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More Gamers Pay to Play Online

Time spent playing games online has increased since last year, according to NPD’s second annual online gaming report, “Online Gaming II: The Consumer Perspective.” The study, based on the gamer’s perspective for the three main online gaming platforms – PC/Mac, PlayStation 2 (PS2) and Xbox – provides insight into current behavior on these key platforms and how such behavior has changed over the past year.

According to the report, when compared to last year’s results, PS2 and Xbox online gamers indicated an increased willingness to pay for online game play, although the percentages do vary considerably between the two systems. PS2 and Xbox gamers also continue to report a high interest in downloading content, and the average price they’d be willing to pay for certain types of desired content rose from a year ago.

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While the PC/Mac is still the primary platform used to play games online – two-thirds (66%) of gamers say they use it – the PC/Mac has experienced a two percentage point decline in usage penetration since last year. On the other hand, consoles have made significant gains over the past year, with Xbox experiencing the strongest growth.

“The growth of online Xbox gamers is impressive, more than doubling its penetration since last year,” said Anita Frazier, entertainment industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The number of gamers playing online via Microsoft’s Xbox has been on the rise, especially among females and teens. However, the Xbox is still a much smaller contender when compared to the PC/Mac for usage penetration among the total online gaming market.”

In terms of the types of games played on each system, PlayStation 2 users have a higher propensity to play sports games online, whereas Xbox users are more likely to play shooting games online. On the PC/Mac platform, online card/puzzle/arcade/word games have experienced a decline in usage penetration since last year, while massively multi-player online games have experienced a healthy increase in usage penetration since last year. Males mostly drove these changes occurring on the PC/Mac platform.