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Social media is most common way to follow eSports - Survey

The ESA today released its annual Essential Facts report, providing the industry with a cross-section of US sales and demographic data, from how much money games took in last year ($23.5 billion in the US) to the average age of a gamer (35). However, this year's report included new looks at two of the bigger trends in the industry right now: eSports and virtual reality.

Each survey had a section to be completed by the household's most frequent gamer, and those gamers were polled about their familiarity with eSports and VR. Half of those frequent gamers were familiar with eSports, and of those, 45 percent of them cited social media posts as a way they follow competitive gaming. That was the most common way to keep track of eSports, followed by video clips online (43 percent), cable TV (40 percent), and streamed coverage (38 percent).

That group of most frequent gamers had better awareness of VR, with 55 percent reporting themselves familiar with the field. Of those, 40 percent said they were likely to purchase a VR product in the next year, while 58 percent were interested in playing VR games.

The survey also included a number of other changes in the year-to-year numbers of basic demographics in the industry. For example, only 65 percent of households owned a device used to play video games, down from 80 percent in 2015. Ownership of dedicated game consoles slid from 51 percent of households to 48 percent, and the average number of gamers in a household with any gamers at all fell from 2 to 1.7. Prior to this year's Essential Facts, both of those stats had been holding steady since 2013.

The gender split in the survey also shifted, with 59 percent of surveyed gamers reporting themselves male, compared to 56 percent last year. While the male-female gender balance in the ESA's annual survey see-saws year-to-year, this is the most skewed result it has found since 2010.

The ESA also offered some information about game ratings, showing ESRB awareness among parents at a recent high of 86 percent. The mix of ESRB game ratings being handed out has also changed a little, as 2015 saw a 6 percent jump in the percentage of titles given a T-for-Teen rating (up to 29 percent). The M-for-Mature rating was only issued to 11 percent of games (down from 14 percent in 2014), while the E-for-Everyone saw a similar drop from 41 percent to 37 percent.

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