ESAC report looks at Canadians’ gaming habits during the COVID era


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As eCentralSports has reported previously, COVID-19 has been as good for the video-games industry as it has been awful for just about everything else. On November 19, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) released a report looking at how the pandemic has affected gamers in the country.

The upshot is that, while the number of Canadians playing video games has not risen significantly, those who were already playing have played a lot more.

The ESAC report (based on a study conducted by the NPD Group) notes that less than 2% of Canadians aged 18 to 64 began to play video games for the first time during the pandemic. However, 58% of adult gamers and 80% of teen gamers reported playing more in the COVID era.

Key findings

Here are some of the report’s key findings, according to a press release from ESAC:

  • 61% of Canadians reported playing video games in the past four weeks.
  • The gender split between Adult Gamers in Canada was 50/50 male to female, which is the same as 2018.
  • The average age of Adult Gamers in Canada is 38.
  • Mobile devices continue to be the primary way Adult Gamers access and play video games, with consoles overtaking mobile devices as the most popular among Kids and Teens.
  • Saskatchewan has the most video game players per capita in Canada with 68% reporting regular game play with an average of 10 hours per week spent among those who play. 
  • Digital downloads of full games continue to grow with retail purchases continuing to decline in both Adults and Teens.
  • The most popular genres of video games in Canada are puzzle and word games.
  • More Canadians are participating in esports as viewers (spectators) than ever before. 40% of Canadian gamers view game streaming content; specifically, 41% of Adults and 46% of kids and Teens.
  • 40% of Canadian Adult Gamers play games online solo, 40% play with others online, 20% play online with other players in the room, and 30% of Canadian Adult Gamers play online with players.

Staying connected

“COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon,” ESAC president and CEO Jay Hilchie says. “Canadians are finding ways to stay connected and engage their minds in positive ways; they are looking for joy and entertainment in what can only be characterized as one of the most difficult times in modern human history.

“We have found that Canadian gamers recognize the power of play and they are engaging more and more in the immersive and connected experiences that our industry creates,” Hilchie says. “We will get through this period together and video games will continue to be both an outlet for people but also an important way to keep them connected to their families and friends.”

To learn more, download the ESAC report here.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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