Commentary

Tablet Gaming Is Hacking And Slashing Other Platforms

Tablet--Game-AGaming on tablets is so compelling that it not only is the preferred platform for people playing games -- it is devouring the time spent on other gaming devices. According to a survey of 956 tablet owners by GfK, exactly half of people who own tablets said they had played games on their devices within the last 30 days. Meanwhile, a third or fewer of tablet owners had played games in the past month on their desktop on the laptop, or even on the video game console.

This is no minor or incremental migration. The combination of portability, touchscreen interface, and large-screen conversion is making the tablet more popular than other venues, and it is causing people to use the other gaming platforms less. Almost 37% of tablet owners said they are now playing less on their laptop because of tablets and 36% say they are using their handheld gaming device less often, while 35% are using a desktop less often for gaming.

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Even usage on the all-powerful and all popular video game console is being diminished. Thirty percent of tablet owners say they are playing games less on their Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii. Among tablet owners as a whole, 48.7% of their total gaming time is now being spent on the tablet, and 81.5% of tablet gaming occurs in the home.

When it comes to gaming genres, the casual variety is far and away the preferred format on tablets. Overall, 54% of tablet owners who game prefer puzzle titles while 42% prefer word titles and 41% prefer card or board games. Arcade and adventure titles are played least often -- by 30% and 26% of tablet gamers, respectively. While millennials and men do show a somewhat higher propensity for action arcade games on the tablet, the preference for puzzling and word games reaches across most age and gender categories.

Gaming is unlike almost every mass medium that preceded it, and marketers have struggled to find the right ways to be a part of digital play without using the tired interruptive tactics. No one wants a commercial break during a game. It has become a focus of the various rewards-based mobile ad efforts from companies like Kiip and SessionM.

Offering the gamer more of what they crave -- game play -- in exchange for an ad view is a relatively successful approach. Over the years, a host of marketing attempts have been made to get in the game without diminishing gameplay. But most of these efforts have mixed results. Adver-games often pawn off substandard skinned games off as branded entertainment. Various attempts to network advertising into the gameplay itself have never panned out.

As a standardized marketing platform, gaming remains a tough nut to crack -- precisely because it is so widespread and successful. Ads continue to look and feel out of place in those places where consumers are investing such true passion. 

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