'Game Writing' - Reprinted Again!
Piracy is Not Black and White

Just Who Are Our Consumers?

First published in MCV (Market for Home Computing & Video Games), issue 191 (21st June 2002)

I'm always glad to see people having a stab at identifying new demographic clusters for the games industry, but your categories don't seem to be backed up by any figures.

We've done some research on orthogonal data sets we've collected over the last two years, and have identified what we believe to be genuine clusters of game purchasers. Unfortunately, the nature of the data acquisition only allows us to identify the potential clusters, not their relative sizes.

The following is extracted from the ihobo demographic Bible:

- Hardcore (80% male, 20% over-35, 75% ABC1)
Characterised by people who view games as a legitimate spending area. The majority of early adopters are hardcore players. Their annual spending on games will equal or exceed all other media. Almost all are under 45, and most have good incomes supporting considerable 'impulse spending' on games and consumer electronics. Fantasy and sci fi settings are marginally preferred. They tend to be genre-cohorts and therefore subdivide into many genre clusters.
Learning Curve Tolerance: Very high (will learn almost any game mechanic that grabs them)
Game Commitment: Long term (expect rewards for time invested)
Corresponds to Owain's New Hardcore + Lifers.

- Testosterone (95% male, 30% over-35, 40% ABC1)
This cluster is predominantly male and aged 16-35. Games are considered a lifestyle choice, and the emphasis is on games that make them feel 'cool'. Brand loyalty follows the same profile as cars and television shows. Members of this demographic are generally looking for cars, guns, crime, war, swearing and unrealistic sex fantasies. Tightly clustered with few identifiable sub-clusters.
Learning Curve Tolerance: High (will learn complex game mechanics provided it 'feels' cool)
Game Commitment: Mid term (goal oriented; will stop if feel all goals have been fulfilled)
Corresponds to Owain's M&Ms.

- Casual (40% male, 50% over-35, 40% ABC1)
In the eyes of this cluster, games are viewed as expensive, and they are therefore reluctant to buy experimentally. Influenced by advertising, but most strongly affected by "word of mouth". Accessibility is the most valued trait; puzzle and platform games are favoured because of their intuitive
nature. Real world (historical or contemporary) settings are vastly preferred to fantasy and sci fi. Variance across the group is high, and secondary clusters are too dispersed to clearly identify.
Learning Curve Tolerance: Medium (prepared to experiment, but must see rewards quickly)
Game Commitment: Mid term in short bursts (plays for some time but in short play chunks)
Similar to a merging of Owain's Generation Next and Social Gamers.

- Parental (30% male, 60% over-35, 50% ABC1)
This cluster would not buy a console or games for themselves, but would buy one for a friend or relative. Most games seem too complex to them, but when a Parental-cluster member finds a game they can play, they will play it compulsively.
Learning Curve Tolerance: Very Low (must be able to pick up and play)
Game Commitment: Long term (once they find something they like will play compulsively)
Similar to Owain's Golden Gamers, but PC is not their format of choice as far as we can tell, and they are mostly female, not male. They play games primarily on their kid's consoles.

Note that this clustering solution misses child-clusters entirely (because of how the data was collected). We don't know if it is reasonable to consider a separate child-cluster, or whether purchases for kids should be considered a facet of the Parental cluster.

The absence of a "female gamer" cluster is not a gap in the data though; there is no clearly identifiable female gamer cluster because, unlike the Testosterone demographic, women players have widely varied tastes in games, and even individual female players are not prone to being genre-cohorts.

We're confident in our clusters (with the provisos mentioned above), but do wonder if any other companies have gaming demographics from across the entire Western population that they'd care to share with the rest of the industry.

Chris Bateman
International Hobo Ltd


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)