Today the IGEA and Bond University released its annual Digital Australia report, which takes an in-depth look into what we're playing, who's playing and why we're playing. It's a comprehensive survey into our gaming habits and every year we seem to find out something new and interesting.
This year, for me, it's all about the dramatic growth of PC gaming.
Consider this: according to the survey in 2013 only 53% of people reported using their PC to play video games. In 2015? 83% of people reported using their PCs for video games. That is a dramatic, dramatic increase. Console gaming on the other hand is completely static: 63% were using consoles to play in 2013 and 63% were using consoles in 2015. Tablets and mobiles saw growth — but you'd expect to see that. Only 'handheld' gaming was on the decline, from 22% to 15%.
Here's what the report said with regards to PC gaming:
PCs have undergone a resurgence for game play over the past two years in response to the growth of new content delivered online. Nevertheless, mobile devices such as phones and tablets have increased their presence for games over the same period. Moreover, despite the competition for player attention, consoles have remained as popular as two years ago while only dedicated game handhelds have declined in use.
But I think there might be more to it than that. I see it as a combination of a number of things. The growth of Steam as a service has been a big deal: lower prices, lower barriers to entry. I think this has had an impact. I've never been much of a 'PC gamer' but I'm using Steam far more often than I used — mostly because there's a broader choice of experiences on the services. Unique games, niche games.
The growth of games like League of Legends, Dota and World of Tanks has to be part of the shift. These games are huge and they're bringing in a different type of audience.
Whatever the reason, it's an interesting shift.
The major focus of the study seems to be on how older people are using games. The tagline for this year is 'video games mature for education, health and ageing'. One of my favourite statistics: more and more women play video games the older they get. There's an upward trend as women move into their 70s and 80s — both in casual and what the survey calls 'in-depth' play. I think that's fantastic.
Another cool statistic: 50% of Australians have watched games being played online, either livestreams or video game walkthroughs. Yep, the Let's Play thing is here to stay.
You can check out the full report here.