Friends rank as the largest influencing factor in the purchase decisions of video games, according to a study released today by international public relations agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, and Harris Interactive.


The study indicated that word-of-mouth influence, led by friends, was three times as likely to influence the purchase of video games as traditional forms of advertising and promotion.

The survey data were gathered using Moments of Influence, a proprietary audience-based research model for optimizing media communications. Interviews were conducted with video gamers, defined as U.S. adults who own a gaming system, bought a video game in the past six months and play a game at least one hour per week.


The data proved that word of mouth ranked highest of all methods buyers used to make purchase decisions, followed by retail, online demos, reviews, and advertising and promotion. When the word-of-mouth category was examined further, the data revealed that friends were approximately twice as likely to influence the purchase decision as family members. Friends were also among the most trusted of all forms of purchase influence.


The study also identified a highly influential segment of gamers or “influence multipliers,” who represented 21 percent of all gamers in the sample, but report an inordinate impact on the purchase decisions of their family and friends when buying video games. Influence multipliers are veteran video game players, the most networked members of the gaming community, and their friends and family rely on their opinions when buying video games.


“Compared to all video gamers, influence multipliers are a hyperinfluential subset of friends who are also far more connected to other gamers,” says Dan Gallagher, senior vice president of insight and analytics at Waggener Edstrom. “As a result, influence multipliers have an outsized network influence effect on their gaming colleagues. By targeting the media channels that Influence Multipliers rely on, marketers can optimize their marketing spending.”