I’VE seen a few press release statements lately to the effect “People are staying at home more and therefore using their entertainment stuff more,” which is very much a headliner for Obvious Statement Theatre.
It’s also a useful starting point for a story, which is why I’ve written this one.
Research from PR firm Edelman has reportedly shown 35 per cent of people in the 18-34 age bracket are gaming more, with 27 per cent of people in the 35-34 also saying they are gaming more too.
While this is not a surprise to anyone reading this website (we are, after all, gamers) I decided to talk to a TV manufacturer to get some insights into what that meant from their perspective.
Samsung Australia product manager Aaron McNamara said people’s viewing habits had significantly changed due to COVID-19, with an increasing demand for what he called “isotainment” and more than 85 per cent of people saying their viewing habits were different now.
While the data showed gaming was up, Mr McNamara said he didn’t have any specifics from the Edelman data on what sort of hardware people were using to game with and said they built their TVs to work with all systems.
“We don’t discriminate as to console type or machine people game on,” he said.
Mr McNamara said the most common feature gamers were looking for in a decent TV was a Game Mode feature, which adjusted how the TV processed images from the console.
“Game Mode tries to remove some of the picture processing elements and divert that processing power into reduced input lag – that lag time is critically important for gaming,” he said.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is another highly sought after feature, providing much more vivid colours than a conventional TV.
As someone who games on a Samsung TV – a Q9F QLED, more specifically – I can confirm the game mode feature does work well and I’ve never had any issues at all with input lag while using it – not that it’d make much difference to my dire K:D ratios on any console FPS.
The HDR effects of high-end TVs (regardless of brand; I’ve been impressed by Samsung, HiSense and Sony’s offerings on that front) also make a huge difference to the visuals in games too, especially in scenery-heavy games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption II.
Mr McNamara said Samsung TVs also supported the SteamLink app, which meant people with decent Wi-Fi networks could stream wireless from their PCs to their Samsung TV without needing very long HDMI capable or having to move their tower.
“If you’re more of a casual PC gamer, you don’t have to physically hardwire your TV to your PC to play those games,” he said.
One other interesting thing Mr McNamara said the research had shown was the number of people using fitness apps and the like on their Smart TVs – approximately 9 per cent.
While I originally had visions of people streaming 1980s clips of Aerobics Oz Style on YouTube, Mr McNamara said a lot of it was people using apps for fitness, including using some of the Samsung TV split screen capabilities to follow form videos from their smart phone.
Indeed, Samsung has partnered with personal fitness brands to provide some wellness apps on its Smart TVs.
Australians with 2018 and 2019 Smart TVs can now access the Echelon Fit companion app for an Echelon Flex and Echelon Connect Bike, as well as the Jillian Michaels Fitness App.
In the coming months, the apps will be available on all 2020 Samsung TVs and the company says users will also gain access to the Calm mindfulness app and Fitplan personal training app.
The idea is that with Australians being stuck at home for increased periods of time, they’ll have access to a range of health, wellbeing and workout options from the smart TV with a single tap.
Mr McNamara said another interesting element of the pandemic was increased interest in Samsung’s smaller TVs, especially around the 42in range.
“Isolation won’t last forever, but working from home might last a long time – so people are looking for something to use as a second screen for work, that will make a great second TV for later on after the pandemic is over,” he said.
Research firms Hootsuite and We Are Social also had some data insights to share for the same-ish period as part of their Digital 2020 April Global Statshot Report, also saying 35 per cent of people surveyed said they have spent more time playing video games in recent weeks.
The Hootsuite/We Are Social data also has some interesting insights on the e-sports front, with 14 per cent of male respondents and 8 per cent of female respondents saying they were looking to view more of it content-wise.
The data also said users spent an average of three hours and 24 minutes per day using the internet on mobile devices.
Eighty per cent of global internet uses aged 16-64 played video games, with 69 per cent of respondents doing so on their mobile phone, 40 per cent on PC and 26 per cent on console.
While the numbers might seem low, keep in mind it’s a global report and consoles are largely a Western/Japanese thing , while most of the planet has a smartphone; There are almost certainly Mongolian yak herders and Bedouin nomads playing Kwazy Kupcakes or something on their phones. Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock, mobile phone gaming is absolutely massive in China, which has a population of 1.4 billion.
On the topic of mobile gaming, PUBG Mobile was reportedly the top-ranked mobile game based on active monthly users globally, followed by Candy Crush Saga in second place, with Call of Duty Mobile coming in at spot number five and Pokemon Go proving people are indeed still playing it as it occupied the number nine spot, with Minecraft Pocket ranked number 10.
On an app front, TikTok was the most downloaded app in March (presumably due to bored teenagers and people channelling Steve Buscemi in that 30 Rock episode), according to the report, and Facebook overtook WhatsApp (which is also owned by Facebook anyway) as the number one app with the most active users between January and April.
The report also said Twitter reach in Australia is down by 2.13 million people, quarter on quarter, which might explain why I’ve seen a lot less angry woke ranting about made up first world problems there lately.
The report actually makes for interesting reading; you can check it out for yourself here: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-april-global-statshot