The Starfield effect – Bethesda makes significant Buzz gains
September 15th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

The Starfield effect – Bethesda makes significant Buzz gains

Amid the launch of Starfield – one of the most anticipated titles of 2023 – publishing company Bethesda has witnessed gains, both among Xbox owners and the gaming community in general, including PlayStation owners.

The journey of Bethesda's Buzz began in earnest around mid-June, approximately a week after the Xbox showcase at Summer Games Fest, which also featured a comprehensive Starfield deep dive. The event took place on June 11, giving fans a glimpse into the gameplay of the ambitious space exploration title.

Among American Xbox owners, the Buzz soared from 0.8 on June 11 to 9.3 within ten days. Simultaneously, Buzz scores grew among PlayStation owners and the overall US gaming audience too. The growth among PlayStation owners is particularly impressive given that Starfield won’t be released on the platform.

A video game publisher’s Buzz score is the difference between the percentage of respondents hearing positive things (from friends, family, or the media) and the percentage hearing negative things about it in the past two weeks.

Bethesda’s Buzz score started flat-lining around mid-July among all three groups of gamers, but quickly rebounded after a brief decline. This second surge may have been aided by the launch of three animated shorts by Bethesda aimed at further enhancing fans’ anticipation of the Starfield universe.

Interestingly, Buzz among Xbox gamers declined somewhat sharply after the release of the official live action trailer. But the rise among the other two groups of gamers continued steadily . The upward trajectory for Xbox users has resumed more recently and has shot up sharply ever since the game’s official release on September 6 from 7.2 to 11.3 within four days. The positive press and community discourse Bethesda has garnered has grown well beyond  the game’s core audience of Xbox gamers and this reflects in the fact that as of September 11, the publisher actually has a higher Buzz score among PlayStation gamers (11.9) than among Xbox gamers (10.3). Looking at American gamers overall, Buzz for Bethesda stands at a three-month high of 8.7 as of September 11.

It must be noted that a game publisher’s Buzz score can be influenced by many factors. For instance, part of the Buzz movements may have been affected by developments around other recent Bethesda releases such as Redfall, which launched early May.

But, given the sheer volume of intent that has gone into making and marketing Starfield, it is reasonable to assume that a lot of the recent upticks have been driven by the commentary and fan chat about game. From timely teasers to developer insights and a vibrant online presence, Bethesda appears to have managed to keep gamers engaged and excited about the game both in lead-up to the release and immediately after it. Mapping Buzz moves against various marketing and promotional efforts can give publishers an insight into the types of activations that resonate with fans and the ones that don’t.

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on major video gaming franchises. Buzz score is based on the questions: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following video games have you heard something positive about?” and “Now which of the following video games have you heard something negative about?” and delivered as a net score between –100 and +100. Scores are based on an average sample size of 360 PC/Console gamers in the US, 139 Xbox owners and 248 PlayStation owners. Daily figures are based on a four-week moving average.