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What Makes These Outfits in Games Go Viral?

This article reveals the facts behind the question of "are the top seller outfits all good-looking ones?". And I will explain the research findings of player groups buying outfits in game.

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

July 5, 2022

7 Min Read

Everyone has the desire of being good-looking, and there is no exception in the game world. In order to become good-looking in games, in addition to face customization and makeup, the outfit is also essential and necessary.

Besides satisfying players' needs for being good-looking and presenting their personality, the outfit also plays a very important role in the revenue of many games. Especially in MOBA games, battle royale games and other games focused on the competition, outfits and skin are an important part of their revenue structure.

Even many MMO games also began to use the operation method of focusing on both "ability(power) + outfit". In some games, outfits and skins will also be taken as rewards for completing tasks, becoming another long-term pursuit in addition to the experiences and higher abilities, which provides players with the motivation to finish daily tasks. The importance of outfits for the game is self-evident.

1. Are the top sellers all good-looking?

"What kind of outfit sells well" is a question that is often raised in developers' minds when the game just launched.

When answering this question, we often replace it with another one, "what kind of style of outfits do players like most?" In the usual sense, we would think that a player buys an outfit because the design looks good and is attractive to the player.

But, does the good-looking outfit always sell well? Not necessarily. A good-looking outfit does sell relatively better, but it is not a linear correlation.

A good-looking outfit does sell better, but it is not a linear correlation.

We often use two indicators when evaluating an outfit, one is sales, which represents the objective revenue generated by the outfit; the other is favorable rate, which represents the subjective evaluation of the players on the degree of beauty.

Favorable rate = the number of people who rate it as good-looking / (the number of people who view it as good-looking + the number of people who dislike it)

From the two graphs above, we can see that, first of all, the general trend is that, good-looking outfits do sell well. However, sales and favorable rates are not exactly correlated. For those lower-ranking outfits, in terms of their popularity, there is actually no big difference with top sellers, but the sales are so different. (The outfits in the chart are similarly priced, sold in the same way, and have no additional special effect, so they are not affected by these factors either)

Top seller outfits known out of their zones

To explain this, we can start with the players who buy outfits. Through player research, we found that those who buy outfits can be divided into two categories: the first one is those who buy outfits regularly, not to miss out on anything new. They make decisions by a process of elimination, usually all in as long as the outfit is not too bad.

"It may not be that good-looking, but I still must own one", this is what an outfit lover often says, which also explains to some extent why the sales of middle-ranking outfits are relatively close.

The other group of uncertain buyers does not have a strong need for collection or changing new clothes so often. They buy outfits only when really like them or really need them. So if there is a significant change in sales, the reason is mainly that it appeals to this larger group of uncertain customers.


So, what kind of outfits can appeal to these uncertain players? A closer look at player discussions related to outfits reveals answers for us.

2. What makes the popular outfits go viral?

For these extremely popular outfits, according to the extent of going viral, we can divide the out-of-zones effect into two categories, one is brought by its referral, and the other is brought by its audiences.

Referral -- social factors

When studying popular outfits, we found that the successful ones often arouse great discussions among players. Generally, after a new outfit comes out, the number of keywords in-game will briefly rise and players will express some opinions about it. But most of the time the discussion fever of different outfits is relatively close, while the discussion fever of some explosive outfits can reach 2-3 times that of ordinary ones.

Take this outfit below for example, in addition to the large number of people involved in the discussion of it, we also saw words in the game such as: "boys, please put on the new outfit, do not make me beg", "are there handsomes wearing the new outfit? show me your abs" . The first outfit to show the abs in a historical-style game soon became the carnival of some female players. For social factors, those who are not very interested in outfits will also be "reluctant" to buy and wear them, making this outfit the top seller of the year.

There are also some outfits that are perfect for friends or guild members showing their solidarity. In game, players also do not like to dress alike, but wearing different colors and standing in rows creates a very strong visual impact. "Sis, how about wearing swimsuits together and taking a photo" are often mentioned by players when discussing the outfits. To wear the same clothes as their "sisters", to show the relationship of the small unity, to take a photo with friends from guilds, can all become the motivation for the purchase of this group of uncertain buyers.

The audience of outfit -- the fancy temperament appeals to more players

In addition to the above-mentioned social factors, we also found that the outfits described as "ethereal", "luxury", and "exquisite" by players, sales are often significantly higher than others. For this phenomenon, there are the following two main reasons.

① The temperament that is almost impossible to dislike

When evaluating an outfit, players evaluate it based on the appearance after wearing it, rather than the style of the outfit itself. For example, for descriptions like "cute", "sexy", "graceful", and "elegant", each of these temperaments will have its own stable audience, and the dislikes of other groups are more obvious. For example, some people just do not like to look cute, instead, they prefer the cool, harder-edged look.

The audience size of a certain temperament also determines the sales. A temperament preferences research we did found that the audience of most temperament is usually less than 30%, that is, different strokes for different folks; like tough, cool looks is less preferred by female players. And such as cute, ethereal temperament in female players has a favorable rate of more than 40%, so it is not surprising that they do sell better.

② "value" > "price"

When making outfit purchase decisions, the price is of course a necessary consideration, and when the price is similar, whether it is worth the money has become the main judgment criteria. Under the influence of various historical dramas, "ethereal", "noble, and luxurious" is considered what the people of a higher status should wear, and these clothes, are exquisite tailoring, made from selected materials, and has a relatively high price.

Therefore, when choosing between the cute outfits and the noble and luxurious ones, players will naturally feel that the latter is more expensive. When the "value" increases, "value" outweighs "price", and it will be easier to make a decision to buy which one.

(It is worth noting that the arguments mentioned here are derived from the Oriental-themed MMO games. Different graphics styles of the game and different cultural backgrounds of players might have a very distinctive result. However, temperament and style is a good dimension for outfit preference research.)

3. Summary

In general, for the most popular outfits, in addition to the good-looking appearance of the outfit itself (outfit reviews are also with higher scores), social influence brought about by the referral, the temperament and style of character with the outfit (rather than the style of the outfit itself), are all driving forces to make the outfits big hits.

In multiplayer online games, outfits are more than just appearance. For players, outfits are sometimes symbols of relationships among friends, sometimes a way for a group or a community to gather, and sometimes an expectation and the desired image that cannot be achieved in reality. In the research of outfits, from the player side, analysis to understand the player's needs and purchase motivation can bring us a lot of inspiration.

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