Generations and Gaming: How Different Generations Engage with Games

Generations and Gaming: How Different Generations Engage with Games

by Andrea Knezovic

Gaming is huge and it’s only getting more popular. It’s one of the favorite leisure activities for millions of people.

However, gaming is not a popular pastime for younger generations only. We see more and more Gen X and Baby Boomers take up gaming, making the gamer audience even more diverse.

To learn more about the relationship between different generations and gaming, read our summary of the recent Newzoo report.

methodology gaming and generations

Generations and Gaming: An Overview

What’s unique about gaming is that it provides not only a means to relax and fill time, but also to connect with other people, create, as well as express identity and creativity.

Because of that, gaming appeals to many different people, across all generations.

With new technological advancements and emerging trends like the Metaverse, we expect gaming to become an essential form of entertainment.

Gaming Is the Top Leisure Activity for Gen Z and Millennials

In the image above, you can see the percentage of leisure time each generation spends per entertainment platform.

Younger generations, Gen Z and Millennials, spend most of their free time playing video games. Social networks are the second top leisure activity for these generations and streaming is the third. In other words, younger generations prefer modern entertainment, as you might expect.

Because of that, games are an essential way for brands to reach Gen Z and Millennials.

Unlike younger generations, Gen X and Baby Boomers prefer traditional entertainment. Watching broadcast television is still huge for both. However, 18% of Gen X and 10% Baby Boomers report they play games in their free time, which is significant.

playtime statistics generations

Gen Z Spends the Most Time Gaming out of All the Generations

The image above displays the average playtime per week for each generation as well as the percentage of gamers who played games in the past six months.

The youngest generation, Gen Z, leads the way with 7 hours and 20 minutes of average play time weekly. Moreover, 81% of them reported playing games.

This decreases with each older generation.

For example, Millennials spend half an hour less on playing games than Gen Z. It makes sense considering Millennials have less leisure time due to work and other responsibilities. Baby Boomers play for just two and a half hours per week.

Mobile Is the Top Gaming Platform for All Generations

Even though all generations, especially younger ones, use a wide variety of platforms for gaming, mobile is the number one platform across the board.

More specifically, 77% of Gen Z, 73% of Millennials, 54% of Gen X, and 34% of Baby Boomers play mobile games.

Overall, PC is the second most preferred platform, and consoles are the third.

This is a testament to the overwhelming appeal and popularity of mobile gaming.

Generations and Gaming: Gamer Personas

Here’s the thing.

Gamers are not a unified group with the same demographics or interests.

Quite the contrary.

This is a diverse group of people, not only in terms of age or gender but also their motivations for playing games and different aspects of gaming they’re interested in. It’s important to understand these distinctions to grasp the motivations and needs of specific gamer clusters.

Based on their engagement style, Newzoo identified various gamer personas in three main categories – game fans, regular players, and casual players. Here’s a short description of each one.

Game Fans

The Ultimate Gamer

This is someone who would be considered a hardcore gamer. They spend all their free time and money on games.

All-Round Enthusiast

This player archetype is interested in all things gaming – from playing games to watching.

The Community Gamer

For this gamer persona, being a part of the gaming community is equally important as gaming. They frequent gaming forums and are into all types of gaming content including podcasts, videos, and news.

Regular Players

The Hardware Enthusiast

For this group of players, having the optimal hardware and the best gaming experience is of the utmost importance.

The Bargain Buyer

This is not someone who’ll spend a ton of money on hardware and games. Thus, this group of players is primarily into F2P games.

Casual Gamers

The Backseat Viewer

This is someone who has gamed a lot in the past. However, now they’re taking the backseat and primarily watching others play or playing themselves occasionally.

The Popcorn Gamer

For this player persona, watching is more enjoyable than playing.

The Time Filler

This group of gamers plays to pass the time when they have nothing better to do. They prefer mobile games because they can play on the go.

share of player personas

Share of Gamer Personas per Generation

Now that you’re familiar with Newzoo’s gamer segmentation, let’s see the share of each persona per generation.

The majority of Gen Z (23%) and Millennials (20%) identify the most with The Bargain Buyer persona. The Time Filler share for these generations is 16% and 19% respectively.

When it comes to older generations, the majority of Gen X (38%) and Baby Boomers (66%) identify with The Time Filler persona.

watching games younger generations

Younger Generations Enjoy Both Watching and Playing

Another interesting insight is that the majority of Gen Z (71%) and Millennial gamers (67%) enjoy both watching and playing.

For younger generations, gaming YouTubers and Twitch streamers are the new rock stars. Because these platforms allow for more interaction, younger people feel connected to gaming influencers and content creators.

Not to mention that younger gamers aspire to that lifestyle and dream of becoming successful by doing what they love.

watching games older generations

Older generations, on the other hand, watch gaming content for different reasons. For them, it’s all about gameplay content and tips & tricks that help them make progress in the game. Furthermore, Gen X and Baby Boomers are overall less into watching gaming content.

gaming identity

Gaming Is Becoming a Part of Players’ Identity

Gaming goes beyond playing and watching, especially for younger generations. It’s becoming an integral part of people’s social lives and identities.

According to Newzoo, 66% of Gen Z talk about games with friends. 51% is keeping up with gaming news and 50% are a part of online gaming communities.

reasons for playing games by generation

Generations and Gaming: Top Reasons for Playing Games

What’s clear from this Newzoo report is that gaming fulfills a wide range of needs. That’s true for all generations.

This is what makes games so engaging and appealing.

The number one reason for gaming in all generations, but particularly for older generations, is to unwind. It makes sense. When people play games, they don’t think about anything else and can relax after a busy day.

A sense of achievement is a big one as well, along with competing and socializing, especially for younger generations. Immersion and creativity are also high on the list for younger players. These motivations are important for the metaverse.

single vs multiplayer statistics

Older Generations Tend to Play Single-Player Games

Another way we see how different generations have different needs in gaming is from the type of games they choose.

For example, because younger generations are more into competitiveness, socializing, and feeling a sense of achievement, they tend to prefer multiplayer games. On the other hand, older generations are more likely to play single-player games because they’re more relaxing.

Favorite Gaming Genres and Franchises by Generation

As you might expect, different generations are into different genres and franchises.

Gen Z players spend the most time on battle royal, sandbox, and MOBA games like Fortnite and Roblox.

Millennials are into role-playing, strategy, and adventure games, while Gen Z mostly play puzzle, shooter, and sports games.

Finally, Baby Boomers prefer match, puzzle, and tabletop games like Candy Crush Saga and Homescapes.

Generations and Gaming: The Metaverse

As you probably know, the next big trend in gaming and the internet as a whole is the metaverse. Even though we’re not quite there yet, it’s worth analyzing how open different generations are to the idea of the metaverse.

To do that, Newzoo asked respondents if they currently hang out in virtual game worlds without playing the game and if they plan to do so in the future.

The results are quite interesting.

50% of Gen Z, 37% of Millennials, and 28% of Gen X players say they occasionally/often hang out in games without playing. Even more of them expect to do so in the future.

metaverse activities

Metaverse Activities by Generation

The metaverse opens up many possibilities for various activities in game worlds. Most importantly, players can socialize, express their identity, and get access to different types of entertainment in these virtual worlds.

All that is great for brands, as it creates new opportunities to reach customers and engage with them.

According to Newzoo’s research, Gen Z is mostly interested in social game world activities like getting together with friends and hosting events. The same goes for Millennials and Gen X. However, besides friend get-togethers, they’re also interested in catching up with family.

The most anticipated metaverse features include the ability to choose your avatar, which tells us people want to express their identity in virtual worlds. Furthermore, the ability to create content, get free content and special offers from advertisers are also high on the list across all different generations.

Final Thoughts on Generations and Gaming

You’ve come to the end of our report summary on generations and gaming. For more info on gamers, follow our blog!

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