What Do You Have In Common With a Gaming Nine-Year-Old?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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What Do You Have In Common With a Gaming Nine-Year-Old?

That may sound like a crazy question, but it's one that's going to likely surprise many by showing off the sheer extent of PC gaming. As it turns out, that's likely what most gamers have in common with a nine year old who games: PC gaming. A new report out from The NPD Group suggests that 37 percent of people from the age of nine and up play PC games, and cover a wide variety of gaming types within the field.

The average PC gamer spends about 6.4 hours a week, on average, with titles ranging from the newest in hardcore gaming to the simplest of casual games. Thus, the NPD Group study separates the players into a set of distinctive subclasses, the casual, the light core, and the heavy core player. Casuals represent the largest chunk of the market; 56 percent of PC gamers don't play the so-called “core games” at all, games that would normally run $60 a title and represent fighters, shooters, RPGs and similar titles. 24 percent of gamers are in the light core market, playing core games, but not often, and 20 percent of gamers are in the heavy core market, playing the core games more than five hours a week. While heavy core players represent the smallest chunk of the market, they represent the largest portion of spending in the field; heavy core spends more than twice casual players, despite representing less than half the size of the group. In fact, the NPD Group thinks that those numbers are actually low, and that means opportunity is passing developers and retailers alike by. One of the biggest points to note is that game consumers expect regular sales, and so are less than eager to pull the trigger on a purchase knowing that it's likely to be on sale fairly soon.

We've discussed the effects of Steam sales on the gaming market before, looking at the destabilizing impact that such sales can have on overall game pricing. But it may well be that we're starting to see the impact of that pricing beyond the theoretical right here. There's a comparatively easy way to handle this, of course; all companies really need do is make sales regular events, not irregular. If the user base knows that it's not going to have a sale opportunity come available for three months or six months from the last one, then it's a little more likely to pull the trigger when said sales come around, or even when said sales aren't set to come around knowing that the discounts won't be on hand for months.

Of course, there are other key points here as well to note; points like making games for the heavy core crowd on PC is likely the best path to success unless you have a really good casual game on hand—there's a lot of people in the casual market, but said people aren't doing a lot of buying—or points like making shooter games geared to the under 13 crowd may actually have a decent payoff. But the end result here is that the PC market is a much different animal from its console equivalent, and paying attention to the various points of this market should prove a profitable enterprise.

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