First-Person Shooter Games like Fortnite, Call of Duty or Valorant, break records in player numbers year after year. Also, on streaming platforms such as Youtube and Twitch, Let’s Play Streams, which show FPS games, are undisputedly at the top. So the question is, what makes Shooter so popular?
First-Person Shooters fascinate most players because of simple game principles and native control with mouse and keyboard or controller. Many FPS are beginner-friendly and, at the same time, challenging for experienced players. To play multiplayer mode with or against other people makes FPS one of the most popular genres in the market.
Beyond that, there are some more reasons. So let’s take the magnifying glass and zoom into the details.
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Quick-List – Why Are FPS Games so Popular?
1. Visual and Audio Atmosphere
Since Wolfenstein 3D (Wikipedia Link), the graphics (and everything around it) have improved so much that the sports genre’s first games are almost indistinguishable from television broadcasts.
Computer games, especially in the first-person shooter genre, are in no way inferior to movies in their visual quality, as long as your computer has the appropriate graphics performance. In the recent past, game consoles, in particular, have repeatedly raised the standards for graphic quality.
In Escape from Tarkov, a raid at dusk, or in PUBG, enjoying the vast snowy landscapes of Vikendi will immerse us for long moments in another reality.
Parallel to the graphics, the audio quality has also come closer and closer to reality. Our senses are thus so perfectly deceived that first-person shooters are a real treat for eyes and ears.
2. Emotional Atmosphere
Together with audio and video, the game principle always brings an intensified experience. In many FPS, the fear for one’s own life is part of it. Death usually means the loss of objects, time, and often the laboriously built-up game figure.
Players do not only reluctantly lose the game, but their hearts are also attached to the lovingly collected digital objects.
In some FPSs, game elements such as sneaking up on people or getting rid of opponents as quietly as possible do not endanger mission objectives.
And especially in multiplayer shooters, playing as a team creates additional emotional pressure. Who wants to make a fool of themselves and be responsible for the death of the whole team?
Depending on the game principle, there is also a time component on top.
In Battle Royale games, the playable game zone becomes more crowded and drives the competing players or teams together to a point. At some point, the player can no longer avoid a confrontation.
All these factors create pressure, tension, and emotional mountains and valleys. From a frustrated surrender to a triumphant victory over hundreds of opponents, first-person shooters have it all.
3. Good for Streaming and Watching
Even though not every gamer is a fan of first-person shooters, watching a game like Counterstrike or Valorant in a stream can be incredibly addicting.
The manufacturers have perfected “watching”. Ready-made camera movements in observer mode, information about the remaining health and equipment, and a strategic live overview of the entire game situation make it very easy for new viewers to follow the game.
Streamers or professional commentators also provide the beginner with enlightening information about the game or the players or teams.
Meanwhile, cheering along like in classical sports in the stadium or on TV is definitely possible.
4. Mobile Friendly
Almost all first-person shooters try to make their game cross-platform ready. No matter if PC, console, or mobile devices, all players are included.
For some games, this works better. For others, not at all.
Just the possibility of playing an FPS on a smartphone or tablet brings a good deal of popularity to the genre compared to genres where portability is not possible due to the lack of usability (e.g., flight simulations).
5. Easy to Learn, but Hard to Master
First-person shooters use the most natural controls on a personal computer, mouse, and keyboard. In the case of a console, the handling becomes even more comfortable.
Many players bring with them a raw ability to type on the keyboard and click with the mouse. In essence, these movements are also performed by regular computer users, for example, when using a word processing program.
The path to an easy start in a first-person shooter is, therefore very short. Anyone can join in at first.
However, depending on the game’s complexity, many details must be learned and internalized to become a top player.
6. Unbelievable High-Skillers
Clicking around a little with the mouse and moving through corridors or the open landscape – it looks so easy. However, anyone who has played a first-person shooter game a little deeper knows that skills still need improvement even after hundreds and thousands of play hours.
Like classic sports, where the actual game looks very simple, for example, basketball, you develop absolute respect for the NBA players’ performance. This is similar to the professional players at FPS.
With perfect timing, precise aiming, an incredible game sense, etc., you can clearly distinguish a high-killer from a casual gamer in a first-person shooter.
For example, many viewers watch the streamer and former professional player “Shroud” play FPS games. He delights his audience every day with breathtaking game situations, which are more common in FPS than in other genres.
7. Socializing Team Sport
Nowadays, nobody has to play alone anymore. Okay, slight restriction – an internet connection should be available.
Especially FPS attach great importance to interact in a team. So to form a team of two, four, or five and win a mission or a match together has become the standard.
As a first-person shooter player, there is no way around interacting with other players – friends or even strangers – in your language or a foreign language.
Therefore, the social factor is very high and very important in this genre, which leads to increased popularity.
8. Professional Esport
Many FPS games come to market with competitive game modes. As a result, a competitive scene with partly very professional acting teams develops very fast. If the manufacturer then also promotes the sport with tournaments, leagues, and prize money, such as happened with Fortnite, the first-person shooter game suddenly becomes a magnet.
9. Money, Money, Money
If you look at the current prize money for the big competitions of computer games, then first-person shooters are right at the top. Therefore, players can find many small tournaments and leagues and play for smaller prize pools, even at lower levels, such as competitive platforms like FACEIT or ESL.
This fact increases the attractiveness of the game and the genre. Simply put, first-person shooters have more money in circulation in the ecosystem than other genres.
10. Tuning Options
Let’s compare a classic like Tetris with a first-person shooter like PUBG. Not possible? Yes, WE can.
Okay, the games have almost nothing in common, but there is one particular point I want to focus on: tuning possibilities.
With Tetris, you can’t influence anything. It’s not even relevant with which keyboard you play.
With PUBG, on the other hand, the tuning starts from the first minute.
Which graphic settings give the best view? How do I squeeze more frames per second out of my system? Which mouse supports my Aiming best? How do I tune the audio settings to hear enemy steps as well as possible? And so on, the list is endless.
So there is a lot of discussion potential in first-person shooters. And whenever something is discussed very controversially, there is always rising popularity. On the other hand, with a flight simulator or Tetris, there is relatively little to discuss.
11. No Extra Equipment – at First
You can play first-person shooters immediately on a PC, console, or smartphone. No strange peripherals are necessary. Mouse and keyboard or controller are basically available.
Therefore, the hurdle to get started is very low, which explains to some extent the great popularity.
But the nice thing is that a player can increase skills in FPS games by investing in hardware. For example, the purchase of a monitor with a higher heart rate can significantly support aiming. Or the choice of the mousepad influences the smooth running of the mouse.
Here again: Easy to get started, but you must gain a lot of experience in detail to master the game. This is very attractive for many players.
How Many Players Around the World Play First-Person Shooters?
It is almost impossible to determine the exact number of players. Most studies refer to game sales or downloads from major platforms such as Steam. However, all browser games and indie manufacturers are ignored, and therefore, these numbers can only provide an indication.
Besides, genres are often not separated, partly because many games combine several genres and partly because you can include not every sub-genre in the analysis.
Nevertheless, one can derive rough dimensions from them.
Almost half a billion of them live in America.
Again, we can only estimate one genre’s share, especially since a gamer is usually interested in various games and genres.
Statista published a report in 2018 that highlighted the sales of video games worldwide. 20.9% of sales were first-person shooters. Other sources also show that about one-third of all gamers like to play first-person shooters.
Math for the win!
One-third of 3 billion gamers are = about 1 billion FPS gamers.
One billion Gamers are playing first-person Shooters around the world, according to multiple reports.
So the cake is gigantic, and the FPS piece of it is still huge.
How Big is the FPS Industry Today?
In 2020, according to Statista, the world’s video game revenue reached 160 billion dollars.
Video games have dominated the entertainment sector for years if you compare this figure with the film industry (approx. 45 billion dollars) or the whole music business (approx. 100 billion dollars).
According to Statista, the share of first-person shooter games sold is about 20,9%.
A fifth of the market is about $32 billion dollars – a nice little sum.
Only action games have a larger market share of just under 27%, or about $43 billion.
So we can say – FPS Games are a heavyweight in the gaming scene.
If you’d like to learn more about the gaming industry compared to other entertainment industries, take a look here:
Where is the Split Between Female and Male Playing FPS?
There are game genres where the female share is more extensive. Family Sim games, for example.
But across all genres, there is still some catching up to do in the women’s world.
For shooters, the ratio is relatively unfavorable. For example, only 10% of female players are involved compared to 90% of male players.
The game manufacturers of FPS Games try to appeal to more and more female gamers. Many main characters are now women. Games are also given more emotional depth than 10 or 20 years ago. Additional content, such as some weapon skins, is now designed specifically for the female taste.
We deal with the topic of women in gaming in detail in this article:
Which Genres Are Popular Besides FPS?
A Statista report shows the popularity per genre in the USA in 2020, from which we can deduce a fundamental estimation.
More popular than first-person shooters are mainly action games such as martial arts games. Mortal Kombat or Tekken are great magnets for consoles. Fast, uncomplicated, yet graphically appealing games, coupled with the fun of winning or losing directly against an opponent.
After that comes a mix of two popular genres, action adventures like the “Assassin’s Creed” series. Like in a good book, the player can be drawn into a story. An excellent example of an action-adventure is Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Project. You could say that you still have the action, but you also have to use a little more brain.
Gamers in the Strategy genre bring even more planning and forward-thinking with them. Here, too, there are game series that has been incredibly popular for decades. Civilizations, Total War, Starcraft, and many other titles come to mind.
Many gamers play so-called “casual” games, i.e., small browser games for in-between times, which cannot be appropriately classified into a genre.
According to the sales statistics, adventure games have a similar popularity as first-person shooters. God of War,Far Cry or even GTA would be examples from this genre.
Let’s have a look at the bottom of the table. First, of course, some genres are not so popular, although you can find one or two bestsellers there as well.
Role-playing, sports games, and simulations are still relatively large niches. Sports games are very mass-compatible and family-friendly, but you can digitally implement not many sports.
There is a trend towards sports games in the living room. Current consoles are doing an even better job of projecting classic sports movements into the digital world using motion-capturing techniques. So a bowling evening with the family could soon be as much fun as live on location.
What else do we have there?
MMO, MMORPG, and MOBA add one more component to the above genre: The competition against any number of other people on this planet. Not in the sense of a high score list, but live in a single digital world.
According to these statistics, games with the addition of “Massive Multiplayer Online” (MMO) are not very popular. Of course, there is a much more significant hurdle to invest a lot of time and sometimes continuous money in a game. In most MMO games, the player builds a life or an empire. Complex diplomatic relations with much communication are simulated. At the same time, many kinds of resources are managed. So a lot of effort for a lot of fun.
Compared to an action game like “Mortal Kombat”, this is the other extreme of the game genres.
But maybe these numbers are a bit too low because you can mostly play MMO games for free, and the manufacturer generates revenues through in-game sales.
Take a look at images of the forefathers of the FPS genre. Wolfenstein 3D. Doom. Duke Nukem 3D. And then compare them to Fortnite, PUBG, Valorant, Apex, Escape from Tarkov, and Call of Duty.
Many elements have been greatly improved over the last 30 years. The graphic quality, the game modes, and the possibilities of acting in the game increased extraordinarily. Multiplayer gaming has made it even more attractive. Esports and professional organization into teams have also made the games more interesting for spectators.
First-person shooters are still the future. The popularity is unbroken. It will be interesting to watch how the first FPS games deal with newer technologies like VR and Augmented Reality. Half-Life: Alyx has already given us a little foretaste.
For the first time, with Valorant from Riot Games, a first-person shooter – with its complete ecosystem – has been developed especially for esport. It will be exciting to see how this experiment develops and whether old-established and historically grown games like Counterstrike will be replaced.
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