10/03/2012 10:55 am ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

Let the Games Begin: PwC Observations on Video Content and Gaming Consumption

Today's consumers enjoy having an exciting world of interactive entertainment at their fingertips. From playing games online, to first-person shooter games on their video game console, to becoming heavy users of social games on their tablets and smartphones, gamers now spend more time playing games than streaming movies or television shows to their computer, phone and game consoles.

Gamers are hungry for more: more engaging content, more access and more consistency while using devices to consume video content. Freemium and subscription models are strong and mobile gaming -- while booming -- has its challenges. Gaming consoles are increasingly popular for traditional video content.

From online to mobile and individual to social, the appetite for interactive entertainment among consumers is strong, according to a new PwC U.S. report titled, "The Evolution of Video Gaming and Content Consumption." A survey of more than 600 U.S. participants and follow-up focus groups found that although gamers now spend more time playing games than streaming movies or TV shows to their computer, phone, and game consoles, they're hungry for more.

According to PwC, gamers are showing a keen interest in more engaging content, including nostalgic games. They are also eager for more consistency across platforms and long for the ability to access and save games on multiple devices. But the ongoing success of the gaming industry will be dependent upon whether companies can offer a superior in-game and across-device consumer experience, provide access to a gaming library through a digital or cloud service, market the console as a media hub to offset the high cost to consumers, and raise the perceived value of mobile games as simply a "kill time" activity.

Among the key findings on consumers' evolving sentiment towards video game content and distribution:
  • Focus group respondents said their interest in new games is primarily sparked by word of mouth or recommendations from friends. Other less significant sources included gaming blogs and professional reviews.
  • Engagement by game often relies on the level of involvement, depth of graphics, sophistication of the interface and curiosity in what the next level will be like. Some respondents, especially casual gamers, were resistant to continue to pay for successive levels when they realized the game wouldn't get that much more interactive.
  • Respondents primarily engage in gaming to decompress from their day. While some use gaming as a "mental time out," others use it as a way to connect with their friends.
  • Smartphones are a convenient way to game, especially when consumers are on the go. But gaming on phones is not seen as the best way to enhance "gamification." And mobile games seem to be seen as worth less, since consumers see their purpose as simply a way to "kill time."
  • Survey respondents spend more time playing on their game consoles (nearly four hours a week) than other devices. There is also considerable engagement with gaming activity on PCs at approximately three hours a week and smartphones at slightly less than two hours of usage per week.
  • Gamers, like the general consumer population, multi-task. Across the console player-dominant survey respondents, most people reported spending time on mobile phones as the activity that most frequently occupies their time while gaming.

To learn more about PwC's ongoing consumer research program which gains directional insights on consumer attitudes and behaviors in the rapidly changing media landscape, please visit