E3: Frequent Gamers Watch Less TV, Go to Fewer Movies

Nearly 60% of Americans play video games, a new study says. The average age of today's gamer is 30

E3: Frequent Gamers Watch Less TV, Go Fewer Movies
Courtesy of Activision Blizzard

Video games are beginning to have a more significant impact — both positive and negative — on other parts of the entertainment industry.

An annual study by the Entertainment Software Assn finds that time spent watching television and going to the movies are two of the areas people who are playing more games are most willing to sacrifice in lieu of interactive entertainment.

Study found that 49% of the people who are playing more games than they did three years ago were spending less time watching TV, while 47% noted they were going to fewer films. On the upside, 42% of the console owners the ESA polled said they use their systems to watch movies as well as play games.

Demographically, little has changed in the $21 billion games biz. The average gamer is 30 years old — the same age as last year. And the gender gap has essentially been erased. Women make up 45% of all game players last year (down slightly from 47% the previous year).

The average gamer, according to the ESA, has now been playing video games for 13 years.

All totaled, 58% of Americans play video games — with an average of two gamers in each game-playing U.S. household. And the average U.S. home owns at least one console, PC or smartphone. That’s not a particularly surprising figure, given the critical nature of technology in our day to day lives, but it is noteworthy that of the homes having a dedicated game system, 51% own a second as well.

And in a year where public debate about media violence heated up, violent games didn’t suffer saleswise. Shooters made up more than 21% of the console games sold last year, while other action titles contributed another 22%. Overall, though, just 9% of the games rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board received an M (Mature) rating (the industry’s equivalent to an R).

The year’s best selling title was, not surprisingly, once again from Activision’s “Call of Duty” franchise. “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” grossed over $500 million in just 24 hours, topping $1 billion within 15 days, setting a new record for the series.

Despite those impressive numbers, dollar sales continued to slide in 2012, hitting a four-year low. Analysts point to the age of the current generation of gaming consoles — and say they expect to see the beginning of a rebound next year, with Microsft and Sony releasing the next-gen Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

“We do not expect sustained growth until 2014,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter.