In a sign of the increasing importance of online gaming in today's video game market, The NPD Group's annual study on the online gaming landscape in the U.S. reveals that out of all gamers, 62 percent play online. NPD surveyed 11,600 members (ages 6 to 44) from its online consumer panel. The report Online Gaming 2007: The Virtual Landscape covers consoles, handhelds and PC/Mac.
At 54 percent, the Xbox 360 had the highest percentage of online use among video game systems, which is a testament to how Microsoft has pushed its Xbox Live service. The PS2 came in second with 45 percent. Xbox 360 also placed first when it comes to the number of hours spent per week playing online. Xbox 360 had a mean of 7.1 hours per week, followed by PS3 with 6.1 hours, and PC/Mac users with 5.8 hours. Other systems came in under four hours a week for online gameplay.
Ironically, Nintendo Wii users were found to be most inclined (76 percent) to be online gamers. At the moment, however, the Wii is severely lacking in the online gameplay department. 360 and PS3 were next, tied at about 70 percent.
Having said that, "The PC still far outranks any console system in terms of both use and online play," industry analyst Anita Frazier told GameDaily BIZ. "Of those respondents that say they play games on any system, 70% use a PC to play games (PS2 is second). Of those that play online, 85% use a PC to play online and 29% use a video game system of some sort."
While MMOs like World of Warcraft have drawn in plenty of online gamers, the biggest draw is still for casual games (card, puzzle, word and arcade games). NPD's report found that online gamers are most likely to be casual gamers, age 25-44, console owners, and live in mid-income households ($35K-<$75K). Additionally, 42 percent of the online gamer population is female.