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Study: Teens losing interest in traditional games, prefer social/mobile experiences
Study: Teens losing interest in traditional games, prefer social/mobile experiences
April 4, 2012 | By Eric Caoili




Teens are losing interest in playing traditional video games on consoles, and prefer to play social or online games instead, according to a new survey of high school students by analyst firm Piper Jaffray.

The group's report says participants in the survey stressed the importance of feeling connected to their friends. Many respondents believe traditional games lack social features that keep them connected with friends and thus are "a waste of time," while social and mobile titles feel more productive to them.

In its survey, 65.9 percent out of 5,600 respondents said they are losing interest in playing video games, compared to 63.5 percent a year ago. Meanwhile a growing share of teens said they are willing to play games on their mobile phones, 66.2 percent now versus 34.4 percent in Spring 2011.

And 25.3 percent said they play social games on sites like Facebook, which is a little less than the 25.9 percent recorded a year ago but still more than the 18.3 percent recorded last fall. Notably, 92.8 percent of social game playing teens are not willing to buy virtual goods, which is more than the 80.5 percent that said they weren't willing six months ago.

As a result, Piper Jaffray cautions investors against betting on traditional console gaming: "We expect traditional packaged goods game sales to continue a decline during the next two years as gamers shift to digital offerings.

"While a console refresh in 2013 or 2014 will breathe new life into the industry, the new systems will face unprecedented competition from tablets, smartphones, and connected TVs. We expect growing middle classes and rising Internet penetration rates in emerging markets, particularly Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia-Pacific to partially offset competition from tablets and smartphones."

Piper Jaffray also found that 53 percent of teens would be receptive to downloading full games on their consoles, which is up from 45.8 percent a year ago and from 25.9 percent 18 months ago. 36.1 percent of teens said they're willing to pay a flat monthly fee for an on-demand gaming service like OnLive, too, an increase from 34.3 percent a year ago and 20.9 percent 18 months ago.


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Comments


Pablo Simbana
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I really hope there is still space for non casual gaming in the future, I'm certainly not jumping into the crappy social gaming wagon

Ryan Marshall
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Even if they stopped making new games, which is a ridiculous assertion, there are plenty of high-quality games that currently exist such that you could play them for the rest of your life without repeating any of them.

Matt Robb
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In other news, the teens that were already console players still are, nothing in the information given shows that this is anything other than market expansion pulling in previous non-gamers now that they have pretty phones.

Brian Tsukerman
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Though I don't doubt that a smaller PROPORTION of gamers today are as interested in traditional (single-player) gaming as in the past, I don't believe that this necessarily indicates an actual decrease in the amount of players that are interested in hardcore gaming. Rather, I believe this is the result of a significant spike in the number of overall players of all games due to the explosion of casual and social gaming in recent years, which means that the number of people playing traditional games could still be increasing as well, albeit at a lower rate than that of social/casual games.

Regardless, this kind of news makes me happy. Though I personally prefer traditional/hardcore titles to casual games, the fact of the matter is that games are simply one of the many options people have for occupying their free time and attention. When you compare traditional console or hardcore games to modern social games, it's hard not to notice how much lower the barrier to entry and time commitment is in the latter. Take the following example:

I am given the option of playing one of two games: Words with Friends or Final Fantasy XIII. To play Words with Friends, I require the following:
- any computer with internet access so I can get on Facebook
- an ability to spell words and/or look things up on Google
- general understanding of the rules of Scrabble
- a few minutes of my time
- some friends who also want to play with me

Now compare it to the list of requirements for Final Fantasy XIII:
- space on my console to install it (several Gb), which is the only place I can play it from unless I transfer my save file to someone elses console. What kind of jerk am I that goes to someone elses house to play single-player games on their console? Makes me wish we still used memory cards like on PS2 instead.
- a console, which is almost always over $100
- the game itself, which when new is about $60, plus the inevitable cost of DLC
- anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour or more of my time each time I want to play (not to mention the patience to weather the insane amount of tutorial present in FFXIII itself), totaling to dozens of hours
- an open television or screen to which I can connect my console without being kicked off
- a consistent commitment to continue playing this game until I finish it. Otherwise, if I stop playing for a little while, I risk forgetting how far I've progressed and what I'm supposed to be doing.
- the desire to use my free time on playing this game, instead of reading, watching TV, or socializing with friends, along with the realization that nearly nobody else cares what I'm doing in this game or why

Considering all that, I find it pretty unsurprising that most people aren't interested in playing single-player console games anymore. It's pretty much akin to saying that people prefer playing catch with a friend instead of bouncing a ball off the wall by themselves.

k s
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I've been saying for a while the expansion of the market is not new gamers joining but rather pseudo-gamers joining and they just don't get into the medium like gamers.

Kyle Redd
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@Brian

You forgot one key requirement for social gaming that is not required for console games - that you must have a Facebook account, along with all of the privacy implications that comes with. That may not matter to most kids nowadays, but it's not a small concern and one that is very likely to be an even greater concern over time for those who *do* care.

On top of that, there is also the matter that Words with Friends players never know in what form the game will exist in a week or a year from now, or how much various parts of the game will cost to play over time. With console games (at least for now), the game I buy is mine forever; I can play it whenever I want as many times as I want and it will never change or disappear without warning.

In short, games on Facebook and other social media are very much "temporary" experiences. No one will be able to fire up a Facebook game 10 or 20 years from now and have the same experience they remember, at least not in the way we all today can revisit Super Mario Bros., Baldur's Gate, or Final Fantasy VI whenever we want to.

Ryan Marshall
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Console games require a specific set-up: monitor, system, disc, dedicated controller, several hours of free time, and a quiet room where you can enjoy the experience. Once you have that, though, your time playing the game is completely separate from everything else in the world. Escapism at its best.

A casual game can be played with: a fancy phone that you probably had anyway, and a few minutes of your time. The thing is, that game is competing with everything else that can be done in a few minutes, like checking your email or eating a hamburger or folding the laundry. If you play 60 times in a week, for five minutes at a go, then that's five hours of multi-tasking and reduced general functionality spread throughout the week.

Jack Lee
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Well, I guess it's a good thing that teens aren't really the driving spenders in the video game market, isn't it?

Evan Combs
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This is like saying teens prefer the latest style fad over what teens wore in the 90's. Teens will always prefer whatever is currently popular.

Yossi Tarablus
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II can feel this trend on myself. I haven't touched my Wii or my PC games in months. I only play online games on my PC and games on my iPhone while on the bus.
Yossi Tarablus
Content Manager at Matomy Money

Nikola Blagojevic
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Imo mobile gamIng and "bold" aaa gaming will cross their paths, with the augmented reality and a smartphone, don't you think there should be new aaa games that will involve in 360 degrees the player, by asking him to move in the real world?


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