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Survey reveals U.S. gamer market is diversifying

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September 1, 2006

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September 2, 2006 For years, game developers and marketers have focused only on two types of videogame players: hardcore gamers and casual players. Ultimately, detailed segmentation of any market is required to unravel its mysteries and recent analysis by research firm Parks Associates indicates that the gamer community has diversified to include six distinct groups and, most importantly, a new middle market has emerged, 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’ Director of Broadband and Gaming, Yuanzhe (Michael) Cai, 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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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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