Anyone who follows Apple already knows that games always dominate the top of the App Store charts. However, a new study from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) shows that smartphone gaming is no longer just for kids. It turns out that the average gamer is older than you might expect and isn’t always playing on a console.
According to the ESA, that average age would be 34, which is definitely higher than I would have guessed. It’s even more surprising to me that 70% of gamers are over 18.
The numbers speak for themselves. Kids keep on playing games as they grow older, and even more importantly, they are spending real money on them. $43 billion was spent on gaming last year and most of it was for content rather than hardware.
Here’s the kicker: 60% of gamers are playing their games on smartphones. You can bet that figure doesn’t excite Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo. The numbers and the money are moving toward the smaller screen experience.
So what does this mean for Apple? While I was excited to hear about Apple’s new Arcade service for gaming when it was announced, I wondered if it would make an impact on users. It sounds like something I would be interested in, but in a world cluttered with ad-supported free games and in-app purchases, I wondered if enough gamers would care to keep Apple interested in this endeavor.
I have been very critical of them in the past because, while they paid plenty of lip-service to gaming, they didn’t really care very much about it. Apple’s execs sat by and watched as the market for paid games was choked out. Let’s face it. Arcade was created to resolve a problem that Apple allowed to occur because they were too busy raking in money to notice. Unfortunately, many developers did and took their paid wares elsewhere.
The numbers in ESA’s report give me a little more reason to believe that Apple may be on to something with Arcade. With this much money focused on smartphone gaming, maybe its not too late to revive premium gaming on iOS. It will depend on execution, but if Apple can deliver the goods in terms of quality content from a combination of established developers and interesting indies, then there may be a bigger than expected market available to support it.
These numbers say that there’s a large number of adults with disposable income who are focused on small screen gaming. If the ESA is right, then Apple may be rolling out Arcade at the perfect time.