[SURVEY INSIGHTS] Why Different Generations Play Simulation Games

Effective marketing to increase user acquisition. Optimizing gameplay to improve user engagement and boost LTV. Knowing what grabs your audience’s attention and motivates them to download your game and keep playing beyond day 1, 7, 30 and 90 is…everything. 

Problem is, gathering player feedback has traditionally been a slow, painfully tedious process. And as fast as player preferences can change, such a passive process is enough to drive publishers insane.

So we set out to get some answers about what motivated simulation gamers to play simulation games. Using our Market Insights tool, we were able to get player feedback directly from simulation players within a few hours.

The results of the survey are below. Let’s take a look.


We surveyed nearly 3,915 mobile game users balanced to the US Census, of which nearly 12% consider themselves simulation gamers. The survey was complete in just a few hours and we had some compelling insights.

The survey started with a simple question to self identify their favorite game genre, each respondent could only choose one and all respondents who chose “simulation” continued. The trend here shows a significant correlation between age and casual-based games. 

Chart: favorite type of mobile game people like to play by TapResearch.

What Motivates Gen-Z & Millennials versus Gen-X & Boomers

The data reveals that generally speaking, over 40% of Gen-X and even Boomers, play simulation games to simply relax and pass the time. Compare that to the Gen-Z and Millennials who primarily play simulation games as a means to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and to be creative and express themselves.

Predictably, a common motivator among all age groups was that many said they play simulation games as a means to immerse themselves in another world or explore new worlds because they love the thrill of discovery.

Interestingly, Boomers significantly outnumbered the rest of the field when saying they played simulation games to beat other players and achieve victory.

Want to know what motivates YOUR players? Click here to contact a TapResearch professional today.

Chart: What is the main reason people play simulation games by TapResearch

Implications for Product Teams

Of course, you likely have some ideas about how to apply this data to your game(s). That said, we’d like to point out a few key takeaways that can potentially help you improve engagement and reduce churn.

  • Keep it Simple…for Gen-X & Boomers - While simulation games might be intended to mimic real life in many ways, it might be wise to avoid adding features that increase stress and anxiety.

    • NOTE: Boomers indicated that they play simulation games to beat other players and achieve victory. Maybe your game can let them enjoy a relaxing experience while also delivering the thrill of victory.
  • Get Creative - ie, let your Gen-Z and Millennials get creative. The more options you can give this group to get creative and express themselves, the better for them and you. 

    • NOTE: Where you might want to give your younger audience more options so they can fully express themselves in your game. Reducing the options for your older audience might make sense. Too many choices can be overwhelming, causing stress & anxiety - exactly what they’re not looking for.

Implications for Marketing Teams

Key takeaways marketers and user acquisition teams can use in the advertising and marketing strategies.

  • Marketing Messaging & Design
    • Gen X & Boomers - Consider words and themes that are relaxing, soothing, calm, effortless, easy, and immersive. Use images of the demographic relaxing while playing your game. Product shots of the simulated world. It’s all about painting a picture of escapism for the older demographic.
    • Gen Z & Millennials - Consider words and themes that relate to creativity, variety, expressing one’s self, multiple, many options, and unlimited. Product shots of the tools & features. Show many options and possibilities. Remember, for the younger audience, it’s all about how creative they can get to express themselves.

Best Simulation Games They’ve Ever Played

“Crush Crush. It's a simple dating Sim, but endearing. Been playing it daily for over two years now. No competitions with other players, no leaderboards, just a simple and easy to follow progression system and plenty of entertaining encouragement from the characters.” - 49 y/o female

“Roblox because it's very diverse and there are so many opportunities and games to connect with and socialize with others.” - 19 y/o male

“Black and White. That game is awesome. You play as God, can build your own society, design your cities and settlements. grow you civilization/followers, cast miracles, you have a hand that can collect people and throw them over mountains, you can choose to be good or evil based on your actions, go to war with other rival civilizations. Highly underrated, honestly not sure why no one talks about it!” - 28 y/o male

“The best simulation game I ever played is the Sims because it was so customizable and so fun. I would spend countless hours designing my homes. It was my first simulation game and got me into all of this.” - 33 y/o female

“Dragon city, it's addictive. I started it just to reach a certain level for another requirement for a different program, but once I started I've done spent to much money.” - 34 y/o male

“TrainStation2 - play as little or as often as you want. Zero ads required to play. Creative new worlds/levels to play. Creative trains as well as real world trains. Fun and challenging little get away.” - 52 y/o male


Answering “why” questions is generally quite difficult. For example, 

  • Why is my Day 7 retention 12%?
  • Why is feature engagement only 20%... could it be 50%?
  • Why do gamers download new simulation games?

When framed around “why”, survey-based research can uncover valuable insights to inform “what” to help you build from a product lens or create marketing messages that resonate with your audience.

If you’re interested in learning more about what motivates players in your games, we have some exciting mobile solutions that top game companies like PeopleFun, PocketGems, Supersonic, IMVU and more are using to learn, iterate and grow engagement and LTV of their games. Read about their success stories here.

If you would like to learn more about how TapResearch can help your marketing & user acquisition team acquire more users, and help your product team optimize gameplay to better engage and retain those users then Click here to connect with a TapResearch professional or create your Free Account here to get started right away.

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