Though many still see video games as the youngsters’ pastime, statistics and industry insiders alike agree that adult gamers make up a significant portion of the market demographic.
This provides unique opportunities to companies and brands looking to engage with a group that has much greater disposable income than those belonging to the traditional 18-24 bracket.
A great example of this phenomenon is the Fortnite Over Forty gaming community, connecting like-minded gamers of a very different demographic you’d traditionally expect.
Misconceptions of the gaming audience
Adolescent male teenagers are still seen as the poster-boys of the gaming community by many, as evidenced by most endemic marketing choices and communication styles taken on in the industry. The numbers simply don’t bear out the stereotype: gaming as a phenomenon has long ago transcended the gamer stereotype (and identification).
“Prior to graduate school, I was an ICU Critical Care Nurse working night shifts. I started playing to bond with my children, but I met some interesting older adult players online and we started logging on at night when I couldn’t sleep to play for an hour or two. To say that I now have insomnia and stress would be putting it lightly. Fortnite helps me manage both. I began playing when writing for school, I could take breaks to clear my mind with a couple rounds of Fortnite.”Carrissa (CagsterRN)
In fact, there were studies produced as early as 2014 that indicated adult females as a larger group in the gaming community, a change no doubt fueled by the emergence of more casual consoles like the Wii and the skyrocketing of mobile gaming. Video games are now a clear part of the media mix with 86% of global internet users playing games on some sort of device. Observations like these fueled the oft-quoted statement in Netflix’s Q4 2018 shareholder letter that they “compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO”.
Mobile market estimate service provider App Annie’s 2021 report suggests that mobile gaming drives the industry’s revenue growth as it amounts to $120 billion, almost three times as much in worldwide consumer spending on games as PC and or home consoles. Though this also relates to the various pricing models of mobile games, the prevalence of such easily accessible devices also points towards the emergence of an adult gaming demographic.
That isn’t to say females and adults are passing by on the core gaming markets either: GWI Gaming’s Q4 2020 reportage shows that the average age of gamers across all devices is now in the mid-thirties, with the portion of female players ranging between 34 and 50 percent across all platforms.
“While I may not be a professional player, I believe that good content creation and stream engagement should be taken into consideration [when esports organizations sign players]. There just aren’t enough older adult women gamers being recognized.”Daphne (WildOrkid)
This observation holds true even when we look at gaming-related media consumption: the average age of esports viewers and livestream viewers were both pegged at 31, with a two-to-one split of male and female respondents to their survey. All this has logical implications to the marketing and financial side of gaming, and for companies looking to engage with the space as well.
Adult gamers: untapped potential
The emergence of adult gaming enthusiasts – a group evidently more affluent and different in tastes to the stereotypical gamer demographic – will inevitably unlock a new wave of advertising and brand partnerships. We’ve already seen companies like Louis Vuitton collaborating with Riot Games on a League of Legends collection or massive non-endemic brands like DC or the NBA featuring their products and personalities in Fortnite.
Further examples of transnational business entities’ involvement in gaming include Nike’s partnership with G2 Esports and Puma’s collaboration with Cloud9. There is little doubt that such cross-industry amalgamations will continue to emerge over time, in progressively greater numbers.
Adults are also actively involved in content creation and livestreaming, and observations suggest they tend to look for their own social groups in the virtual space as well, which makes specifically targeting them an even more attractive proposition from a business perspective. Our interviews with adult streamers also underlined this.
“I would like to see adult clans becoming a thing that consists of players over the age of 30. I’ve said this to many people: If someone is closer in age to a tween than 40, I most likely have nothing in common with them, which means I probably don’t want to play with them or watch their stream.”Rachel (Troll-Doll)
To provide a better understanding of this key demographic of adult gamers, the second part of this report will provide an overview with key quotes about the gaming content creation and consumption habits of adult gamers, and how and why they find a role for video games in their everyday lives based on our interviews with and research of the Fortnite over Forty gaming community.
Additional reporting by Aashir Ahmed