Nielsen’s report on the gaming industry has yielded some interesting results in relation to the habits of gamers and potential implications for the commercial world. The recently released ‘Nielsen Gaming 360 Degree Global Report,’ shows that gaming now accounts for 10% of leisure time for people in the industrialised world. In fact, in an astounding figure, just under 50% of the population in these countries refers to themselves as ‘gamers.’

Nielsen’s research was conducted through an online survey in Q1 2016, with completed surveys of over 10,000 people across seven countries and an equal male-female split, the findings can be seen as robust and meaningful.

The report found that while gaming is undoubtedly a global phenomenon, that different countries and cultures have marked preferences and what they play and how they play it. For example, in Latin America, console gaming remains the preference, whereas in China, mobile is the dominant force by a substantial margin. Interestingly, the US and Europe both have an almost 50% split between console and mobile gaming. These preferences are key not only for developers and publishers, but also business people looking to tap into what is an enormous – and often underestimated – market for the commercial sector. The opportunity to access a highly engaged consumer at a meaningful level is one that many organisations are not taking lightly, and are investing heavily in – often relegating more traditional initiatives as a result.

There were also some interesting commonalities, with the report showing that a common theme is bringing one’s circle of friends and family into the gaming experience. “Not only have the game boys grown up, but there’ve enticed their friends and family to join in as well. The new gaming experience is very inclusive with experiences across demographics,” Nielsen says. Important in this, is the way the gaming industry as a whole has shifted its priorities, Nielsen cited Lara Croft as a prime example – exchanging her elitist, sexy, former image for a more smart, scrappy persona – and thusly becoming a meaningful role model for young women. This of course is necessary, due to a shift in the very nature of gaming as parents are often not limiting game time for the children anymore, but are playing themselves. Developers now need to consider their responsibilities, if not on a moral level, on a commercial one as those who are often controlling the purse strings for new entrants to the market are often active in the market themselves.

The male-female split is tightening also, although still slightly skewed to males, the exponential increase in female gamers should be a surprise to nobody. Country preferences however, do make for interesting reading, with role-playing games the preference in China, racing games being preferred in the United States and fighting games being most successful in Latin America.

Unsurprisingly, free games are far more popular than their paid counterparts, however Nelson refers to an interesting specificity around payment preferences in each country. “For example, on mobile platforms, gamers in China and Latin American markets have the heaviest preference for free titles, while those in Germany have a strong preference to paid games.” The report suggests marketers be sensitive to territorial preferences in order to ensure the best results. In addition of course, this presents enormous opportunity for products with a global footprint, and prioritising countries based on specific preferential demographics.

Gaming has moved physically. From the bedroom, to the living room, and now outside and into almost every facet of our daily lives. If there’s one core lesson from this report, it’s that the business community has an opportunity to embrace this all intrusive platform in order to connect, not just with a new generation of gamers, but now a far more educated older demographic.