Why do current-gen PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and PC gamers game?
November 28th, 2022, Christien Pheby

Why do current-gen PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and PC gamers game?

The ninth generation of video game consoles has been impacted by COVID-19, supply chain issues, and development delays. Now that we’re two years in and it’s a little easier to get hold of a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X|S, we explore American gamers by the kind of current-gen platform they prefer – exploring who they are, which systems are more likely to attract casual or hardcore gamers, and the reasons why they game in the first place.

From a demographic perspective, every platform’s audience skews towards men. PlayStation 5 (68% male; 29% female) and Xbox Series X|S (68% vs. 32%) have the highest proportion of male compared to female gamers.


On the other end of the spectrum, the Switch has the highest proportion of women playing its consoles, with 54% of gamers identifying as male to 46% identifying as female. We can potentially attribute this to Nintendo’s flagship games being designed to appeal to a wider range of people. According to YouGov BrandIndex, if we look at popular franchises like Assassin’s Creed (70% male vs. 30% female) or Halo (73% vs. 27%), the audience is largely male; if we look at Animal Crossing (39% vs. 61%) or Mario (45% vs. 55%), women comprise an outright majority of players.

PlayStation and Xbox are home to more hardcore gamers – but the PC is king of the casuals

Looking at how people play on each system shows that, among American gamers, the “hardcore” – those who say they take video games seriously, or play competitively – are a minority, and one with the highest representation on the PS5 (19%) and Xbox Series X|S (20%).


Casual gamers are most common on the Nintendo Switch (45%), and the PC, where half of players identify as casual (51%). The PC is not always a dedicated gaming platform, and has other functions: while some will play graphically demanding titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Destiny, others may be interested in a more relaxing experience on their commute – or in between work projects or chores – such as Solitaire or Stardew Valley.


This is borne out somewhat by the reasons current-gen gamers on each system give for playing video games. When asked, most gamers across every system say relaxing and winding down is a key motivation for playing video games – but especially for PC (77%) and Switch (78%) gamers compared to Xbox (56%) and PS5 (63%). This group are also more likely to say they play games “to pass the time” or “to escape from reality for a while”. Switch gamers are also especially likely to be creatively motivated: three in ten say they play games to “make a world of their own” (29%), next to a quarter of PC gamers (26%) and a fifth of PS5 (21%) and Xbox gamers (22%).

For their part, PS5 and Xbox gamers are more likely to say they play video games for social purposes: around a quarter of the former (24%) and nearly three in ten of the latter (28%) say they play video games “to interact with gamers from around the world”, next to just 16% of both Switch gamers and PC gamers. The greater multiplayer emphases of these consoles next to the Switch may partially account for this.


YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for the US is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.  

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