Free Online Gaming Grows As Economy Struggles

    January 28, 2009

The usage of online gaming sites has grown 27 percent during the past year to 86 million visitors in December 2008, while the total time spent playing online games increased 42 percent, according to comScore.

American’s total amount of Internet time spent playing online games grew from 3.7 percent in December to 4.9 percent in December 2008.

Yahoo Games ranked as the most visited site with 19.5 million visitors (Up 20%), followed by EA Online with 15.4 million visitors (up 21%), and Disney Games with 13.4 million visitors (up 13%). The tenth most visited site, Spil Game, saw traffic boom 269 percent to 6.7 million visitors.

Top Online Gaming Sites

"It appears that online, ad-supported gaming is one of the activities that has benefited during this economic downturn," said Edward Hunter, comScore director of gaming solutions.

"Not only have consumers turned to outlets such as gaming to take their minds off the economy, but as they curtail their discretionary gaming-related purchases they are turning to free alternatives."

Online display advertising is also doing well in online gaming.  From November 2007 to November 2008, the total number of display ad views in online gaming grew 29 percent to 8.6 billion.

The increase in display ad exposure is due mainly to the increasing number of visitors (up30%), while the average person’s frequency of exposure has remained relatively constant at 127 ad views per person.

"The growth in display ads in the online gaming category not only underscores the assertion that gamers are increasingly accepting of ad-supported games, but also that the advertising community is recognizing the value of this highly engaged audience," added Hunter.

"It is also likely that the advertising agency community will begin to demand more evaluations of campaign effectiveness in this space as spend and impressions continue to rise."