Breaking Down Video Gamer Demographics

If you’re a developer or designer building the next great mobile game, you’ve likely agonized over your target audience. Who will best respond to your game? Are there enough potential fans out there to generate real revenue?

Rest easy: a very diverse group of Americans play video games, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center. While it’s unsurprising that 60 percent of those aged 18-29 play games, significant portions of older demographics are also perfectly happy to smash away at a controller or virtual buttons: roughly a quarter of those over the age of 65 played games.

Nor are video games restricted to a particular gender, with 39 percent of women saying they played games (compared to 47 percent of men).

“As for types of games that Americans like to play, strategy and puzzle games are the most popular among those included in the survey,” read Pew’s report accompanying the data. “About six-in-ten adults who say they play video games often or sometimes report that they typically play these types of games (62 percent each).”

Adventure games came in third in the poll, at 49 percent, followed by shooters (42 percent), role-playing (39 percent), team sport or racing (33 percent), and simulations (32 percent). “Puzzle games are distinct in other ways,” the report added. “For example, they are the only type of video game asked about in the survey that is more popular with those ages 65 and older than with those younger than 30, and they are more likely to be played by those with at least a bachelor’s degree than by those with less education.”

For game creators, this data is good news: if you can build and market your game effectively, chances are good there’s an audience for it. The bigger issue is game longevity in general, which has declined gradually over the past several years; a new game may only have weeks to establish momentum before a tide of new releases buries it.

In the context of mobile—a channel for many game creators—there’s also the problem of declining app downloads. According to recent data from App Annie, app users in the United States only download between one and four apps monthly. If you’re a game-maker trying to rapidly create a huge audience, you’re potentially swimming against the current. (Apple, with the launch of iOS 11, is attempting to make discovery an easier process for iPhone and iPad users, which in turn could benefit new game makers.)

Whatever the platform or model pursued, it’s clear that there’s an all-ages audience out there for games of all kinds. Which is great, because as any game developer will tell you, the industry is hard enough as it is.

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