Although video games’ cultural significance is growing and youth are more likely to play video games than watch live TV, the ascent of live streamed video games appears to have hit a snag, according to the latest annual Infinite Dial report [pdf] from Edison Research, in partnership with Wondery and ART19.
Per the report, some 17% of US respondents ages 12 and older said they currently watch live, streamed video games on services such as Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or Mixer. That represents a dip from 20% who said the same last year, which had been a significant rise from the previous year. It may be that the pandemic caused an increase in live streamed video game engagement, which has now abated some alongside lessening fears about the pandemic.
The report indicates that the decrease is entirely attributable to females and youth.
This year 23% of males ages 12+ said they watch live streamed video games, on par with last year’s result. However only 1 in 10 females surveyed reported watching live streamed video games, down from 17% last year and 11% the year prior.
On an age basis it was the youngest bracket that was the one to decline. Whereas last year 38% of 12-34-year-olds surveyed were watching live streamed video games, this year that figure has dropped to 29%. By contrast, engagement with this activity remained steady among those ages 35-54 (16%) and ages 55+ (4%).
It’s worth noting that this survey was fielded among the general population, whereas gamers themselves are likely to be more engaged in this activity. Prior to the pandemic, Nielsen found that 7 in 10 (71%) of Millennial gamers used platforms such as YouTube and Twitch to watch gaming video content and online videos about games.
Returning to the Infinite Dial results, there was less of a dip among those doing the live streaming themselves. Some 9% of respondents reported having ever played a video game and streamed it live on services such as Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live or Mixer. That compares to 10% who had done so last year, and 9% who had done so in 2020.
Male respondents (13%) were again more likely than female respondents (6%) to have live streamed their game playing, with the result for males flat from last year and for females down a percentage point. And while the percentage of 35-54-year-olds having live streamed their video game playing grew by a point (to 7%), among the youngest age bracket of 12-34-year-olds, the proportion having done so fell from 21% to 18%.
Recent research from dentsu indicates that gaming offers a sense of accomplishment to many players, with 73% saying they play to compete with others and have a sense of achievement. Additionally, playing games offers a social element for gamers, with sizable portions saying gaming allows them to be creative and express themselves (50%), belong to a community (40%) and socialize (35%).
About the Data: The results are based on a January survey of 1,502 people in the US ages 12 and older.