Sonic and Knuckles playing video games as adult gamers.

Oft-Ignored Age Demographics Dictating Gaming Industry Trends

The common perception of video gaming has long been that it’s mostly enjoyed by non-adults, which does stand to reason with so many of the hailed biggest games in the world demanding days of gaming. However, statistics show that this isn’t the case anymore, with older age groups becoming the larger age demographics, with games that are tailored to the needs of people with jobs and home responsibilities coming to the fore.

Abe, a green creature, giving two thumbs up

As noted upon the construction of Grown Gaming, many sites still target content towards people around 20-years-old or younger, but they might not be the dominant force anymore. Both analyses into gaming demographics and the game popularity charts are showing that it’s the adults who are dictating gaming industry trends. In fact, it’s not just the case in established gaming markets, but in nations where gaming is a new form of entertainment for the masses to enjoy.

So, while often ignored by outlets, here’s how we older gamers are influencing gaming now more than ever.

Demographic shifts across the board

Uncharted 4, Drake gaming on the couch with a friend as an adult gamer.

With public perception and the apparent angle of much of the industry’s news and information outlets being geared towards a younger demographic, the average age of gamers may come as a surprise. In last year’s review of gamers by the ESA in the United States, it was found that the average age of gamers is over 30-years-old.

The study found that the average age of male gamers is about 32-years-old, with it being 34-years-old for female gamers. It should also be noted that the split between male and female is as close as 46 to 54 per cent, with the male population of gamers being a bit larger.

Of course, the United States has had a flourishing games industry for decades. So, many people who grew up playing games would, presumably, continue to at least class themselves as gamers in their adult years. It stands to reason, but even in some of the newest regions for digital gaming, a trend towards older age demographics can also be seen.

India has a gigantic population of over 1.3 billion people and is notorious for its love of entertainment – particularly movies. For the most part, in the past, gaming has priced itself out of the market, but then came the humble smartphone. The technology has spread like wildfire across the subcontinent, and with it, a massive new gaming audience has arisen.

Even here, where the gaming industry is still in its infancy, the online gamer age distribution is already shifting from 59 per cent of gamers being under 24-years-old to just 45 per cent. Taking over, the 25 to 40-years-olds and the over 40s are seeing bumps to 42 per cent and 13 per cent of the total market, respectively. Those figures account for forecasts just from 2016 to 2021, showcasing how even the newest markets are becoming dominated by adult players.

Demographic shifts showcased in popular game charts

As an adult gamer, there isn’t time to sink 14 hours per day into a game that takes over 100 hours to mostly complete. Games need to provide a near-instant hook that can be put down and returned to at your convenience, with actual gameplay segments being relatively short, or at least segmented.

While there will always be the titles so massively hyped that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to complete them, they will be played en masse, many of the most popular games now fall into the ‘fit for adults’ category. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was the most-played game on Steam in December 2020, with its competitive matches being comprised of around rounds which last 115 seconds each. In third and fourth stood Dota 2 and PUBG, each of which also feature similar set-ups of matches as opposed to continuous play.

Predominantly through mobiles, a similar persuasion of segmented gameplay titles has risen to the fore in India. The clearest example of this is shown in the rise of online gambling in the country, with the classic games all being built around single-round games before commencing another. In India, players learn the key Blackjack Rules of strategy to play rounds of the card game when it’s convenient on their smartphones. Understanding the strategies of the card game, players can dip in, play some hands, and leave when they have time. Once you’re familiar with the rules, there are options to play blackjack live online.

The strictly mobile app gaming scene concurs this point of the market being driven by time-restricted adults looking for quick doses of entertainment. Of all of the Indian Android app games available, the top-grossing ones are the fast-action shooters. PUBG Mobile used to rule the roost, but in its place, Garena Free Fire and Call of Duty: Mobile have become the dominant apps. Just below them is eFootball PES 2021, with the sport’s title also offering gameplay based on segmented matches, allowing for users to pick-up, play, and return later.

Gaming isn’t just for those who can commit hundreds of hours to a title anymore; earners who don’t have as much free time are proving to be a huge driving force in the modern industry.