Analyst Pulse: Trends in Toys and Games

New technology often has unintended ‘ripple effects’. Video games are one of the most wide-reaching technologies of the past several decades, proving increasingly popular across continents and across age generations. What is more, the growth of gaming is coinciding with another huge shift in technology: the rise of mobile phones. Euromonitor turned to its global network of analysts to understand how these trends intersect in mobile gaming and to explore their positive, negative and unexpected impacts on gamers, families and the industry itself.

Popular Gaming Trends Across the Globe

Rise of Mobile Phones is Changing the Nature of Gaming

Mobile phones are proliferating across the globe, which means more consumers now carry a mini-entertainment console in their purse or pocket. From Angry Birds to Candy Crush, mobile games are everywhere – and the rise of mobile gaming has many repercussions. Some video game companies are concerned that as more consumers turn to their phones for a quick gaming fix, they will rely less on traditional video game consoles. Indeed, Euromonitor analysts across all regions, and particularly in tech-forward Asia Pacific, believe that mobile games are displacing video games. Moreover, because these games tend to be simple, single-player undertakings, the rise in mobile gaming is believed to be fostering a rise in casual gamers. Again, this trend is especially pronounced in Asia Pacific.

Global Trends in Mobile Gaming

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Survey—Analyst Pulse; October 2013

Note: Showing percent of respondents agreeing that the indicated trend is becoming more common among consumers in their country.

Traditional Video Games Seen as Having both Positive and Negative Impacts on Children

Although mobile gaming has seen a dramatic rise over the past several years, “traditional” video games played on consoles and computers remain popular with consumers. For many, particularly parents, video games have become a learning tool. So much so, in fact, that over half of Euromonitor analysts believe video games are displacing traditional games as educational tools. This does not necessarily mean that puzzles or board games are obsolete, however. In fact, traditional toys remained popular with many consumers buying gifts for children during the 2013 holiday season. Still, with the rise of educational children’s video games, such as Nintendo’s Big Brain Academy, screen-based learning is certainly becoming more common.

But gaming has its downsides too. For years, parents have expressed concern over the violent nature of video games, and Euromonitor analysts say the issue remains heated. Video game violence is an especially hot topic in North America, where three in four analysts believe concerns about the impact of violent or ‘adult’ content are growing. Because these violent video games are typically played on a console, rather than a phone, the rise in mobile gaming could potentially decrease their influence. Consider that in Asia Pacific, where video games are thought to be growing the most obsolete, less than half of analysts report increasing concern over controversial games.

Global Trends in Online and Video Gaming

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Survey—Analyst Pulse; October 2013

Note: Showing percent of respondents agreeing that the indicated trend is becoming more common among consumers in their country.


Increased Technology Availability Could be Leading to Shorter Attention Spans

The expansion of technology-driven games in the lives of global consumers, particularly children, may have unintended consequences for parents and manufacturers. Indeed, some analysts report that children are outgrowing toys and games more quickly than in the past. Could the rise of gaming be resulting in shorter attention spans? Whatever the reason, parents may find themselves pestered toward purchasing new games more rapidly, or they may begin seeking more complicated games that take longer to ‘play out’. Both scenarios present opportunities for toy and game manufacturers.

Conclusion

All innovation comes with positive, negative, and unintended consequences, and gaming is no exception. As consumers increasingly opt for quick, on-the-go doses of games on their phones, rather than drawn-out gaming sessions at home, traditional video games may become passé. Then again, given the continuous popularity of physical toys and games– not to mention the fact that Grand Theft Auto V, a console game, achieved sales of over $US 1 billion in its first three days on the market in September 2013 –there is room for different gaming mediums to coexist. Certainly the overlap between education and gaming remains strong even as video and mobile games evolve. For marketers and manufacturers, the key to staying relevant in this sector is to pay close attention to changing habits, concerns, and demands, especially as consumer attention shifts more and more rapidly.

Introduction to Analyst Pulse Surveys

In 2011, Euromonitor International began designing, executing and analysing its own surveys in order to expand its trusted global research. This is part of a series of articles presenting the results of its Analyst Pulse surveys. In Analyst Pulse surveys, Passport Survey reaches out to Euromonitor’s network of in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world in order to find out more about current consumer attitudes and habits on a wide variety of topics, from economic outlook to daily activities. The Survey team collaborates with Euromonitor industry managers to identify topics and design questions. In October 2013, 202 researchers answered questions about toy and games trends among consumers in their country. These questions were created in partnership with the Toys and Games team.

More on the Sample: Our Global Analyst Network

Analyst Pulse survey results differ from other survey data cited on Passport Survey (eg, findings from the Annual Survey or Global Youth) and should be interpreted with some caution.  Analyst Pulse responses reflect the opinions and habits of several hundred of Euromonitor International’s in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world.  As such, results reflect a great degree of geographic, economic, and cultural diversity among educated consumers.

On the other hand, Euromonitor International’s researchers do not constitute a random sample of consumers in a given country or across the globe, so their responses do not necessarily represent the opinions of a broader population of consumers.  Passport Survey presents their attitudes and behaviours in order to provide starting points for potential further investigations and sparks of tactical insight.