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Gamers and Gaming - US - September 2014

“The majority of US adults now play video games on at least one platform, and the majority of gamers play on at least two. The shift toward digital distribution, comparatively new monetization strategies, such as the free-to-play model, and supplemental premium content, however, have made long-term engagement a critical component of a game’s profitability.”
- Bryant Harland, Technology and Media Analyst
This report looks at the following issues:

  • Gamers span a diverse demographic profile
  • The cost of video games and gaming hardware
  • Mobile gaming: Explosive growth with monetization challenges

 

Nearly 60% of adults reported that they’ve played video games within the past month on at least one platform, indicating that video games have become a prominent source of entertainment for the majority of consumers.
 
However, the market has also undergone disruptive shifts in the past several years with the explosion in popularity of mobile games and the rise of digital distribution – especially within the PC gaming segment of the market.
 
These trends place a greater emphasis on a game’s long-term engagement value. For games that rely primarily on microtransactions rather than upfront fees, overall engagement is the core mechanism through which they generate revenue.
 
The availability of digital distribution has made it easier to expand the game’s content, whether through expansions or smaller downloadable content (DLC) packages, has also raised the value of long-term engagement for games that do not rely primarily on small transactions.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Consumer survey data
            • Abbreviations and terms
              • Abbreviations
                • Terms
                • Executive Summary

                  • Overview
                    • The market
                      • Figure 1: Video game platforms used most often, June 2014
                    • Gaming platforms used
                      • Figure 2: Platforms used to play video games, June 2014
                    • Key players
                      • The consumer
                        • Figure 3: Incidence of playing video games on any platform, by gender and age, June 2014
                      • Gamers’ common frustrations
                        • Figure 4: Consumers’ frustrations with gaming, June 2014
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                          • Gamers span a diverse demographic profile
                            • The issues
                              • The implications
                                • The cost of video games and gaming hardware
                                  • The issues
                                    • The implications
                                      • Mobile gaming: Explosive growth with monetization challenges
                                        • The issues
                                          • The implications
                                          • Trend Applications

                                              • Trend: Secret, Secret
                                                • Trend: Click and Connect
                                                  • Trend: Make it Mine
                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • 71.5 million people watched eSports worldwide in 2013
                                                        • Smartphones and tablets boost gaming
                                                          • Faster internet speeds to drive online gaming, digital distribution
                                                          • Leading Companies

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • Electronic Arts
                                                                • Sony
                                                                  • Activision/Blizzard
                                                                    • Microsoft
                                                                      • Nintendo
                                                                        • Rovio
                                                                          • Square Enix
                                                                            • Sega
                                                                              • SuperCell
                                                                                • Valve
                                                                                • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                  • The evolution of cloud gaming
                                                                                    • Figure 5: Titanfall – Frontier’s Edge, August 2014
                                                                                  • Crowdsourcing video game development
                                                                                    • Video games to treat mental-health problems
                                                                                    • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                        • Strategy: Time-sensitive free trials
                                                                                          • Figure 6: Call of Duty: Ghosts free weekend on Steam, February 2014
                                                                                        • Strategy: Free games as promotions
                                                                                        • Social Media

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                              • Market overview
                                                                                                • Key social media metrics
                                                                                                  • Figure 7: Key performance indicators, selected gaming brands, June 2, 2013-August 3, 2014
                                                                                                • Brand usage and awareness
                                                                                                  • Figure 8: Brand usage and awareness of gaming brands, June 2014
                                                                                                • Interaction with brands
                                                                                                  • Figure 9: Interaction with gaming brands, June 2014
                                                                                                • Leading online campaigns
                                                                                                  • Social media and console wars
                                                                                                    • Social media goodwill
                                                                                                      • Figure 10: Selected Xbox Twitter discussions, November 2013
                                                                                                    • Fan voting
                                                                                                      • Content marketing through Vine
                                                                                                        • Social gaming
                                                                                                          • What we think
                                                                                                            • Online conversations
                                                                                                              • Figure 11: Selected PlayStation Twitter Mentions, June 2013
                                                                                                              • Figure 12: Online mentions, selected gaming brands, June 2, 2013-August 3, 2014
                                                                                                            • Where are people talking about gaming brands?
                                                                                                              • Figure 13: Mentions by page type, selected gaming brands, June 2, 2013-August 3, 2014
                                                                                                            • What are people talking about online?
                                                                                                              • Figure 14: Mentions by topic of conversation, selected gaming brands, June 2, 2013-August 3, 2014
                                                                                                          • Platforms Used to Play Video Games

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Smartphones and tablets lead as primary gaming devices
                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Gaming platforms used most often, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                              • The majority of gamers play on more than one platform
                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Gaming platforms also used by gaming platform used most often, June 2014
                                                                                                              • Older gamers prefer computer and mobile gaming
                                                                                                                • Figure 17: Video game platforms used, by age, June 2014
                                                                                                            • Time Spent Playing Video Games

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • One fourth of gamers play at least 10 hours per week
                                                                                                                  • Figure 18: Time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                • Men aged 18-34 the most likely to play more than 20 hours weekly
                                                                                                                  • Figure 19: Time spent playing video games, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                • Little difference in playing frequency between computer, smartphone, and tablet gamers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Time spent playing video games, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                              • Video Game Purchasing Habits and Opinions

                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                  • Gamers purchase an average of 2.12 games in a year
                                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Video games bought, by gender and age, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                  • One fifth of gamers wait a month to buy new games
                                                                                                                    • Figure 22: Consumers' video game purchasing habits, by gender and age, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                  • Gaming serves as primary entertainment for one fifth of gamers
                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Perceptions regarding video games, by household size, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                  • Only 6% of players say they usually rent video games
                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Perceptions regarding video games, by household income, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                • Video Game Genres Played

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Genres played
                                                                                                                      • Puzzle games represent the most played genre
                                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Video game genres played, June 2014
                                                                                                                      • More than one third of young female gamers play every genre studied
                                                                                                                        • Figure 26: Video game genres played – Any genres played, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                      • Incidence of playing various genres trends upward with household size
                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Video game genres played – Any genres played, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                      • Interest in video game genres
                                                                                                                        • A small share of gamers show interest in genres they don’t currently play
                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Interest in video game genres, June 2014
                                                                                                                        • Significant opportunities in expanding target audiences for multiple genres
                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Interest in gaming genres – I do not currently play this but am interested, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                        • Those with household income of $25K-$49.9K are interested in MMOGs
                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Interest in video game genres, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                      • Importance of Video Game Features

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • The majority of gamers say they want challenging gameplay
                                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Any importance of video game features, June 2014
                                                                                                                          • Gamers from larger households interested in character customization, multiplayer
                                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Any importance of video game features, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                          • Console gamers show elevated interest in nearly all video game features
                                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Any importance of video game features, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                        • Video Game Discovery Habits

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Two thirds of gamers rank free trials as important for video game discovery
                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Video game discovery habits – any important, June 2014
                                                                                                                            • Console gamers are the most likely to rank nearly all types of information important
                                                                                                                              • Figure 35: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                            • Gamers from lower-income households rely less on digital advertising
                                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                            • Older gamers use a smaller variety of video game discovery media
                                                                                                                              • Figure 37: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by age, June 2014
                                                                                                                          • Perceptions and Motivations Regarding Gaming

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Strong demand for both easy and difficult content
                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                              • Lower-income households feel pressure from the price of gaming
                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                              • One third of frequent gamers play to socialize
                                                                                                                                • Figure 40: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                              • Nearly one third of gamers agree gaming is a good way to improve certain skills
                                                                                                                                • Figure 41: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, June 2014
                                                                                                                              • Nearly 40% of smartphone and tablet gamers frustrated by in-app purchases
                                                                                                                                • Figure 42: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                            • Gamers’ Interactions with Video Game Companies and Other Players

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Older consumers most likely to prefer single-player games
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 43: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                • Frequent gamers are interested in brand interaction
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                • Gamers from $100K-$149.9K households are interested in eSports
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                              • Teens and Video Games

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Action/adventure is the most played genre among teens
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Video game genres played among teens, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                  • Girls more likely to play kids/family games, boys more likely to play shooters
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Video game genres played among teens, by gender and age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                  • More than one third of teens receptive to products appearing in video games
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Teens' perceptions regarding video games, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                • Qualitative Research

                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                      • Favorite experiences with video games
                                                                                                                                        • The cultural impact of video games
                                                                                                                                          • Overall direction of the gaming industry
                                                                                                                                          • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                              • Hispanics are more likely to play video games
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Gaming platforms used most often, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Hispanics play the largest variety of genres
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 50: Interest in gaming genres – Any genres played, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Blacks more interested in challenging gameplay than Whites
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Very important video game features, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                                • Video game systems owned or played
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Video game systems owned or played, by household income, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: Video game systems owned or played, by gender and age, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 53: Video game systems owned or played, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Gaming platforms used to play video games
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 54: Gaming platforms used most often, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Gaming platforms used most often, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Gaming platforms used most often, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Gaming platforms used most often, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Gaming platforms used most often, by repertoire of gaming platforms used, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Platforms used to play video games online
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Platforms used to play video games online, race/Hispanic origin, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Platforms used to play video games online, gender and age, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Video game genres played and interested in
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: gaming genres played, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 62: Video game genres played – Any genres played, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Video game genres played – any genres played, by age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 64: Video game genres played – Any genres played, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Video game genres played – Any genres played, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Time spent playing video games
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 66: Time spent playing video games, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 67: Time spent playing video games, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 68: Time spent playing video games, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Video game purchasing habits
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 69: Consumers' video game purchasing habits, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 70: Consumers' video game purchasing habits, by household income, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 71: Consumers' video game purchasing habits, by household size, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Importance of video game features
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 72: Importance of video game features, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 73: Any importance of video game features, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 74: Any importance of video game features, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 75: Very important video game features, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 76: Very important video game features, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 77: Any importance of video game features, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Very important video game features, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 79: Very important video game features, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 80: Very important video game features, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 81: Any importance of video game features, by video game genres played – I play this often, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 82: Any importance of video game features, by video game genres played – I play this often, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Interaction with video game companies and other players
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 83: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 84: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 85: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 86: Interaction with video game companies and other players, by repertoire of gaming platforms used, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Video game discovery habits
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 87: Video game discovery habits, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 88: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 89: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 90: Video game discovery habits – Any important, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 91: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by gender and age, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 92: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by household income, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 93: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 94: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by household size, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 95: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by time spent playing video games, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 96: Video game discovery habits – Very important, by preferred gaming platform, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 97: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by race/Hispanic origin, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 98: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by video game genres played – Any genres played, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 99: Perceptions and motivations regarding video gaming, by video game genres played – Any genres played, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 100: Perceptions regarding video games, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 101: Perceptions regarding video games, by gender and age, January 2013-March 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Video games and teens
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 102: Video game systems owned or played among teens, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 103: Video game systems owned or played among teens, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 104: Video game genres played among teens, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 105: Video game genres played among teens, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 106: Video games bought among teens, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 107: Incidence of playing games online among teens, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 108: Incidence of playing games online among teens, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 109: Teens' perceptions regarding video games, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 110: Platforms teens use to play video games online, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Social Media

                                                                                                                                                • Brand analysis
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 111: Key social media indicators of selected gaming brands, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Online conversations
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 112: Online mentions, selected gaming brands, Social Universe Mentions, June 2, 2013-August 3, 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Brand usage or awareness
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 113: Brand usage or awareness, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 114: Sony PlayStation usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 115: Microsoft Xbox usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 116: Nintendo (Wii, DS) usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 117: Electronic Arts (ie, Madden, The Sims) usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 118: Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty, Warcraft) usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 119: King (Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes, Saga) usage or awareness, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Activities done
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 120: Activities done, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 121: Sony PlayStation – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 122: Sony PlayStation – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 123: Sony PlayStation – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 124: Sony PlayStation – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 125: Microsoft Xbox – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 126: Microsoft Xbox – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 127: Microsoft Xbox – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 128: Microsoft Xbox – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 129: Nintendo (ie Wii, DS) – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 130: Nintendo (ie, Wii, DS) – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 131: Nintendo (ie, Wii, DS) – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 132: Nintendo (ie, Wii, DS) – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 133: Electronic Arts (ie, Madden, The Sims) – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 134: Electronic Arts (ie, Madden, The Sims) – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 135: Electronic Arts (ie, Madden, The Sims) – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 136: Electronic Arts (ie, Madden, The Sims) – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 137: Activision Blizzard (ie, Call of Duty, Warcraft) – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 138: Activision Blizzard (ie, Call of Duty, Warcraft) – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 139: Activision Blizzard (ie, Call of Duty, Warcraft) – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 140: Activision Blizzard (ie, Call of Duty, Warcraft) – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 141: King (ie, Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes, Saga) – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 142: King (ie, Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes, Saga) – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 143: King (ie, Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes, Saga) – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 144: King (ie, Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes, Saga) – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, June 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                                Gamers and Gaming - US - September 2014

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