This article was contributed by Matthew Carrico, Editorial Intern.
The spectrum of video games is quite diverse in today’s climate. With many genres ranging from fighting games, RPGs, racing, first-person shooters (FPS), massively multiplayer online games (MMO), mobile gaming, etc, there is no end to what appeals to the instinct of gamers. Gamers, themselves, are not all one and the same. There are different types of gamers that make up the consumer database of the industry.
Recently, esports data company Newzoo conducted a survey showcasing 9 different gamer archetypes and to see what respondents would classify themselves as. According to an article by Esportz Network, the point of understanding the gamer persona was in direct connection to market research. In other words, they were trying to see why people were buying video games and for what reasons. The article names the 9 personas as: Ultimate Gamers, All-Round Enthusiasts, Time Fillers, Bargain Buyers, Community Gamers, Hardware Enthusiasts, Popcorn Gamers, Backseat Viewers, and Lapsed Gamers. This article looks to take an in-depth look at each persona and see if this is really what encompasses a gamer’s personality. It is also worth noting that there was a tenth choice where people chose not to assign themselves as a persona. The nature of this choice makes it difficult to classify whether these are people who do not consider themselves gamers or are gamers who feel none of the categories represent them.
The first archetype we will look at is “The Ultimate Gamer.” These types of gamers are described as people who live and breathe for everything that the video games industry has to offer. This includes news, social media, podcasts, tutorials, console releases, watching gaming videos, mobile gaming, etc. If it has something to do with video games, these are the people who would be all over it. In terms of the ranking in the survey, this category ranked smack dab in the middle with 7.3% of the votes or 5th place. This goes to show that gaming is becoming more and more popular and a lot of people can become excited by anything the industry has to offer.
The next category list is “The All-Round Enthusiast.” These are also people who are described as also being excited about all forms of gaming from playing to watching and everything in between. The major difference between this category and Ultimate Gamers is that All-Round Enthusiasts enjoy the industry to a much lesser degree than the former. Despite the similarities, this category ranked second-last or 8th place in the polls with 5.6% of the votes. Both categories are so similar that they could just be described as different tiers instead of their own unique category when it comes to describing the personality of gamers.
Next are “The Time Fillers.” Time Fillers are described as more casual gamers who only game when they have free time. This is because they are often preoccupied with other obligations such as school, work, or family life. Time Fillers also tend to play mobile games more. This is the category that ranked 1st place in the survey with 18.7% of the votes which shows just how many people do play games but spend their time on other things as well. It makes sense as these are the people who make the mobile gaming industry what it is today.
Following that, we have “The Bargain Buyers.” These are people who would rather play games that are either free-to-play or at a major discount. It is possible to play games without paying a large amount of money which seems to be the major philosophy with this archetype. Many people are not willing to pay too much unless it makes it into their price range. Therefore, people would keep a close eye on various deals that are showcased on platforms such as Steam, the PS Store, and the Nintendo Eshop. In terms of the polls, Bargain Buyers ranked 2nd place with 14.4% of the votes. This shows that people are more willing to buy video games if the price for them is more feasible. This is especially true as the average price for AAA games on consoles is reaching the neighborhood of $70 which is almost double what it was a decade ago.
Next up, we have “The Community Gamers.” This category describes gamers who are all about being socially active in the gaming community. They are known to participate in community discussions, podcasts, forums, news, and videos as well as playing. Platforms such as Discord are often riddled with discussion on various topics of the industry from arguments to general comments about even the most trivial piece of video game news. Despite being the most socially active, these types of gamers ranked 6th place in the polls, or 7.1% which is not too far from Ultimate Gamers. This goes to show that not all gamers are socially active and can prefer to keep to themselves when it comes to how they play.
“The Hardware Enthusiast” is the next category. These gamers are described as looking for the best possible gaming experience. They tend to keep a close eye on various hardware news. Sometimes people can be dissatisfied with what the major gaming companies churn out. In this sense, Hardware Enthusiasts look to alleviate the situation by taking it into their own hands. Through the use of tech such as mods, emulations, and ROM hacking, they look to turn the gaming experience into something more enjoyable, sometimes at the behest of the gaming companies. These particular gamers ranked at the lower end of the polls with 7% of the votes or 7th place. This shows that not all gamers are tech savvy but those who are looking to bring their own spin in the gaming industry.
Next, we have “The Popcorn Gamers.” These are people who prefer to watch video games play out rather than playing themselves even if they have little experience playing. There is nothing wrong with watching something you like, gaming included. Some people just do not feel the need to pick up a controller or download a mobile game and would just search for something interesting to watch on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Audiences who enjoy watching esports can easily fit into this category even if they are only there for the sporting nature of the tournaments. This category ranked 4th place in the survey with 10.4% of the votes. Gaming can still be enjoyed by those who would rather watch from afar than be in front of the action.
After that, we move on to “The Backseat Viewers.” These are people who used to game back when they were younger but not so much anymore. On occasion, the old spark for gaming would reignite by doing things such as watching esports or videos. A lot of the older generation can fit into this category. The key element for these types of gamers seems to be nostalgia as they occasionally tune in to catch up with what they are missing but can still be drawn back in by what is present. This is the category that placed very last or 9th in the polls with a mere 3.4% of the votes. This shows that many gamers are still active in the community no matter the generation gap.
The final category in the survey is known as “The Lapsed Gamers.” These are ex-gamers who used to play a lot but have since moved on due to other priorities or interests. There are plenty of people who lose interest in something over the course of time. It is just human nature to seek new experiences when they find something that no longer interests them. Other interests/priorities can even change the mindset of these people that interest in something they used to do fades away. This category ranked 3rd place with 13.9% of the votes. It can be expected for some people to lose interest in video games and move on with other things that could draw out a bigger spark.
When it comes to the personas defined in the survey, it is obvious that there is some overlap between categories in terms of the descriptions. Examples would be the similarities between Ultimate Gamers and All-Round Enthusiasts, similarities between Lapsed and Popcorn Gamers in terms of not playing, and Bargain Buyers, Hardware Enthusiasts, and Community Gamers being socially active when it comes to news in the tech/gaming community. In short, it does not seem to encompass the entire spectrum of why people play or do not play games. There can also be other categories like Competitive Gamers, Mobile-only Gamers, and Console-only Gamers just to name some examples. It is understandable that this survey was done as a marketing tool, but it just goes to show that surveys are not always the most effective way to conduct market research.
The spectrum of what makes a gamer is far and diverse. There are a variety of different factors to consider when determining your ideal gamer persona. This includes whether or not you are interested in video games, what is your favorite genre, how do you play (casual, hardcore, and competitive as examples), what platform/medium do you prefer, are you willing to spend the money on, and what about games truly interests you. There are just a few potential factors that go into what best describes you as a gamer. How would you describe your ideal gamer persona?