ESAC study offers insights into Canadians’ gaming habits during the pandemic

This article was originally published by SQUAD on Nov. 19, 2020.

The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) has released a new study that shows data on adult and teen gamers in Canada. Every two years, ESAC conducts a report to show new trends from consumers in the games industry.

The Real Canadian Gamer – Essential Facts 2020, a study conducted by The NPD Group, shows that there are a total of 23 million Canadians who consider themselves gamers. Of that number, 58% of adults and 80% of teens in Canada are playing more games as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 65% of adults and 78% of teens found that gaming made them feel better during stay-at-home procedures. Video games appear to have made a positive impact on the mental health of players throughout the year.

President and CEO of ESAC Jayson Hilchie touched on this matter:

“COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Canadians are finding ways to stay connected and engage their minds in positive ways; they are looking for joy and entertainment in what can only be characterized as one of the most difficult times in modern human history. We have found that Canadian gamers recognize the power of play and they are engaging more and more in the immersive and connected experiences that our industry creates.”

Call of Duty is among the top three games played by male adult gamers.

The average age of adult gamers in Canada has been reported to be 38. There is an equal 50/50 split between male and female adult players. This was the same ratio reported during 2018’s study. While not surprising,   the study from ESAC shows a continuous rise in purchases of digital games.

Here is the study’s breakdown of which Canadian demographics play which genres of games:

  • Puzzle and Word Games: 37% of adults, 24% of kids and teens.
  • Action and Adventure Games: 24% of adults, 33% of kids and teens.
  • Strategy & RPGs: 23% of adults, 15% of kids and teens.
  • FPS and team-based Games: 23% of adults, 21% of kids and teens.
  • Sports Games: 18% of adults, 17% of kids and teens.
  • MMORPGs: 11% of adults, 18% of kids and teens.
  • Racing and Flight Games: 11% of adults, 18% of kids and teens.
  • Fighting Games: 11% of adults, 12% of kids and teens.
  • Social Games: 11% of adults, 15% of kids and teens play social games.

Study participants in most provinces across Canada averaged eight to nine hours of playtime each week. Saskatchewanites were discovered to play the most, with 10 hours of weekly playtime on average. However, the study did not include territories due to population size.

Elaine Gusella was among the Canadian participants highlighted by ESAC.

On the topic of esports, 35% of adults and 29% of kids have engaged in esports in some capacity in the past year. 26% of adult gamers have watched an esports tournament online. Additionally, only 20% of teen gamers have watched a tournament online.

When looking at game streaming, 40% of Canadian gamers have engaged in streaming. 15% of adults have engaged in streaming as a player. That number is shadowed by 22% of kids and teens who have engaged as a player.

Finally, when looking at the trends of where Canadians game the most, 94% of Canadian adult gamers reportedly own and use mobile devices to play. In terms of PC and console, 88% of adult gamers play on PC while only 56% use console. The number of console owners has dropped 4% since the 2018 study. However, given that the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have recently launched, we may see an influx in the 2022 study.

The Real Canadian Gamers study from ESAC concludes by noting that the pandemic has not caused an influx of new  players. However, existing players have been shown to play more and see the mental health benefits of playing solo and with friends and family.