Video games gaining more time

Players spend 48.5 hours a week, study says

Core gamers are the lifeblood of the video game industry, buying more titles and playing more frequently than anyone else. They are the film world’s equivalent of the equivalent of the film world’s superfan, who visits the cinema multiple times each weekend. According to a study from the NPD Group, which also tracks retail sales of videogames, “extreme” gamers spend 48.5 hours per week playing games, while repping 4% of the total gamers in the U.S.

On the whole, U.S. gamers spend 13 hours per week playing games — 42 minutes more than last year. That’s still considerably less than the average American’s TV viewing habits, which clock in at 35 hours per week, according to Nielsen. But games are gaining.

The number of hours players, both core and casual, spent per week with games is up 9% for console games and 6% for PC games this year. (Portable games are down 16%, largely due to the fact that the iPhone and iPod Touch are not tracked as gaming systems.)

Comparing with the film world is a bit trickier; attending a movie requires travel and the medium has fixed times. The dollar figures, though, are clear. U.S. box office receipts in 2009 were up 10% to $10.6 billion, according to the MPAA. Despite falling 8% in 2008, videogame sales trounced that number, coming in at $19.7 billion.

However, interest in digital sales is on the rise as well. Game sales that bypassed traditional retail channels comprised 17% of the market. Avid PC Gamers, which rep 11% of the gaming population, are the biggest force behind this, with 30% of their purchases over the past three months done digitally. “With these kinds of shifts in the composition of the gaming consumer and changes in gaming behavior, it’s clear that the need to understand gamers and their purchase patterns remains critical information to those that develop, market and sell games,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, the NPD Group.

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