The gaming industry is set to lose $3 billion in potential revenue along with more than 30 million customers as Americans who play video games continue to age and become disabled, according to a new white paper co-written by The AbleGamers Foundation and 7-128 Software.
In "Gaming on a Collision Course: Averting significant revenue loss by making games accessible to older Americans," the authors say the topic of accessibility will gain importance within the gaming industry as the typical gamer is now older than ever. In 2008, the average game player age was 35 years old, up from 30 years old in 1995, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Around 25% of the nation's gamers are 50 and older, ESA estimates.
With the graying of the American gamer the most significant industry trend today, video game makers must include accessibility into their products or risk a collision in the next five years that would result in the significant loss of both sales and customers.
"This papers clearly demonstrates that the face of the typical gamer is changing and game manufacturers need to adapt or risk alienating what is eventually going to become a significant customer base," says Eleanor Robinson, COO of 7-128 Software and the paper's co-author. "The good news is that by making video games accessible to gamers with disabilities, which includes older gamers, game manufacturers will unlock a lucrative, paying market of consumers for years to come," she adds.
Robinson, who is also a gamer and in her seventies, will discuss these findings today at Game Accessibility Day, a one-day program sponsored by Games for Health, and hosted by the AbleGamers Foundation, which is being held at the Hyatt Harborside hotel in Boston, Mass, May 25th 2010.
Ralph Baer, known as the father of video games, wrote the white paper's forward. Baer created the first home gaming console and is considered a pioneer in the gaming space. The paper is includes essential facts on gaming and accessibility from Deloitte Internet Research, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and the U.S. Census Bureau, among others. It also includes detailed statistics and demographics related to vision, hearing, mobility and cognitive disabilities in America.
"Many gamers started playing Atari in the '70s and '80s and are now 50 years and older. They may still want to be gamers, but, as they age, they may not be able to because of disability or health conditions. They're essentially being shut out," says Stephanie Walker, a founder of The AbleGamers Foundation and the paper's co-author. "The time for making games accessible is now," she says.