Ahead of the holiday season, and a year after the latest generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles entered the market, the PS5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are still incredibly difficult to acquire thanks to the global chip shortage. Some PS5 models (which retail for $400 or $500, depending on the model) are selling on eBay for $10,000 or more.
But even though new systems are scarce, Morning Consult polling shows that more than 3 in 5 gamers under 35 and just over half of avid gamers are using consoles — with many spending hundreds of dollars a year on their gaming habits.
How gamers are playing
- Adults under 45 are most likely to be playing video games regularly. Forty-three percent of adults ages 18-34 said they play at least seven hours of video games a week, marking them as avid gamers, while 44 percent of those ages 35-44 said the same.
- Mobile phones dominate the market. Majorities of all age groups and gaming frequencies said they use their cellphones to play video games, including at least 7 in 10 avid gamers, casual gamers (those who play video games six hours or less a week) and gamers under 45. And while just 47 percent of adults over 65 indicated they play video games, a slim majority of older gamers said they use mobile phones. The mobile games market is massive, with revenue from mobile games in the United States totaling $2 billion in September, per Sensor Tower data.
- Despite supply chain issues, gamers are slightly more likely to use consoles than to play games via PC. Forty-one percent of gamers said they use consoles, while 37 percent of gamers said they use PCs. More than half of gamers under 35, gamers ages 35-44 and avid gamers said they use consoles. Roughly 2 in 5 avid gamers play PC games online, while about a quarter are playing them offline.
- Puzzle and strategy games draw the most interest. About two-thirds of gamers said they’re “somewhat” or “very” interested in those genres, while the No. 1 choice of genre for avid gamers (75 percent) and console users (88 percent) was action-adventure. The best-selling game ever is likely “Minecraft,” a sandbox video game that has sold more than 238 million copies worldwide as of earlier this year. A third of gamers expressed interest in the sandbox genre, which allows players to freely roam virtual worlds.
How gamers are spending
- Roughly 3 in 10 gamers said they spend more than $100 annually on video games and consoles. About a fifth of gamers are spending that sum on accessories and in-game purchases, though pluralities spend $50 or less on those gaming items during the course of the year.
- Half of console gamers are spending top dollar on games and consoles. Console gamers were more likely than PC gamers or avid gamers to say they spend more than $100 a year on video games and consoles, but nearly a third of both PC gamers and console gamers said they’re spending an equal amount to purchase accessories or in-game add-ons.
- Gamers are most likely to download games for free. Roughly 3 in 5 gamers said they download games for free. But if they have to pay, they’re more likely to buy them online (42 percent) than to purchase a hard copy (27 percent). Fewer than 10 percent of gamers rent either virtual or physical copies of games, a method that was once popular at brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster in the 1990s.
- Even as some gamers shell out big money for industry products, most think prices need to change. While the video game industry raked in an estimated $174.53 billion globally last year, according to S&P Global, at least 70 percent of gamers said that prices for consoles and accessories need to change. That share rises to 3 in 4 among avid gamers, ranking above hot-button topics such as microtransactions, loot boxes and toxicity in online communities in requiring change.
The poll was conducted Oct. 12-15, 2021, among 1,604 U.S. adults who say they play video games, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.