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World of Warcraft, Hearthstone could dominate retirement home gaming

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

A new study published by SuperData Research breaks down the demographics of gaming in several interesting ways. Their analysis says that MMOs will be a growing sector among gamers as they age.

SuperData's new findings generally confirm many long-held (and marketer driven) stereotypes about gender and games. For instance, women lead the mobile space with 57.8 percent of the market. Meanwhile, men tend to play more on the console with 63 percent of the market there.

Interestingly enough, women seem to prefer RPGs with 53.6 percent of the market. Men would rather play FPS and MMO games and are responsible for a whopping 66 percent of the market in those categories. Equality reigns on the PC, where the market is evenly split between men and women.


But one portion of SuperData's study, when combined with their previous MMO market report, tells a surprising story.

"Players between 18 and 30 account for 50 percent of the US MMO audience," SuperData writes. "These players represent the largest age group, many of which started playing MMOs as children, during the segment's early years, and have continued into their adulthood. This generation is expected to expand the older markets as they age since they are the first generation to have grown up with MMOs."

SuperData has a broad classification when it comes to MMOs, and includes games like Dota alongside Warface, Lord of the Rings Online and Hearthstone. But their extrapolation of the data makes sense; gamers that grew up in a generation of online-connected gaming experiences are the most likely to play them as they get older. Moreover, as their reflexes begin to fade their performance in twitch-based shooters like Call of Duty will decline, making something like World of Tanks a more compelling alternative.

Developers and publishers playing the long game should take note. Today's gamers are going to have the longest life expectancy of any humans in the history of the world, and our gaming choices will continue with us as we age. It sounds like there may be quite the market for older, online gamers as that demographic continues its hobby.