Google Attempts To Understand The Modern Gamer


Share this Post

Google has been getting more and more into gaming recently. The company has been pushing to get full games on Chrome, and creating HTML5 tools for game developers. The search giant has proven that it's not all about Web gaming as they also talk about the traditional games industry in a roundtable video series, and a recently published research study.

The study, "Understanding the Modern Gamer," was the subject of an AdWords Agency post yesterday. The company studied mountains of search data related to gaming to find out how gamers are approaching search in today's age of instantaneous information. Some of the results are to be expected, but a lot of it is surprising.

First up, Google found that gamers are now searching for titles 20 percent more on desktops and 168 percent more on mobile. They're also searching for titles before the launch of a game with 40 percent of searches taking place in the pre-launch phase. Google points out that gamers are most interested in trailers, game art, and demos.

Here's the breakdown of search traffic on desktops related to games. Notice the massive spike in search during the launch month:

Google Research Paper Gamers

Here's the same search breakdown, but on mobile. It shows an increasingly important emphasis on mobile that game publishers can exploit:

Google Research Paper Gamers

Moving into post launch, a major search trend is gamers looking for tips and tricks. They found that one out of four gamers look to mobile devices for tips while playing a game on the big screen. I wonder if any of these are PC gamers who have yet to master the power of the alt+tab or in-game browser supplied by Steam.

By far, the most interesting finding is that Google can predict physical sales of products with search. They found a correlation that said 84 percent of game sales were predicted by ad clicks in a 10 month period. In an even more precise finding, it was found that 250,000 ad clicks in 10 months means that a game will sell between 2 and 4 million units.

Now gamers are wondering: what does this mean for me? Google sums it up quite nicely:

Digital tools, such as search, offer gamers the unique ability to directly reach out to publishers and retailers. Publishers and retailers, in turn, have a tremendous opportunity to drive even stronger results by reaching back to gamers. Retailers can maximize game sales, from pre-orders to DLC, by delivering key content to gamers at the right moments across multiple devices. The publisher of the future can successfully grow their brands by controlling and facilitating meaningful, ongoing conversations with their fans from announce to launch, and beyond.

This obviously isn't new for some publishers, but it could push more conservative publishers to start reaching out to their fans more. A lot of good titles have been sent to die because the publisher didn't reach out to the gamers. A banner ad on IGN isn't going to lead to sales. Using search data to facilitate meaningful discussion may just return better results.

Here's the full study for your enjoyment. It's fascinating and definitely worth the read: