September 2011 data from game developer PopCap Games and Information Solutions Group shows that the US social gaming audience has gotten younger over the past two years. In early 2010, the average age of social gamers was 45, and 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for just 15% of the total audience. By September of this year, the average age had dropped by nearly 4 years, and 30% of social gamers were ages 18 to 29.
Older users make up correspondingly less of the total, though those ages 60 and older have held their share steady at 20%. The gender split of gamers has not changed at all according to PopCap, with women holding steady at 54% of the audience.
This drop in audience age could be a boon for the virtual currency and virtual goods markets associated with social gaming—younger gamers are more likely to spend real cash on such items, PopCap found.
As the audience shifts, it also appears to be becoming more committed. The overall percentage of internet users playing social games for more than 6 hours each week doubled between January 2010 and September 2011.
And among social gamers, there was a shift away from those playing for 1 hour per week or less and toward greater amounts of weekly game time.