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Features Consumer Behaviour Trends
Half of Americans play video games on mobile: Mintel

August 27, 2015
By Canadian Vending


Chicago – Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are the most popular platform for gaming, with half of Americans playing video games on mobile devices, rather than on dedicated gaming consoles, says new research from Mintel.

Americans have adopted video gaming as a source of on-the-go entertainment and socializing, not just while at home in front of a gaming console, indicates the research firm’s “Attitudes Toward Gaming” report.

Mobile devices are the most popular platform for gaming, with half of Americans (47 per cent) playing video games on mobile devices, compared to dedicated gaming consoles (36 per cent). Smartphones (39 per cent) are the most often played mobile device compared to tablets (29 per cent) and handheld gaming systems (11 per cent). High usage of mobile devices for gaming is in line with Mintel research that shows the majority of Americans who play video games play on at least two different devices (76 per cent).

Mobile gaming’s popularity is largely driven by free games, as nearly one-third of consumers (31 per cent) only play free video games. However, the industry remains profitable with adult gamers’ median monthly willingness to spend on video games at $52. An additional one fifth (19 per cent) of adults are willing to spend more than $60 per month on video games.


Although “gamer” typically refers to consumers who play video games, not all who game self-identify with the label. While men aged 18 to 34 (70 per cent) are most likely to refer to themselves as a gamer, more than two in five U.S. women aged 18 to 34 (41 per cent) and nearly one-third of those age 35 to 54 (31 per cent) also identify as gamers.

The majority of U.S. adults play video games (67 per cent), and an even larger majority of kids (92 per cent) and teens (93 per cent) also play, indicating the almost ubiquitous nature of gaming as a hobby. However, most consumers who play video games dedicate a limited amount of time to gaming. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of consumers report playing less than one hour a week, followed by 24 per cent who play between one and three hours.

“While video games are traditionally thought of as being played on gaming consoles, our research shows that consumers are bringing games with them when they are on the go in addition to playing at home. Kids and teens are most likely to play video games, but the overwhelming majority of adults are also accessing video games, as libraries of content are readily available right on their smartphones,” said Bryant Harland, technology analyst at Mintel.

When considering the type of video games that are most popular with American consumers, the research suggests more than half (58 per cent) of consumers who play video games say they prefer games that are challenging, including one-fifth (20 per cent) who prefer strategy games, 52 per cent who prefer puzzle games and 32 per cent who like to play digital word games. However, there is a risk of players quitting a game entirely if it is too challenging, as 24 per cent of players agree that they will stop playing a game if it frustrates them.

Fifty-five per cent of parents agree they are concerned with graphic content in video games, but 58 per cent agree they like the social aspects of gaming.

Mintel’s research also indicates a connection between video gaming and family time. The tendency to enjoy the social elements of gaming trends upward with household size, with three in five (62 per cent) Americans in a household of five or more people enjoying the social elements of gaming, compared to 51 per cent of overall consumers. Despite 55 per cent of parents agreeing they are concerned about the presence of graphic content in many video games, they are more likely to agree that they enjoy the social aspects of gaming (58 per cent). Furthermore, 28 per cent of Americans agree that video gaming is good for connecting with family and friends, including 32 per cent of parents with children at home.

Nearly half of consumers who play video games agree they are concerned with graphic content in games (47 per cent). While women were especially likely to have this concern (52 per cent), 40 per cent of men aged 18 to 34 and 45 per cent of men aged 35 to 54 also express concern.

“Video games hold a unique position in regard to violent media due to their interactivity, and it is likely that as graphics become increasingly detailed and realistic, this type of concern will grow. Additionally, interfaces, such as virtual reality, that deeply enhance immersion and interactivity will heighten the experiences players have, whether they are positive or negative. As a result, brands may be expected to provide alternative game modes that lessen the graphic content of their games. It may also be beneficial to provide more context for the graphic scenarios that occur in games,” Harland said.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of American kids and 33 per cent of teens agree they spend more time playing video games than watching television. Virtually all teen boys report playing video games (97 per cent), and 93 per cent of teens overall report playing, with 35 per cent citing video games as their main source of entertainment.

“The video game market is poised for growth, especially as kids and teens, the most avid gaming population, age into adulthood. Brands that accept the challenge of meeting the diverse needs of consumers, such as concerns around price points and graphic content, will be in a good position to advance engagement among U.S. consumers,” he said.

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