The Evolution of Gaming 2 – How Gaming Has Spawned Different & Diverse Audiences

People gaming

In our last blog we talked about how the gaming community has evolved and diversified over the years.  Once upon a time it may have been reasonable to think of ‘gamers’ as a homogenous group.  But as different genres and types of gaming experiences have developed, so too has a diverse mix of very different gaming audiences.

Different gaming audiences

Fans of one genre often represent a very different mix of people from the gamers who favour a different genre. 

This is obvious if you think about it.  But the devil (or rather the insight) lies in the detail.  Our new gamer survey explores exactly how audiences differ for different genres of games.  Let’s consider a couple of examples:

First person shooter games have been with us for years.  Early classics like Doom and Halo have become so huge that they have spawned film adaptations and a stream of international merchandising.

Contrast this with casual gaming – a genre that has really hit the big time largely since the millennia.  Some of these games have also made a big impact on modern culture.  Just think how influential games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush were at the height of their popularity.

Some gamers – many in fact – enjoy playing both casual games and shooters.  However, these two genres nevertheless attract a very different profile of fans overall.  Different in terms of the kind of people they are, how they like to play and even in terms of their consumer behaviour outside of gaming.

Shooters vs casual gaming

To illustrate this, let’s compare fans for casual gaming with those of shooters in the UK.

Infographic of how different games attract different gaming audiences

Both genres are popular. More than one in five adults have played a shooter in the past year and more than one third have played a casual game.

However, the typical casual gamer is a woman who usually plays on a Smartphone. She buys her games from App Store or Google Play. 

The typical shooter fan is male, plays on consoles and gets his games from Amazon, PlayStation Store or Game (a major games retailer in the UK market).

Both genres also hit different sweet spots in terms of player age.

Shooters appeal to a younger audience; 75% of players are under 45.  For shooters the young age demographics are important and the under 25s form a significant proportion of players.

Casual gaming is very different, attracting an older fan base.  Most casual gaming fans (67%) are aged between 25 and 54; the under 25s being significantly less important for the success of these games.  

Different buyer behaviour

But the differences do not end there.

Casual gamers are a lot less likely to pre-order new games (just 14% say they’d usually pre-order a game they like the look of, compared to 24% of shooter fans). 

Casual gamers are less likely to buy new games in general (just 60% bought a new game last year compared to 90% of shooter fans). 

However, casual gamers are more likely to acquire free-to-play games (39% acquired 6+ new free games last year vs. 33% of shooter fans).

Both types of gamers use social media extensively.  Media such as YouTube and Facebook are popular with both groups.  However, more dedicated ‘gamer’ media like Twitch or Discord have a much stronger appeal with the shooter fans.  Shooter fans are twice as likely to use Twitch for example.

Different consumers

Fans of shooters and casual gaming also have different consumer tastes and preferences in their lives outside of gaming.

It is in this regard that the difference between the audience composition for different genres are likely to become more important for gaming brands in future.

Gaming, as an industry, now forms a major part of mainstream culture.  One of the consequences of this is that gaming businesses are increasingly looking to partner with brands outside the world of gaming.

Joint promotional opportunities with non-native brands will be either more or less attractive depending on the type of audience a game attracts.  One obvious area where this is developing fast is in eSports.  eSports are attracting growing and increasingly diverse audiences, presenting attractive opportunities for advertising and sponsorship. 

eSports and gaming can often attract and engage with audiences that more traditional media struggles to reach.  For brands outside gaming, access to these audiences is an appealing prospect.

Each to their own

Knowing which audience a particular game or eSports event is likely to attract is therefore vital.  Big audience numbers are important – but unless these numbers can be accurately profiled, they remain problematic for would-be sponsors and advertisers.

For example, casual gamers are more likely to list arts and crafts in their interests (30% vs 21%).  That means arts and crafts brands, content and events offer a much more meaningful area of potential opportunity. 

On the other hand, shooter fans are more likely to list technology and gadgets as an interest (45% vs 26%), which makes technology brands more obvious partners for this genre.

Non-native brands, looking to partner with gaming brands will increasingly want to understand how different games, different genres and different events work in terms of the audience they attract.

New Media

Gaming has already started exploring its potential as a new media (with big brands like Coca-Cola now involved with eSports) but in many ways this journey has just begun.

A more in-depth understanding of these audiences is the way forward.  As gaming develops, the audiences attracted will become increasingly diverse.  It is already the case that fans of sports games have a different profile from either casual gamers or shooter fans.  The same is true if you look at virtually any other genre – be it horror, RPGs or racing games etc.

This starts to matter even more in the emerging world of eSports.  This new media is still growing and, to some extent, still on a steep learning curve. 

Knowing that an eSports event attracts 4 million viewers is great. However, the value of this audience is seriously limited if you know little or nothing about it beyond a headline number.   What countries do these viewers come from?  How old are they?  Are they male or female?  If even these very basic questions cannot be accurately answered, the appeal of such eSports events for non-native brands will never reach its full potential.

These are important questions that eSports will have to answer. So this will be the theme of our next blog.

For further information about the UK gaming market

The statistics quoted in this article come from our UK Gaming Market Report of 2021. 

This report provides invaluable insight into current trends in the UK gaming market, covering detailed gamer demographics, genre preferences, device preferences, trends in Cloud, eSports audiences, VR, gamer consumer profiles, aspirations for the future and more. 

You can find out more about this report on our website.  

If you wish to follow our weekly blog you can view all out past articles on our website here.

If you have any specific questions about our services, please contact us.

Sources

Playbook – UK Gaming Market Report 2021, Synchronix Research

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