Tabletomics: Games Tablets Play

stuart-schneiderman by Stuart Schneiderman, Consumer Insights & Measurement, Viacom Media Networks

People of all ages are playing games on tablets, with the vast majority of tablet owners gaming on tablets at least once a week. To better understand the burgeoning relationship between tablet users and gaming, Viacom did a deep dive into the role of games in the overall tablet experience, as well as how gaming on tablets takes share from and impacts other devices. The findings reveal that tablet gamers are not looking to purge their other gaming devices, but rather seeking a more holistic gaming experience that opens real opportunity for cross-platform games.

Key Findings

Tablet users are gaming often, in part because they enjoy the easy, mobile nature of tablet gaming.

A full 78% of tablet users game on tablets once a week or more.

  • There is a strong correlation with gaming on other platforms – 96% of console gamers play games on tablets and 97% of handheld gamers play games on tablets.

Tablet users like gaming on tablets because:

  • It’s great to pass time (62%)
  • The portability (61%)
  • Inexpensive/free game offerings (55%)
  • The ease of getting games (47%)
  • Easy-to-play game offerings (46%)

36% say there is nothing they dislike about tablet games. For the rest, the reasons for disliking gaming on tablets are:

  • Sluggish controls (24%)
  • Games are too similar (24%)
  • Games are not as good for long periods (19%)
  • Lack of hardcore games (17%)

Casual games rule the tablet.

Gaming on tablets is viewed as easily disposable and “interruptable,” making casual gaming the preferred tablet gaming experience.

  • 52% prefer card games, 51% prefer puzzle games and half prefer physics games like Angry Birds and Cat Physics.
  • 3 in 10 prefer educational or social/multiplayer games.

Gaming on tablets takes share from smartphones and handheld devices rather than consoles. But when it comes to an immersive gaming experience, the console still trumps the tablet.

  • Users find gaming on tablets to be much more fun than gaming on the smartphone, but considerably less fun than playing on their consoles.
  • 27% say gaming on tablets is more fun than on smartphones, 9% say the same for handheld devices and 7% say the same for desktop/laptop computers.
  • 22% say gaming is less fun on tablets than on consoles.

For kids, the tablet is first and foremost a gaming device. 

The majority of tablet owners play games on their tablets at least once a week. These results are even more pronounced for kids.

  • 70% of parents think their child considers the tablet a gaming device versus a video/TV device.
  • Gaming apps lead app usage for kids 8-12, with 98% using gaming apps on their tablets, followed by search apps, photo/video apps, movie apps and social networking apps.
  • Most kids 8-12 play games on their tablets every day, with 74% saying that they play tablet games at least once a day.
  • More than a third plays even more often, with 40% saying they play tablet games multiple times per day.

With gaming options available across a multitude of devices, there’s a real opportunity for cross-platform games.

  • Gamers, especially those who game on a daily basis, agree that playing games on a tablet along with another gaming device – either console or handheld – would be great.
  • The vast majority of gamers, including three-quarters of daily handheld gamers and 7 in 10 daily console gamers, agree that they wish they could play games that they own for other devices on their tablet.


  • That the tablet is first and foremost a gaming device for kids suggest a growth opportunity for children’s tablet games.
  • Programmers and marketers alike should leverage the growing opportunity for cross-platform games and the desire for games to be available for tablets as well as handheld and consoles.

The Methodology:

This study was based on an online survey of 2,400+ US tablet owners, including a separate study of K8-12 tablet users, as well as tablet online communities (a 1-week community of 100 tablet “addicts” followed by a 2-week community of 40 of the best community members) and 12 ethnographies from the community.

Stuart Schneiderman is Vice President of Digital Research for Viacom Media Networks.

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