Google is sitting on a rather large repository of search data. From time to time, it slices and dices that data to give us a look at larger trends. The latest product of those efforts is Understanding the Modern Gamer, a whitepaper that details game-related search behavior for the last two years. The paper is based on hundreds of millions of searches related to the top 20 selling games, so it should be fairly representative of the hardcore crowd.
Game-specific statistics aren't provided. However, it's clear that more folks are searching for game-related content than ever before. Between 2010 and 2011, there was a 20% increase in searches for games conducted on desktop systems. Game searches on mobile devices surged 168% in the same period. In fact, mobile devices made up 10% of all game-related searches in 2011, doubling their share from the previous year.
Search volume predictably follows a Bell curve that peaks around the game's launch date. Interestingly, pre-launch searches are growing at a faster rate than those conducted during and after the launch period. Hype works, apparently. For "marquee franchise titles," there's also some overlap between post-launch searches related to the current title and pre-launch inquiries about the its successor.
During the pre-launch period, release dates and trailers are the most popular search items. Tips and reviews take the top search spots in the month surrounding the launch. After that, tips remain popular but DLC slides into the number-two spot. What's really interesting about the results is how popular mobile devices have become for tip searches. About a quarter of all tip searches for the launch and post-launch periods were made with mobile devices. Some of those are mine, by the way. The tablet resting on my coffee table has tracked down more than a couple of walk-throughs when I've been gaming on the big screen. Thanks to Kotaku for the tip.