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US still the gaming super power

New study shows US plays the most, on more devices, and online

A new report by GameTrack shows that America is still the Western world's gaming superpower. American gamers still outnumber their UK counterparts, they play across more devices and mediums, and they also show the largest appetite for online gaming.

Thanks to the study, run by Ipsos nMediaCT, we know that almost half of the American gaming audience (48 per cent) play online games, compared 42 per cent who played packaged games. And while it's still easy to think of big MMOs like World Of Warcraft when online gaming is mentioned, 27 per cent of that online gaming in the US is through browsers. 31 per cent also played games through apps on their phones and tablets, a figure that seems surprisingly low considering most people have a mobile phone capable of hosting those apps.

By comparison the UK gamers are still traditionalists, with packaged games still the biggest part of the audiences' gaming diet, followed by online and apps. In the online category play is distributed evenly over downloads, social, multiplayer and browser.

This order of importance for packaged, online and app games is mirrored by France, Germany and Spain. In monetary terms, packaged is still the most important player, although the report notes this share is falling in both the UK and Spain.

Graph courtesy of GameTrack

What is also interesting is how many gamers in each country play all three, packaged, online and apps. Again, Americans are the most button happy, with 17 per cent. The numbers are significantly smaller elsewhere, with a paltry 5 per cent in the UK, 3 per cent in France and Spain and 2 per cent in Germany. It's a stark reminder that outside the hardcore market gaming everywhere and anywhere isn't too much of a concern to your average person. Although this may be a generational difference, according to results gathered from the younger participants.

“Amongst kids, gaming across categories is more common than it is amongst adults, pointing to a future gamer comfortable playing across different platforms. Kids' convergence is strongest in the UK, where 36 per cent of kids play all categories,” says GameTrack.

“This is some way ahead of Germany, where for example, only 9 per cent of kids play all three categories. The US doesn't have quite as much difference between adults (17 per cent) and kids (22 per cent) playing all three gaming types.”

When it came to devices, it's a draw for computers and consoles as to which machine is the most popular device for gaming in the UK. Smartphones, handhelds and tablets followed. In the US, perhaps reflecting, or even causing, their love for online and browser titles, computers come first, followed by consoles. In fact PCs came top across all the listed countries.

Graph courtesy of GameTrack

As well as what they were playing and how, the report focused on how many people were playing. The UK comes in third on that score, with 35 per cent, equivalent to 20 million people, stating that they had played a game in the last twelve months. In second place was France at 49 per cent (29 million people) and the US boasting 165 million with 68 per cent.

The study surveyed over 6000 people per country, using a mix of interviews and online surveys, and included both adults up to the age of 64 and children aged six and over. This added up to around 24,000 interviews per quarter across Europe alone.

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.