According to a new study issued by consumer and retail information company The NPD Group, 62 percent of all players of video games report that they play games online.
The annual study, titled Online Gaming 2007: The Virtual Landscape, focuses on online gaming habits among U.S, players, including time spent playing games online, as well as player demographics, spending habits, and behavior across PC, console, and portable platforms. The report was based on online survey responses from more than 11,600 members of NPD's online consumer panel, representing gamers between the ages of 6-44 years old.
According to the report, women accounted for 42 percent of online gamers, while a majority of online players were found to be between the ages of 25-44, be console owners, players of casual games, and live in middle income households ($35,000-$75,000).
Among those console platforms used for online gaming, the Xbox 360 was noted as having the highest percentage of use among those surveyed with 54 percent, followed by the PlayStation 2 with 45 percent.
Those surveyed who play games on the Nintendo Wii were found to be most inclined (76 percent) to be online gamers, particularly interesting given the Wii's anemic support of online gaming compared to that of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. According to NPD, about 7 in 10 users of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 reported that they play games online.
Xbox 360 seems to be the biggest draw for players' time spent online, with the respondents reporting an average of 7.1 hours per week spent playing games online on the console. The PlayStation 3 ranked second with an average of 6.1 hours, while PC/Mac users reported spending an average of 5.8 hours a week on playing games online on those platforms. All other systems were found to account for less than four hours a week of online gaming.
The most popular genres found by the report were card, puzzle, arcade and word games, which 44 percent of those surveyed noted as their most played game types. Family-oriented games ranked second among players' interests with 25 percent, while massively multiplayer games took the third position with 19 percent. Online gambling games also proved most popular among 17 percent of those surveyed.
"With the intense interest on the success of MMORPG's recently, it might surprise some that the audience for online games is still largely the casual player," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst for The NPD Group. "Understanding exactly who is playing what and where is crucial for the industry to realize the potential revenues that online revenues represent for future growth."
Other findings include that the largest segment of online games, classified as "Avid PC Gamers," represented 41 percent of those surveyed, together with another 21 percent of "Inactive Gamers," were found to be "significantly less likely than most gamers to play games online using a console."
In addition, in examining the purchasing habits of online game players concerning micro-transactions, the survey found that 85 percent of purchasers bought more than three-fourths of their games in physical format, while only 5 percent bought three-fourths of their games digitally. Across all micro-transaction types, online gamers were found to be more likely to download content on next-gen consoles rather than on PC/Macs or earlier generation systems.