Internal Microsoft research provides insight on Xbox One owners (exclusive)

The company shared internal documents with its Xbox partners privately to help developers get an understanding of the types of customers that are active on Xbox Live today. And we got our hands on those documents!

Here are some interesting stats on Xbox One owner behavior.

Xbox users in the U.S.

The information in these documents is based on responses from around 2,000 Xbox One owners surveyed across the U.S. Here are some quick highlights from the documents:

  • The split in Xbox One ownership between genders is 42 percent female and 58 percent male.
  • Most Xbox One gamers reside in the 25- to 34-year-old bracket, followed closely by the 35- to 44-year-old bracket.
  • 56 percent of Xbox One owners live with a married spouse or partner, 10 percent live alone, and 23 percent live with their parents.
  • Many Xbox One owners have an annual income of around $75,000.

Microsoft says there's little correlation between age or gender when it comes to determining player engagement, and it says autonomy is a better measure. Young adults and teens have the most autonomy, naturally, and families comprised of young children have the least gaming autonomy, according to Microsoft.

When it comes to Xbox player behavior, Microsoft identified a range of categories for the way Xbox Live users engage with the platform. Fifty-three percent of all Xbox users fit into the "socializing" category, which sees around 17 hours of time spent in multiplayer games per week on average. This is likely what led Microsoft to build features like LFG and Clubs.

Microsoft also noted that almost half of Xbox owners are "explorers," who are heavily invested in the Xbox ecosystem and tend to purchase all sorts of titles. Subscription-based features such as Game Pass and EA Access are designed to serve this type of user.

What motivates Xbox gamers?

Microsoft also touched on focus groups and other surveys it had experience with, discussing the types of motivations for why people game. The data for the following sections comes from a user base of almost 8000, across four markets. Microsoft identified "12 core fundamental" aspects of motivation for gaming and discovered nine separate types of players who weight groups of motivational aspects more similarly on average.

On the radial graph below, I most closely identify with Segment 9 (dark green), as the type of gamer who values exploration, problem-solving, customization, immersion, and emotional simulation above all else (essentially RPGs).

Microsoft Research named the nine segments based on each user group's primary motivations and preferences for gaming. Segment 9 "Experts," spend the most money and time on Xbox and PC, preferring explorative RPGs with sci-fi/fantasy themes. "Contenders," in lighter green, are competitive players who enjoy customization and achievement. Companion gamers play to bond with family and friends, such as parents and children, or their partners. Soloists prefer immersive single-player experiences and have longer play sessions than some of the other segments.

Microsoft wanted to stress that gamers are a diverse bunch, and the company backed it up with hard data. People play for all sorts of reasons, from all sorts of backgrounds. While there is a huge amount of diversity, there are clusters of correlations that can help developers understand what types of features to build into their games, as well as help Microsoft understand what features to build into Xbox Live.

What type of gamer are you? Let us know in the comments.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Segment 9 Experts FTW.
  • A man after my own heart. =P
  • imagine Facebook or Google data collected from phones, tablets, pcs etc.  
  • ZOMFG.... I'm being tracked on the INTERNET!!! That's so not fair that someone can see me leave my digital home and track my travels through the digital world. This is just like real life! What do I do!?!
  • I'm the kind of Xbox gamer that plays Sea of Thieves when its running, GTA V, Rocksmith 2014, Horizon 3 and ignores the other 80 games I have on the system because they are boring Multiplayer micro transaction messes. Otherwise, it's on Netflix or YouTube. That makes me a loner gamer I guess? Sea of Thieves is pretty social.
  • This illustrates a massive problem with the industry. I game on PC now, and the only game I really have microtransactions in, is Team Fortress 2. I want games to move back to $60, plus maybe DLC.
  • Personally, I play single-player story driven games. I play them until the story is done, and then I start something new. I don't play online with friends and I the only time I play multiplayer at home is with my kids.   Also the last 2 years Xbox sent me an email saying I was in the top 1% for gamer points earned.
  • I didn't even realize people still play single player
  • Some games still come with ONLY a single player campaign lol.
  • And many games should STAY only single player...The shoehorning of Multiplayer into games is getting ridiculous. Let it be what it's meant to be.
  • It's a shame how few good single player titles there are nowadays. Borderlands 2 still being one of my all time favorites for SP campaign you could sink tens of hours into, easily.
  • Wow that was dumb
  • I play multiplayer games for the social aspect, but single player games and campaigns is where I spend the most time gaming. I'm the type to want to do all the side quests, pick up all the loot, while completing the main storyline. It sucks because I have a huge backlog of games... Lol
  • So do I!! So many games, so little time...
  • That's one of the most normally distributed income histograms I've ever seen.
  • This! This is why MS collects data.. For telemetry that help them come up with such valuable insights..These numbers and figures are so important that they can help better understand the customers (aka us) and cater to their needs in future... Not some sort of sinister hidden agenda..
  • I agree with you AND I can recognize the fears of collecting data. It's just really hard to keep people and big companies accountable for what kind of data is being collected and how it's used. This is a great example of using data to drive innovation.
  • "It's just really hard to keep people and big companies accountable for what kind of data is being collected and how it's used." So true. I am not against data collection but there must be a framework in place by regulators before I could feel safe about my data being collected. I for one don't trust coperation to keep the user data out of the wrong hands or not to use my data against my interest.
  • Popular Features are not equal to innovative features.  Microsoft is using this data to kill some cool features that haven't been discoverd by everyone yet.  This is my biggest peeve as power user of Microsoft products;  seeing dozens of great features disappear.
  • That's the kind of data that required a survey and people to answer. But yes, mostly collected data is not used against users, but that doesn't mean it should be collected without their agreement (but that's probably not the case here anyway)
  • Do I see a bell curve in the household income section? yup... 
  • Damn, I'm in the majority in every category by like a few dollars.
  • You won't find me anywhere in that graphic. I am so particular about my gaming that there are VERY few titles I'll ever be interested in, and I'm only social in typical social networks, NOT in gaming.  I don't care what other people are playing, nor do they care what I'm playing.  I don't "explore" games any more than I do music. My tastes are my tastes, period.  That's why virtually none of the features Microsoft has been adding to Xbox are anything but annoying to me.
  • What games do you like?
  • I don't think you will ever get anything meaningful from this guy.
  • On a tangent, I tend to explore and look for music (and art, and books and films) that I normally wouldn't be attracted to.  Feel it broadens my horizons, and opens you up to different experiences.
  • Damn it sucks to be picky. Not saying it in a judgmental or negative way.
  • You are at least among the 58% of the owner demo, possibly in either the 45-54 or 55-65 yo age groups, maybe the 2% living arrangement but that's being positive... you are on it, you would only not be if you were not using nor own an Xbox, is that you? 👀
  • Probably like most fps guys I'm on Xbox because of halo but I play all the other fps
  • The Xbox One is great, but due to work, and getting back to reading books again lately, I've found myself using it more as a Blu Ray player and movie streamer, than a gaming machine, so much so, that I'm giving away games to young nephews who'll get enjoyment out of them.  
  • This is what happens.  You are getting old man. LOL
  • Meh, it's a sample of less than 0.001% of Xbox gamers, I highly doubt it's very accurate.
  • The size of the sample in relation to the total population isn't important, assuming it hits the minimum threshold needed to surpass the central limit theorem; more importantly is that it comes from a random probabililty sample that is representative of the total population (which, it's not clear it is).
  • Remember, I am only a grandma. I do not use these games but I get them for my teenage girl. Sad to see a tool tha could be use for better this worlds like teach them sports, music , math all this can be learn in a fun way. Etc. instead only even girls fights war destruction. How are we going to leave a better world?
    You guys have in your hands a huge responsibility. Hope you better your themes. I would by her more games if they were worth
    And the users age I see is junior high. Am I in the wrong Wii U?
  • You're a troll right? GRANDMA 👵 23 YEAH RIGHT...
  • "The information in these documents is based on responses from around 2,000 Xbox One owners" Ugh... 2000.... out of 48 million active users? How is this information even REMOTELY accurate?? That's 0.004% of players. Why doesn't MS just use the data they collect through xbox live. I'm sure the service knows what games we play, how long and when, how many games we buy. It knows who we are, male or female, age, who our friends are, when we party up and when we play solo. I mean a survey of 2000?? Would any developer take this survey info seriously? It's junk info.
  • Maybe only some of that info is actually recorded or maybe what is recorded isn't useful enough
  • 2000 players would be well above the threshold needed to achieve statistically valid results, according to statistical probability theory. More importantly is whether the survey method resulted in a representable population. Without knowing their survey method, that's not clear.
  • "families comprised of young children" Should be either "comprising" or "composed of", but not "comprised of".
  • That's a lot of angry wives and girlfriends lol. Married man here I use to be a hardcore multiple player type guy playing until like 3-4am lol.  But the last 3 years been playing more single campaign's and have been playing less hours a lot of my friends don't get on like we use to. Also due to the fact COD has been sucking real bad lately. But I have been enjoying single player way more.  
  • I'm in the 31% with tenure! 😄💖🗽
  • Is there a category for people like me who buy AAA games every year but never have time to play them. I still have about 5 or 6 headliner titles I've literally never touched. That said, it's interesting seeing the Xbox One become exactly what MSFT positioned it as: an MSFT ecosystem device.
  • "Fifty-three percent of all Xbox users fit into the "socializing" category, which sees around 17 hours of time spent in multiplayer games per week on average. This is likely what led Microsoft to build features like LFG and Clubs."   The problem here being that this data is heavily influenced by the fact that game developers FORCE people into multiplayer games by focusing the big titles on that. See for example blockbusters like Battlefield and Battlefront which are pretty much all multiplayer.   And with a demographic of 25-44, it's almost certainly the players aren't actually there for multiplayer. I personally fall within the 25-44 category with income over $75000 and with a paid XBL susbcription. But I never play for the social factor nor any of the other categories. I play to pass time, relax and NOT be bothered by people. Which means I'm most definitely not playing multiplayer and I couldn't give two sh*ts about LFG's and Clubs and crap like that. But I'm sure they'd see me in those numbers whenever I open Battlefront or Battlefield. Or maybe they assume my XBL subscription exists to access multiplayer (which it most definitely doesn't. I got it because for the benefits of Deals with Gold.)
  • I use my Xbox One about 80% for Netflix/TV app/Hulu/etc. hehe, the remaining is when playing "party" games like You Don't Know Jack, Jackbox, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoloy, etc. I wish we had more Mario Party-type games like that.
  • Interesting data. I just read an article that stated, gamers 35 to dead, are 45% of the market. Average age being 31.Seems odd MS cut the age off at 44 when 50+ were 20 something % of the market. I know mobile gaming is huge but I'd like to see the actual report. Lets hope MS doesn't say, " half of our market will spend $600 for Scorpio"