Bain: Young gamers 'embracing' metaverse

29 July 2022 3 min. read
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Young gamers (age 13-17) are the most eager consumers of metaverse-style games, according to a recent study from Bain & Company.

Metaverse games incorporate 3D virtual worlds, an avatar stand-in for the player, and focus on social connection. Currently popular games in the category are Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, and World of Warcraft.

The metaverse-lite concept – divorced of VR headsets and full immersion – has had successful practical products within the video game sphere for decades, including early titles like Second Life and Habbo Hotel.

Practical VR integration, like the metaverse, has also had viable use cases in gaming for years; today and in the future, business people like Mark Zuckerberg will attempt to extend the concepts outward to make online shopping and remote work meetings more cumbersome.

“There has been a lot of buzz, and plenty of confusion, among the business community on what the metaverse is and how it will shift commerce and life into the digital realm,” said Andre James, global head of Bain & Company's media & entertainment practice. “Meanwhile, young gamers have been paving the future of the metaverse. They have adopted to metaverse-style games, often preferring to socialize with friends in games more than in person.”

Further aided by the pandemic, video games have grown to dominate the media landscape of young people. They are the first choice of entertainment for people ages 13 to 17, according to Bain’s report, beating out social media, TV, and music.

Half of younger gamers prefer to spend time with their friends in games

And those young gamers have further taken to metaverse games that are immersive, social, and offer in-game purchases and creative customizability. Thirty-two percent of young gamers have played metaverse-style games, compared to 28% of those aged 18-34. Meanwhile, 56% of young gamers expect their metaverse game time to increase, versus 49% of older gamers.

Additionally, half of young gamers prefer to spend time with their friends in games over hanging out in person. This preference is consistent, with the same proportion preferring to attend school events in the metaverse.

“Social experiences in game spaces lay the foundation for other online activities, such as concerts, sporting events, and other aspects of life, including work and commerce,” the report said. “We will likely see this growing demand for community experiences as a catalyst for a broader metaverse.”

Fifty-three percent of younger metaverse gamers told Bain they would prefer to inherit a vacation home in the metaverse than on an exotic island – reinforcing the fact that their brains are still in the process of developing and maturing. 

Younger gamers spend more time and money on games

Younger gamers also spend more time and money on video games than other age groups, at 12.5 hours per week and $42 per month.

The rise of subscription-based services and monetization of in-game items (e.g. buying hats for your avatar in Fortnite) has led to improved average revenue per user. Such trends are likely to continue, because game companies want to make more money rather than less money. While these trends may alienate older video game players who prefer quality, single-player experiences without vulture-like monetization and bracing interactions with online players, teens will seemingly continue to lap it up.

In order to maximize potential success, Bain recommends that developers build “fun and immersive experiences that are social, multiplatform, and customizable.” Of course, every developer wants to make the next Minecraft, Among Us, Fortnite, or GTA V: Online – but having the resources and luck to land a gaming cash cow is another matter.