Social Gamers are Casual Gamers (and other less obvious observations)

According to a new report by the NPD Group, the majority of social gamers in the US are females over the age of 40. Apparently, this is shocking news on other web sites but it is old hat here at Gamezebo.

More interesting findings are that 56 million Americans admit to playing a social game (that’s 1 out of 5!), 10% have purchased an item, and 84% have played a social game on Facebook.

Here are the details are the details from the NPD Report:

  • 53% of all social gamers are women and the average age is 43 years old. The writer over at Mashable makes a big deal of this since the traditional video gamer is young and male, as you may very well know if you’ve had your head in the sand for the past 5 years, is a young male, ages 18 – 30. For readers here at Gamezebo, we all know that casual games have been the fastest growing market in the games business on every single device around the world for the past 5 years. The gender ratio of male to female gamers for casual games across all platforms is around 50 – 50% which is the exact same as social gamers in this study. It’s time to bury in the coffin the idea that all gamers are young, pimply, and male. It has not been the case for the past 5 years, and it will never be the case again in the future.
  • Why can I say that? Well, also according to the study, 35% of social gamers have never played a game before in their life. As social games become more popular, the gaming market reflects the general population on the whole. There is a debate that goes on every day on popular game industry sites like Gamasutra where some game developers bemoan the fact that social games are killing the video games market because they are so simple (since a first person shooter, where you grab a gun and shoot in the air, is oh so very complex). What such game developers are really complaining about is that the typical gamer no longer looks like them (young and male) and more like their mom or dad, brother and sister. It is not social games that need to change, it is the game developers themselves, unless they want to be as obsolete as the games they like to play.
  • 10% of all social gamers have bought at least one virtual item. This is big because if 10% of all gamers are buying items, that’s a lot of money. It’s more huge when you think how big the market will be once game companies figure out how to get the other 90% of the market to buy an item!
  • 83% of all social gamers play through Facebook. This suggests something we all know. Facebook is the blood that pumps through the entire social game ecosystem, and without Facebook, the industry would not be where it is today. There are many companies trying to inch their way into social game distribution, but Facebook’s 83% number is higher than Google’s dominance of US search (70%). Something to think about as Google tries to build its own social gaming network and as Facebook changes the rules of the game for social apps every couple of months. The fact is that for all the bemoaning that Facebook does not seem to get games, the fact is that without Facebook, the 1 out of 5 Americans playing social games number does not exist at all.

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