Are Gamers Dropping the System for Online?

August 25, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment

The news that the nearly $12 billion video game market saw a 30% drop in gaming equipment resulting in the industry’s first major decline since 2000 may be a cause for alarm. Or is it. The answer is yes — and no, according to MarketingVox.com.

Despite a 45% drop over the same time last year, sales of Nintendo’s Wii gaming platform still leads the category going on two full years now. Microsoft’s XBox 360 is second, followed by Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, respectively.
So is the industry hurting due to software issues or hardware problems?

Signs point to the latter, because the number of gamers in 2009 increased by 3% over last year, accounting for 68% of all U.S. households.

Additional data indicates that 40% of all gamers are now women. The average age of the overall market is 35-years old, with 25% of players being 50-years old and above.

Platforms are starting to see competition from games played online as well as those on PDAs. This year saw a 22% increase over last in terms of online game participation by hardcore users.

Wii sales have also remained strong because unlike the other gaming platforms, its unique controllers encourage participation and physical activity. Not just among female users who use it to work out either, but a new demo: Senior citizens.

Rivals Sony and Microsoft also have their own versions of wireless platforms. Microsoft has even done away with the controller by using software that can detect the body movement of players.

What is really occurring here is the inevitable migration from one delivery system to another, something that all industries experience.

The music industry is a perfect example. It saw an evolution from vinyl records fading out in the 1980s to CDs lasting into the new millenium. Now, the downloadable MP3s that eclipsed CDs are giving way to streaming music sites.

Same with the video industry. VHS and Beta to DVD to downloading shows on Hulu.

Video gaming is no different. Online play is the next logical evolution from consoles as gamers connect with their friends live, no longer in the same room but across town and even across the planet.

This ushers in major changes in terms of how gamers not only play, but how they buy titles relative to social networking communities too.

Word of mouth referrals for new titles in retail stores? Not likely to happen. But online, gamers share what they find. Try it and buy it right then.

Eventually, it will be pointless for someone to go out to a GameStop for new titles when they can access the same releases online and talk with friends at the same time.

Ironically, the next platform that will unite them all isn’t physical, it’s virtual.

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