Analyst firm comScore Networks has announced the first-quarter results of its "The Players" study, which examines the behavior and attitudes of all segments of U.S. video gamers, particularly focusing on the approval and interest in the concept of in-game advertising.
The survey started by showing Media Metrix data explaining that video game websites reach almost 50% of the Internet universe, representing 76.9 million consumers in April 2006, up from 71.6 million in April 2005. This research found that 25% of gamers are 'Heavy Gamers', playing 16 or more hours per week across any gaming platform, or playing 11 hours or more per week and playing on two or more platforms.
Light/medium gamers -- those that play less than 16 hours per week on one platform -- represent 75 percent of gamers. Approximately 17 percent of gamers are in the hard-to-reach age group of 18-24 years old, while another 23% are in the advertising sweet-spot age segment aged 35 to 44 years old. One-in-five (20 percent) have an annual income over $75,000 per year, and the typical Gamer has been gaming for about 9 years, and has been online for about 8 years. Gamers are equally split along gender lines.
According to comScore's survey, more than 50 percent of 'heavy gamers' and one-third of light/medium gamers are at least somewhat familiar with the concept of in-game advertising i.e. the contextual placement of brands or products within games. Specifically, 23% of heavy gamers are very familiar, 31% are somewhat familiar, 24% are vaguely familiar, and 23% have never heard of in-game ads - for light/medium gamers, 11% are very familiar, 23% are somewhat familiar, 37% are vaguely familiar, and 30% have never heard of the concept.
Regarding whether players are likely to play games with in-game ads in them, 33% of heavy gamers said they would be likely, 52% said they would be neither likely nor unlikely, and 15% said they would be unlikely. In comparison, the figures for light/medium gamers were 23%, 56%, and 21% respectively, showing that there is no major consensus for or against in-game advertising as of yet.
Finally, when asked whether in-game ads would help the players buy products or services, a relatively small 17% of heavy gamers and 9% of light/medium gamers agreed that it would. Responding to a question regarding whether in-game advertising being integrated into most games of the future is "inevitable", 46% of heavy gamers agreed that it was, compared to 33% of light/medium gamers.
The study was conducted using comScore' dual-mode methodology that combines passively observed online behavior and attitudinal information for the same consumers. Wave I of the survey portion of the Players Study collected attitudinal information from 800 Gamers from February 13 - 27, 2006. Additional waves will be fielded throughout 2006.