A new NPD report due for release tomorrow, Online Gaming 2007: The Virtual Landscape, has found that 62% of all gamers report playing games online.
The report found that the majority of online gamers are console owners and casual gamers from middle income households ($35,000-$75,000) aged 25-44. The report also concluded that females accounted for 42% of online gamers.
Among video game systems used for online gaming, Xbox 360 has the highest percentage of use (54%) followed by PS2 (45%).
According to the report, “Nintendo Wii users are most inclined (76%) to be online gamers. Xbox 360 and PS3 users are next in line, each with about 7 in 10 reporting that they game online.”
Xbox 360 tops the list regarding hours per week spent playing games online, with a mean of 7.1 hours per week. The PS3 followed closely with a mean weekly total of 6.1 hours, while PC/Mac users spent 5.8 hours a week on online gaming. All other systems came in at under four hours a week for online game play.
"With the intense interest on the success of MMORPG’s recently, it might surprise some that the audience for online games is still largely the casual player," said Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for the NPD Group.
The highest ranking genres of games played online were card, puzzle, arcade and word games (44%), family-oriented games (25%) and RPG/MMOGs (19%). Casual, family oriented and gambling games (17%) were generally favored by PC online gamers while console/portable online gamers were more inclined to prefer non-casual game genres such as shooting and racing games.
"Understanding exactly who is playing what and where is crucial for the industry to realize the potential revenues that online revenues represent for future growth," Frazier added.
With regard to online purchasing and micro-transactions such as the purchasing of downloadable content, the report found that 85% of purchasers bought more than three-quarters of their games in physical format, while only 5% of purchasers bought three-quarters of their games in digital format.
Next generation console owners were more likely to purchase downloadable content than PC/Macs users.