Hard-core Gamers Losing Their Edge

gamers-losing

Hard-core Gamers Taking a Back Seat

Hard core gamers have lost their “most sought after” position for video game system and software producers.  Without a lot of fanfare the developers/manufacturers have found that there is a huge general and casual gamer market out there… young or old, male or female.

It came as a rude shock to our son…he was no longer one of the most sought after people on the planet – the hardcore gamer.  It dawned on him after watching his sister and Mom play their Wii musical instruments, exercise with the system and do a little Dancing With the Stars.  While he and his comrades were busy shootin ‘em up, bustin ‘em up; the gaming industry had discovered there was a brave new market existed beyond teens…beyond boys!  We sorta, kinda knew it back at the beginning when worked with the Tramiels to introduce the 7800 console and Lynx.  We just didn’t admit it.

The game industry was in its infancy and only accounted for a few hundred million bucks. Today the market is huge and serious.  Despite (or perhaps because of) the anemic economy, the gaming industry appears to be hell-bent on fighting the tide again this holiday season with another record year! In good and bad times the game industry has grown steadily.


Figure 2 – Steady Growth – Since the development of the first video game in the early ‘70s hardware and software have had a steady increase in sales despite the ups and downs of the economy.  The only shift has been who’s hot, who’s not.  That’s the serious part of the industry.  Source — NPD

Action games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto), Gears of War, Call of Duty and MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) like World of Warcraft get all the media attention and arguably a strong sell-thru.  But with very little fanfare or heated play-by-play discussion, a long list of non-adrenaline/testosterone games have earned a strong customer base.

Have you seen the latest Nintendo DS racing and math challenges of mid-20s folks?  Seen the top iPhone apps downloads? Normal folks are taking center stage. There is no longer a stereotypical gamer.  The market has broadened and has become embedded into our daily cultural and social fabric.

Today:

  • 65% of American households play computer and video games
  • Video game hardware/software sales were up 28% in July of this year
  • 87% have a video game console
  • The average game player is 35 years old
  • One out of four gamers is over age 50
  • Women age 18 or older represent a significant portion of the game-playing population (40%) than boys 17 or younger (18%)
  • 41% of Americans expect to purchase one or more games this year
  • 94% of parents are present when games are purchased or rented
  • 88% of parents always/sometimes monitor children’s game play
  • Casual games will generate in excess of $2.25 bln this year
  • Video games will generate $48.9 bln by 2011

Game hardware/software/play ecommerce is experiencing record growth even as other categories have lowered their expectations for the holiday and year.



Figure 3 – Online Demand – The sudden shift of finances for most families has impacted retail stores and ecommerce sites.  Games and gaming aren’t growing as rapidly as industry experts projected the first of the year but demand continues to remain steady.  It’s a great way to get some relief after a tough day at school or the office.  Source — Ipsos

Family interest in game play can be attributed to a number of very real factors:

  • tight family budgets have forces families to spend less – and more carefully – on entertainment such as sporting events, theater tickets, weekend trips opting instead for staycations (stay at home vacations)
  • because of outside stress, families to do what Faith Popcorn calls cocooning – coming home, locking out the world and bonding/sharing
  • new family-oriented, interactive or friendly challenge games that anyone in the family can enjoy such as Wii Play, Music, Fitness
  • Entertainment games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have encouraged folks of all ages to turn off the TV and have fun no matter how much talent they have

The high visibility games are only the tip of the iceberg.  The range of game types has gone well beyond the blow-em-up mayhem to games that are just plain fun that can be as simple or  complex as the players want.



Figure 4 – Full Menu – While speed and mayhem games gain most of the editorial attention online and offline, the big volume sales and play seem to come from the less adrenaline drive games…puzzles, sports, strategy.  Source – Pew Internet