The number of US internet users playing online games in May 2009 rose to 87 million, up 22% vs. last year, as increasingly budget-conscious consumers opt for cheaper entertainment alternatives, according to data from the comScore Media Metrix service.
The online gaming category as a whole has grown 10 times as fast as the US internet population over the past year, according to the analysis.? This growth is, in large part, being fueled by viral distribution platforms such as widgets and distributed content applications, comScore said.
Top 20 Games Sites
Yahoo Games ranked #1 in comScore’s online gaming category with 19.4 million visitors, representing a 6% increase over the past year, followed by EA Online with 18 million visitors (up 34%), comScore said.
Rounding out the top five: Nickelodeon Casual Games with 14.8 million visitors, WildTangent Network with 13.8 million (up 16 %), and Disney Games, with 12.8 million (down 3%).
GSN Games Networks, which ranked #11 overall, achieved particularly strong gains in the past year, growing 563% to 6 million visitors. This growth has resulted, in large part, from of the additions of entities such as WorldWinner.com and CrazyMonkeyGames.com, said comScore.
Nearly one out of every two US internet users visits online game sites, according to Edward Hunter, comScore director of gaming solutions, who notes that category growth is not at all limited to top gaming destinations. “Some online gaming companies that distributed their games across sites are reaching as many people as the top sites,” he noted.
A June 2009 ranking of games sites from Hitwise, which is based on an analysis that appears to use a different methodology than comScore, puts game site Pogo at #1, with more than 16% of US share. In Hitwise’s rankings, Yahoo Games ranks at #2.
Distribution Platforms Become More Significant
Distributed content also represents a growing trend in the online gaming space, according to comScore, which revealed that distributed content platforms – including widgets and applications – can often reach audiences of a size comparable to online gaming destination sites.
MochiMedia, for example, reached a combined audience of 16.9 million in May, greater than all but two sites in the online gaming category. Games2Win reached 1.8 million people, which compares favorably with the top-20 sites in the category, while Tetris Online reached 165,000 people.