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QUSTODIO ANNUAL DATA REPORT 2020

Gaming apps

This page is chapter 3  in a five-chapter series of app categories included in the Qustodio Annual Data Report on children’s digital habits during the year 2020.

RESEARCH BY APP CATEGORY

Gaming

What we found

Except for What Would You Choose Rather, a conversation or party game, and Pokémon Go, an augmented reality (AR) game, the most popular, and longest played video games in our research were shooter games or ‘Battle Royale’ – last-person standing, survival meets adventure – games. According to our research on popularity and time played, Roblox is king everywhere but in Spain (where Brawl Stars reigns). It’s also king of revenue, hitting a $45 billion valuation on the New York Stock Exchange where it recently began trading.

Kids in the US played video games the longest, but kids everywhere we analyzed played video games longer than in 2019, 23% longer on average. Kids also played video games during more hours of the day than they did before the pandemic hit in the spring.

What were the most popular video games among kids?

Roblox remained the most popular video game app with 35% of kids playing it globally, 39% in the US and 40% in the UK, while Brawl Stars held on to the top spot with 35% in Spain. New to the popularity chart in 2020 were Among Us – capturing fourth place globally and as high as second place in Spain – and What Would You Choose Rather – ranking third globally and reaching second place in the UK (beating out Minecraft).

How much time did kids spend playing video games?

On a global and regional level, Roblox gained where Fortnite lost – kids played Roblox 23% longer than they did in 2019, and played Fortnite 18% less. Globally, kids still played Fortnite the longest: 98 mins/day on average. But, on a regional level, kids played Roblox the longest, reaching on average as high 100 mins/day in the US, 95 mins/day in the UK, and 86 mins/ day in Spain – where kids played Roblox more than twice as long as they played Brawl Stars, the most popular app in the Spanish market.

While not among the most popular apps, the games kids played the longest were World of Warcraft (avg. 142 mins/day globally), Defense of the Ancients (avg. 147 mins/day in the US and avg. 133 mins/day the UK), and Block Strike (avg. 220 mins/day in Spain).

On both a global and a regional level, kids spent the most time playing video games in May, reaching an average of 53 mins/day. As in other categories, the shift to an earlier peak in the spring (June and August were the peak months in 2019) was due to the Covid effect. On average for the year, kids in the US played video games the longest (40 mins/day). Kids in Spain played the least on average (33 mins/ day).
Kids and social media

What time of day did kids play video games?

As in other categories, more kids were watching video games earlier in the day during the strict Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring. While peak play time was still at 4pm, more kids were online viewing video games at 10am in April than back in January. By December, the percentage of kids watching video games in a typical day started to return to “normal” levels, but more kids were still connecting earlier in the day.

What time of day did kids play video games?

As in other categories, more kids were watching video games earlier in the day during the strict Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring. While peak play time was still at 4pm, more kids were online viewing video games at 10am in April than back in January. By December, the percentage of kids watching video games in a typical day started to return to “normal” levels, but more kids were still connecting earlier in the day.

Which video game apps did parents block most?

Similar to 2019, and to the kids’ popularity list, parents blocked Roblox, Brawl Stars (in Spain), Minecraft and Fortnite the most. New to the 2020 list was Among Us, which went from unranked to the third most blocked app globally. Missing from the most blocked list was the other newcomer in terms of popularity, What Would You Choose Rather, and the classic Pokémon Go.
Kids and social media

What we expect

Due to the huge success of the category, competition between free-to-play adventure shooter games will increase. That said, we think there is demand for less violent options within games like Royale High, one of many Roblox virtual worlds, and we hope more games will evolve in this direction.

What likely won’t change is the addictive nature of video games. The ability to buy and advertise on these platforms is what makes these ‘free’ games free. Without stricter legislation on loot boxes and other gambling-like features inside of games, the AI game developers use to hook kids to these games, and to make in-app purchases, will only get better.

And the play-all-day-long habits kids started during the lockdowns will be hard to break. A life-saver for kids who had no other way to play with their friends during the pandemic, the games they started won’t be easy to stop.

What we expect

Due to the huge success of the category, competition between free-to-play adventure shooter games will increase. That said, we think there is demand for less violent options within games like Royale High, one of many Roblox virtual worlds, and we hope more games will evolve in this direction.

What likely won’t change is the addictive nature of video games. The ability to buy and advertise on these platforms is what makes these ‘free’ games free. Without stricter legislation on loot boxes and other gambling-like features inside of games, the AI game developers use to hook kids to these games, and to make in-app purchases, will only get better.

And the play-all-day-long habits kids started during the lockdowns will be hard to break. A life-saver for kids who had no other way to play with their friends during the pandemic, the games they started won’t be easy to stop.

Kids and social media

What we recommend

When it comes to gaming, parents have a huge responsibility to stay involved. Parents should always find time to play at least one round of video games together with their kids to really understand the content, level of violence or inappropriate language, the kind of advertising and purchase items, and most importantly, to know who their kids are playing with.

But, it doesn’t stop with having an understan- ding of the game. Parents also need to be on top of the social and communication apps kids use to live-stream their games and discuss them with friends and strangers online, such as Twitch and Discord. These apps can also be entry points for all kinds of predators, data thieves, cyberbullies and groomers.

Marc Masip, Psychologist, thinks the risk of playing video games outweighs the positives. He says, “Families need to understand the high risk of addiction that now exists in video games. The positive thing about video games is that they produce fun, but that is something that can be achieved with countless alternatives. 

On the contrary, video games can produce very negative consequences. If you see your child suffering from social isolation, drop in school performance, aggressiveness, avoidance, frustration… letting them play video games is just not a good idea.”

Josep Gaspar, Qustodio co-founder and Gaming Expert, sees gaming in a more positive light but with a caveat. “Online video games were a lifesaver for many kids during the pandemic. They were both a distraction from a Covid-19 dominated world and a way to stay in touch with friends through group play. Not to mention they can be creative and a lot of fun! But, because online games with chat functionality can be gateways to predators, parents need to be extra vigilant about who their kids are playing with and review game privacy settings. Friends are fine. But friends of friends are not.”

If you see your child suffering from social isolation, drop in school performance, aggressiveness, avoidance, frustration… letting them play video games is just not a good idea”

Marc Masip

Psychologist, Expert in Addiction and Founder of Desconecta