After suggesting yesterday that the online games market could grown in worth to $4.4 billion by 2010, analysts from market research firm Parks Associates have released highlights of a second report suggesting increasing diversification in the online games market demographic.
The report, based on survey of almost 2,000 online U.S. gamers, refutes the suggestion that games players can be organized into simply "hardcore" and "casual", instead suggesting six different categorizations of player, organized based on time spent gaming and motivation and attitudes – rather than revenue.
- "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.
The report suggests that the middle market of social, leisure and dormant gamers accounts for 53 percent of the Internet gamer population and 56 percent of retail revenue.
According to Yuanzhe (Michael) Cai, director of broadband and gaming at 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," said Cai. "The market is not black and white anymore, and game marketers need to understand these finer nuances."
The survey of gamers also found that social interaction was important to all categories of player. "Social and leisure gamers may play simple, non-competitive games, but they want to play these games with friends and players they meet online," said Cai. "For this type of gamer, there simply aren't that many options."