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Gamer Market is Diversifying From Two to Six Categories

by Rainier on Aug. 30, 2006 @ 2:33 a.m. PDT

A survey analysis of U.S. online gamers indicates that the gamer community has diversified over the past few years from two types of videogame players (hardcore and casual gamers), to six distinct groups and, most importantly, a new middle market has emerged, all with different motivations, gaming behaviors, and spending patterns.

Traditionally ignored by marketers, the three segments Social Gamers, Leisure Gamers, and Dormant Gamers account for 53% of the Internet gamer population and 56% of the retail revenue, according to Parks Associates.

According to Yuanzhe (Michael) Cai, Director of Broadband and Gaming, Parks Associates, reaching this untapped middle market represents a distinct challenge to marketers. "If game companies insist on chasing the mythical hardcore and casual gamer segments, they will miss out on more than half of the market," Cai said. "The market is not black and white anymore, and game marketers need to understand these finer nuances."

Parks Associates identifies six segments:

  • Power gamers represent 11 percent of the gamer market but account for 30 cents of every dollar spent on retail and online games.
  • Social gamers enjoy gaming as a way to interact with friends.
  • Leisure gamers spend 58 hours per month playing games but mainly on casual titles. Nevertheless they prefer challenging titles and show high interest in new gaming services.
  • Dormant gamers love gaming but spend little time because of family, work, or school. They like to play with friends and family and prefer complex and challenging games.
  • Incidental gamers lack motivation and play games mainly out of boredom. However, they spend more than 20 hours a month playing online games.
  • Occasional gamers play puzzle, word, and board games almost exclusively.

A surprising finding of the study was the importance of social interaction to a wide range of gamers, not just power gamers.

"Social and leisure gamers may play simple, non-competitive games, but they want to play these games with friends and players they meet online," Cai said. "For this type of gamer, there simply aren't that many options."

Cai segmented his gamer respondents based on two key factors: time spent gaming and gamer motivation and attitudes.

"It may be difficult to quantify motivation and attitude, but that is what determines how a gamer spends time and money on gaming activities and services," Cai said. "Leaving out gaming expenditures frees marketers from current business models and allows them to explore new ways to reach highly motivated gamers that aren't spending much on gaming."

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