Most games have a more “toxic” side to the communities that gather around them, a vocal minority that according to research does a lot of harm to the long-term success of these titles. In a new paper published by Take That (via Circana executive director Mat Piscatella), the main takeaway from this report is that toxic gaming communities can “negatively impact” the bottom line of studios and publishers, and gaming companies should step up their moderation efforts to weed out these harmful elements.
Using data and insights from Nielsen’s video-game-tracking-service, Take This found a number of interesting facts. According to the data gleaned from 2,328 polled adolescents, 60% of players reported that they had decided to not spend money in a game because of how other players treated them in that community, 70% of players reported that they have avoided playing certain games because of a community’s reputation, and 60% of players reported that they had, at least once, quit a session or quit playing a game permanently because of harassment and hate.
There are more (discouraging) facts listed in the published report, with Take This noting that its data challenges the assumption that toxic gamers form the core demographic of a game.
“If the gaming industry wants to effectively capture the interest–and income–of the next generation of consumers, mitigating the effects of user-generated toxicity should be a key focus,” Take This explained. “The gaming industry should consider expanding and refining moderation efforts, creating preventative and resiliency-building strategies, and increasing strategic and financial investment into community management teams.”
While toxicity in gaming has been a neverending battle, several developers and studios have stepped up their efforts to combat this negative behavior. Microsoft has launched a new “strike” system to weed out jerks, Bungie won a court case against a Destiny 2 player who harassed its employees, EA has its Positive Play Charter, and Sony’s PS5 Accolades system is attempting to promote good online behavior.
In more positive examples of what the gaming community can do, Bungie announced that The Bungie Foundation’s fourth annual Bungie Day Giving Festival was a massive success and the Witcher community has rallied around actor Doug Cockle, who voices Geralt in The Witcher series, after he revealed that he has cancer.