ESA reveals An Inconvenient Truth about the gaming industry

Posted by Theo Valich

Los Angeles (CA) - After listening for years that games are mostly played by teens, Entertainment Software Association came forward today and released their annual booklet of facts.  The booklet titled "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry in 2008" is 14 mind-numbing pages filled with facts about the US video game industry – and some of those facts are definite eye-openers.

According to statistics, 49% of all gamers belong to 18-49 age bracket – yes that’s a huge bracket. What is more interesting is the fact that 26% of all gamers are 50 years or older, while 25% of gamers are below 18. This is a significant change from previous years and clearly shows the growth of casual games market, but also displays the shift from simple and aggressive games to games that are rated "Everyone". This also bodes well for digital distribution methods, since adults are more prone to buy the games online.

Looking at gender statistics, numbers are even more impressive - there are more women aged 35 or older playing games than teens in sub-18 category. Of course, this statistic lumps all games in the same pot, but that is the point of overall statistics.

The average video gamer has played games for the past 13 years, which puts the beginning of the gaming career at the time of Duke Nuk'em 3D on PC and Wipeout on PlayStation.

Looking at ratings breakdown really surprised us. For an industry that is constantly tied with violence, sex (oddly, alcohol and smoking are not part of "Anti-Games Movement"), only 15% of all the games sold are rated Mature, or should not be played by people under 17 years of age. Games rated Teen (10-17) make up for 28% of the market, but real money lies in games that are rated for anyone.

"Everyone" makes up for 45% of North American gaming market, while "Everyone 10+" takes additional 12%.

Looking at most popular genres, it seems that video gamers mostly love Action (22.3%), Sport s(14.1%) and Family Entertainment (17.6%) games. Shooters (12.1%) and Racing (8.3%) round up the Top 5 most popular genres. We were surprise to see that presence of a very large number of fantasy titles didn't result in higher percentage of Role Playing titles (7.6%).

 

IMAGE: TOP 20 Selling Video Games

As you can see, best selling game of 2007 are Halo 3, Wii Play and Call of Duty 4.

The PC market saw another year of total dominance by World of Warcraft. The Burning Crusade expansion and the original game took the top two spots, closely followed by The Sims 2 Seasons add-on. Interestingly enough, thanks to popularity of WoW franchise, 12th most sold game in 2007 was WarCraft III: Battle Chest, followed by StarCraft: Battle Chest.
WoW is bigger than PC industry… what?

This booklet is not all roses, though. What breaks the deal for us is the BS statistic considering PC vs. Console (Video) games. ESA took the stats from The NPD Group, and completely failed to address the retail vs. e-tail domain, offering only retail sales numbers.

According to ESA, video game market was valued at $8.64B, while PC gaming market decreased from $980 to $910 million. This would be candy-dandy, if there wasn't for the fact that Steam alone grew by 110% and World of Warcraft allegedly taking home 120 million dollars a month. The calculation for 120M/month was given to us by sources from the industry, including people close to Blizzard and Activision. If ESA's calculation is correct, World of WarCraft would be bigger than whole PC gaming industry. Dear ESA, this is "whoopsie" size of the Ozone hole on top of Antarctic. This is quite a mishap, guys'n'girls.