Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 24, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 24, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Nielsen: PlayStation 2 Most-Played Console In 2008,  WoW  Tops PC Gaming
Nielsen: PlayStation 2 Most-Played Console In 2008, WoW Tops PC Gaming
January 2, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

January 2, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

In 2008, gamers collectively spent more time with their PlayStation 2 than any other console. That's according to media research company Nielsen, whose "Top Tens" of 2008 calculated video game console usage, as well as the top PC games.

The company's methodology, also famously used in the TV industry, is to use data from households that it monitors for media usage, and then extrapolate across the entire United States.

Nielsen's data, which actually covers the period from January through October, found that PS2 users accounted for 31.7 percent of the total time played from all nationwide gamers. The Xbox 360 was the year's second-most popular console, with 17.2 percent of the time, followed by Wii at 13.4 percent.

Interestingly, Nielsen says that the first-gen Xbox currently sees more usage than the PlayStation 3, with 9.7 percent versus 7.3 percent, respectively. The GameCube still made the surveyors' list with 4.6 percent of total time, and an "Other" category accounts for the remaining 16.2 percent.

"Other", Nielsen says, includes "any other console found in the home" - it appears that the research did not include portable hardware like the Nintendo DS or PSP.

Unsurprisingly, Blizzard's World of Warcraft tops Nielsen's most-played PC game list, seeing an average of 671 minutes played per week. In any given minute, the data says, almost 1 percent (0.723 percent) of all PC gamers are playing WoW.

Nielsen's full list of most-played PC titles, with average minutes per week and what percentage of PC gamers are playing them at that moment, is as follows:

1. World of Warcraft (Blizzard)
- 671 minutes per week (0.723% of gamers)
2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision)
- 403 minutes per week (0.163% of gamers)
3. Halo: Combat Evolved (Microsoft)
- 295 minutes per week (0.092% of gamers)
4. The Sims (Electronic Arts)
- 213 minutes per week (0.09% of gamers)
5. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts)
- 291 minutes per week (0.086% of gamers)
6. RuneScape (Jagex)
- 451 minutes per week (0.084% of gamers)
7. Diablo II (Blizzard)
- 313 minutes per week (0.065% of gamers)
8. Team Fortress 2 (Valve)
- 371 minutes per week (0.063% of gamers)
9. Counter-Strike (Valve)
- 282 minutes per week (0.062% of gamers)
10. Counter-Strike: Source (Valve)
- 426 minutes per week (0.061% of gamers)

Nielsen's full set of Top 10 lists, which also include television, books, and other media, are available at its official website.

Related Jobs

Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States

Tools Programmer-Central Team
Crystal Dynamics
Crystal Dynamics — Redwood City, California, United States

Senior/Lead VFX Artist
Magic Leap, Inc.
Magic Leap, Inc. — Wellington, New Zealand

Level Designer
Magic Leap, Inc.
Magic Leap, Inc. — Wellington, New Zealand

Lead Game Designer


Jay Lee
profile image
According the report from Nielson the original Xbox is seeing more playtime than the PS3 this year. That statistic is simply alarming.

Roberto Alfonso
profile image
Well, it would depend on whether the original PlayStation 2 suffered the same. After all, it was marketed as a cheap DVD player, while the PS3 was marketed as a cheap Blu-ray player.

profile image
I'd believe the PS2 over any console, but there is no way the original Xbox got more playtime than the PS3. It had nearly no good games back in the day and it has been abandoned for a long time by MS.

Carl Chavez
profile image
It's entirely possible for the original Xbox to have gotten more play time than the PS3. Halo: Combat Evolved was the #3 most played PC game, so it's possible that many Xbox owners are still playing Halo 1 as well.

However, that may show a flaw in the methodology: for example, even though Halo is an Xbox game, and it may have been interpreted by Neilsen as Xbox time, many of the players may have been using Xbox 360s to play it as well. Similarly, it may be a reason why PS3 usage was measured low; maybe people are playing PS2 games on PS3s, and Neilsen is measuring the PS3 usage as PS2 usage. I'd like to know what Neilsen's methodology is that determines exactly which platform a backwards-compatible console is running.

John Ingrams
profile image
Has it occurred to anyone that PS2 and original XBox playing alongside the huge increase in retro gaming, whether on 'LIVE' services provided by console manufacturers, or on PC with DOSBox having had it's 5 millionth download in 2008 that we are seeing a revolution of gamer that are starved of good gameplay in modern games on modern machines and are therefore looking back to days gone by? To say modern games are better than games of 3+ years ago is a joke to my mind. With gameplay and entertainment value way higher in older games and with modern games just giving us great graphics and little else! prior to 2005 you just never heard of 15 hour gameplay games, let alone 12 hour and 10 hour gameplay games like we see now, for example! In 2008 sub 20 hour gameplay games almost became the norm - and yet retail prices never came down - making gaming the most expensive it had ever been!

Carl Chavez
profile image

Somewhat, but anybody with older model PS3s, like the 20-60GB models, still has decent (75% or more) backwards compatibility. That may or may not have a significant effect on PS2 play statistics if those games are counted as being played on PS2 hardware instead of PS3 hardware.

David Tarris
profile image
I don't know about that John. The price of games never went down because the value of the dollar did, due to a phenomenon known as "inflation". In real dollars, I'm not convinced gaming is the "most expensive it's ever been". I think old systems are still used so much to this day because we never really think about just how many people have these consoles.

If there truly are 140 million PS2s out there, and in spite of its unprecedented success, a mere 35 million Wiis, then it stands to reason that the vast majority of "gamers" just haven't gotten around to picking up a next-gen system yet, and are still playing their old systems. In addition, a lot of people who have bought newer consoles still go back to their old ones from time to time for the sake of reminiscing about the days of old.

I don't think any of it has to do with the quality of games today, because in spite of our nostalgia, I think gaming has gotten better with time. Some games may be a mere 8 hours, but how much of that is made up for with online multiplayer components that didn't exist last generation? And as for truly single-player focused experiences, I'd say they haven't lost any value over the years. Oblivion was every bit as worth its price tag as Morrowind, and Fallout 3 more than earned my $60.

No, I think the "problem" is just that we have a silent majority of gamers who, for reasons financial or other, haven't yet gotten around to purchasing a new console, and are still playing the old ones.

Jacek Wesolowski
profile image
I'd like to see a closer study on that. It would be interesting to see how many of those gamers are planning to buy another console at all.

(my bet is: not so many)

David Tarris
profile image
My guess is that many, if not most, of them may not be planning to buy a new console, but they will eventually, once the price comes down, more games are available, etc.

All the people who own next-gen consoles now are early adapters, but it's a well known fact with tech trends that it takes a few years for the general public to latch onto new technology. I'd like to see this study again next year, and the year after.

Frank Lenk
profile image
It's a shame the discussion got sidetracked by partisan console issues; the list of most-played PC titles should be the biggest concern... and why it's NOT an eye-opener to the games industry. The Sims holding TWO positions on the list. RuneScape, a free game run by two guys from the UK. Diablo II, an EIGHT-year-old title. How would network TV programmers react if they found that Leave It To Beaver was the number-one most watched show last year? There would be BIG changes, is my guess. But the games industry never learns.