of the game’s competitive mode. The game has evolved from the game rules that emphasized both PVE (Player VS Environment, player versus system) and PVP (Player VS Player, player versus player) to PVP. There are also groups such as gangs and unions. Players vent their emotions and gain pleasure in the development process of the game that continues to recharge to become stronger.
At present, it is the logic of “demand pulling”.
With the continuous iterative and upgrade of consumption, games have gradually become an important entertainment method for young people. The game market has gradually changed from “people gathering by things” to “people divided by groups”. Consumers’ pursuit of quality has changed from “willing”. It has become “exquisite”, paying more attention to the multi-dimensional and deeper added value of experience, feeling, atmosphere and more that game products bring to itself, and game consumption is gradually developing in a personalized and diversified trend.
With the help of information technology, the bargaining power of the game industry has gradually changed from “supply creation” to “demand traction”. Consumers have become the dominant force in the market. Consumers have the initiative to purchase, especially young consumers. The main force of game consumption, likes personalized symbols, shows self attitude, and is eager to seek a sense of identity in social, group, and culture.
▌Game mode changes
With the stratification of consumer demand preferences, games are also divided into two obvious types and modes.
The first is a “content + form” game with the story as the main body.
Highlight plot factors, improve the player’s sense of substitution, emphasize interaction with players and content experience, create an immersive atmosphere, and have high requirements for game development techniques such as programming and plot design, such as “Red Dead Redemption” developed by Rockstar Games. The second part of the Red Dead Revolver series, with a production team of more than 2,000 people, took 8 years to finally complete the production. This kind of games with strong storytelling puts a huge investment in time, material resources, and manpower in the early stages of development, and the extremely high marginal cost will also bring high risks and high returns.
The second is a rule-based game with rule-making as the main body.
Strongly competitive games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and League of Legends have relatively low investment in the production of game content, and socialize and regularize innovation through functional attributes such as additional operating communities and competitive competitions. , A game mode in which players interact with each other in space is derived. Another example is Tencent’s self-developed “King of Glory”, which breaks out of the scope of the game, opens up interaction channels for strangers, adds social functions such as chatting, sending messages, trading and sharing, and becomes the “third social software” for young people.
▌Convergence path changes
As an important starting point for the cross-border integration of the cultural industry, there are roughly two paths for the integration and development of the game industry and related industries.
The first is the “Game+” formed by adding elements of other fields as the core of the game industry. The game itself is the main body, incorporating cultural resources and knowledge connotation. For example, the “Great Voyage Age” developed by Koei Tecmo, based on the 16th century The geographical discovery is the main line background, and the game content is all-encompassing. Its realistic design allows players to memorize the local geographical environment, product resources, ocean currents and climate knowledge during voyages and trade.
Another example is the flight game “Flight Simulator 2020” launched by Microsoft. The detailed satellite map and the detailed weather system restore the real world in real time. Through the one-to-one restoration of the aircraft and visual effects, players can get a realistic flight simulation experience. This kind of entertaining game stimulates players’ desire for exploration and curiosity, and also gives players a richer gaming experience.
The second is the “+ game” that conveys the connotation of traditional culture and popularizes scientific knowledge with gamification thinking, and uses games to empower traditional activation and popular science to realize the social value of games. Educational functional games such as “Ton and Tenon” and “Folding Fan” disseminate traditional culture, craftsmanship and related history through detailed 3D models.
With the development of information technology and the gradual popularization of 5G terminals, the game industry will usher in disruptive changes and development opportunities. The first is a breakthrough in the circle-large games are easily restricted by time, space, hardware equipment and other factors. After the game is “on the cloud”, players only need to connect to the 5G network to start the game.
Not only that, but players can also enter large-scale games in more fragmented periods. In the past, most of the “fast food games” entered through portable terminals such as mobile phones were easy to learn, easy to operate, low interruption penalties, and game duration. The migration of technical variables of cloud games to the mobile terminal allowed players to play 3A-level large The game becomes possible, and the cross-platform is no longer restricted, and the device can be switched freely only by online archive. This change not only reduces the cost of hardware purchases for players, but also guarantees the distribution channels of game developers and service providers to ensure that the game is genuine.
All in all, cloud gaming integrates the development model of “content + form” games and rule games, breaking through the polarization caused by circles and fragmented time, eliminating the obstacles of hardware equipment and time and space limitations, and making the game more convenient. , It also brings more possibilities for players to create higher quality and richer gaming experience.
Author: Song Yangyang