[[by Dimitri Pertsinis, August 1, 2003]]
A survey into the gaming habits of the U.S. was released by Ziff Davis media which indicates that gaming has become a mainstream market and a driving force in the entertainment industry, positively influencing sales in movies and music. The report, based on the survey, has focused on gaming, online gaming and on the entertainment spending habbits of gamers i.e. impact of gaming on spending on movies and music.
The main, somewhat surprising finding of the survey is that 63 per cent of U.S. households play digital games, a figure which immediately places video games in the mainstream making them a major entertainment form. The figures produced suggest that a stunning 68.5 million U.S. homes regularly play video games.
The same research also found another interesting fact, that 14 per cent of U.S. households now use PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and mobile phones to play their videogames. A total of 9.5 million people claim to use their PDAs, and 8 million their mobile phones for video gaming. These figures suggest that portable gaming does have a strong user base ready for the introduction of such devices as Nokia's N-Gage and Sony's PSP with the N-Gage offering an intriguing high-tech combination of gaming and mobile telephony which may just fit the needs of current consumer trends.
The Internet and the PC remain the most popular choices for online gaming. 66 per cent of online gamers claim to use the Internet. These users spend 12 hours online each week. Eight per cent of online gamers prefer Sony's PlayStation 2, while four per cent use Microsoft's Xbox. The study tells us that whether at home or on the go, videogames are increasing in popularity as a primary form of entertainment, says Lee Uniacke, publisher of the Ziff Davis Game Group. This year's research proves that gamers are becoming more mainstream. They're significant consumers of motion pictures and music and are having a broad impact on those activities.
Gaming and Movies
The same research also provided important information about the importance of gamers in the entertainment industry overall. Video gamers go to the movies twice a month, on average, and 60 per cent see films within the first two weeks of ther release. Seventy seven per cent of hardcore gamers, defined by the research as those purchasing a minimum of 18 games per year, watch movie trailers online.
The same hardcore gamers, in fact 89 per cent of them, are fans of action and adventure movies. Films such as The Matrix, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars rank among their favorite films. Those participating in the study ranked their familiarity and willingness to purchase the next game sequels as:
1. Zelda (ranked 7th last year)
2. Grand Theft Auto (2)
3. Final Fantasy (8)
4. Mario (1)
5. Mortal Kombat (10)
6. Donkey Kong (4)
7. Resident Evil (13)
8. Lord of the Rings (n.a.)
9. Frogger (17)
10. Tomb Raider/L.C. (15/19)
Gaming and Music
According to the research gaming also has a strong effect on music purchases. Forty-nine per cent of hardcore gamers and 32 per cent of general gamers say that through a video game they have discovered a new band or artist, causing 34 and 21 per cent of respective gamers to purchase that band's CDs. Gaming therefore, could be considered a very powerful promotional medium for new artists.
Among gamers, the five favorite artists are Eminem, 50 Cent, Linkin Park, Creed and Match Box 20.
Thirty-three per cent of hardcore gamers and 23 per cent of general gamers say a good soundtrack would make it more likely they would purchase a game and almost 13 per cent have purchased videogame sound tracks.
Ziff Davis Game Group projects that PlayStation 2 will maintain its dominance among the three major gaming platforms, increasing to 25.9 million units sold by June 2004, compared with 18 million through June 2003. Xbox is expected to increase to 10.4 million units, up from 5.5 million in 12 months. Nintendo's GameCube should reach 8.2 million units by June 2004, an increase from 4.1 million a year earlier.