How Do Games Become Popular?

By JohnSnow, Posted 24 Dec 2021

There’s no shortage of video games on the market. Indeed, the opposite is true: did you know that each year, some 10,000 new video game releases hit app stores, consoles, and the web? Of course, while there may be thousands of new titles to choose from, it’s not as if every new game becomes part of popular culture. The vast majority of games come and go without having much of an impact on the world. 

There are some, however, that do capture the public’s imagination. These are the games that even non-gamers seem to know and which seem to stick around year after year. So how does this happen? As with movies and music, it’s normally possible to pinpoint the popularity of a game title. While surprises do happen, it’s usually because of one or two common reasons. In this blog, we’ll run through some of the key reasons why games manage to catch a ride on the popularity train and never get off.

Xbox, Popular Gamer, Games


It’ll be hard for a game to become popular if no one knows it exists. Unlike other forms of entertainment, which may garner interest from the public based on good old curiosity, people generally need to play a game themselves to form an opinion. That’s why you’ll see game demos, free bet offers for slot games, and introductory discounts. If the game is good enough, then people will stick around. And just like that, the title will be on its way towards popularity. 

Word of Mouth

People trust their friends’ opinions, especially when it comes to things like video games. The gaming world is a pretty tight-knit and trusting community in general, so it’s no wonder that when a person’s friend says they’ve been playing a hot new game, they are likely to pay attention. This is especially true when that friend is someone that the person usually plays with online, or if they historically play similar games. There are no guarantees that the new player will enjoy the game quite as much, but they’ll certainly be willing to check it out. 

Professional Reviews

Reviews are popular for all types of media. If an influential reviewer says that a new music album is one of the best they’ve ever heard, then it’ll be no surprise if people load up Spotify and give it a listen for themselves. There are some websites that are highly influential in the gaming world. If a site like IGN or Gamespot gives a new title five stars out of five, then inevitably that game will experience a surge in popularity. The opposite is also true. A game producer could spend thousands promoting their title, but if it receives a poor rating, then it’ll struggle to become popular. Indeed, in that case, no review whatsoever may prove to have been better. 

Xbox, Popular Gamer, Games


Some games are popular from the first day of their release. But that’s not always the case. There are also “sleeper hits.” These are titles that had an unremarkable beginning but eventually became massive. Often this happens when a publisher has underpromoted a game that has then, through grassroots publicity, slowly become a successful title. These games are nearly always great -- they wouldn’t have overcome minimal marketing if they weren’t! The popular sleeper hit titles include Portal, Undertale, and Xenoblade Chronicles. 

They Have a Moment 

So far, we’ve talked about how individual games become popular. But sometimes, it’s not just a single title that becomes popular, but an entire genre. For example, the past couple of years has seen a huge increase in interest in battle royale-style games, which include Fortnite and PUBG. Revenue hit more than $20 billion in 2019, and in the next few years, that figure is expected to rise even further. Therefore, a well-crafted game in this genre wouldn’t need to do all the usual work to bring people on board. Rather, they’d just need to tap into the existing interest.


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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox 360
Publisher(s): Microsoft
Developer(s): Microsoft
Genres: N/A
Themes: N/A
Release Date: 2020

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