While online social gaming has become a major moneymaker and usage continues grow, the rate of growth is slowing considerably, according to a new national consumer study by Frank N. Magid Associates conducted in late March 2012.
The survey found that 38% social network users, up only slightly from 36% in 2011, say they regularly play games on social networks and that usage actually decreased in the primary demographic for social gaming, females aged 12-44. About 43% of users aged 12-17 reported playing on a weekly basis, down from 54% in 2011, and about 36% of users aged 25-44 played each week, a drop from 40% in 2011.
The research, which was conducted as part of the Magid Media Futures 2012 study, found substantial increases in older age groups playing social games online, including males age 45-54 (up 15% from 2011) and 55-64 (up 9% from 2011), and females 45-54 (up 9% from 2011) and 55-64 (up 10% from 2011).
The trends are important for TV programmers who have launched social games tied to programs or their brands.
The Magid study also reports that consumers playing social network games say they will decrease the amount of money they spend on such games over the next 12 months, with 34% saying they will play to spend less versus 22% who plan to spend more. Among social network gamers who spend money on these games, the average spending is projected to drop from $78 last year to $51 over the next 12 months.
The study also found an increased appetite for downloadable content on gaming consoles and increased connectivity for those consoles, which have become an increasingly important outlet for video streaming and movie and TV content.
More than two-thirds of Xbox and PlayStation gamers in the U.S. go online multiple times a week using their console and non-gaming activities now account for about a third of all time spent online on a connected console among those gamers, Magid reported.
Additionally, consumers clearly want more cross-platform connectivity, with more than half of Xbox and PS3 owners wanting access to their game networks via their mobile phones.