The average number of hours spent each week on online gaming has climbed 10 percent since 2009, while an average of 20 percent of all games purchased were digitally downloaded up from 19 percent in 2009, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
Among those reporting they personally play video games on at least one type of console, 54 percent said they play games online, down slightly since 2009 and 2008 (56% and 55% respectively).
The average number of hours spent per week on online gaming has increased from 7.3 hours per week in 2009 to 8 hours per week in the 2010 report. This means that, despite the decline in overall online game play, those who are playing, are spending more time playing than they did last year.
"While the percentage of the population that reports playing games has declined slightly, this study details other metrics which point to both stability and growth in both online and offline gaming," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group."
The report found 71 percent of online gamers purchased or received a game over the 2009 holiday season. There were no major changes to the percent of online gamers making purchase from 2008 to 2010, and also no significant changes regarding average volumes purchased during that same time period. This indicates online gamers buying habits may not have been significantly impacted by the recession and it may be a positive for the future.
"The installed base of video game systems continues to grow, the platforms available to play games continue to expand, and the options for content acquisition have never been greater, especially online," said Frazier.
"And yet, effective monetization of many forms of online gaming continues to be a topic of much debate and discussion within the industry."
"Mobile gaming, for instance, has advanced to play a bigger role and the iPhone, in particular, is attracting a lot of attention given the dizzying array of game apps available for this device. Social networks have emerged as the hot venue for online gaming, due to the huge number of subscribers these are attracting. But still, it's unclear which business models are working in this space."
The PC is still the most-used system for online gaming, with 85% of online gamers reporting using a PC for online gaming activities. Among non-PC systems, the Xbox 360 maintains its leadership for the third year in a row as the top video game system used for online gaming at 48%. In contrast to 2009, when Wii was leading over PS3 by 8 percentage points, PS3 and Wii are now neck and neck, with about 30 percent of online gamers reporting that they use each system for online gaming.
This is due to an increase in use for online gaming on the part of the PS3, which increased 10 percentage points since last year. The top three systems with the highest average hrs/wk spent gaming online (using the respective systems they own) are: Xbox 360 (7.3 hrs), PC (6.6 hrs) and PS3 (5.8 hrs).