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Survey: 'Hardcore Social Gamers' Moving Away From Console Platforms
Survey: 'Hardcore Social Gamers' Moving Away From Console Platforms
September 22, 2011 | By Mike Rose

Market research firm Information Solutions Group has released the results of a social gaming survey commissioned by social game studio Kabam, noting that social games are gradually attracting more hardcore gamers over from traditional game platforms.

The Social Gamer Study, which surveyed just over 1,400 gamers in the U.S., found that around 82 percent of "hardcore social gamers" (someone who has played a "core" genre on a social network) also play console games, and that social game playing is "disrupting" their traditional gaming habits.

Overall, 41 percent of U.S. internet users have played social games, although the study noted that hardcore social players will stick with a game for longer periods of time than more casual social gamers.

On average, more than 68 percent of hardcore social players play for three hours or more each day, compared to 43 percent for casual social gamers.

These hardcore social gamers noted that they were playing on their games consoles less, with an average 50 percent decline in spending on console titles.

Twenty-seven percent of social gamers who played games on other platforms said they're spending less time playing games on those other platforms.

While the study [PDF] was conducted by Information Solutions Group, it was commissioned by social game startup Kabam, developer of games designed to attract core gamers to social gaming. Most recently, the company announced a new game based on The Godfather franchise.

Carll Frye, director at Information Solutions Group, explained of the study, "This research goes further in segmenting and identifying the gameplay habits of hardcore and casual social gamers than any previous study."

"While casual social gamers skew female and older, hardcore social gamers skew male and younger, in line with typical core gamer demos. Based on these survey results, hardcore social games are increasingly stealing play time from core games."

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Juan Del Rio
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Were there ever any hard core games on a console?

(I had to)

Doug Poston
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I know you're joking, but it brings up a good point on what the hell is a "hardcore game" and what defines a "hardcore gamer".

Content? Time spent? Money payed?

This study defines some specification for what they mean, but everybody has different ideas. In the end "hardcore gamer" has the same meaning as "green company" or "natural product" (e.g. none at all).

Nick Kinsman
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I don't want to read the entire report at the moment, but I'm somewhat interested in how they're breaking up the social groups into casual and hardcore. By the quote, "On average, more than 68 percent of hardcore social players play for three hours or more each day, compared to 43 percent for casual social gamers." it sounds like they are not basing it on time invested per day (which seems like an obvious metric).

Overall, congratulations? I thought WoW proved long ago that if you give people some interaction and never-ending tasks that you'll get SOME audience hooked. Games that are easier to play in short bursts will always disrupt a more 'regular' play schedule - I'm suffering this right now as I play World of Tanks more often than console games I want to finish up, but this is exclusively because I know I'll have to dedicate 30-60 minutes to make any progress in one compared to 5-20 in the other.

Social games are happening. People like them, including people who previously played other things. I don't see this as an indicator that 'social games are the future'.

Hayden Dawson
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Using their descriptor of "hardcore social gamer" I have to take note of how few such games were ever on consoles. Phantasy Star Online/Universe and FFXI come to mind plus a few XBL experiments like 100 to 1, but then not a lot else. To use any changes in gaming habits away from such a small sample as evidence of a shift alone seems more than a bit of a stretch.

I still think a lot of these short gaming activities were always there -- minesweeper, solitaire, tetris, seek and find -- the market has just gotten better at noticing and tracking them.

Megan Fox
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"Based on these survey results, hardcore social games are increasingly stealing play time from core games."

No. Based on the survey results, hardcore social games are increasingly stealing the play time of those that (in part self-)identify as hardcore social gamers, whatever the heck that means. To come to the above sensational conclusion, you would instead need to first do a study of the entire playerbase of consoles, identifying the gaming habits of each, to determine whether or not the "hardcore social gamer" group is even statistically significant. Then you could establish what percentage of the console gamer group said group comprises. Then, you could estimate the actual numbers of departing game players, and from which console-playing sub-groups those players were departing.

... but of course, that isn't what will be reported.

Anywho, interesting results. It likely indicates that some percentage of console players were a captive casual audience, for whom console games were just the closest viable option. Given a free/cheaper option, they depart. I'd suspect that these players are the same group that tends to purchase very few games, often only the latest of the football games + one or two of the top titles that year, that treat the system more as a casual/social device for occasional use or multiplayer with friends.

For that group, Freemium / social gaming aimed at core audiences makes a heck of a lot more sense than paying $400 + $60x(whatever) just to be able to play with your friends occasionally. For the core group that plays games beyond those reasons, there isn't the same attraction. Hence, contraction of the market without destruction of the market.

Bart Stewart
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To know how meaningful these results are, don't we need to know what percentage of all social gamers are considered to be "hardcore social gamers?"

That number may be increasing, which would be interesting. But if hardcore social gamers are only a small fraction of the total today, than these findings are less important today than they may appear to be.

Kelly Kleider
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I was hoping somewhere they would talk about hardcore casual gamers, which translates to boxers rather than pajamas.

Lalleve Julien
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I think we should conduct a study on "Hardcore Boxer-Pajama Social Players". It looks like we could have it published on Gamasutra.

Cori Myers
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This is always something we've argued at Gameinatrix. Hardcore is not what you play but your love of what you play.

There are hardcore social gamers that play Cafe World like nobody's business. They will even buy the game cards in the store.

Playing only FPSes doesn't make you hardcore unless it's in your genre.

Cody Scott
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when you say social gamers do you mean those who play COD with other friends or do you mean, Farmville.....because if its the first definition i will call BS, and if its the second id say they were never really there.