What are the characteristics of casual gamers?What would the profile of a typical casual gamer look like?
These two key questions will be answered in due course.
As mentioned previously, it is difficult to accurately describe a casual gamer because these are people that come from all walks of life. Despite this, I will attempt to craft a profile of the typical casual games player based on the following factors: gender, age, income, education, occupation and marital status.
To assist with this, I will make use of the findings of three surveys commissioned by leading casual games makers MSN Games, Trymedia Systems (the parent company of Trygames) and PopCap Games. Gaming companies such as these regularly undertake studies on their respective player bases in order to obtain a better understanding of the characteristics of casual gamers - who they are, what they want, etc.
Let me begin by making the following initial statement: research has established that casual gamers tend to be both men and women, with a skew towards women. Or, put more simply, more women tend to play casual games than men, although the number of men is steadily increasing over time.
While this gender breakdown can vary greatly from casual game genre to casual game genre and even from casual game to casual game, the largest consumer of casual games are women between 35 and 50 years of age. This is in contrast to the traditional core video game consumer, which consists mainly males between 18 and 34 years of age or to the traditional hardcore video game consumer, which comprises mostly males under the age of 18 years.
Of course, this does not negate the fact that casual game players are also found among school-going children, teenagers, university/college students and senior citizens.
In order to confirm that women between the ages of 35 and 50 years do indeed constitute the largest segment of the casual games market, lets take a look at the survey findings of MSN Games, Trymedia Systems and PopCap Games in a little more detail.
A survey conducted by MSN Games in 2005 revealed the following interesting facts about the characteristics of casual gamers:
- Gender. 63% of gamers are female and 37% male;
- Age. 21% of gamers are between 25 and 34 years of age, 71% are between 25 and 54 years of age and 17% are 55 years of age or older;
- Income. 55% of gamers have an annual household income of USD55,000 or more, while 30% have an annual household income of USD75,000 or more;
- Education and occupation. 40% of gamers have graduated from college and 25% hold professional and/or managerial positions;
- Marital status. 64% of gamers are married and 46% have children.
In 2006, an online survey carried out by Trymedia Systems found the following:
- Gender. 71% of casual gamers are female and 29% male;
- Age. 37% of casual gamers are between 34 and 49 years of age, and 28% are between 50 and 60 years of age;
- Marital status. 58% of casual gamers have no children under the age of 18 living in their households.
Also taking place in 2006, a PopCap Games survey showed the following about the characteristics of casual gamers:
- Gender. 76% of casual game players are female and 24% are male;
- Age. 71% of casual game players are 40 years of age or older and 47% are 50 years of age or older;
- Income. 53% of casual game players have an annual household income of USD50,000 or more;
- Education. 46% of casual game players are college graduates, with 14% holding a post graduate degree;
- Marital status. 67% are married and 53% have a least one child.
Some Interesting Observations
A quick inspection of the information above yields the following:
- By far, women make up the largest sector of the casual games market, as is illustrated by all three surveys (MSN: 63%, Trymedia: 71% and PopCap: 76%);
- The number of casual female gamers appears to have increased significantly between 2005 (MSN: 63%) and 2006 (Trymedia: 71% and PopCap: 76%);
- MSN survey. Of the casual gamers between 35 and 54 years of age, 32% are females and 19% are males;
- Trymedia survey. Of the casual gamers between 34 and 49 years of age, 26% are females and 11% are males;
- PopCap Games survey. Of the casual gamers between 40 and 49 years of age, 18% are females and 6% are males.
Yup, here is irrefutable proof that females over the age of 35 do indeed dominate the casual games market.
Profile of a Casual Gamer
Remember, the task at hand was to ascertain the characteristics of casual gamers.
Based on our findings above, the profile of a typical casual gamer is female, aged 35 to 50, married, possibly with children, college educated and living in a household with an annual income of more than USD50,000.
Surprised? If so, then that makes two of us.