Opinion: Midia discusses reading DAUs across platforms

The daily active user (DAU) is a common engagement metric, often used in gauging companies’ performance and value. In gaming, however, DAUs vary markedly across mobile, PC, console and social. The differences are seen in penetration rates, demographics, engagement and spending trends.

As the silo walls between gaming formats gradually break down, the DAU measure will be increasingly used in a cross-format, cross-platform context. To assign value to the DAU accurately in the always-on world, it is important to remain aware of the nuances daily gamers carry on each format – not only for games developers and publishers, but also for investors and advertisers alike.

To make matters even more complicated, this transition is happening on multiple levels simultaneously: on the device level (Nintendo Switch), title level (multiplatform Minecraft gameplay), the development level (Unity) as well as corporate level (console gaming companies buying their way into mobile and vice versa). As a result, we are starting to face increasingly complex dynamics when learning about gamers. For example, a Nintendo Switch user is arguably going to think (and behave) more like a console gamer when plugged in to the big screen, but more as a mobile gamer when on the go.

To ensure that the real meaning and value of DAUs across gaming and other entertainment platforms doesn’t get lost in translation as these ecosystems continue to blend, Midia Research published a report titled ‘Mapping Daily Active Gamers Across Platforms’. As we examined daily active console, PC, mobile and social gamers by total games engagement and spending, the various meanings of DAUs began to shine through.

We are seeing the emergence of a new tier of hardcore casual gamers.

Karol Severin, Midia Research

Firstly, console and PC DAUs have spending, mobile DAUs have engagement. The majority of mobile DAUs with high engagement (over six hours per week) are low spenders (less than $6 per month), while the most highly engaged daily console and PC gamers spend more than $6 per month.

Furthermore, not all DAUs are necessarily super fans. Around half of all DAUs spend less than six hours per week and less than $5 per month on gaming overall. These are super-engaged casual gamers, not hardcore gamers. Thus, what we’re seeing is the emergence of a new tier of hardcore casual gamers.

The final point refers to the on-going male skew of daily console gamers. As the activity makes its way towards the mainstream, its gender distribution should also reflect that. This is already happening with daily PC gaming, which now only skews 56 per cent male (just like monthly PC gaming). However, daily console gaming lags at 71 per cent male skew, despite the fact that monthly console gaming skews 52 per cent female. Thus, the console gender gap is caused more by the lack of female-oriented titles, not by a low affinity to console gaming.

As we move to the multiplatform entertainment era, keeping up with the cross-platform nuances of consumers will be of utmost importance. Not only to assign value to companies’ metrics and benchmark performance accurately, but also to identify emerging opportunities and threats early during this significant transition in digital consumption trends.

Karol Severin is Midia’s lead analyst for research on games and the mobile content economy. His research covers all aspects of games, including mobile games, online games and console games, as well as the mobile app economy, freemium strategy and consumer segmentation

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