IDC: Gamers are gluttons for music, too!

Hardcore gamers are also big consumers of music, according to the results of an IDC survey.

Care for an MP3 with that frag? Companies that want to boost sales of music and portable music players should consider marketing to a growing, but untapped audience -- hard-core gamers -- according to the results of a survey by IDC and IGN Entertainment.

Gamers are spending hours each week playing computer games, but are also big consumers of music and audio devices, the survey of over 6,000 gamers found. However, rather than trying to pry gamers away from the warm glow of their LCD (liquid crystal display) screens to go see a show, the music industry should look for ways to integrate music with video games, such as tying audio devices and services into games or marketing online music and gaming services together, according to an IDC report.

The Web-based surveys were conducted in the August 2004 through gaming Web sites like GameSpy.com, TeamXbox.com and other game community sites and online forums. IDC and IGN asked gamers about their gaming and music listening habits.

The bulk of respondents reported spending between four and 20 hours a week playing video games. The biggest group, almost 20 percent, said they spent between six and 10 hours a week gaming.

Despite spending an inordinate amount of time playing video games, serious gamers said they were not immune to the sound of the lyre. Almost 35 percent of those responding to the survey reported owning between 100 and 299 music CDs. Sixteen percent said they owned 300 to 499 CDs, according to the published report, IDC said.

That's encouraging news for music publishers, who have been fighting flat sales of CDs and music singles in recent years. But the folks managing heart throb Justin Timberlake should think twice before streaming his latest single to the World of Warcraft set: 93 percent of those who took the survey were male, cementing the reputation of the "serious gamer demographic" as an all-boys club, IDC said.

Gamers are a tech-savvy bunch and ready adopters of digital music and digital music players, the survey found. Eighty-three percent said that they had music stored on PCs in their household, with 23 percent saying they had 1,000 or more songs stored on their PCs. However, few of those responding, just over 16 percent, said they used a paid online music service such as Apple Computer's iTunes Music Service, suggesting that ripping CDs and downloading music from free online services is a common way for gamers to obtain digital versions of music.

Companies, such as Apple, that are looking to expand their market should consider partnering with gaming companies. Online music services could also be linked to subscription-based online gaming services like Xbox Live, or massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) like EverQuest, whose users are already accustomed to using and paying for online services, IDC concluded.

For companies like Nokia that are chasing the "killer app" that combines portable gaming and music, the path is less clear. The gamers surveyed had only lukewarm interest in playing games on MP3 music players. To be successful in the market for combined gaming-music players, companies should position their devices to be clearly one thing or the other -- for example, an iTunes with limited gaming functionality as a distant second feature, IDC recommended.

IDC's report, "3Q04 Gamer Survey: Digital Audio Technologies and the Gamer," is the latest in a series of studies focused on the gaming industry. A summary of the report is available online. (See: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=32997.)

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Paul Roberts

IDG News Service
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