Deepen The Data In Gaming And Esports - Get To The Gamer

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, November 13, 2020
Data in gaming and esports has been either too general or just plain difficult to decipher, and usually a mix of both. When gaming started to catch the attention of marketers a few years ago, dataists sought to answer questions about who gamers were from a demographic perspective. 

With the release of a mainstream cultural phenomena like "Fortnite," people began to realize that gamers were likely not just young men (although the majority still are), that women represent a big group of gamers and that all gamers have a diverse set of interests.

At this point, we have learned about who gamers are and what general attitudes they have toward products, advertising, and the world.

In general, we have looked at gamers like a massive bubble, but it's important to recognize that there are many differences among them. Playing solitaire on your phone may get you counted as a “gamer,” but compared to people grinding away for hours on "Fortnite" or "World of Warcraft," does that really make you a “gamer” too? 

Much progress needs to be made in understanding the differences between types of gamers, how many of them spend money on free-to-play microtransaction systems, the rise of mobile gamers and more.

In addition, streaming still remains a mystery for traditional media companies looking at streaming as an OTT opportunity, and most people are unaware of the differences between esports content and general gaming content on sites like Twitch.

At the end of October, YouGov moved in the right direction to start answering these more granular questions by releasing its first major Gaming & Esports report under the leadership of Nicole Pike, who recently joined from Nielsen's gaming unit as its head of gaming and esports research. 

While it does include many of the general statistics that many other market research companies have reported on in the past, the free 48-page report showcases newer, important segments around hardcore gamers, mobile gaming, and gaming video content.

Due to the democratization of smartphones and lack of heavy price tags (if any) on mobile games in particular, it makes sense that most people can easily be gamers these days. 

Seventy-one percent of people in the United States can be considered "gamers," with the platform breakdown of 59% mobile gamers and 60% console and PC gamers, suggesting an increased overlap.

Traditionally, when people toss around the term "gamers," really, they are most often discussing console and PC gamers -- gamers who have a proven track record of spending big for the right gaming experience. Even the next-gen consoles, releasing this month, still go for $400+.

However, with traditional console and PC-based games like "Fortnite," "Call of Duty," "PUBG" and now "League of Legends" going mobile with free-to-play and microtransaction systems, the number of mobile users will increase even further.

According to YouGov's study, 23% of smartphone gamers play 10-25+ hours per week. 

Through these releases, they will spend even more time gaming on their phones, and some might potentially forego buying two gaming devices.
If I can play big title games on my phone, why would I buy a console or PC too?

While consoles and PCs will always be essential to core gamers, the mobile world might change that for the mass majority of people.

Still, console and PC users aren't going anywhere yet, and the biggest diehard gamers (speaking from experience) are generally on console and PC. YouGov takes a deep dive into these “hardcore” PC and console gamers who spend 21+ hours a week gaming -- about 2.5% of the 18+ U.S. population (6 million people). 

If the pool wasn’t limited to 18+, it is likely that with the rise of technologically focused lifestyles among younger people, that number could increase by a few million.

My friend, who teaches middle schoolers, has often remarked to me that for his students, their phones are like an extension of their arms, and virtual concerts in games like "Fortnite" and "Roblox" are bringing together more kids online.

Regardless, while the report shares a number of general insights about this group that we've seen in other forms before, further examination of hardcore gamers will illuminate many questions about what casual gamers (the bulk of the world) are willing to purchase or watch as compared to hardcore gamers.

The most promising aspect of this report, however, is YouGov's attention to detail in delineating esports fans from gaming fans, and esports fans from people who watch game streams on platforms like Twitch and YouTube gaming, where both non-esports and esports content can be found. 

Until this report, it has been extremely difficult to find more accurate breakdowns of the differences, but YouGov splits up people who watch streaming gaming content from people who watch esports.

According to the report, 27% of 18+ gamers are engaged with streaming platforms, with 6% out of 7% of the total U.S. esports fans watching these streaming platforms as well.

This breakdown will help pave the way to more detailed studies on streaming audience behaviors amongst gamers.

Ultimately, this report demonstrates a potential for deeper, more elaborate insights in the future of measurement in gaming and esports.

With any luck, YouGov and others will be able to build upon this initial research and help endemic and non-endemic companies better understand the nuances between gamers and streaming fans within the ecosystem itself.

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