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Gaming more pervasive in China than US - report

Gaming more pervasive in China than US - report

Thu 10 Oct 2013 2:59pm GMT / 10:59am EDT / 7:59am PDT
Emerging Markets

Smartphones, tablets have also eclipsed PC/MMO in terms of gaming frequency in China, according to research from Frank N. Magid Associates

A new report, provided exclusively to GamesIndustry International, reveals some interesting differences between the gaming habits of people in the US and people in China. Perhaps the biggest difference of all is the simple question of whether or not a person plays video or computer games. While in China a whopping 84 percent answered yes, that figure drops to 69 percent for America.

Magid's report shows that the pervasive gaming habit in China has been fueled primarily by increases in tablet and smartphone gaming. 79 percent of people in China play games on a tablet weekly (57 percent on a smartphone).

Because the internet itself is so intricately connected to gaming in China, it's worth noting that that can affect survey results. "The base in the study I sent is Chinese internet users - which skews younger, more urban, more educated than the general Chinese population. The US internet population is much more reflective of the US pop," said Tom Godfrey, Executive Director at Frank N. Magid Associates. "And the fact that over two-thirds of the broad US audience is gaming  is a huge figure. Our latest study (Smartphones and Tablets 2013) found that 68 percent of US tablet owners and 66 percent of US smartphone owners play games weekly or more their devices."

The rise of smartphones and tablets has really taken over the gaming culture in China. Mobile gaming and tablet gaming has risen to 59 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in terms of the number of weekly players. That eclipses PC gaming and free-to-play MMOs, which stand at 45 and 44 percent, respectively.

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"Smartphones are one of the first truly affordable personal computing devices in China and have really leapfrogged the PC market there. There was certainly a gaming culture beforehand, but it was centered around internet cafes and was somewhat niche. Mobile has expanded access to gaming significantly," noted Godfrey.

Smartphones have become so critical to the Chinese populace that 90 percent said they couldn't live without one. Only 43 percent of Americans said the same about their smartphones.

There's also a fairly large discrepancy when it comes to purchasing habits within games. In China 67 percent of iPad users and 63 percent of Android tablet users say that they buy virtual goods. In the US, those numbers drop to 37 and 33 percent. Similarly, 52 percent of iPhone users and 40 percent of Android smartphone users say that they buy virtual goods. Once again that dips to just 28 and 14 percent for the US.

While that may seem alarming for developers of free-to-play games in the US, Godfrey isn't concerned. The discrepancy is slowly eroding, he believes.

"The pay to download model is virtually non-existent in China and publishers like Tencent and Nexon have had a longer time to develop and optimize their freemium offers. In the last year or so, major US publishers have moved dramatically towards the microtransaction model as well so we'd expect to see the gap narrow significantly going forward," he said.

Notes on methodology

Magid's online study in the US was fielded April 24 - May 8, 2013 and included a nationally representative sample of 2,400 8-64 year olds, matched to the US Census. In China, Magid fielded the same survey from September 8-14, 2013 among a sample of 1,000 13-64 year old Internet users. The sample is weighted to match the demographics of Chinese Internet users (~60 percent under 30).

5 Comments

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
84% of 1,351,000,000 people play games. That is 1,134,840,000 gamers.
79% of 1,351,000,000 people play games on tablets weekly. That is 1,067,290,000 tablet gamers.

The absence of consoles seem to lead to a healthier gaming market.

Posted:11 months ago

#1

Richard Westmoreland
Game Desginer

138 90 0.7
You can't extrapolate the data like that Bruce. China is a huge country and the standard of living between the big cities and rural areas varies greatly. Tablet ownership in China is not at 79%.

Posted:11 months ago

#2

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,242 400 0.3
"The base in the study I sent is Chinese internet users - which skews younger, more urban, more educated than the general Chinese population. The US internet population is much more reflective of the US pop,"

Does this not render the comparrison meaningless, as essentially it compares a sample in the US that supposedly represents a broad cross section of the population, with a narrow sample in China.

They could have taken a sample of Gamestop customers, then US gamers would be 97%, allowing for 3% that were buying their grandchild a present.

Posted:11 months ago

#3

Simon Dotschuweit
MD SE / CTO

25 2 0.1
@Andrew: Exactly what I was thinking, this whole article is about comparing two totally differently structured datasets, as it's mentioned but then lets ignore that and come to the conclusion that China has more gamers in % then US?? Why not take the absolute numbers of people instead and then compare to the actual population # to arrive at %s? :)

Posted:11 months ago

#4

Nick Wofford
Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
Simon: it's not as catchy for a headline. I'm not saying GI.biz is responsible, but the people behind the report certainly are. This data is really only useful in telling us how the urban Chinese gaming industry looks. It does nothing for comparisons between regions.

Posted:11 months ago

#5

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