NPD: 72% of U.S. Plays Games; Online Gaming 'Still Relatively Small'

Gaming continues to grow in importance, but online gaming is still small compared to offline gaming, new NPD research has found. More data points within...

According to The NPD Group's new report, "Online Gaming 2008," which used data from an online survey of 20,240 NPD Consumer Panel members, the percentage of people that play games in the U.S. has risen from 64 percent in 2006 to 72 percent in 2007. And more than half of these players go online to play.

Unsurprisingly, the PC remains the dominant platform for online gaming. 90 percent said they use a PC to play games online, 19 percent said they use a video game console or portable and three percent use a cell phone. On the console side, the Xbox 360 (thanks to its popular Xbox Live service) was found to be used the most for online gaming. 50 percent said they use the 360, and these 360 owners also spend the most time per week using their 360s to play games online; this is followed by PC and PS3 owners.

In general, however, online gaming is still a relatively small slice of how gamers spend their time. A small group of hardcore gamers (13 percent of online gamers) spend 20 hours or more per week on online gaming. NPD said that 33 percent of portable online gamers, 29 percent of console online gamers and 13 percent of PC online gamers are in this heaviest online gaming group.

"Despite the buzz in the industry regarding online gaming, it is still relatively small compared to offline gaming," commented Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "There is still a large, untapped market for gaming in general and online gaming in particular."

Interestingly, NPD also found that online gaming is largely driven by kids. 40 percent of online gamers are ages 2-17, and within this group kids ages 6-12 are particularly prominent. NPD said that kids ages 2-12 are driving more than 25 percent of online gaming, while the 18- 24-year-old demographic only comprises 10 percent of online gaming.

The NPD also pointed out that multiple console ownership in the current console lifecycle is currently very low; just three percent said that they own two of the three systems (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii). Two percent said they own all three.

via gamedaily

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