The Gamer Stereotype – All Wrong

Oct 20, 2020
By: Jean Ortiz-Luis

Gaming as a category and as an opportunity has grown steadily over the past few years – and has accelerated even more over the past six months. Yet there is still a pervasive stereotype of gamers, held by both marketers and consumers. Digital Turbine’s recent research has been focused on breaking down the stereotype of gamers when it comes to mobile – they’re not “gamers,” they are your neighbor, your aunt, uncle, parent, grandparent, teenager, doctor, teacher, delivery driver, and so on.

However, the fact remains that gamers as a group are still unfairly stereotyped as young males in a low-HHI group who live with their parents and have no desire to be financially independent or take on adult responsibilities. So what do actual gamers look like? The Modern Mobile Gamer report revealed that most groups are hesitant to self-identify as “gamers” (with millennials being the highest at 40.2%). The best way to look at this is by the gaming devices they own beyond their smartphones.

Most households have a game console or computer they use to play games

Many people have multiple gaming devices in their household. But let’s look at the core fact here: ​More than 75% of households have a game console or computer they use to play games. The gender split is the first real part of the stereotype we can break down. Nintendo consoles are actually more popular amongst women than they are with men. Women even have more “other” consoles than men. This could be classic “retro” consoles like Sega Dreamcast or newer connected streaming-only systems like Google Stadia.

Even with other named gaming devices like Xbox and desktops, women lag only slightly behind men. ​Xbox​, in particular, has a very close gender split for consoles and is a testament to Microsoft’s holistic “for everyone” approach and its Xbox advertising and PR strategy, which heavily features women and a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds in conjunction with males. Furthermore, the data shows that people of all ages are playing games on different consoles. Older age groups tend to play more on desktops and laptops. Also, the idea that all gamers are young is proven wrong when looking at who owns gaming consoles. There are still significant shares of consumers between 35 and 54 that own Xbox and PlayStation systems.

Education levels across consumers with consoles

More than one-fifth of those with a bachelor’s degree own an Xbox. The same is true for those with some post-grad work. More than 25% of those with masters’ degrees have a PlayStation! Nintendo’s universal appeal continues with higher education levels. After a 4-year degree, ownership actually goes up to those with doctorate degrees or the equivalent. In fact, the lowest incidence of having no game consoles actually falls in the “some post-grad” and “some college” education levels.

Desktop gaming usage is highest amongst those who finish trade school and have finished a four-year degree and started some work on post-graduate studies, followed by a bachelor degree, then a full associate degree. Laptops also get significant gameplay time. While gaming laptops are still generally seen as less capable than desktops, they’re still incredibly popular for gaming with an average of almost half of households, including 53% for those with bachelor’s degrees or higher.

Dismantling the stereotype of gamers’ income level

Generally speaking, the higher the income, the more likely people are to have a gaming desktop. This is no surprise given that desktop gaming PCs can be three to ten times more expensive than their console counterparts. Gaming laptops likewise can be quite expensive to cram all that technology into a tiny, portable shell. Ownership rises with income up to $199,000 per year before dropping off and beginning to climb again at the $250,000+ level.

The $250,000+ income bracket loves Xbox, with more than 40% owning one. Nearly 30% of that same group have a Nintendo console, and almost one quarter have a PlayStation. At the $200,000 to $249,000 level, as many people own Xbox consoles as own none. The same goes for PlayStations. Ownership of the Xbox is higher for those earning above $100,000 than those below – this group is almost 70% more likely to own Microsoft’s console than the sub-six-figure bracket. Conversely, those earning less than $100,000 per year are only slightly (7.3%) more likely to have a PlayStation than those earning more.

Want to learn more about gamers and their console preferences? Download the full report! The Modern Mobile Gamer Report has data on rewarded video, chart-topping game genres, who identifies as a gamer, and much more!

By Jean Ortiz-Luis
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