26 Facts That Might Change The Way You Think About "Gamers"

By Keza MacDonald on at

Many people have fairly strong preconceptions about what a "gamer" is. Ask my mother and she'll tell you that a gamer is an 8-14-year-old kid. Ask a lot of people in advertising agencies and they'll try to tell you that gamers are 90 per cent male and all aged 25. These assumptions extend to the wider games industry, too: some people might think that review scores have little correlation with how well a game sells, or that mobile games have totally overtaken console and PC in terms of revenue.  When you're presented with the raw data about who buys and plays video games, there are often some surprises.

All these facts come from Geoffrey Zatkin's presentation at GDC – he's a co-founder of EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research), the biggest market research firm in the video game industry. Bear in mind that most of this data is based on Americans – but there's traditionally been quite strong parity between the US video game market and the UK one.

  1. 59% of the American population is some kind of gamer
  2. 51% of Americans have a console in their house, on average 2 consoles
  3. 68% of smartphone or tablet owners play games (ages 13+)
  4. The average age of a game-player was 37 in 2011, but it’s now 31
  5. 29% of gamers are under 18, 32% are 18-35, and 39% are age 36+
  6. The gender split is pretty equal no matter where you look. On handheld consoles, the split is male 55%, female 45%. On console, it's 60% male and 40% female. On mobile it's 55% female 45% male
  7. Even when you split gamers out into "core" and "casual" based on money and time spent on games, whether on console or mobile, the gender split remains pretty close – a slightly greater percentage of the most casual players are women, and a slightly greater percentage of the most "core" players are men
  8. But – 71% of the mobile gamers who spend more than $10 a month are dudes
  9. When you ask men and women which genres they prefer, they are similar. On mobile, matching-puzzle and brain-puzzle games are the top two for men and women
  10. On console the preferred genres are identical, but in a different order. Female console players list RPG, Action, Shooter, Arcade, Fighting (in that order). Male players list Action, Shooter, RPG, Fighting, Arcade
  11. Most heavy gamers play on both consoles/PC and tablets/phones
  12. 2014 saw a huge spike in the number of digitally released games and Steam went nuts in 2014. The number of steam releases TRIPLED between 2013 and 2014.
  13. There are now almost 2x as many Steam users as there were in the beginning of 2013
  14. Console games still make a lot of money in North America, much more than most individual mobile games. Of the top-grossing games released in a given year, there's an interesting split between mobile, console/PC and free-to-play PC
  15. "Frontloading" is now a bigger thing than ever for game publishers: you have to sell the vast, vast majority of your units in the first month or 2 months of release in order to succeed
  16. 92% of mobile game revenue comes from in-app purchases rather than priced games
  17. The main reason that "core" gamers stop playing mobile games is that progression becomes too difficult without spending more money
  18. Physical-only games barely exist any more - most are released digital and physical, or digital only. Back in 2009, most releases were physical only
  19. There is an extremely strong correlation between how well a game sells and how highly it scores in reviews - but less so for 8th-generation games (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U) than for 7th-generation games
  20. The games with the most advertising spend sell best. This is perhaps a surprise to nobody
  21. 6% of games accounted for 75% of marketing money spent in 2014
  22. Only 1/3 of the games that go on Kickstarter get funded
  23. In the last 12 months, between 20 and 35 games have been published in Early Access on Steam every month
  24. Just 25% of Early Access games have been “released” so far since Early Access started
  25. The top 3 games that people watch on Twitch are League of Legends, Dota 2 and Hearthstone
  26. 39% of F2P PC players watch or participate in eSports