More Americans Play Video Games than Go to Movies

I thought the revelation that video gamers outnumbered cinema goers was old news, but maybe only partly so. According to a new NPD Group report, 53 percent of U.S. consumers have been to the movies in the last six months, but 63 percent -- that's 2 out of 3 consumers -- have played a video game. I take it the significance of that derives from cumulative penetration, as opposed to the now redundant "novelty" of the latter surpassing the former.

While NPD says video gaming still lags considerably behind music listening (a whopping 94 percent, though I wonder if that's discrete jamming?) it benefits from new play outlets, including gamers on social networks (10 percent) and playing downloadable games (5 percent -- up 2 percent over last year).

What's that translate to in dollars per month? About $US38 on average per gamer, says NPD. An April NPD report indicated consumers spend around $160 total per person, per month, the majority of which goes to TV (cable/satellite) and Internet access. Still, you're talking nearly 25 percent, or one-quarter of U.S. consumer monthly entertainment spending that's been snapped up by video gaming.

"As with video and music, sales of physical gaming products still account for the bulk of consumer spending on video games, but digital downloads and other delivery and game-play formats are also rising in popularity," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick.

More factoids:

- 1 in 3 gamers (31 percent) bought a console or handheld video game in the past year, up 7 percent over the year prior.

- Among console/portable gamers: 31 percent played games on a website, 12 percent played games on a social networking site, 19 percent played games bundled with their mobiles phones, and 11 percent purchased/downloaded a game to their mobile phone.

"Video games account for one-third of the average monthly consumer spending in the U.S. for core entertainment content, including music, video, games," said Anita Frazier, video games industry analyst for NPD. "While a portion of that share stems from the premium price of console games, we're also seeing an overall increase in the number of people participating in gaming year-over-year."

The report's results were gathered from an online study involving more than 11,000 respondents, and NPD says the data was tested to a "95 percent confidence level."

For more gaming news and opinion, park your tweet-readers at twitter.com/game_on.

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
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