According to a press release from The NPD Group, their most recent report, Kids and Gaming 2011, shows that since 2009, the population growth of kids ages 2-17 increased 1.54% in the U.S., while the gaming population of that age group has grown 12.68%. It is estimated that 91% of kids aged 2-17 now play video games, with the largest increases being seen in females, children 2-5 years old, and teens 15-17 years old.
“Year-to-date through August 2011, kids comprised 44% of new physical software dollar sales, representing a vitally important consumer segment for the games industry,” said Anita Frazier, an industry analyst from The NPD Group. “Knowing how kids are spending their gaming time and dollars in both traditional and non-traditional outlets is key to staying relevant to this highly engaged audience.”
The report also noted that mobile devices and computers have experienced the most significant increases in gaming activity, although in the past three months, kids and their parents spent more than five times as much on physical games across different devices as they did on mobile gaming apps for smartphones and other application-capable devices.
Analysis: Is it bad that none of this is all that surprising to me? The stigma associated with playing video games has gone down dramatically in recent years, especially with social media games like Farmville and Words with Friends and mobile games like Angry Birds. You’re less likely to be seen as a complete and utter tool for playing video games now than when I was growing up, and I’m not even that old. Hell, I’m not even old at all. But the basic point here is that games are appealing to a wider audience than they did 20 or even 10 years ago. Of course more kids are going to play them.
Teens are more likely to have cell phones than they did two years ago, so of course they’re more likely to play games on their phones. And I mean, mobile gaming isn’t that old. Snake came out on the Nokia in ’97, and it wasn’t until ’03 that mobile games really started to kick off anywhere other than Japan. Mobile gaming has boomed in the past few years, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that more teens’ getting cell phones had something to do with it.
Let’s not forget the slew of kid-geared games that have been popping up in recent years either. Gaming companies created their own demand with games like Nintendogs and EyePet and playing these commercials on kid-centric channels like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Parents have bought into children as a legitimate consumer group—they’ve been one for a while, but now that consumer group also wants video games.
Yeah, I can’t say I’m really all that surprised.