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Smartphones now seen as "equal" to consoles as preferred gaming platform

Smartphones now seen as "equal" to consoles as preferred gaming platform

Thu 21 Mar 2013 7:24pm GMT / 3:24pm EDT / 12:24pm PDT
Mobile

New research from PlaySpan and Magid points to some interesting data on consoles, mobile and free-to-play

The mobile gaming world has exploded in the last few years, and with the rise of free-to-play games and cheap apps people may be giving less attention to consoles. Whether or not the rapid mobile adoption will take away from consoles in the long-term remains to be seen, but according to new research from Frank N. Magid Associates and Visa-owned PlaySpan, at the very least, more and more gamers in America view the smartphone as their preferred platform of choice.

According to Magid's online survey conducted in December, roughly 80 percent of all consumers in the US are now gamers, and the research firm attributes the growth in the gaming population to the increase in smartphone ownership. The survey found that 35 percent of respondents said consoles were their top gaming platform, but right there with consoles were smartphones, as 34 percent said that mobile was their preferred platform to game on. This was followed by tablets at 11 percent and computers at six percent. Dedicated handhelds like the 3DS or PS Vita barely got any attention at three percent.

Interestingly, the real discrepancy here is one of gender. Smartphones may have caught up overall, but for males consoles are far and away the top platform still. 49 percent of men said they prefer consoles, compared to 18 percent of women, while 45 percent of women said they prefer smartphones compared to 25 percent of men.

One of the big allures of mobile is free-to-play, and in fact, Magid found that 110 million Americans prefer free-to-play than pay-to-play (77 percent of gamers are spending more time with free-to-play). And the gender differences once again were pretty significant, especially in terms of how gamers spend money.

Importantly for publishers and developers looking to optimize their games, the study found men were nearly three times more likely than women to cite pay-to-play or subscription based games as their favorite. Furthermore, among individuals playing free-to-play titles, men were three times more likely than women to make in-game purchases, averaging $13.38 and $4.84 per month, respectively. The most lucrative demographic was the 18-24 age group where men were paying an average of $30.59 a month on in-game purchases.

"The shift in free-to-play games is becoming the norm in the gaming industry and this survey reinforces that trend," said Robert Crawford, vice president of Frank N. Magid Associates. "We're seeing free-to-play game revenue outpacing pay-to-play games when looking at the long-term average spend per year. It's important that game developers recognize this change and be able to monetize it through new free-to-play gaming platforms."

18 Comments

Carlos Bordeu
Game Designer / Studio Co-Founder

61 82 1.3
8 out of 10 people (consumers?) in the US are gamers? Wow, I doubt that to be true. I don't live there, but if I had to say how many people are gamers here where I live (Chile); I'd say 1 in 10. Maybe even less.

If my wife is a gamer (She downloaded and played an iOS aquarium sim last year and has never payed a dollar for any games on the app store ever) - then maybe 8 out of 10 people in Chile are also gamers.

In school they used to make me play the flute for music class. Would that make me a musician?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Carlos That number is unquestionably correct. Mobile and Facebook games are amazingly popular. People like my Mom who never played a game before 5 years ago now play Words with Friends and Facebook games daily. If playing games literally every day doesn't make you a gamer, nothing does. Just because they aren't your types of games doesn't make them any less gamers.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Pier Castonguay
Programmer

189 106 0.6
Never trust public survey firms like that. They can modify the way they ask the questions to get the answer they want.

"Would you prefer to pay to play a game or play for free"? Of course the free-to-play option will win the survey.
Also, the fact that people answered smartphone for the one time they played a game in their life doesn't mean that it would be their preferred platform if they had tried them all. Most used, maybe, but PC would win hands-down for preferred if asked to people who know what they are talking about.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

925 1,381 1.5
with the rise of free-to-play games and cheap apps people
The first time around I read that as "cheap ass people", which would have been just as fitting. And yes, you can count me among them. However, I definitely prefer consoles over mobile.

Interestingly, the real discrepancy here is one of gender. Smartphones may have caught up overall, but for males consoles are far and away the top platform still. 49 percent of men said they prefer consoles, compared to 18 percent of women, while 45 percent of women said they prefer smartphones compared to 25 percent of men
I find this divide similar to how the majority of US gamers prefer playing console games to portable games but in Japan that is reversed because the majority of gamers there prefer portable gaming.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 21st March 2013 11:24pm

Posted:A year ago

#4

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

215 549 2.6
Popular Comment
roughly 80 percent of all consumers in the US are now gamers
I don't call "car enthusiast" to everyone that owns and drives a car, even if it's everyday, and neither should that survey.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

843 1,093 1.3
@Andreia. That's because a car is primarily just a transport tool. That a large group of people get all excited about them is a side issue.

With games, there is no actual requirement to play them at all, so anyone that does is doing so purely because they enjoy it. Which makes them gamers.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Spike Laurie
International Digital Games Coordinator

12 14 1.2
In other breaking news Yo-yo now considered a sport.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Neil Griffin
Studying Computer Arts

9 1 0.1
"Gamers" is an increasingly useless term if we apply it to everyone who ever played a game. We don't have a label for everyone who ever watched a movie or read a book.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

442 410 0.9
Why don't they survey the existing gamers that played games before smartphone gaming. The population that enjoyed games ten years ago are NOT the same as the smartphone gamers, otherwise there wouldn't be a rise.

In fact the rise is only testament to the fact that they are a NEW population. Their behaviour is distinctly different to the more established population.

This shows that they know very little about gaming to not acknowledge that. It's like redefining religion to mean, the belief in forces imperceptible to the naked eye, and then saying, religion has increased to 80% of the population and religious people no longer believe in God or gods.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Luis Morales
Public relations

51 1 0.0
To answer your statement Carlos. You may be right. See, things change with demographics and it has a lot to do with society habits. I have a friend who comes and goes to Chile, he is a software developer and finds how people in Chile are well cultured and literate. Their lives don't revolve on the smart phone as people in the U.S
Andreia's comment has some truth to it too:
"I don't call "car enthusiast" to everyone that owns and drives a car, even if it's everyday, and neither should that survey. "

Posted:A year ago

#10

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

215 549 2.6
@Paul
@Andreia. That's because a car is primarily just a transport tool. That a large group of people get all excited about them is a side issue.

With games, there is no actual requirement to play them at all, so anyone that does is doing so purely because they enjoy it. Which makes them gamers.
Well, I'll concede that it's not the best analogy once you say that, but another one would be movies. Everyone sees them on a theater or TV because it's entertainment of some sort to kill time (like mobile gaming during commute), but it doesn't make that same people film/movie buffs.
A proper gamer in the best sense of the word would be someone who has extensively played and still actively plays a varied amount of game types, titles and genres in equally varied platforms from PC to consoles, and yes, even mobile. Then you have a sub-type which besides games is also enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the industry revolving around it, from publishers to developers.



So with that in mind, the survey is biased because they found precisely what they were looking for in the first place, a way to say "gamers" are a lot more abundant. Which isn't necessarily a lie, but it's not that simple to define.

Thanks for the heads up of the flawed car analogy though :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 23rd March 2013 9:14pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

843 1,093 1.3
@Various. I don't feel the need to label anyone as a "Gamer". I'll sell to anyone that wants to buy.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

843 1,093 1.3


You have just described the entirety of the people my game developement company has existed off for the last four years. This is just outdated prejudice.

EDIT: It's worth noting that our company is actually 10 years old and the previous 6 were spent in the more traditional role that you're alluding to. But it's the last 4 where we've made proper money four ourselves, so these new "non gamers" get my vote.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 23rd March 2013 10:26pm

Posted:A year ago

#13

Christophe Danguien
games developer

69 83 1.2
@Spike : You made my day :-)

@Keldon and Andreia, totally agree with you.

@Paul : You're saying what you're saying from a CEO point of view. You run a company, so you need to make money. Of course you'll go for the people Andreia described as non-gamers. If the core gamers had made you rich beyong imagination, you would stick to what Andreia says...

My Girlfriend plays on Draw with your friends on her Ipad, and Bejewelled, but it doesn't make her a gamer and she doesn't consider herself as a gamer. On the other hand, I have been playing for 20 years, I keep playing on different platforms, mostly consoles though, but some times mobile. Truth to say, mobile games keep me busy for 5min maximum, on the train or in the bathroom, they don't have any other utility for me. If I want a proper game that will keep me awake until 3 in the morning because I can't let go of the controller, then I play on a console.
I have never heard of any one who played from 8pm to 3 am on a mobile game.

I agree with the analogy of the movies, I watch many movies, it doesn't make me a Film buffs and I don't claim being one.

This kind of survey is just mean to say what the survey company was asked to make it say.

"I don't feel the need to label anyone as a "Gamer". I'll sell to anyone that wants to buy. " -> well you basically summarize what's been wrong with EA and Ubisoft for years now, some people just want to make money, not make games. ( of course, taking your sentence out of the blue like that is probably not being fair to you though :-) )

Posted:A year ago

#14

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

843 1,093 1.3
@Christophe. Our main money earner is a hardcore strategy game. Angry birds dribblers won't be looking our way.

As to the other comment, don't see you got turned my statement into making me a mercenary tbh.

You've never heard of me, right? Despite this, we've got over 4 million paid installs of our main game and its sequel. Think what that number could be with someone like EA behind us - and we're not even in the charts with those numbers anymore. I pity developers that pay $100M just to target the ever diminishing niche of people they learned about 20 years ago tbh.

A fan on our forum asked if we were going to port to X360 and I told him we don't deal with minority platforms...

"I have never heard of any one who played from 8pm to 3 am on a mobile game" Go here and ask around: www.rubicondev.com/forum

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 25th March 2013 11:02pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

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