Video Games Becoming A Mainstream Choice

older people playing wiiIt's confirmed: The notion of a video game player as a pimply, skinny, sun-deprived teenage boy is outdated. According to Packaged Facts, more than half of the U.S. adult video game-playing population is made up of moms, dads and even grandparents.

"You essentially have a cultural phenomenon where video games are becoming a mainstream choice for family and adult entertainment," Robert Brown, an analyst with Packaged Facts, tells Marketing Daily. "It's striking how broad the penetration is in the adult population."

Of the estimated 114 million regular video game players, 22% are over the age of 55, and 40% are over 45. Not only are more adults playing video games--but women are at parity with men when it comes to playing them, according to Brown. Women and older adults are expected to fuel much of the segment's future growth. The number of male gamers in the 55- to-64-year-old range will increase by 34% by 2013, compared with only 7% for the 18- to-24-year-old demographic, according to Packaged Facts. The company predicts the growth rate among women to be 17%, compared with 12% among men.



According to the research company, video game sales (excluding hardware) were $6.7 billion in the U.S. in 2008. That number is expected to grow by 49% to $10 billion by 2013. Much of that growth will be fueled by the moderate gamers the industry has shifted its attention to over the past few years, Brown says.

Even in the near term, the video game sales picture looks upbeat. As people cut back on other entertainment options--like dining out, movies and shopping--they are more likely to stay at home with a video game system or have friends come over for a night of video game playing. "A lot of people in the industry are making the assumption that video games fit the needs of people right now," Brown says. "Video games are not a solitary pursuit. They're becoming a group activity."

All of this means good news for marketers. According to the research, adult video game players are more likely to go to a mall than non-gamers (59% vs. 51%). Also, "moderate" gamers (those who play video games between one and six times a week)--who are more likely to be the adult market--are more likely to notice in-game product placements than "avid" gamers (who play games more than six times a week), Brown says.

"I would look at video games as a real product placement opportunity [because] the market is so broad," Brown says.

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