Saturday, October 6, 2012

Video Game Demographics 2012

The ESA (Entertainment Software Association) has released its report on sales and demographic data for games for 2012:

There were various statistics in the document that I found particularly interesting:

Women account for 47% of gamers.

We can basically say at this point that women play games as much as men do, given the roughly 1:1 ratio of men to women in the general population. This statistic doesn't take into account the amount of gaming done by each gender though, and personally I'd be surprised if women have the same average playing time per week as men, though I'd expect the gap to be closing.

There are more women gamers aged 18 and over than there are male gamers under 18.

It's well known that the games industry is heavily skewed towards making and marketing games for under 18 males. I think gamers in all other demographics generally lament this fact, and it's definitely shifting as more games are made for mature, adult gamers and also for younger female gamers. However, the fact that there are over 50% more female adult gamers than males gamers under 18 shows just how much the games industry may be missing out on marketing opportunities, and the chance to have a real audience for games that don't revolve around excessive violence and scantily clad women (the industry still can't quite handle the concept of nudity very well, for better or worse).

Puzzle and trivia type games account for over 40% of online and mobile games.

This probably isn't too surprising in the mobile space, since other genres like action/shooter games don't really translate as well to the mobile format, and also to the types of situations where mobiles games are played, which will favour short games or games that can be stopped and started frequently. Online and mobile games are an increasing category, so we can probably expect to continue seeing these kinds of games crowd out other game types.

Sports games account for nearly 15% of console games, but only 0.6% of computer games, while strategy games account for 27.6% of computer games, but only 2.8% of video games.

Now, to be fair, a large part of this is probably due to the fact that strategy games are generally best controlled with keyboard/mouse, while sports games work best with a gamepad. It still tends to confirm the stereotype that consoles are for jocks while PCs are for nerds!

The Sims titles account for 7 of the top 20 computer games sold in 2011.

This just strikes me as rather sad for the PC market, but also rather amazing. I've never actually met a person who plays The Sims, or at least admits to doing so, let alone buying 6 expansions packs! Who are all these people? Is this where the female gamers are spending their time, rather than playing the latest FPS? It seems quite odd to me that this game and its expansions seems to sit there racking up serious revenue without there ever being that much noise made about it. Or, more cynically given the current state of PC gaming, maybe there isn't much overlap between people who play The Sims and people who know how to pirate games!

Stats I'd like to see

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more breakdown of female vs male gaming habits, simply because I think females are still definitely treated as 'lesser' gamers by the industry. Though, admittedly, seeing what games females buy won't necessarily tell us what games they'd actually like to play, since they can only buy what someone has bothered to make.

I'd also like to see a breakdown of game types and gamer ages against the purchase price of games. These days we have a very broad spectrum of payment models for games: free, 'freemium' (free to play, but you have to pay to unlock certain features or make progression faster), low price 99c App Store type titles, then all the way up to full price AAA titles. You need a lot of people playing a 99c game to have the same financial impact as one person buying a premium title, and this could make an important difference to how we interpret the results. Puzzle and trivia games will generally be cheaper than action/shooter games, which means that they could represent a larger proportion of the games being played while still accounting for a smaller proportion of overall revenue.

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