"The fact that adults are racking up more gaming hours than teens is startling, but there are several associated findings that shed light on this," said CEA's Senior Manager, Industry Analysis Steve Koenig. "Interestingly, a greater percentage of 12-14 year olds spend time gaming than older teens ages 15-17. Older teens simply may not have the free time for extra hours of gaming or they could be gaming on wireless handsets since 81 percent of teens own or use a wireless phone."
Through the new study, CEA also investigated gaming platform ownership and behaviors and found the data revealed the PC dominates the adult game market while teens spend more time using game consoles. For households owning a PC and a console, 58 percent consider the console to be their primary gaming platform despite its lower engagement. Additionally, the study showed portable gaming to be decidedly more popular with teens than adults. Only 25 percent of adult gamers who own a portable game device have used it in the past six months compared to 77 percent of teens.
Additional adult vs. teen behavioral differences emerge in the study when online game play is evaluated. The majority (64 percent) of adult gamers either mostly or always play console games by themselves and just over half (55 percent) play online. Conversely, teens are five times as likely to engage in multiplayer gaming with their consoles, especially teenage girls - an unexpected result. Teens also are much more likely to game online, but here males outnumber females - some 78 percent of teen male's game online in a given month compared to 58 percent of teen females.
The survey results also suggest female gamers outnumber male gamers in the 25-34 age category. This result stems from high rates of play of online games, many of which are free of charge (i.e. Yahoo! Games), among female gamers. The 25-34 age group also comprises the largest concentration among overall female gamers (29 percent).
In a promising trend for consumer electronics (CE) retailers, CEA found that some adult gamers purchase additional CE products specifically to enhance their console gaming experience. The most common purchase made by these consumers (one in four) is performance audio-video cables; additional products include displays, furniture and A/V receivers.
"A huge opportunity exists for retailers through the popularity of gaming," Koenig said. "Not only are gamers buying traditional gaming accessories, but they're also buying or at least expressing strong interest in major purchases like audio components, speaker and high-definition displays. This will continue as next-generation game consoles, which capitalize on the eye-popping graphics afforded by HD technology, penetrate the market. We anticipate 19 million of these consoles will be sold in their first year on the market, totaling $8 billion in revenue."
Supporting the growing body of evidence that consumers are interested in creating immersive CE-related environments in their homes, the study also reveals a substantial number of adult gamers, particularly those within the 25-34 age range, are interested in creating a dedicated gaming room. Additionally, 19 percent of console gamers and 15 percent of PC gamers indicated they would pay a professional to install a dedicated gaming room in their home, presenting a ripe business opportunity for the custom installer channel, as well as CE retailers.
"The study offers interesting and surprising insights into the world of gaming, but even better for the industry, it points to business opportunity," Koenig concluded.
The quantitative study of adults was administered via a Web form to an online sample of 1,767 U.S. video game households during the period December 6 - 12, 2005. The margin of sampling error for aggregate results is about +/- 2.4 percentage points. The teen study was administered via telephone interview to a random national sample of 500 teens, comprising 247 males and 253 females 12 to 17 years of age, living in private households in the continental United States. The interviews were completed during the period November 17 - 20, 2005. The margin of error for aggregate results is about +/- 4.5 percentage points.