PC gaming on the rise, but Australians still suffer from a 'broadband bottleneck'

The latest Digital Australia report from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association shows a sharp spike in PC gaming, but Aussies say that broadband issues are constraining the way they play.

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
2 min read

Josh Miller/CNET

The Digital Australia 16 report from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association has revealed a strong resurgence in PC gaming over the past two years, but Australians say that broadband constraints such as data limits and slow speeds are still inhibiting their gameplay.

Now in its sixth iteration, the Digital Australia report looks at gaming and interactive entertainment across the breadth of the Australian population. The IGEA has been collecting data since 2005 and the report's lead author, Jeff Brand, Professor of Communication and Media at Bond University, has called it "one of the best collections of data on video games around the world."

This year's report, DA16, surveyed 3,398 individuals across 1,274 households. In terms of device use, the report found while the proportion of homes that have a device for playing games has remained stable for the past five years at around 9 in 10 homes, the devices being used to game has changed.

In 2013, 53 percent of respondents said they used a PC to play games. In 2015 this jumped to 83 percent. Consoles remained static at 62 percent for the same period, while unsurprisingly mobiles and tablets saw increased gaming usage: Mobiles jumped from 47 percent to 66 percent, while tablets were at 55 percent, up from 26.

Discussing the PC gaming results at the launch of the DA16 report Brand highlighted the specific questioning the IGEA used. "We didn't just ask if people had a PC that could play games -- we asked if they were using their PC to play games."

Brand pointed to the increase in popularity of digital distribution services and online stores, such as Steam, making the PC more accessible for home gaming.

But DA16 also showed that Australians are finding that broadband services are placing "constraints" on their gameplay, calling it a "broadband bottleneck." Data limits were a particular bugbear, with 38 percent of respondents saying that home broadband data caps had forced them to forego games downloads and 57 percent noted the same issue for mobile gaming.

The report found that the average Australian gamer is 33 years old, up from 24 in 2005. It also showed a strong rise in gaming amongst the older population: 49 percent of Australians over 50 play games and in the 65-94 age group, 39 percent are gamers.

The full Digital Australia 16 report can be downloaded from IGEA's wesbite [PDF].