NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- During the last year, America's hard-core game players have shifted four more hours of their weekly TV-watching time to online activities, according to a new survey by Ziff Davis Media Game Group.
|Image: Cryptic Studios/NCsoft|
'City of Villains' is typical of the subscription, online games that are luring hard-core gamers to spend even more time online and away from the TV.
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The study, "Digital Gaming in America," also reports that the number of hard-core game-playing households increased by 900,000 from 18.9 million to 19.8 million over the same year's time.
76 million game households
There are 76.2 million game-playing households in the U.S. in 2005 -- up 11.4% from 67.5 million in 2004. The importance of hard-core gamers in this overall universe is underscored by the study's finding that they account for 56% of the industry's revenue.
The survey by the Ziff Davis group, which publishes game magazines, analyzed the behavior of hard-core and general digital game players. A hard-core player is defined as a video gamer or PC gamer who bought four or more games in the last six months and who plays 10 or more hours of games a week. (Video gamers play on stand-alone console devices such as Microsoft's Xbox or Sony's PlayStation; PC gamers play games on their personal computers.)
The findings also confirm previous reports that the demographics of the overall game-playing public continues to broaden to include large numbers of women and adults. Among video-game players overall, 61% are male, as are 57% of PC gamers. Among hard-core gamers, 65% of video gamers and 68% of PC gamers are male.
Older hard-core PC gamers
Over one-third (34%) of hard-core PC gamers are 35 and older. The mean age of this core group is 31. Core video-gamers are younger. Forty percent are 19 and under. But 29% are 35 and older. The mean age is 27.
"The population of so-called enthusiast gamers mirrors the general population more than you might think," explained Scott McCarthy, president of the media game group at the magazine publisher. "It makes perfect sense when you think about the evolution of the Internet. It's really been in the last generation or two where games have been part of the experience of the household. So now you have people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have video games in the household and their kids are playing -- so they play."
Hard-core video gamers watched 18 hours of TV per week in 2005, down from 22 hours per week last year. However, hard-core players watch more TV than general gamers, the study said. General gamers watched 16 hours of TV per week in 2005 -- a drop of two hours since 2004.
Gamers also have many and varied interests, Mr. McCarthy pointed out. Listing their favorite leisure activities, 79% of hard-core video gamers said they spend time with family. Some 72% eat out in restaurants; 70% watch videos; 69% go to the movies; and 67% spend time with friends -- not playing games.
Hard-core video gamers went to an average of four movies in the last two months, and 85% of them rented DVD movies.
'Just like the rest of us'
"One of the misperceptions is that these guys sit in the basement and play games all the time," he said. "They are involved in lots of activities just like the rest of us."
The study surveyed 1,500 people, chosen as representative of the U.S. population.