At the NLGD Festival of Games, Sean Dromgoole, CEO Some Research & GameVision Europe, delivered the Brands and Games track keynote speech.
This was a demographic presentation slotting into the festival's marketing component, in which he shared detailed information on European game audiences across all major console platforms.
The Brand and Games track of the Dutch Festival of Games conference was opened by Peter Warman, the managing director of game advertising firm Newzoo.
Nintendo Changes The Marketing Game, Too
Warman introduced Dromgoole with an anecdote about a meeting with Nintendo in which the company introduced detailed levels of information - explaining Nintendo got this from Dromgoole's pan-European GameVision demographic reports.
Dromgoole's research focus used to be on existing audiences. However, it "...all changed two years ago when Nintendo - who'd had kind of a rough run for a while – started thinking 'where are we going to grow our market?'"
As he noted: "They looked at... the area around the people who were already gaming - and then came up with products and software like the DS, like the Wii, wonderful games like Wii Fit
. And they were really targeting people who were outside gaming."
Splitting the Demos - Active Gamers
Explaining his research, Dromgoole noted, "When I talk about 'active gamers', it's people who've bought a game in the last year." His research is primarily directed at the markets of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
Those markets have a combined population, over the age of five years old, of some 289 million people. Of those, 14 million are lapsed gamers, who haven't played in over a year. Another 24 million are non-buying gamers - all ripe for expansion. According to research, however, 66 million are "active gamers".
While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 appeal to the traditional male-heavy audience, Dromgoole explained that "The Wii is almost fifty-fifty male and female usage - and the DS, for the first time ever in the computer games industry, a primarily female platform on which to game."
He added pointedly: "Some developers who make games don't like to hear that - but that is the truth of the matter: it is a primarily female platform."
"The DS is very much a young person's platform. You can see that there, even though there are some titles that have been breaking out and getting older people to use it, it's very much a young person's platform."
Introducing the Lifers
was started five years ago, Some Research completed a survey of market attitudes. "But the market has changed an enormous amount in the last two years. It's become much more female, older. And so we've just redone our segmentation. And we've come up with some new categories."
Dromgoole shared an example of one of his market segments - what he calls "Lifers", who make up 14% of the European market:
- Likes: Puzzles, Detective work, Ease of engagement, Discovery, Creativity, Collaboration,
- Doing what they want to do in real life.
- Dislikes: Fantasy, Violence
- Who they are: Older, Female, German
- What do they play: Animal Crossing, Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Sims
- What do they not play: Burnout, Half-Life, Halo
- 22% have played online within the last three months
- Playing for an average of 6.3 hours per week
- Bought 2.5 games in the last three months
Enjoyability - More Relevant Than Sales
Continuing, Dromgoogle explained some key metrics that his firm is trying to quantify: "We track enjoyability because the guys who subscribe to GameVision are often trying to decide whether to make the next game or not. A key indicator is whether people enjoyed the last one."
"If they sold lots and nobody enjoyed it, they're not going to sell the next one. If they've not sold many, but people who played it really enjoyed it, they should spend more money on marketing because the next one's probably going to be a hit."
When talking about recent trends in audience, Dromgoole compared Spring 2008 to Spring 2005 across the Western European countries that GameVision covers. "Generally it's up. The males are up 165%. Specifically relating to females, it's almost 200%. The 10-to-14 age group is pretty steady, but it's pretty much saturated - they're pretty much all gaming."
There have been large increases in the number of gamers in higher age brackets, too. Age 25-to-29 are up 420%, whilst age 35-to-44 are up 390%. "Why is that? It's mainly due to [new] product, and it's mainly based on what Nintendo's been doing."
Old Media - Watch Out!
Dromgoole concluded his presentation with an anecdote about being invited to a dinner by the director general of the BBC. "The impression I got was that television was struggling. Radio seemed to be okay. Magazines were enjoying a brief boom, but they didn't understand why. And the internet was like the cuckoo in the nest and kicking all the other eggs out."
He finished with this caveat that this was, to be sure, anecdotal: "I don't really work in other industries. It's definitely true that TV companies just can't engage males 12 to 24 unless it's sport."
Yet, he beamed: "Gaming just continues to steadily grow. Ten, 12 percent a year, which is what it's done over the last seven or eight years, although it's changed in character over the last few years."