Gen Z & Y and Video Gaming

20/05/2019 By Piers Lee

BVA BDRC recently partnered with the School of Management & Communication at the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore to undertake extensive research to assess the media habits & preferences of Gen Z & Y consumers. From November 2018 to January 2019, we undertook five focus groups (with a diary survey) and 346 quantitative surveys, to assess viewing habits, devices used, the role of TV today, genre preferences, attitudes to advertising, and video gaming behaviour.  We report some of the key findings in our 'Talking to Generations' Series…

Part 5: Gen Z & Y and Video Gaming

As part of our in-depth research into media consumption habits and preferences with the Republic Polytechnic, we looked at the role of video gaming in people’s lives to see how much gaming habits related to more general media habits.

There are some general similarities between media consumption and gaming – the use of the same devices, indulging a sense of fantasy, etcetera. We also found some common motivations for both, such as to relax, to kill time, or fill time when on-the-go.

Games with storylines can also have similar appeal to a TV series, with gamers becoming invested in how a story unfolds in the same way. However, we found games and their storylines should not be too complicated or difficult as they become impenetrable, and consumers will switch off.

With multi-player options or games designed specifically for competition between gamers, gaming has moved from its original form as a solo activity to a team activity that helps to generate bonds with friends and family. Media consumption, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction – there is a decrease in shared viewing via the living room TV to individual content consumption on personal devices.

Whilst there are some similarities between the motivations behind video gaming and general media consumption, there are also very significant differences in many areas. Gamers enjoy going deeper into a world of fantasy through exploration and adventure that the gamer can at least partly control. Gaming also allows for a sense of achievement through the attainment of goals and targets. Additionally, many are attracted to games to help them plan and strategize, providing spin-off benefits in other areas (such as work or study). While media consumption can be educational, gaming can even be considered a type of training.

There is some correlation between media content and gaming genre preference. Here, we see gamers or viewers attracted by ‘relatability’ – they are more interested in a game if the characters are familiar from a movie, and vice versa. A similar dynamic exists with theme parks, whereby the more successful theme parks (such as LEGOLAND, Disney World, Universal Studios) are based around themes and characters that consumers are already familiar with from other sources.

Since gamers like to talk to other gamers about their preferences and experiences, recommendation and word-of-mouth are much stronger drivers of gaming sales than in other categories.

The wide range of genre preference suggests that game developers need to maintain a wide portfolio. Some consumers look for upgrades of their favourite games, and there are opportunities to remaster older games that were popular on their original release.

Great graphics, of course, will also add to a game’s appeal. However, people that like gaming on-the-go without internet access want games to do not take up a lot of their data allowance, meaning their preference shifts to games with more basic graphics for certain occasions (such as commuting).

Among our focus groups, 3D and VR gaming was not a big motivator. Similar to trends in general media, 3D has lost momentum and appeal since the initial hype a few years ago, and VR has yet to gain traction. The simplicity of the most common devices currently being used might even create barriers to the adoption of 3D and VR – they may seem too complicated for gamers to be willing to invest their time and effort.

Download the full 'Talking to Generations' Series

For more information on this study, contact:

Piers Lee (Managing Director of BVA BDRC Asia)