New research shows 51% of console gamers play every day – up from 39% in 2019

New data from Hub Entertainment Research shows that gaming consoles play a central role in the entertainment lives of many consumers.

Highlights from Hub’s “Game Consoles 2021: Respawned and Leveled Up” study:

1) Game consoles are occupying more time. A third (36%) of respondents play console games, about the same as in 2019 (33%). But the engagement among those who do play is much higher.

More than half of all console gamers (51%) play every day, up from just 39% two years ago

42% of console gamers who play at least once a week (weekly gamers) say they are playing their console more this year than last, vs. only 32% who said the same thing in 2019

Game sessions are about 20 percent longer: in 2021 weekly console gamers estimate their average session is about 110 minutes, up from about 90 minutes in 2019

2) Ownership of multiple game consoles is up. The share of all 13-74s who play console games is about the same in 2021 (36%) as in 2019 (33%). But the density of ownership is significantly higher. In 2019, only a quarter of console gamers owned both a PlayStation and an Xbox. But in 2021, more than a third (34%) of respondents say they own both.

3) The pandemic drove game purchases online.

39% of weekly console gamers say they buy digital copies of console games at least a few times per month (up from just 25% in 2019)

A similar 38% regularly download DLC or expansion packs for games they already own (up from 22% in 2019)

And half (53%) of console gamers said they spent more on gaming this year than last, vs. slightly more than a third who said the same thing in 2019

4) COVID also made gaming critical to maintaining relationships. In 2021, more respondents mentioned communication or connection with friends as a reason for gaming than in 2019. In fact, almost half of weekly console gamers (45%) have at least one in-game friend that they’ve never met in real life.

5) The impact of in-game advertising has grown along with engagement. 7 in 10 (70%) regular console gamers play titles with branded in-game content (up from 61% in 2019). Among those exposed to in-game advertising,

Almost half (44%) said they prefer in-game advertising to regular commercials

And in game ads are not just tolerable – three quarters (72%) say that branded DLC actually makes the game more fun to play

“Video games represent serious competition for the time and attention of many Americans, and young men in particular,” said David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study. “Offering desired integrations into games, and in some cases unique exposures such as VR, gives marketers a real opportunity to ‘power up’ when they try to reach young consumers.”

“The amount of entertainment content continues to grow, but there are still only 24 hours in a day,” said Jon Giegengack, Founder and Principal at Hub. “Gaming is winning a larger share of that disposable time on the strength of the games themselves. But even more so on the central role gaming has taken in social interaction and communication – habits formed during the pandemic, but that will persist long after.”

Hub’s “Game Consoles 2021: Respawned and Leveled Up” report is a survey of 2,619 US consumers age 13 to 74. Interviews were conducted in September 2021. A free excerpt of the findings is available on Hub’s website. This report is part of Hub’s Entertainment + Technology Tracker syndicated report series.

Hub Entertainment Research measures the influence of technology on the way people find, choose, and consume entertainment content: TV and digital video, movies, gaming, music and social media. Our syndicated studies have tracked the most important trends in entertainment providers, devices, and technologies since 2013.

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