Momentive study: teens flock to immersive worlds

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Momentive study: teens flock to immersive worlds

Teen gamers choose Roblox as their favorite “game,” and show interest in VR and the metaverse.

Zoe Padgett

October 21, 2022 | 5 min read

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Key findings:

  • Most teens have overall positive views of video games, with 87% of boys and 78% of girls agreeing that video games are generally safe for teens
  • Roblox and other game creation systems rival action games as the favorite genre for teens (20% vs. 16%); when asked about their favorite game, Roblox was the name with the most mentions, and 60% of teen gamers play Roblox or similar games at least one hour per week
  • Half (52%) of U.S. teens have played a game in virtual reality and 1 in 3 (34%) own a virtual reality or augmented reality device, and 66% of those who own a VR device use it more than 1 hour per week
  • More than half of teens are interested in the metaverse, primarily for social activities like playing games (61%), socializing (49%), and watching movies or concerts (43%)

Teens see video games as a way to connect, feel games are safe

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For teens, gaming isn’t controversial. The vast majority of teens have positive views of video games, though boys are more optimistic than girls. Boys are more likely to agree that video games are ‘a good way to connect with others’ (90% vs. 85% of girls), that video games are ‘generally safe for teens’ (87% vs. 78% of girls), and that video games ‘teach important skills like teamwork or problem solving’ (85% vs. 77% of girls). When it comes to the negative impact of video games, boys and girls are on the same page; one-third agree that video games are ‘a waste of time’ (35% of boys and 32% of girls) and about a quarter agree that video games are ‘harmful to the people who play them’ (26% of boys and 29% of girls).

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Almost all teens (94%) play video games at least occasionally, whether on their phones, computers, or a console. Only 5% say they ‘never’ play video games, and 47% say they play almost every day; boys are more likely to play every day than girls (55% vs. 41%). Among those who at least occasionally play video games, 1 in 5 (20%) play for ten hours or more per week, while 19% play less than 1 hour a week, 31% play 1-3 hours, 16% play 4-6 hours, and 14% play 7-9 hours.

Although the majority of teens say video games are safe, many gamers see or experience bullying while gaming. Only 21% say they ‘never’ see or experience bullying, while 25% see it ‘rarely,’ 31% see it ‘sometimes,’ 15% see it ‘frequently,’ and 7% ‘always’ see or experience bullying while playing video games.

Smartphones are the top gaming device used by teens

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Smartphones may not be the traditional device associated with gaming, but 73% of teens who game play games on their smartphones, and girls (83%) are more likely to play on smartphones than boys (66%). Half (50%) play on a console, and 39% play on a desktop or laptop computer. Both consoles and computers are more popular with boys than girls (65% vs. 32% for consoles, 43% vs. 35% for computers). Less popular devices include tablets (20%) and VR headsets (16%). Among teens who play on consoles, the Playstation 4 (49%) and Xbox One (46%) are the top choices, with the Nintendo Switch (31%) taking third place. Steam Deck, a new handheld console similar to the Switch released in early 2022, is used by 6% of teens who play on consoles.

Roblox outperforms traditional video games as teens’ favorite

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Roblox and other interactive, online, world-building games are becoming extremely popular with teen gamers. 20% of teens report ‘game creation systems’ like Roblox or Manticore as their favorite genre, followed by action games like Halo or Mortal Kombat (16%). Sports games like FIFA or Madden NFL take third place with 15%, followed by simulation games (The Sims, Animal Crossing; 12%) and action-adventure (Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil; 11%). When asked to name their favorite game, Roblox gets the most mentions, followed by Minecraft, then Call of Duty, and 60% of teen gamers report playing Roblox or similar games at least 1 hour per week.

How do teen gamers find out about all these new games and consoles? They look to social media (66%), ads on TV or YouTube (45%), and friends or family (43%). One-third (30%) find out from streamers they follow, and a smaller number (21%) look to online news sources or blogs, like Polygon or Game Critics. Overall, more than two-thirds (69%) of teens follow game streamers on Twitch, YouTube, or other channels.

Teens are unlikely to spend money on microtransactions

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Teen gamers aren’t frequently spending money on in-game purchases or microtransactions. Only 7% spend money on microtransactions once a week or more, with another 23% making purchases once a month or more. Another 40% make these purchases less than once a month, and 29% never spend on microtransactions. Teens may be conscious of the cost of microtransactions as 35% report paying for new games with their own money from working at a job. Teens are also interested in collecting NFTs in their games, with 34% somewhat or very interested. Where are teens spending money? Subscription or streaming services; 43% of teen gamers subscribe to a game subscription or game streaming service.

VR and the metaverse are more popular among teens

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Teens are embracing virtual reality; one-third (32%) say virtual reality is the future of society and the internet. Half (52%) of U.S. teens have played a game in virtual reality, and one-third (34%) own a virtual reality or augmented reality device. Among those who own a VR or AR device, 66%% use it at least 1 hour per week.

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Compared with our September study of adults, teens are more familiar with the metaverse (59% vs. 40% of adults) and far more interested in participating (54% vs. 25% of adults). Teens are most interested in using the metaverse for playing games (61%), socializing with others (49%), and watching movies or concerts (43%). Fewer are interested in the metaverse for routine tasks like exercising (28%), therapy (26%), or going to school (25%).

Teen content creators mainly do it for fun, not to make money

About half of teens have created content on Tiktok (56%), Instagram/Reels (50%), Snapchat (49%), or Youtube (42%). Girls are more likely to create on TikTok (62% vs. 50% of boys) and Snapchat (59% vs. 39% of boys), while boys favor YouTube (46% vs. 36% of girls). Most teens are not monetizing their content, but rather creating just for fun (75%), to connect with friends (40%), or to express their creativity (34%). Only 18% create to make money, and 10% create to educate others about important topics.

Read more about our polling methodology here

Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below:

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