News Article

Teens Losing Interest In Social Gaming, Turning To Traditional Consoles

Posted by Damien McFerran

Research also shows the growth of digital downloads

Everywhere you look, there seems to be a story about how traditional consoles are under threat from social gaming, and that the console market as we know it is all but doomed.

However, new research from Analyst firm Piper Jaffray reveals that attitudes towards social gaming are changing, with teen gamers giving more of their time to what many would deem to be 'traditional' console titles.

Piper Jaffray canvassed 7,700 high school students across the United States, and found that 17.4 percent had played a game on a social network (such as Facebook). The previous survey - taken in the spring - had the figure pegged at 25.3 percent. This would suggest that teenagers are losing interest in social gaming and are instead choosing to play games on their Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft consoles.

While the news is positive for big-budget creators of console titles - and bodes well for Nintendo, with the Wii U launch on the horizon - the research also suggested that physical retail is on the wane, with 53.3 percent of teen players stating that they would be comfortable downloading a big-budget game directly to their console rather than purchasing it over the counter.

Even so, it would appear that the social gaming bubble is bursting. Are younger players finally realising that web-based games can't offer the same level of complexity and immersion as the latest home console blockbuster? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.


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User Comments (59)



manganimist said:

its nice to hear that kids are looking for higher- quality games. however, this might lead to anti-socialness. im not complaining, tho....



Burning_Spear said:

Social gaming among teens is down by about 33 percent since the spring? I can't trust this data. It could be a product of high schoolers being less into games of all types during summer recess.



Intrepid said:

Just because less kids are playing social networking games does not mean they will pick up a traditional console. They will either play their small app based games on their phone, or find a new activity altogether.



Haxonberik said:

Thats some positive news. At least as a teenager, I know me and my friends got into social gaming massively for a pair of months and then left it altogether two years ago. What a waste of time that was



Robo-goose said:

I try not to be too skeptical of a variety of things, but I have to agree with you here.
I'd love to think that more people were interested in console games (I don't want this industry to die!), but that possibility is definitely out there.
On the other hand, summer for me all ways meant twice as much game time as the school year, and I like to think that I'm not a shudin, lol!



Haxonberik said:

@intrepid Doesnt really matter for me, social gaming is the lowest on the game quality average overall, so theyd better be playing on their phones or not playing games at all.



Burning_Spear said:


It could be cyclical. Maybe high schoolers tend to knock around on Facebook games more when they're busy with school work and shift to console games in the summer, when they have lots of free time. We'd really need to see year-on-year numbers before we declare a trend.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Burning_Spear We also have to factor in the sample size of this survey compared to the last one. Location (distribution across the country) and demographics could be an issue too. The original article doesn't seem to mention any of these things.



Boo_Buster said:

This is why we need to embrace games like "Style Savvy" and Art games and whatnot, even though it's something I don't want to play. Women make up such a big section of "the consumer" that creating games specifically for the "casual girl gamer" is a good idea to help sustain the "hardcore gamers". I'm not saying all girls want to play games like that though, it's just an example. There could be some guy designer or artists out there and that is just fine. Heck, I know a lot of girls who play Super Smash Bros and Metroid, and I love them Haha. My point is that these games on consoles and handhelds offer so much more than some social game that one can find on Facebook or a game in the App store. Case in point: My mother played Farmville, and then I showed her Harvest Moon, and that was the end of Farmville.



Geonjaha said:

But there is no proof that teens are moving onto traditional consoles instead of playing social games. Social games were the craze for a while - maybe it's just starting to calm down. Either way the stories about people giving up traditional gaming for social gaming are just hilariously misinformed.



Auracle said: shallow social network games so that I can interact with people I don't know or play fun, engaging console games with my bros... A difficult decision indeed.



LavaTwilight said:

I love multiplayer games but that's multiplayer with friends and family. Not a thousand or more strangers or "acquaintances". I've never been a fan of this 'social network gaming' since it often involves having an increasingly large amount of befriending strangers in order to play it properly or still spending money on it. No, the death of 'social network gaming' can only be a good thing.



WingedSnagret said:

I used to be a devoted Farmville player, but then it just kept getting more and more complex to the point where I couldn't keep up with everything. Not too long after that, I became a Nintendo loyalist; boy what an eye opener this is looking back now. Back then I thought I was a true gamer, now I see the truth!



Marakuto said:

In 2009 I used to play a bunch of Zynga games which I enjoyed to kill time, until it became boring and people bugged me with notifications about items and request about them too. Farmville is buried and never to be played again now for me.



starcrunch061 said:

How does it follow that because kids aren't playing games on Facebook, they are necessarily playing them on a console? I hope there's more to the study than this seeming non sequitur.



Void said:

Never played any games on Facebook since I have never made an account there.
They could also be playing on PCs still, just less Facebook games.



IAmNotWill said:

Zynga really needs to start producing more than social network games. People are going to get bored of them.



dudey300 said:

Sadly this hasn't stopped any of the stupid Farmville and Bubble Safari notifications when I sign into Facebook!



luminalace said:

While I am not sure about the accuracy of the data, non gamers do lose interest quicker than gamers! Once new consoles are released, the traditional gamers will come out of the woodwork and all will be right in the world again!

Let's hope that some of these social gamers are now more inclined to play console games after their taste of gaming on non traditional outlets!



Neram said:

Finally! I called this a few years back. I'm glad to see it's finally happening, social games have been nothing but a shameless cash grab, and it's good to see people reacting accordingly by not supporting it, even if it has taken awhile. The universe tends to unfold as it should.



Capt_N said:

I dislike what I tried of "social gaming", so I didn't continue. I should point out, this all happened in the first year on facebook(2010), & that I was/still am a traditional gamer from when I was little, in the late 80's.



Kyloctopus said:

I absolutely hate social gaming, and I'm glad Zynga is feeling the pain.
I think the reason Social gaming has been going down, is because Facebook is going down. One day Facebook will lose it's throne for Social Media and some other site will take it's place. Whether it is Twitter, Tumblr or MiiVerse. (However I truly doubt it will be MiiVerse) The Teens will have their face planted to it.



rayword45 said:

Thank god, I freakin hate FarmVille, CityVille, FishVille, etc;

So what if they're moving to smartphone gaming? Other then Angry Birds, I'd say that's a hell of a lot better then any game Zynga pulls out of its corporate ass.



rayword45 said:

No, it won't be MiiVerse lol.

Twitter is doing well, Tumblr even better.

And it'll be a couple more years before Facebook will go down and we move on to something else, hopefully people will finally catch onto Google+. Now if only Rovio went under.



Hokori said:

@rayword45 Agreed Rovio should go under... They talk smack about physical carts for $50 and then sell there $3 game for 10X as much in physical form



Bankai said:

Damien, can you please clarify where the report specifically states that kids are playing fewer social games because they are playing consoles instead? Right now it reads like you made that association up and as everyone should know, that is taking two and two and getting seven.



Hokori said:

@ChunkyDroid Hey I've always made sense oh never mind I know who your talking about... Yes I have a lot of social gaming acquaintances... I feel sad to be apart of the generation I am...



coolvw93 said:

i have played a few social games but none have really kept me coming back. i may play them for a week or two and then maybe checked on it every couple of months. i prefer console gaming anyways. none of the social games i played could ever top my console games that I attempt to play daily.



XCWarrior said:

Shocker, a fad is on its way out. That's the thing with fads, they don't last.

Just a few weeks ago, went on a trip to New York with the cross country team I coach. Over half the bus of 40 brought a DS with them - 5 of us have 3DS - and we played those a ton. I saw maybe 2 cell phone games the entire time.



Sunkern said:

It's nice to see that kids like myself are losing interest in "Ville" games and the like. but it would be nicer if there were a variety of games that are actually fun and have limitless replay value. i don't mean Bejeweled, but of all my years of social networking, I can say that this is a start to expand the community of gaming consoles.



kkslider5552000 said:

Pfft yeah right, teenagers never have different interests so relatively quickly. Next you'll be telling me Facebook has become more popular than Myspace.



Bankai said:

@theblackdragon TBD - I just had another look (I'll happily admit I skimmed it this morning), and I'm still not seeing the direct correlation between Teenagers playing social games less because they were more interested in console gaming.

What I see is the following - Teenagers are playing social games yes. Teenagers are more comfortable with downloading AAA-grade games rather than buying physical copies, and the entire console market is down, but the youth segment remains relatively robust.

There is no information to suggest that teenagers are swapping FarmVille for Call of Duty. That's an inference people are making.

One of the posters above posted the inference I would have been making - that teens are playing Angry Birds and other phone games instead of social games.

Gamasutra is making inferences too, and I'm not happy about that at all. A community website is one thing - an industry publication really shouldn't be drawing connections without hard evidence to conclusively demonstrate the link.



KingDunsparce said:

@Eldir Are you saying you've never played social gaming or just that you've never played a multiplayer game in general?
@HarmoKnight I feel the same way.
Back on topic, I'm fine with social gaming dying. The only social gaming I ever played on was Club Penguin when I was little.



theblackdragon said:

@WhiteKnight: The second paragraph of the original article specifically states "Analyst firm Piper Jaffray recently surveyed some 7,700 high school students across the United States, and found that — despite its claims from earlier this year — teens are still very interested in traditional console games." To me, that kinda heads off any possibility that they were surveying for App Store titles or that the kids could've meant games for their phones or tablets as opposed to consoles. The same article also mentions a report they'd done earlier in the year stating the opposite of what they've found this time around, so that also kinda heads off the possibility of them being mistaken in their reporting.



Bankai said:

@theblackdragon True, but there is still no indication that a drop off in social gaming is causing an uptick in console gaming.

Don't forget - the report also specifically states that the console business is still dropping off itself. This isn't a case of "7 per cent fewer teens play social games, and magically 7 per cent more teens play console games." That would be a clear and direct link. This is "less people playing social games, and the console business with needs remains robust, considering the downturn in other demographics."

I just don't see any hard data that states the 7 per cent or so of students that stopped playing social games have started playing console games. Especially when there is no data whatsoever about teenagers playing phone games.

It may well be that there is the link there, but Gamasutra has not made this clear, and without any access to the report, there's no way to verify the inferences that everyone is making here.



theblackdragon said:

@WhiteKnight: no offense, but if another site of repute publishes an article, then we publish the same news linking back to them, should things turn out to be wrong and they retract their statements we'll be happy to follow suit. If you want to see that report in all its officialness for yourself (since i'd lay money you wouldn't believe someone telling you they'd read it — you won't believe Gamasutra now, anyway!), why not hound Gamasutra for it? They posted the original article, after all.



KAHN said:

facebook games are probably the dumbest games on the web. im glad they're losing their fame.



Grodus said:

Well, less social gaming means smarter people. Zynga, the is 2 things you need to do. 1) Make games besides social ones 2) Stop naming every last one of your game ___ville! Really! Farmville, Cityville, heck, there's even a game called Theville! I'm serious! I'm surprised there's not a game called Villeville!



Bankai said:

@theblackdragon Ok, so I've done a bit of research. That report, produced by Michael Olson on behalf of Piper Jaffrey (an investment bank, for the record, not an "analyst firm") was produced because Piper Jaffrey has downgraded Zynga's share value to "neutral." The basis of this downgrade was based on overwhelming evidence that school kids are playing fewer social games. That's why this report exists - it was a study into Zynga's market potential:

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At no stage does the coverage of the report in the financial press mention console gaming as a reason for this decline. So I went back to the Gamasutra article, and yep, my suspicion was correct - Gamasutra came up with that cause-and-effect based largely on other reports by other research groups, as well as a comparison to an older Piper Jaffray report. There are no hard-and-fast numbers as far as I can tell about console gaming numbers amongst teenagers from this report. At no stage from the research I've just done did the Piper Jaffray report itself state "kids are playing fewer social games because they are playing more console games."

Furthermore, if you look into the analyst himself, Michael Olson does not have any of the console producers under the body of companies he researches - he has some publishers like Activision Blizzard and EA, but not Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony (or even Apple). It is very unlikely that he would be researching the sales figures or interest in console gaming - these guys don't have the time to do research outside of their portfolios:

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None of this stacks up to me - at best (if it was accurate reporting) it is a very poorly written news story by Gamasutra. But, more likely, it is a beat-up.

Not that I particularly blame NintendoLife for this now - Gamasutra has a well-deserved reputation for accurate reporting. But I strongly suspect they got this one very wrong.



theblackdragon said:

@WhiteKnight: I just glanced through your links, and you're right that none of them say anything about console gaming at all. however, none of those are video-game based websites, and they're all focused on that same quote about teen interest in social gaming being 'as low as it's ever been' or whatever. None actually feature the report itself. there's a chance Gamasutra may have access to the actual report which does say these things and that's where they've gotten their information from. Again, you'd be better served hounding them for their source(s) as opposed to Damo here at Nintendo Life.



Bankai said:

@theblackdragon I've emailed them. This is just an academic discussion at this stage.

Apologies to Damo for the criticism at the start of this - if it's wrong it's clearly on Gamasutra, not NintendoLife



Detective_TeeJay said:

I used to play Farmville a lot. Then a slew of other "[Insert lifestyle here]villes" came out, prompting invites from everyone I played with, not to mention stupid items requests every day, and the fact that you can't do any of the interesting stuff without spending money. All these things made me lose interest in Farmville.

Now I don't even use facebook anymore, due to friends and family merging together and all my posts being seen by everyone.



Auracle said:

naah, i was cleaning something else up, and if i'd left your comment standing it wouldn't have made sense anymore. you're good :3 — TBD



Wonder_Ideal said:

I've never been into social gaming. I enjoy a well made console or handheld title that can last for a long time for me.



Henmii said:

"Teens Losing Interest In Social Gaming, Turning To Traditional Consoles"

Eat that, Pachter and all the other "Nintendo must kneel for the almighty Apple" whiners!!!

It also shows that maybe (just maybe) Nintendo was right about their Wii strategy: Making casual/non-gamers games in the hope that someday casual/non-gamers would turn to real games!



scrubbyscum999 said:

I am skeptical of this survey to say the least. Why assume these kids are now getting a traditional console. Not into social gaming but this study just a little to open for me.



OdnetninAges said:

I have friends at school that are excited for Pokemon Black&White 2, New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin's Creed 3 right now, so I know this is happening.



BulbasaurusRex said:

This just says social gaming in down. Who says these kids are playing traditional video games instead? Although I personally consider games (of one form or another) to be the greatest form of entertainment known to mankind, I've accepted that a lot of people don't share that opinion.

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