Discussion of video games’ cultural acceptance has always seemed silly. Video games have been a significant part of the cultural landscape since their inception, a dense cluster of circles on the topographical map laying out how human beings express themselves and communicate with one another. You think that just because you see ten kids and moms at the mall wearing Angry Birds shirts means gaming has arrived? How do you explain Coca-Cola spoofing Grand Theft Auto in 2006? How do you explain movie studios spending millions on flicks like Tron and The Wizard for thirty years? Hell, the album Pac-man Fever sold 900,000 copies back in 1982. Gaming hasn’t arrived. It’s been here forever, and people have been playing in droves. According to research group Magid Associates, more than half of Americans play video games.
The group completed a survey of 2540 US citizens between the ages of 8 and 64 in March, and found that 64 percent play video games, making gaming the number two entertainment by dollars spent, beaten out only by collective cable television and Internet costs.
Considering the growing importance of mobile and social games, it was interesting to see in Magid’s survey that consoles like Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii remain the most popular devices for gaming. “The console is still king: Console gaming has more players, money, and time spent than any other platforms,” says the report.
People are still spending on consoles too. Despite the fact that gaming retail sales have declined annually for four years straight, respondents to the survey said they plan to spend more money on console games in 2012 than in past years, signaling much needed growth. If that growth comes from downloadable content alone, it would be a surprise, as Magid’s survey found that only one-third of respondents have purchased DLC in the past.
How do those mobile and social platforms stack up? While 50% of respondents said they played console games at least once a week, 44% said they played mobile games the same amount, and just 37% for social games. Worryingly for Nintendo and Sony, just 24% said they played devoted handheld gaming devices at least once a week. The Vita and Nintendo 3DS are unsurprisingly losing precious territory to smartphones and tablets. That’s what the survey calls them of course. What they really mean is iPhones and iPads.
For game makers preparing new goods for the PlayStation Orbis, Xbox Durango, and Wii U, Magid’s findings should be encouraging. Consoles are an important part in the maturing land of games.