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4 Must-Know Stats On Young Consumers & Gaming

How much are Gen Z and Millennials actually gaming—and how much have quarantines impacted their gaming habits? These four stats tell the story…


This week, we told you about the future of marketing in video games, where brands are getting creative to reach young consumers. From products being launched and promoted in Animal Crossing to movie trailers premiering in Fortnite, marketing inside of games is getting increasingly more creative and more common. Gaming is a space that all brands need to understand and pay attention to if they want to reach Gen Z and Millennials. Why is that? They are spending an enormous and increasing amount of time on mobile and video games—and our stats show exactly how devoted to gaming they are:

Almost three in five are playing games on their phones daily.

According to our just-released mobile behavior report, 59% of 13-39-year-olds are playing games on their phones daily. We’ll say it again: the majority of young consumers are playing mobile games every, single day. That’s compared to 48% who reported playing games on their phones daily in 2019—and it’s safe to say that COVID and quarantines have helped to boost the number. Mobile Marketer reports that mobile gaming has jumped 24% as people isolate at home. It is more imperative than ever that brands think about how to reach young consumers through mobile games—especially Gen Z. This younger group is more likely to be gaming on phones, with 65% of 13-19-year-olds reporting playing mobile games daily. But 57% of 20-37-year-olds say the same, and that number has grown from 44% in 2019, so Millennials are increasingly gaming on phones as well. Importantly, young males and young females are almost equally likely to say they are mobile gaming daily, at 58% and 60% respectively—and YPulse has found that young females are far more likely to be playing games on mobile than on console. But don’t discount the importance of consoles…

At least half own a gaming console.

Our 2020 tech and device usage research found that 53% of young consumers owned a video game console—59% of males, and 48% of females. (Yes! Girls game on consoles too.) Gen Z and Millennials are nearly equally likely to own consoles, and they’re using them frequently. At the time the survey was fielded, 54% of console owners reported using it daily, and 27% said they used it weekly. We’d venture a bet that all of these numbers have increased since mid-February—and have the data to support that bet. In late March, 25% of 13-39-year-olds told YPulse they had bought tech for in-home entertainment like a gaming console or smart TV because of Coronavirus—and 16% said they planned to buy it. Half of Gen Z and Millennials said they were playing more video games/mobile games because of Coronavirus. And when we recently asked young people what they had bought to make their homes more comfortable during COVID, gaming equipment and video games were near the top of the ranking. Nintendo Switches sold out at many retailers during that time, and video console sales were reportedly up 65% over the same time in 2019. In other words, over half of young people owned a console before the pandemic, and now there’s little doubt that even more do.

Almost half started playing a new mobile or video game because of quarantines.

Not only did COVID increase the amount of time young people spend gaming, it’s also impacted what games they play, with our most recent media consumption report finding that 46% of 13-39-year-olds have started to play a new mobile or video game because of quarantines. Gen Z is even more likely to have started playing new content during this time, at 55% compared to 41% of Millennials. New games that have been released during this time have flourished as young consumers look for new distractions—just ask Animal Crossing. Nintendo released a new version of their game in late March, and according to The Verge, their profits increased by 427.7% from April to June. They revealed that their year-on-year sales have increased by 108.1%, while their net profit is up 541.3%. The game sold more than 10 million copies this quarter, and they reported that for all of the new Switch consoles purchased and played for the first time this quarter, more than half of them played New Horizons on the first day. Brands should take note: if quarantines intensify again, young people could be on the lookout for a new game to escape in.

Half have spent on video / mobile games in the last month.

Young people are clearly behind the massive earnings boom that so many gaming companies are experiencing during this time: 48% tell us that they have spent on video/mobile games or gaming in the last month. That’s a significant increase from 31% who said they spent on video/mobile games in April of this year—another COVID-related gaming boost. Young males are more likely to be spending on gaming than females, with 63% reporting they have spent on gaming in the last month, compared to 32% of females. One reason is likely that males are far more likely to be paying for a gaming subscription, with 30% saying they currently do, compared to 11% of females. But spending is of course also booming in mobile gaming, In fact, when Pokémon Go reworked their game for indoor play they saw a 67% jump in spending. Our mobile behavior survey found that 51% of young consumers have spent money to download an app, improve their experience in an app, or buy virtual products in an app compared to 44% in 2019—and we know that games are a major part of their app usage.