Avid Gamers Are Worried About the Industry’s Monopolization — and More Open Than Not to Regulatory Actions

At least 2 in 5 gamers want more regulation of the gaming industry
May 17, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

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Microsoft Corp.’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc., the maker of “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” has received scrutiny from global regulators over concerns that the deal could result in less competition across the industry, including in the nascent cloud gaming space.

Many gamers, including a majority of avid gamers, have some concerns about the spate of mergers throughout the gaming industry that have seen large studios absorb smaller competitors — and they’re more likely than not to favor regulatory intervention from the government, according to a new Morning Consult survey.

Avid Gamers Are Most Concerned About Implications of Industry Consolidation

Shares of gamers who are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about the potential for large video game companies to do the following:
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Survey conducted May 11-14, 2023, among a sample of 1,555 U.S. adults who played video games within the past month, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Gamers have concerns about mergers, but not the same one as regulators 

  • Half of all gamers -- U.S. adults who have played video games in the past month -- worry about the possibility of large video game studios becoming too powerful, while similar shares are concerned about monopolization in the industry and exclusivity deals that could make games less accessible.
  • Avid gamers (characterized as those who play games seven or more hours per week) are more concerned about the effects of mergers than their casual gamer counterparts (those who play six hours or less per week).
  • Cloud gaming has been a key focus of regulators, including the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority, which cited a lack of competition in the space as a reason to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, but a lack of innovation in these arenas concerns fewer than half of all gamers.

Avid Gamers Are More Likely to Favor Regulations for Gaming Industry

Shares of respondents who “strongly” or “somewhat” support the following:
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Survey conducted May 11-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,202 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Plurality of gamers support regulatory actions on gaming industry 

  • Fewer than half of all gamers back measures that would restrict certain anticompetitive behavior, though they are slightly more likely than not to support the efforts surveyed.
  • A slim majority of avid gamers would back efforts to ban exclusivity deals that would tie games to a single platform and restrict companies from solely owning rights to a technology, like cloud gaming, that would give it an unfair advantage.
  • Casual gamers are less likely to back regulatory efforts for the gaming industry, with just under 2 in 5 offering support for breaking up multi-studio game companies.

Consolidation in the games industry has gone largely unnoticed 

In early 2022, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. spent $12.7 billion to buy Zynga Inc., the maker of mobile games like “FarmVille” and “Words With Friends.” Later that year, Sony Interactive Entertainment acquired Bungie Inc., the maker of the popular “Halo” and “Destiny” franchises, for $3.6 billion.

Just 3 in 10 gamers said they had seen, heard or read “some” or “a lot” about Sony’s purchase, while a slightly smaller share were aware of Take-Two’s takeover of Zynga. A third of gamers, meanwhile, had heard about Microsoft’s ongoing attempts to buy Activision.

The games industry has largely been controlled by a handful of major companies, including Sony and Microsoft, the makers of the PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles. Consoles remain a dominant platform in the space, and the manufacturers have turned to studios to develop exclusive titles to incentivize gamers to purchase their devices. 

As technology improves and cloud gaming — the ability to stream a game like a movie on any device rather than requiring dedicated hardware to play it — grows possible, there are concerns as to how that consolidation and market dominance will affect the industry and how companies will protect their titles when a specific platform is not required to access it.

The May 11-14, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,202 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

A headshot photograph of AJ Dellinger
AJ Dellinger
Data Reporter

AJ Dellinger previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering technology. 

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