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Looking to grow your business and have a little fun, too? Look into gaming.

Sure, systems for accounting, sales and the like are important. But let’s face it: They can also be a bit dull. Gaming, on the other hand, is fun and exciting. And the business is growing, driven in part by advances in augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

Last year, consumers spent nearly 25 percent more on mobile games than they did the year before, according to market watcher IDC. Here’s another amazing stat from IDC: Games generated more than 80 percent of combined direct Apple App Store and Google Play spending worldwide last year. Just one game, Pokémon Go, by itself generated about $950 million in direct spending last year. That's a lot of Pikachu! 

To learn more about how gamers behave, market researcher Nielsen recently conducted its 8th annual survey of U.S. gamers over the age of 13. The company released its report, Games 360, last week. Check out some of the findings:

> 64% of all Americans over the age of 13 are gamers, up from 58% in 2012.

> Nearly half (46%) of U.S. gamers play on only 1 type of device, either a console, smartphone/tablet or PC. That’s up slightly from 42% the year before.

> Consoles such as Sony PlayStation 4 and MS Xbox One are the favorite device type, chosen by nearly half (47%) of U.S. Gamers. PCs are the second favorites (cited by 27%), followed by mobile devices (26%).

> Gamers spend 12 percent of their leisure time playing video games, up slightly from 10% in 2012. That trails watching TV and movies (occupying 24% of their time), general Internet use (22%) and socializing with friends and family (15%).

> 70 percent of gamers also watch gaming-related content, mostly videos. YouTube is the clear favorite, followed by Twitch, ESPN, GameSpot and IGN.

> Gamers are big users of social media. Eighty-two percent of gamers use Facebook, compared with 78 percent of the general population, Nielsen finds. More than half (55%) of gamers are on YouTube, compared with 47 percent of the general population. And 45 percent of gamers use Instagram, compared with 40 percent of the general population.

Virtually Real

The next big thing in gaming is VR and AR. Awareness of VR/AR gaming systems is way up. Today, 63 percent of U.S. gamers are aware of these systems, Nielsen finds; that’s nearly double the 37 percent who were aware just a year earlier. By comparison, among the general public, just over half (51%) are aware of these systems now, up from 28 percent a year earlier.

How likely are Americans to buy VR or AR devices in the near future? Nielsen asked, and got the following replies:

Nielsen gaming survey chart

Also, men are more likely to use VR/AR gaming devices than are women, and also more likely to buy these devices in the future, Nielsen found. Among current VR owners, 57 percent are men and 43 percent are women. Among those intending to buy VR devices, 59 percent are men and only 31 percent are women.

To learn more, download the full Nielsen report (PDF): Games 360 U.S. Report 2017.


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