Monday, May 18, 2009

Millennial Gamers Brand Loyal?

For today’s teenage boys (and everyone around them), the array of gaming platforms and games is dizzying. There used to be one dominant brand – Nintendo, Activision or Sega, depending on the year. Now there are multiple, rival, strong brands, and multiple generations or line extensions that coexist instead of being phased out, and online as well as in-person play options. Ebay and other auction sites ensure that old formats never really die, they just get traded online. Similarly, Game Stop and Amazon, among others provide access to a national market for buying and selling used games.

Mobile gamers are the top of the gaming pyramid. According to a just-released study by AT&T Wireless and PopCap Games:
“86% of mobile gamers also play video games on one or more other devices. The most popular gaming devices among mobile gamers, other than mobile phones, were: Computer (76%); Console: (41%); and Handheld game device (24%). Fully 17% of mobile gamers consider their mobile phone to be their primary device for playing video games. Among all mobile phone gamers, 53% signified their desktop or laptop computer, and 23% indicated their video game console, as the device on which they play games most often."
As a result, gaming households now have a crazy variety of gaming hardware. In our 2-millennial home, we have Mac computers, a Wii Fit that was a Mother’s Day gift this year (but not a regular gaming Wii), a Playstation 3 that we use to watch BlueRay movies as well as play games, and an XBOX360 but without the internet hookup (for now, until Netflix comes adds more movies to its on-demand offering to make getting online worthwhile), all of which were purchased new. In the last year, our 13-year old son sold his PS2 online and bought a used GameCube and a used GameBoy. And thanks to him, I now have PacMan on my iPhone.

I asked him why he wanted the GameCube and the GameBoy – “because the games are cool.” Same for the PS3. And the XBOX360. He likes the games. It seems that the creation of format-exclusive games has fueled the growth, sustained the proliferation, and enabled the coexistence of multiple gaming platforms. Among 13 year-old boys, news about cool new games travels by word of mouth. These young guys go to each other’s houses to play, and learn about games from one another.

In fact, it appears that for some gamers, exposure to a game on one platform is a factor in their decision to buy it in another. For others, reviews are key. The AT&T-PopCap study found that:
“When making the decision to purchase a game for their mobile phone, women are twice as likely (28% vs. 14% of men) to do so based on having played the game in question on another device such as a computer. Conversely, 30% of males indicated that printed or online reviews factor into their mobile game purchasing decision, compared to just 8% of females."
Millennials play the field when it comes to gaming platforms. EA’s right – it’s in the game.


Doomed Forever said...

Thank you for linking to the AT&T study, however, your conclusions are flawed because they rely on mistaken elisions of terms; "gamer" or "mobile gamer" do not equal "millenial," in fact they most likely equal "GenX-er." According to the Entertainment Software Association, "The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years... The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old."

Judy Hopelain said...

Thanks for reading and posting your comment. The ESA report you included in your comment does in fact support the observations made in my story. As the report shows on Page 2, 25% of players are under 18 and 49% are between 19-49. Assuming that 49% is split 50-50 between 19-30 year olds and 31-49 year olds, at least 50% of gamers are under 30 aka Millennials. Bottom line, the conclusions apply as much to Millennials as to any other segment of game players.