Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Last week, the Entertainment Software Association, a trade body representing the video game industry in the US, released findings — available here — of a consumer study commissioned to give insights into the computer and video game industry. The survey of 4,000 US citizens revealed their video-game playing habits and attitudes.
According to the study, nearly 65% of US adults, or about 160 million people, play video games. Of these, 60% do so on a smartphone, 52% on a PC and 49% on a games console. With this in mind, it's not surprising that casual games are the most popular genre, followed by action titles and shooter games.
The importance of smartphones to the gaming industry is clear. Mobile games have come a long way in the past decade, especially as smartphones have become so much more capable. About 85% of the US population has a smartphone, and games have provided the main revenue stream for mobile app stores for years.
In 2018, the US video game industry brought in $35.8 billion of revenue from games, of which 83% consisted of digital formats. In addition, the sector generated $5.1 billion from hardware and a further $2.4 billion from accessories and virtual reality headsets.
The stereotype of the lonely male teenage gamer, playing on his own in his parent's basement is long gone. The survey findings show that the average gamer is 33 years old, that 46% of players are women, and that 63% of gamers play video games socially. In fact, adult gamers spend on average 4.8 hours a week playing games with others online, and 3.5 hours playing with others in person. According to the research, players are more likely than average Americans to have a creative hobby, to play a musical instrument, to go on hiking trips and international holidays and to be vegetarian.
The study also looked at how parents and families interact with games. Most parents surveyed (90%) said they pay attention to what games their children play, and 57% said they play games with their kids on a weekly basis. Furthermore, 49% of parents surveyed limit the amount of time they allow their kids to play games, which is more than other activities such as browsing the Internet (40%) and using social media (34%).
The giants in the mobile industry are certainly aware of the golden opportunity in gaming and are exploring different business models beyond the already well-developed app store models. In March 2019, Google announced its video game streaming service Stadia, to be released later in the year (see Is Google Stadia a Threat to Console Games?), and Apple is also in the process of launching a game subscription service.
The future of gaming is certainly fascinating. Mobile games are poised to become even more advanced with the arrival of 5G networks. Virtual reality, too, holds major promise, even if it's becoming a reality a tad more slowly than big companies in this space would like. CCS Insight is currently running its own consumer research of existing and potential users of virtual reality. We will share some of our findings in the near future.