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Nielsen: Game Usage Up In June, PS2 Still Leading Pack
Nielsen: Game Usage Up In June, PS2 Still Leading Pack
August 10, 2009 | By Chris Remo

August 10, 2009 | By Chris Remo

Consumers might have spent less on games this June than usual, but according to Nielsen data, they're spending more time playing them than ever.

Nielsen usage statistics released today peg this past June as the strongest ever for console video game playtime, up 21 percent year over year -- while consumer spending on games dropped 31 percent the same month.

The average console user spent 768 minutes playing in June, which works out to a little under a half-hour per day. Overall, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 were neck and neck for most-used status -- Sony's aging console being slightly ahead in June -- with Wii trailing slightly behind, then a significant gap until PlayStation 3.

On the whole, Xbox 360 has been on the increase in the past six months, overtaking Wii in that period, while Wii and PlayStation 2 usage has dropped noticeably and PlayStation 3 has seen a slight net gain.

The numbers get a lot more stratified when looking at "active users," however. (Nielsen does not explicitly define how much usage a player must demonstrate before being considered "active.)

In that category, Xbox 360 has been the clear leader for the past six months, followed by PlayStation 3 -- and Wii is at the bottom of the pack by a significant margin. Nintendo's current console even trails the original Xbox as well as its own predecessor GameCube among the active user group.

Where Wii is the clear winner is in attracting females. It is the only console which females were determined to have spent more than a quarter of their time playing.

Most of the other systems, such as the PlayStations and the original Xbox, appear to be roughly equal in male and female playtime according to Nielsen, with the most notable other exception being the Xbox 360 -- apparently a very male-dominated platform.

And, perhaps surprisingly to those who maintain the gaming age is ever-rising, more than half of total usage was claimed to be by those aged 18 and under.

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Christopher Corbett
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If these stats are indicative of reality, then it sounds like the Wii could possibly have been a mass market fad? Now that it's been out awhile, I'm curious to see if the user base switches to another console, no console, etc. Perhaps a new user base will be apparent. Or, perhaps more quality games will be developed and place the Wii squarely into the arms of the "hardcore"?

I think the age players is in fact rising, but the amount of time we geezers have to play is far more constrained than when we were younger. My game time now would easily be absorbed by my game time "back in the day". In this respect one might say half the players are 30 and half are 15 but the vast amount of playtime is absorbed by the 15 year old. So it's not playtime that needs to be viewed, it's frequency of age (regardless of playtime)? No, I didn't read the Nielsen report so perhaps it was in fact determined that way.

Chris Remo
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I think, if anything, these stats indicate that the Wii will absolutely not be pushed into the arms of the hardcore. Amongst "active users" (which are presumably people who play games more often--ie, more hardcore gamers), the Wii seems to be barely used at all. I think its relatively low amount of playtime compared to PS2 and Xbox 360 isn't particularly surprising, it's just indicative of the type of people playing it. They spend less time playing a console. That's the market Nintendo has targeted.

But regarding age, yeah, I think that's a fair interpretation for sure.

Lo Pan
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All those Wii's gathering dust waiting for the next dose of casual gaming from Nintendo. Striking the PS2 is getting played so much, presuming a healthy dose of youngsters. The graphics are so painful to watch...

Christopher Corbett
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I suppose the next cycle or two of software releases (are there cycles anymore?) will dictate via their sales where the Wii market goes (if anywhere). Active users haven't been playing it yet due to no or few games for them. Mad World, Deadly Creatures, etc. seem to be attempting but I think they were still a bit premature in their release. Perhaps another year or two will find more success for titles directed that way. Having said that, it will take some major game design achievements to rally the hardcore around the relatively underpowered machine. I'm hopeful...yet I'm also part of the active user crowd uses my Wii as a dust collector.

Painful to watch but by far the greatest crop of RPG's the world has seen (if you're into that sort of thing).

Joshua Sterns
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I was playing GoW 1 & 2 last week. The graphics weren't that painful at all. :)

It is also pretty sad that Xbox is almost topping the PS3. Maybe that will change with a price drop and the addition of backwards compatibility.

John Paul Zahary
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Once again, Sony's claim to a "10 year cycle" for the Playstation 2 still has steam. I am surprised that people are still playing the Gamecube! (an under-appreciated machine that I still love).

Usage minutes aside, the Active Users results show how Xbox 360 and PS3 (even old Xbox and Gamecube) are crushing the Wii.

However, Nintendo is happy with the casual market they target. I see this number rising when New SMB comes out as core fans have something else to play.

@Christopher - I do hope for better success for Wii in the active user dept. as well.

Tomer Chasid
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I think that wii's novelty is wearing out (if at all) only with "hardcore" gamers. I think the market for the wii has proven to be huge and as long as nintendo can keep the fire going with titles like 'resort' the wii has staying power. It's not and never was all about graphics and powerful processing. It's about fun, and nintendo definitely has the competence there. Furthermore, there are still plenty of parents out there who would prefer their kids have a wii than other consoles who offer more mature content especially for younger children.

.... where are PCs in all of this?

Maurício Gomes
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PCs are not tracked because their usage is off the charts (upward, not downward).

Or I guess so...

Too bad that even Microsoft is neglecting PCs... Happily we still have id, that is even making a Linux version of Doom 4 (since Microsoft is neglecting PC players, maybe Windows will suck to PC playing...)

Rik Spruitenburg
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I think we are just seeing that Wii users are, on average, more casual, and play for shorter periods of time.

David Lee
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Thanks, Gamasutra, for covering this--always nice to get a reminder and some analysis when research companies drop some new numbers.

I suspect PS2 numbers are up because school was out in June and PS2s are a low-priced console elementary and Junior High kids have access to at home. The same is true for the 360, which skews younger than the PS3 (partially because of its lower price but also because of its positioning). For the Wii, there have been few notable games released in the first six months and as @Rik noted above, Wii users are more casual and play for shorter periods.

The amount of time someone plays their console is not directly correlated to the level of entertainment they experience. If you have a great time in a 10 minute mini-game you may be happier with your experience than someone who spent hours trying to level up or complete a level in a core game. Usage minutes are interesting but I look at software sales as being a better tracking tool for console interest...

Off topic, that the 360 is still so male-dominated shows that MS have not been able to expand from the core audience--they are very successful with core gamers but it's Nintendo who has reached female gamers en masse, thus expanding the console audience. Whether Natal will help them in this regard remains to be seen but it certainly seems worth the effort rather than just ceding the audience to Nintendo.

Steven Boswell
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Why won't the PS2 die? Talk about Sony hitting a sweet spot!

Maybe they could boost PS3 sales by putting the PS2 in it again? I'm certainly glad I have a revision 1 PS3...seeing all my PS2 games in hi-def is nice!