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Media coverage analysis: PlayStation VR’s launch dominates Oculus and Vive

Last week, Sony launched its VR headset, the last of the 3 major tethered HMDs (head mounted display) to release in 2016. This is a perfect opportunity to have a look at the media coverage around the launch and to see how well it has performed compared to the other two. If you have read our blog post on the VR in media report, the result shouldn’t be very surprising, though.

The Launches

To compare the launches, I looked at the 48h cycle around the official release of each headset and the number of articles gathered for each device.

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Sony is a lot better organized in regards to its PR, especially where games and technology media are concerned, and the results shows, with twice the coverage that Oculus had for its launch, that was itself better covered than the HTC Vive’s launch. But even then, the magnitude of the difference is really impressive. Oculus was first to market, in a highly anticipated technological advancement.

hmd_launches_lg

A first explanation can be found with the languages breakdown. It seems Sony has been way better at engaging with non-English media than both Oculus and HTC were. In English, the PlayStation VR is 37% bigger than Oculus’, where in Italian – the biggest gap – it is 249% bigger.

This said I don’t have any good comparisons with other, different hardware launches. The Xbox One S was launched in the middle of the summer with little fanfare, and it is arguably not a very significant launch (667 articles for its launch if you are curious). I guess the NX launch will be the next similar event that we can compare these numbers to.

it is good to note as well, and that’s true for all three HMDs, that the launch is not the biggest media beat of their lifecycle. For example, for the PlayStation VR, the price point announcement earlier this year at GDC and the E3 coverage were both more significant when it comes to the volume of media coverage.

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The Games

With the launch of the new headset, a slew of VR games were part of the story. To cover the communications, that were spread across the week, I looked at their coverage for the whole of last week. Most of the articles were on the day of the PlayStation VR release or the following day.

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The odd one out in this top 10 is Robinson: The Journey. The game is not available yet on PSVR, but they announced they release date right around the PSVR release, getting a lot of attention thanks to that timing.

The Batman VR game has been getting a lot of coverage, the brand power probably helping it a bit. This game still has the best performance, getting more coverage than Sony’s first party titles Until Dawn and Driveclub.

EvE Valkyrie is also very well covered, especially for a game that has already been released on Oculus months ago.

These seem like good numbers for games launches overall – however, when looking at established IP’s going into VR such as Driveclub, the numbers are still lagging behind.

driveclub

These are the early days of VR, and it doesn’t seem like a bad start, but there is a long way to go still to get a proper foothold in the media. We can expect this to grow alongside VR adoption.

Video Games in the Media Landscape – 2 New Reports Available Now

Today, we are releasing two new reports, both available from our website. These are our first public reports built using the data gathered using our media monitor and you can probably expect more like these two in the future.

The first report, which is free (you can make a donation when you get it on Gumroad, if you do, we won’t mind), is a look at the overall landscape of those media that are dedicated to video games.

The second report, which is not free, is a deeper and more specific look at video games media and their coverage of VR, focusing on the key platforms (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR), the mist VR-friendly media, and the key VR games that were covered.

Rather than describing them, let me share some of the findings of the reports.

Video Games Media Landscape

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One of the things the report looks specifically at is the coverage received by the major gaming platforms over a year.

There are two things we considered when looking at the relative media presence of those platforms.

First, the percentage of websites that mentioned the platform at all.

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There are two very clear leaders, with both Xbox and PlayStation having 95+% of the games websites mentioning them. The main consoles are so ubiquitous that it is surprising that they aren’t at 100%, to be honest. But you have to account for PC-only media as well, and they are unlikely to have much coverage of the consoles.

More surprising is how Steam, which is not a platform that has a very pro-active communication strategy, still has 90% of the websites mentioning it. This is ahead of the Nintendo platforms (Wii, Wii U, 3DS) standing at 86%.

Then, beyond the websites, we also looked at the volume of articles for each platform:

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If you are familiar to the blog, you won’t be surprised to see PlayStation ahead here. They have a very strong media presence, and they are constantly ahead of the other platforms in terms of media coverage. In terms of scale, that’s still 3 times the total number of articles mentioning the Nintendo brands, and almost 30% more than the volume of articles mentioning the Xbox brand.

Steam being behind matches with what we were referring to earlier, and the lack of a concerted communication strategy on the platform from Valve. Much of the coverage is inherited from studios and publishers launching their game on the platform, and without consideration for the brand presence.

 

One objective of the report is to provide some reference points in regards to how different the media from the different countries are a different from one another. We are able to put together this table to show what we called the “media affinity” for certain platforms based on the language of a website.

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One very interesting pattern is how French, Spanish and Italian media, all based in Mediterranean countries, have a stronger affinity to Nintendo platforms compared to websites in German or English.

This is not to be interpreted, for instance, French websites having more coverage on the Nintendo consoles than on the Xbox ones. But in proportion, French media are writing more articles on Nintendo than the German media. I think this is an important consideration – as this helps understand the different sensibilities of the different cultures when it comes to games platforms.

 

Here is another very telling example. Below are the top 10 games in terms of media coverage in English and in German, for the calendar year 2015, set at the same scale.

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We discussed in the past how The Witcher 3 was the most mentioned game of 2015, across all the languages we track. But in English it only came second, behind Fallout 4. In German, The Witcher 3 is the clear winner with a third more coverage than the second best game… Star Wars Battlefront!

Another interesting takeaway is the very strong media coverage in German for World of Warcraft. The game doesn’t make it to the top 10 in any other language. World of Warcraft had more articles in German than Metal Gear Solid 5 had in English.

We made the landscape report free to anyone, you just need to enter your email and ask for a download link. We wanted this report to serve as a foundation for other reports we are writing, and making it free allows us to use it as a reference points across different things we are building.

Virtual Reality in games media

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Our second report is more in-depth, is not free, and is looking into the media coverage of one of this year’s strongest trends, Virtual Reality. This report is also covering a full 12 months of coverage, from May 2015 to April 2016.

One of our findings was done by looking at the ratio of websites that covered VR in some way, compared to the ones that didn’t cover the topic at all.

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The criteria being very generous (any mention of VR or a VR related device), we were expecting very high percentages. We found two things we didn’t expect:

  • 100% of the English websites we track mentioned VR in a way or another during the 12 months period. It is very unusual to have such a perfect score, especially considering the tool has it own flaws, and it would tend more towards missing mentions rather than finding false positives. VR as a topic for video games English media is there and is very strong.
  • More than 25% of both French and German media didn’t cover VR in any way during the period. That’s significantly behind the average observed, especially considering the very generous criteria we used there.

Looking at the volume of content shows another different trend.

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VR as a topic is incredibly weak among the French video games media. They saw fewer articles than in any other languages. While the percentage of German media covering media is the lowest, the ones that did cover VR wrote more than 6,000 articles referring to it. This is still a lot lower than the total number of games articles in English and highlights the fact that, at the  moment, VR as a topic for video games media is a higher priority for English media than for the others studied.

We put together a formula called “VR Media Impact” to help us identify the most enthusiastic and influential websites about VR. We took into account the number of articles about VR and the popularity of the websites (based on its Alexa ranking):

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There is a clear majority of English websites (and lack of French media), but tellingly, the top 2 media are dedicated to VR. For them to appear here is not only based on the fact they have written a lot on the topic, but also speaks to the fact that they managed to build an audience and have a strong enough following.

The report has more detailed ranking for each language if you are involved in the VR scene and would like to see more.

Lastly, I wanted to show how the coverage for the key 3 VR HMDs (Head Mounted Devices) has evolved over those 12 months.

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All 3 platforms are trending towards more coverage overall. However, while Oculus is leading the way most months, it is slowly losing its lead. Playstation VR secured more coverage in March 2016, where it announced its release date and pricing, showing promise for when it releases towards the end of the year.

It is also very interesting to note the slow but steady growth of the HTC Vive media coverage. The lead in brand awareness that Oculus built over the years probably helped in getting good coverage for the important announcement, but the HTC Vive is now catching up to it, with the media at least.

 

Free Report £200

 

GDC 2016 in media coverage

VR dominates the headlines, PlayStation beats Xbox and less but better coverage for the event

Like last year, I have put together a quick summary of the media coverage the Game Developer Conference received. If you have a look at last year’s blog post, you will see the methodology for measuring events’ media coverage has evolved. For events, I am looking at the “Key 20 days”, standing for the 9 days prior to the events and the 11 days from the beginning of the event. For topics, like last year, we look at the coverage for the whole week, from Sunday to Sunday that specifically mentioned the event.

GDC 2016: Fewer articles but higher profile coverage

For anyone attending, this year was a really impressive GDC. The halls were busy right from the beginning of the week and this is the first time since I have been attending the event (about 15 years out of 30 years of its existence) that I saw sessions showing as being full on the Monday.

Surprisingly, the official press release after the event that shows attendance numbers, announced the event has only grown from  “more than 26,000 visitors” to “more than 27,000 visitors“.

Where does GDC 2016 stand from a media coverage perspective though?

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There has been a slight decline in the number of articles mentioning GDC this year. It still saw more media coverage than 2 years ago though, and this is a significant amount of media attention for a professional event.

The fact is, even more than other comparable events, GDC media coverage is very dependent on the profile of the announcements made during the week and there are no staple press conferences like the ones at E3 or gamescom. Last year’s HTC Vive reveal, or the Unreal and Unity shifts of business models announcements might be at play here? The single biggest news in this 2016 edition was the Playstation VR’s price point though, but more on this later.

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* Just a reminder that E3 is missing due to technical limitations with our tools.

The GDC stays in the same range of media coverage as the Playstation Experience or the Paris Games Week (the one with the Sony Press Conference).

However, there is one metric on which it stays ahead.

I have mentioned in the past, we give different media outlets a score based on their Alexa ranking. The better the ranking, the higher the score, up to a maximum of 10. This score doesn’t feature very often in the blog post as it is not always relevant and I also try to keep things simple (even if sometimes I fail despite various experiments over on Twitter).

The following graph shows the average score for the articles covering different game events. It is quite telling.

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With the exception of the Playstation Experience 2015, the GDC is standing head and shoulders above the other events in terms of the profile of the media covering it. More articles are written that mention GDC from large websites than any other event, and this might be stemming from the professional dimension of the event.

Games engines media coverage comparison

More than any other event, GDC sees more announcements related to game engines and professional software and it is always interesting to see which one is coming on top each edition.

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This year was light on announcement around game engines, especially compared to last year. Crytek’s “Pay what you want” communication being the one standing out once the dust settled, but it still didn’t rock the world the way Unreal’s communication last year did.

Virtual Reality wins GDC

While it seems the decline in media coverage from last year could be explained purely by the fewer articles on game engine, it is time to address the biggest topic of this year’s GDC.

And while I wrote this right after the event, it is interesting to see that the general feeling that Virtual Reality took over this year edition is not just an impression:

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No question about it, between the eminent release of the Rift, and the Playstation VR announcements, there has been a lot of media coverage for Virtual Reality the week of GDC.

Virtual Reality was such a big topic that of the articles that mention GDC, a significant portion of them were about VR:

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In those five days, 28% of articles mentioning GDC are about VR. On the 16th of March, the day with the most articles related to the GDC, 38% of those articles mention VR.  Even on the 17th of March, where VR is only in 17% of GDC articles, it was the dominant topic.

Platforms comparison – A strong year for Sony and PlayStation

Looking at the evolution from one year to another in regards to the platforms and their coverage during the GDC week.

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Things have stayed more or less at the same level for Xbox. There was quite a bit of news from Microsoft though, between the announcement they would open their platform for crossplay and the doubling down on the ID@Xbox commitment.

Playstation obviously is surfing on the Playstation VR wave, and probably has a few more things related to this up its sleeve for E3.

Leading up to June, it will be interesting to see how much Sony builds up on the momentum that the VR hype has created.

Media Monitor – GDC 2015 results

Coming back fresh from GDC, I thought I would do a rapid follow-up using the Media Monitor and see how well the event performed with regards to the prevalent topics in media coverage. And when I say fresh, I mean seriously jet lagged, but that’s beside the point.

GDC and other events

The GDC tracker was set in July last year, so I don’t really have any previous data I can compare properly. Next year will certainly be different, but for now I have compared GDC to gamescom and the Playstation Experience (especially as I already had some research ready from this post on Playstation Experience).

In many ways, it is not really fair as GDC is not as  media and announcement-focused as the other two, who are specifically built around getting the word about games to their audience. It does give some sense of the respective media these events get though.

Total # of articles - Event's top 3 days

Number of articles published in online media

So, strictly in terms of media coverage, GDC in the same range as the Playstation Experience event, and with about 40% of the coverage gamescom generates over its peak 3 days.

Platforms

GDC week - # of articles - Platforms

As we have seen in past media coverage analysis, PlayStation is keeping its lead on Xbox, but that is actually smaller than the average observed over the course of last year (about 36% more articles for Playstation on average over the last year, against 31% more articles during the week of the GDC). Microsoft made more game-related announcements while the Virtual Reality HMD for Playstation helped in keeping Sony in the news.

Android’s strong presence in the media is due to the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, where a number of mobile manufacturers announce their new devices.

Virtual Reality

One of the most discussed announcements during GDC was, interestingly, *not* made at GDC. Instead it was at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress where on the 1st of March, HTC announced its VR HMD in partnership with Valve.

# of articles - Virtual Reality - GDC 2015

 

Clearly, the HTC/Valve announcement has been the most talked about VR news for the week. It is also incredibly impressive that both Morpheus and Oculus managed to keep such a high media presence with announcements were not as strong. Both were frequently mentioned in relation to the HTC Vive though, often compared to it or just referenced as much more established brand associated to VR.

 

Game Engines

The other very hot topic during the GDC week was the numerous announcements related to the off-the-shelf game engine offerings. With Valve now joining the fray with their Source 2 engine.

Before getting into the numbers, I want to share a tweet from Unity’s David Helgason (and which made me take a mental note to look at the media mentions of engines as soon as I got back):

# of articles - Game Engines - GDC 2015

To be fair, there are many ways to measure victory, and Unity’s booth was very crowded all week long. I am not suggesting that Unity has had a bad GDC by any stretch of the imagination. That said, I think Unreal is showing its longer experience in handling media and announcements, as well as the fact that it is a much more established brand for engine.

I wanted to check with another metric and pulled the Google trends for Unreal and Unity that cover that period:

Unity being a common word, I suspect it explains a lot of the ongoing search results associated with the game engine. But the much bigger bump seen in searches for Unreal Engine over that period (10 times more searches) in comparison to the Unity bump (25%) seems to indicate that at least that one battle was won by Unreal.