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Visions of Gaming Consoles Are Dancing in Kids’ (and Adults’) Heads This Holiday

2 minute read | November 2014

Just a few years ago, iPads and iPods topped kids’ holiday wish lists. This year, however, kids—and adults—are thinking bigger. Excitement for this year’s most coveted video games is driving desire for the next generation gaming systems. According to a Nielsen Games study, both kids and teens express very strong interest in owning at least one video game platform in the next six months (86% and 70%, respectively). And 42% of adults are interested in joining this gaming trend!

Video gaming is, not surprisingly, highest among children and teens. Ninety percent of kids aged 6-12 say they play video games on any console or device while 88% of teens 13-17 say they game. But adults aren’t far behind; 62% of those 18 and older say they game on any type of device. So what devices are kids of all ages hoping for this holiday season?

Kids ages 6-12 are equally likely to want a PlayStation 4 (37% of respondents) and Xbox One (37%), with interest in Nintendo’s Wii U close behind (33%). Similarly, 36% of teens are eager for Sony’s PlayStation 4 and 35% want Microsoft’s Xbox One. But just 17% of those aged 13-17 say they are interested in the Wii U system. And the spread between the three systems becomes even larger among American adults over 18 years old: 21% are interested in a PS4, 16% in Xbox One and 12% in Wii U.

Despite adults’ growing interest in gaming, however, many have their eyes on a bigger prize this year—smart TVs. These intelligent displays top the list for older consumers, with 23% of those 18 and up interested in getting one in the next six months. And while smart TVs are the third most popular electronics for teens, 28% of these younger consumers are looking forward to getting smart TVs.

Beyond the latest gaming consoles, kids’ focus is smaller but still gaming-oriented. Chockfull of endless gaming apps, many tech-savvy kids are still itching to get their hands on a tablet this year, with 31% hoping for an iPad and 26% for other tablet brands. Teenagers are also interested in iPads (21%), but more are hoping for either a smartphone or iOS phone (38%).

Interest from consumers of all ages in video game consoles is a good sign for the gaming industry. But the rapid arrival of new devices is changing how these games are being played. The emergence of microconsoles (including Sony PlayStation TV, OUYA, GameStick, etc.) is coinciding with deflated interest for seventh-generation consoles, which are now reaching the end of their life cycles. And in terms of “on-the-go” gaming, interest in handheld gaming platforms continues to decline as more consumers view phones and other mobile devices as viable gaming alternatives.

More insights on consumer electronics, gamers, console dynamics and allocations of time and money within gaming and the broader entertainment category will be featured in the annual Nielsen 360° Gaming Report, available in first-quarter 2015.

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