Casual game publisher GameTop.com provides an online platform for free gaming and in keeping individuals supplied with popular games, the firm has found some interesting trends which it’s now sharing. From action games to simulations, some have universal appeal throughout the U.S., while the popularity of others appears to be linked to specific geographies.
GameTop found that in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, that the popularity of puzzle games transcended its traditional paper format and was popular throughout the U.S. Gamers in AK, ID, MO, MN, NM and ND played the most puzzle games of any other state at nearly 100 percent. People in DE, HI and VT played the least number of puzzle games at less than 10 percent.
Puzzle games have the benefit of offering multiple options incorporating math, words, jigsaw formats, and they relieve stress. Perhaps one of the best explanations for their continuing and expanding popularity is the mental exercise they provide to keep the mind nimble and active, while helping to improve memory.
Hidden Object Games
Hidden object games represented highly mixed results, reaching 100 percent game play only in WY. People in AR, CO, HI and ID played the least with only 3-4 percent, while NM, came in at a mere 1 percent. Once popular among multiple age groups, the format has seen a substantial decrease among younger people, but remains a favorite for those 30 and over.
Hidden object games appeal to sleuths, treasure hunters and problem solvers. They typically incorporate facets from other types of games for adventure and puzzle solving fun. Today’s hidden object games often tell an abbreviated story and some allow players to choose their own ending for more interactive game play.
One of the most surprising finds was that action games have suffered a steep decline from their highs in previous years, with only DE and VT residents accounting for 80 percent of all action game playing. Results for NM were 0 percent, while the games rated only 1 percent for players in AR, IN and IA.
Action games tend to be more popular with males for solitary and multi-player options. Their popularity is due in part to the ability to challenge others. They’re a favorite of adrenaline junkies, sports fans and those who enjoy increasing levels of difficulty, allowing them to test themselves in a virtual environment.
Equally unimpressive showings were demonstrated by racing games that were once second only to arcade games in popularity. The highest number of racing games was played in SC at 29 percent, followed by NH at 21 percent, NJ at 20 percent, CT at 18 percent and CO at 15 percent. All other states were in the 10 percent range with NC and IN ranking at 0 percent.
Racing games enjoyed enormous popularity in previous years and were once the most popular genre of all within multiple age groups. They provided an outlet for those who thrive on adrenaline and players could vent their hostility if they had a bad day. Racing games provided a venue in which people could experience the thrill of high speed racing without the risk.
Electronic Arts released The Sims game prior to 2006 and the company sold more than 175 million copies as of Sept. 2013. Simulations by other developers debuted and experienced phenomenal growth but today, game play has declined significantly in all but AR and SD with both at 50 percent and WV coming in at 19 percent. The games rate less than 20 percent play rates in other states.
Early sim games had no clearly defined objectives, but that changed with the addition of scenarios in which players could create their own zoos, farms and aquariums; fly planes, conduct trains, drive high performance race cars and wage war with tanks; or take the lead in first person shooting games.
Once at the pinnacle of game play, arcade style games obtained an 89 percent play rate only in HI, followed by NJ at 40 percent, RI at 29 percent and WV at 24 percent. In most states, arcade games accounted for less than 20 percent of total game play. The rise of gaming began with arcade style games, but technology quickly outpaced those early efforts and featured better graphics, storylines and greater player involvement.
A brief resurgence in arcade games was seen as publishers rushed to create modern versions of their earlier successes with games that ran the gamut from Space Invaders and Donkey Kong to Super Mario Brothers. While arcade games remain as one of the top categories, game play is low in comparison to other genres.
As the gaming industry has grown, moved online, and mobile devices became the norm, there’s been a trend toward a smaller core group of genres that encompass the basics of action, arcade, hidden object, puzzle, racing and sim games. There are multiple factors in play that determine the popularity of any category, ranging from the player’s age to their geographic location.
The release of GameTop’s findings provides interesting insights for game players and provides game publishers with valuable information for the creation of new games. GameTop credits paying attention to those trends as one of the reasons the firm has become one of the preeminent free gaming sites in the world with selections for PCs and Macs, Android, iPad and iPhone.
The gaming data visualization is public and available at: