Indie gamers seek a more intimate connection with video games
March 1st, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Indie gamers seek a more intimate connection with video games

Indie games have experienced a solid boom in growth over the last two years. YouGov Profiles data shows that only 13% of American PC and console gamers played Indie games in 2021, a share which now stands at 18%.

YouGov Profiles, which continuously collects data on a number of crucial variables across industries, also tracks the reasons that draw gamers to gaming. In this piece, we examine the factors that draw Indie gamers relative to those which influence the uptake of other popular genres (action/adventure, racing, fighting, massively multiplayer, RPGs). Indie gamers refer to those who play Indie titles on PC or console.

Indie gamers appear to want a deeper connection with the titles they play. More than a third of them say they want “to have an emotional connection to a story” of a video game (36%). This share drops to half among those who play other major genres (18%).

Another major differentiator between the groups is the desire to do something in video games that they can’t in real life (35% vs 23%). Further on that theme, a third of Indie gamers (32%) say they play because they want to create a world of their own compared to just a fifth of those who play other genres (20%).

Most surprising, perhaps, is the fact that Indie gamers are 80% likelier than other genre gamers to say they play in order to interact with gamers from around the world (36% vs 20%). Surprising because multiplayer games are a relatively smaller slice of the Indie games universe, whereas some of the other genres in the comparison group lend themselves more easily to multiplayer experiences.

This is partially explained by the fact that Indie gamers also play other styles of games in big numbers. For instance, two thirds of Indie gamers also play action/adventure titles (64%), and two-fifths play massively multiplayer and RPGs (40%). It could also be that Indie gamers are simply more likely to appreciate the ability to connective aspect of multiplayer titles more than those who play those other genres. This explanation would be in keeping with some of the other variables we’ve covered in this piece.

Indie gamers are also likelier to be driven by seeking a “mastery of something within a game” (31% vs 20%), and to escape from reality for a while (54% vs 44%).

There is a sense from some quarters of the gaming community that a lot of AAA titles have increasingly drifted towards producing formulaic video game titles. Our data indicates that games with unique storylines that encourage a connection with gamers might be the best way to appeal to Indie gamers, who now make up a sizeable slice of the overall gaming market.

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