2017 ESA Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has published their annual report about the computer and video game industry. This yearly report is an invaluable asset for researcher looking for statistics and figures concerning video game usage and consumption, as the ESA is the foremost collectors of this type of data. Each year they’re kind enough to report their findings, so let’s take a look at what this year’s report found.

Who is playing

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More and more people are playing games, and the stereotype of video games being relegated to young boys is a thing of the past. The “average gamer” has seen an age decrease across both genders, with 2016’s report finding the average female was 44 and the average male gamer was 35. Nonetheless,  the demographics of the gaming community is shifting towards being an activity participated across all ages. Female gamers above the age of 18 make up significantly larger population of the gaming community than men under the age of 18. That may sound unimportant, but consider it in relation to the general cultural perception of video gaming be a teenage boy activity.

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Despite gains in the community, male gamers still make up the most frequent purchasers of video games. Considering that free-to-play titles are often a popular genre of games for females, this statistic may be slightly misleading as to who is actually playing games.

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It is now more likely to have a gamer in your household than it is not to. The percentage of households that have at least one person who plays 3 or more hours a week has seen a slight increase from 2015 (63%). With this percentage growing each year, more and more we are moving towards a culture in which playing video games is the norm.

Who Are Gamers Playing With?

We’ve established that gamers are playing, but who are they playing with? With an increase in the number of online enabled games and access to online multiplayer platforms increasingly becoming easier each year, it’s not unreasonable to assume that more people are playing together.

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The numbers suggest that people are connecting through games, with the majority of gamers believing gaming to be a way to connect with friends. This statistic falls in line with contemporary research on how gamers view multiplayer interaction within their lives. The amount of time spent online vs. playing in person has actually shrunk from 2015, with gamers playing half an hour more with individuals in person in 2016. With developers such as Nintendo investing considerable attention in local multiplayer, particularly with the newly released Switch, it will be interesting to see how this figure changes next year. All of this is to say that people are using gaming as a way to connect with those around them, including their family members and spouses.

parentsTo go along with those findings, the amount of parental approval of video games has stayed steady with a very slight decrease from 2015 (68%). Despite this decrease, the majority of parents are found to believe video games are a positive influence on their kids’ lives and nearly all parents control the games their kids play in some way.

Other Findings:

  • Games are big money: the video game industry is continuing to grow, with the industry growing to 30.4 Billion from 23.5 Billion in 2015.
  • Bang for your buck: most gamers believe video games to be a better value for their money than music, movies, and dvds combined.
  • Digital Games are on the rise: digital purchases now make up 74% of all sales, with an increase from 69% in 2015.
  • Video Games are good for America: Video games added more than 11 billion to the GDP of the US in 2016.

Some great information for social science researcher to use to analyze video games and gamers. I left out a good deal of findings, so I definitely recommend checking out the actual report from the ESA. All graphics and pictures were pulled directly from the ESA’s report.

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ESA 2015 Essential Facts About The Computer & Video Game Industry

It’s that time of year again when the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) release their  yearly findings on the demographics and make up of the video game industry. The ESA is the foremost gatherer of this type of data and this yearly survey is the most in-depth of its kind. This is important stuff and extremely useful for anyone seeking data on video games and their communities.

Now you may be asking: “Who is this ESA and why should I believe the data these dweebs are spouting?” Well, 90s Bully child, who better to tell you who the ESA than the ESA themselves:

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) conducts business and consumer research, and provides analysis and advocacy on issues like global content protection, intellectual property, technology, e-commerce and the First Amendment in support of interactive software publishers. ESA owns and operates E3 and represents video game industry interests on federal and state levels.

Yeah, so they’re those people…Them.  A better description would be that they’re a organization that gathers pertinent information to better regulate content within the industry by partnering with a lot of the biggest names in the industry. In addition to the ESRB, the group that decides Manhunt is a more mature game than Pikmin (YOU’RE PLAYING WITH LIVES IN BOTH GAMES), they have programs that give scholarships to youths, a board that acknowledges achievements in the industry, and a group of advocates that promote taking action in support of video games. All in all, they’re a pretty cool organization that is making a positive influence on the video game industry.

Enough of that jibber-jaber, let’s get to the data!

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The average age of gamers has increased significantly from last year’s data, which found that the average age of a gamer was 31. What’s leading this change? Could be that mobile games are reaching a larger audience than in previous years.  Another thing to note is that percentage of female gamers has actually decreased this year; last year they made up 48% of the gaming population. This change could representative of the sample population, or it could reflect a change in certain marketing over the past year.

socialThe majority of gamers are social gamers. Gone are the days in which gaming was primarily done by yourself in a dingy basement that may or may not have mold on the ceiling; Now it’s done in the same basement, but with people playing with friends! That said, this makes sense: most major video games now have an online component to them. Only 4 of the top 20 best selling games last year didn’t have a major online component to them, and 3 of the 4 were aimed at children.what we playGames that connect people are on the rise and more than ever we are playing with people across the world. Online communities are now global networks with people working and playing together. You’re next best gaming partner could be a thousand miles away from you. However, I would be interested to know how the ESA defines a social game: Is Super Smash Brothers and social game because it features online play?

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The gaming landscape is still one that is incredibly diverse in terms of themes and age levels. There’s a tend to lump the majority of games in as “mature and violent”, but the majority of video games still are considered family friendly. 11 of the top 20 best selling games last year were rated E or E10+.

parentsThe relationship between gaming and family is an ever changing one. Parents are learning how to incorporate and monitor the usage of gaming in their children’s lives. The percentage of parents that monitor the games and hours their children play video games is 91%, up from 87% last year. The influence of video games on children is something we’re gradually getting a better understanding on, so it make sense that year after year parents are becoming more involved in their childrens gaming habits.digitalvs

Lastly, for the first time in the history of video games, digital sales seem to have surpassed physical copies. Keep in mind this is for the industry as a whole (which includes both mobile and PC games), but it’s still an important milestone for the industry. As we discussed, the trend towards digital games raises question about the future of video games preservation. The number of mobile games and digital only games will only increase in the coming years, so you may want to rethink your physical copy library you’ve been creating over the years.

All together it’s an interesting year for video game demographics. We’re advancing towards a more inclusive and diverse video game population, but we’re still taking strides. As we see, it’s not always a one way street towards equal demographics, as the numbers and ratios of gamers will flucate over time.

In the upcoming weeks I hope to use all of this research to best come up with a picture of the the average gamer and evaluate what insight we can pull from understanding the typical gamer.

***Please keep in mind that this data is representative of a survey population and does not neccessarly represent the entire population of gamers. While it is probably the best research and data we have on the subject, a population of 4000 households  is still just a survey population attempting to make statements for a population that is increasingly changing and growing.

Useful Links:

ESA 2015 Essential Facts

ESA 2014 Essentail Facts

ESA’s Website