Research says 'casual' and 'hardcore' no longer accurately describe today's gamers

(Image credit: Flick via Kelly Hunter)

When I applied to join my first online guild in the mid-2000s, my fellow guildmates wanted to know two things: what kind of games I played, and whether I was a casual or a hardcore gamer. Ask me the same question now, and I would have a hard time answering. Things like Twitch, esports, and hardware and peripheral ownership have all changed the games market drastically. Segmenting gamers the same way we did 15 years ago no longer paints an accurate picture according to new research by Newzoo, a global provider of games and esports analytics.

Newzoo has spent the last year developing what it calls its Gamer Segmentation from scratch, a more nuanced look at today's gamers and their habits that "encompass all aspects of consumer engagement with games: playing, viewing, and owning." The company's eight modern 'personas' target groups that traditional segmentation doesn't cover, defines them, and breaks each one down by other statistics like age distribution and living situation.

The Eight Personas:

  • The Ultimate Gamer (13%) — You love nothing more than spending all your money and free time on games.
  • The All-Around Enthusiast (9%) — You live a balanced gaming life in your playing, viewing, and buying habits.
  • The Cloud Gamer (19%) — You're most likely an early adopter of game streaming services and will only spend money on hardware when necessary.
  • The Conventional Player (4%) — You own tons of gaming hardware and would rather spend your time playing games than watching other people play games.
  • The Hardware Enthusiast (9%) — You keep up with all the latest hardware trends and probably have a $5,000 extreme-build rig with RGB lighting everywhere.
  • The Popcorn Gamer (13%) — You don't play games all that much, but you like watching others play.
  • The Backseat Viewer (6%) — You used to game a lot, but you got older and life happened, so you get your kicks from watching esports and people play other games.
  • The Time Filler (27%) — You play games to pass the time, when you have time, and you rarely touch a PC game.

As you can see, the Conventional Player of yesteryear is the least common today, making up only 4 percent of all gamers (median age of 32 years), while the Time Filler is the most common at 27 percent of all gamers (median age of 38 years old). Some other interesting statistics about the two groups: most Time Fillers are between 51-65 years old, and fewer Time Fillers live with children than Conventional Players. Conventional Players listen to slightly less music than the average gamer persona, and the Time Filler travels slightly more than the average gamer persona.

Curious to see where you fall in the modern gaming world? You can take a truncated version of Newzoo's consumer research survey here

As for me, the quiz said I was a (surprise, not really) Hardware Enthusiast. The summary sheet at the end does a good job at describing my persona, and reveals some interesting statistics, too: While the median Hardware Enthusiast age is 30, the mode (most common category) for Hardware Enthusiasts is 10-15 years old, but Hardware Enthusiasts are pretty evenly spread across most ages. They also like watching movies and listening to music as much as the average gamer persona, but like to travel more than the average gamer. I am apparently among 40 percent of women who fall into this category.

Source: Newzoo.
Joanna Nelius
When Joanna's not writing about gaming desktops, cloud gaming, or other hardware-related things, she's doing terrible stuff in The Sims 4, roleplaying as a Malkavian, or playing horror games that would give normal people nightmares. She also likes narrative adventures.