I have a theory. My theory is that iPhone and iPod Touch app developers, especially in certain genres, have no idea who their audience really is. So many games I have played recently have seemingly been made for someone much younger than I am and I’m only 27. My main issue has been that the stories don’t make any sense; they leave the player with no emotional attachment to the characters, they are slim to begin with and are generally very bad. This is the same whether you look at an RPG (Inotia 2 review coming shortly) or a FPS like NOVA or Modern Combat: Sandstorm. It really bothers me that iPhone and iPod Touch developers feel their target market are the same high school kids that are playing console games. After thinking about the age of the people I personally know who own an iPhone or iPod Touch, I believe these developers are trying to appeal to the wrong demographic, a much younger demographic. In fact, after doing some research, I know they are.
Fortunately there was already a report by a company named AdMob which showed some age demographics of the average iPhone and iPod Touch owner. This information would help get me part of the way towards an answer. It would assist me in figuring out if iPhone and iPod Touch users are just high school kids and young adults that play games that have bad storylines like Halo, or if instead my hypothesis was correct, the users belong to an older demographic that would prefer to play a game like Deus Ex or Dragons Age: Origins, with a rich storyline and setting. Before reading the demographics from AdMob, I was sure that nearly every iPhone owner would be older than 18 and that though the iPod Touch demographic would skew more towards younger people, the 18+ demgraophic would remain a large proportion of its users.
After going through Admob’s numbers I felt somewhat validated. 94% of iPhone owners are over the age of 18 and an astounding 74% of them are over the age of 25. On the other hand, the iPod Touch user base is nearly HALF (47%) composed of 13-17 year olds. Only 31% of its users are over the age of 25. I was taken aback by how many younger people have an iPod Touch. After thinking about it, I realized maybe I was wrong. “Maybe”, I thought, “there is a good reason for so many developers creating games for a younger demographic.” Before giving up, I went back to Google to continue my research. I needed to find out how many iPhones are sold compared to iPod Touch devices.
In March of 2009 (the most recent comparison I could find) the number of iPhones sold stood at 17 million while the number of iPod Touch units sold was around 13 million. That means that of the 30 million iPod Touch and iPhone units sold, a bit more than 7 million were purchased by/for 13-17 year olds. Out of all of the units sold, 16.6 million have been sold to people over the age of 25. Obviously, not all of these people are gamers but a large portion of the public now games. In fact, one recent report suggests that 53% of all adults play video games of some kind. Since there isn’t a good report that shows how many users buy games on the App Store, I will improvise a bit. Since iPhone and iPod Touch users are usually more technological inclined, I think 60% of them playing games on their device is a fairly reasonable guesstimate. Using 60% as a basis, we can extrapolate that of those 16.6 million adults ages 25+ that use an iPhone or iPod Touch, 9.6 million play games. Finally we have a hard number.
So if nearly 10 million people age 25-65 playing iPhone and iPod Touch games, when are games going to arrive for that demographic? Just because we are older (I am part of this group), doesn’t mean we don’t want to play a FPS or a role playing game. By creating games that have a more robust storyline, better character development, etc; a developer could meet a target demographic of 25-65 year olds that isn’t being reached by the games currently in the App Store. And who wouldn’t want to reach that demographic? After all, the people in this demographic are wealthier and therefore have more disposable income. Personally, I’d gladly pay 10-15 dollars for a game on the iPhone that when I beat it, I feel something other than relief. I want to win a game and feel like I want to talk with someone about the ending. I want a story where I feel some kind of emotion. I want a story that draws me in. I want it on my iPhone. Who’s with me?