Gaming's revenue streams have officially eclipsed that of other major entertainment categories, including TV, film, and music. And with this rise in money and popularity comes chatter. But what exactly are people talking about within the gaming world? We found out by tapping into one of the most vocal online communities: Reddit. Scraping every conversation on r/gaming since 2013, we were able to analyze not only content but also sentiment toward video games.
Curious to know which video games have the most positive fan bases? What about common consoles with the most mentions? For answers to these questions and other nuanced discoveries about the gaming community, keep reading.
More than 24 million people were subscribed to the online gaming community in 2019, growing by 4.4 million subscribers since 2018. Interestingly, that's the same number of subscribers the NFL Network has reportedly lost since August of 2018.
The most active months for the online gaming community were June and March, with 786,000 and 656,000 posts per month, respectively. But it was posts in November that were the most positive, according to our analysis. And although December is often a time to gift video games and gaming accessories, the month was still greatly surpassed by June and March for online conversations around gaming.
Free time on the weekend was evidently reserved for something other than gaming, however, as Saturday and Sunday saw the least number of posts. Wednesday, on the other hand, saw more gaming posts (996,000) than any other day of the week and even had the most positive posts. Perhaps the gaming community is helping subscribers overcome the hump day.
Since 2013, conversations around video games, consoles, and game developers have trended upward, with particular peaks in 2014 and 2018. Taking a trip down virtual memory lane, 2014 saw Robin Williams memorialized in World of Warcraft, Flappy Bird was removed from the internet for being an "addictive product", and Halo 5: Guardians was announced. Meanwhile, 2018 was dominated by Fortnite, loot boxes saw some backlash, and Xbox confirmed it was working on new consoles.
However, among video games, consoles, and game developers, video games appeared to be the most frequently discussed. Video games were mentioned 3.7 million times from 2013 to 2019, while consoles received 2 million mentions. This means that per 100 subscribers, we counted 15.1 mentions of video games. Conversations range from commentary on video game dialogue to reminiscing about the old times.
The most mentioned video game in the online gaming community was Fallout, appearing 278,491 times between 2013 and 2019. In fact, Fallout 4 has sold nearly 15 million copies. Skyrim was the second most mentioned video game, with 255,147 mentions. Halo and Pokémon were also incredibly popular on Reddit, with 206,423 and 175,063 mentions, respectively.
Although mentioned fewer times, Final Fantasy conversations were more positive than any other game discussed. One fan even wrote about how Final Fantasy changed his life.
Redditors also chatted about yet-to-be-released video games. The most anticipated, or heavily mentioned, video release was Cyberpunk 2077. The developers of Cyberpunk even surprised fans by introducing Keanu Reeves as a nonplayable character: Reeves actually represents "Johnny Silverhand, an iconic character from the original Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop role-playing game by Mike Pondsmith". Meanwhile, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, mentioned second most often among upcoming releases, is set to hit stores in 2020, but a specific date has yet to be confirmed.
The console is a crucial component of gameplay. So which console did subscribers discuss the most? Nintendo was mentioned in 41.5% of online gaming conversations, followed by PlayStation with 31.1% of the chatter and Xbox with just 27.4%.
Although just 152 Xbox mentions occurred per 10,000 subscribers, Xbox console conversations were more positive than those of Nintendo and PlayStation. One Redditor stated that the Xbox wins "purely on performance", while the PlayStation wins in terms of "platform-exclusive titles". And depending on the preferred games, Xbox may not be an option for some people, possibly resulting in fewer mentions on Reddit, as well.
Bethesda was mentioned more often than any other video game company, although Activision Blizzard took a close second. Bethesda has published some of the most popular games, including Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. Activision Blizzard, on the other hand, touts its "elite roster of legendary titles", such as Call of Duty, Skylanders, and World of Warcraft.
At the bottom of our list, Epic Games (Fortnite) had the fewest mentions of any developer analyzed. The company had just 3.5 mentions per 10,000 subscribers, yet many of these mentions were positive. In fact, Epic games had the most positive discussions online of any developer.
If the data is any indication, video games aren't going anywhere anytime soon – and having the most discussions online doesn't always guarantee being in gamers' good graces.
In fact, we discovered an interesting phenomenon regarding positive sentiment. There were three instances (Epic Games, the Xbox console, and Final Fantasy) wherein a smaller fan base actually correlated with more positive conversations.
No matter what you have to say, though, online gaming communities give everyone a voice.
This project analyzed over 6 million posts submitted to the r/gaming subreddit from December 2013 to November 2019. The visuals depict mentions of specific game titles, consoles, and video game companies. In some cases, commons terms were grouped and relabeled for clarity and/or brevity in the visualizations. To identify positive mentions of each grouping, we ran posts through TextBlob, a natural language processing library. We used subredditstats.com to show the subreddit's subscriber growth over time. The main limitation of this study is that not all games were included. Additionally, the number of mentions of a term doesn't indicate support for or against a term.
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