Report: Game industry diversifying

According to latest survey, common labels like "hardcore gamer" and "casual gamer" address less than half the audience.

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As the game industry grows in size, it stands to reason that it's growing in diversity. But where many industry watchers are content to divide gaming audiences into "hardcore" and "casual" groups, Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai believes there are no less than six distinct groups. What's more, he believes that the existing hardcore/casual view of the industry misses out on a huge chunk of the market.

"If game companies insist on chasing the mythical hardcore and casual gamer segments, they will miss out on more than half of the market," Cai said "The market is not black and white anymore, and game marketers need to understand these finer nuances."

Based on a survey of almost 2,000 US online gamers, Cai broke the market up into the following segments:

Power gamers--Only accounting for 11 percent of the gaming audience, they make up 30 percent of the revenue drawn by retail and online games.
Social gamers--This self-explanatory group games for the social interactions with friends.
Leisure gamers--This group mostly sticks to casual games (playing as many as 58 hours a month), but doesn't shy away from challenging titles.
Dormant gamers--These people really enjoy gaming, but can't play often due to other time commitments. When they do find time to play, they prefer complex, challenging titles and playing with friends or family.
Incidental gamers--The incidental crowd plays games if they're bored and can spend more than 20 hours each month with online games.
Occasional gamers--Part of the previously labeled "casual" group, occasional gamers rarely stray beyond the genres of puzzle games, word games, and board games.

Cai said that of these groups, the "traditionally ignored" social, leisure, and dormant gamers made up 53 percent of the online gaming community, and 56 percent of the retail revenue brought in by games. As an example of how this market is underserved at present, Cai said that social and leisure gamers want the social-gaming aspects that power gamers have come to expect, even if the types of games they play are vastly different.

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