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NPD Group, a leading market research company for the entertainment industry, said that according to its latest consumer tracking study, video games are more popular among American consumers than going out to movies, but still considerably less popular than listening to music.

“Video games account for one-third of the average monthly consumer spending in the U.S. for core entertainment content, including music, video, games. While a portion of that share stems from the premium price of console games, we’re also seeing an overall increase in the number of people participating in gaming year-over-year,” said Anita Frazier, video games industry analyst for NPD.

According to NPD, 63% Americans have played a video game in the past six months. While that level of penetration does not begin to compete with music listening, which is nearly universal – 94%, it exceeds the percentage of U.S. consumers who report going out to the movies – 63% – during that same time period. Gaming is also benefiting from new outlets for playing.  Overall 10% of U.S. consumers played video games on a social network. 5% have paid to download a video game from the Web, which is an increase of nearly 2% since last year.

According to NPD’s March 2009 update to the “Entertainment Trends In America” consumer tracking study, which provides an in-depth look at U.S. entertainment consumption, the average gamer spent just over $38 per month on all types of gaming content, based on reported spending in the three months prior to March 2009.

“As with video and music, sales of physical gaming products still account for the bulk of consumer spending on video games, but digital downloads and other delivery and game-play formats are also rising in popularity,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD.

NPD’s report revealed that 31% of gamers bought a console video game or portable game over the past 12 months – a seven percentage point increase in traditional game purchasers compared with the year prior. Yet traditional gamers are also finding new ways to play: among consumers who play console or portable games, 31% also played a game on a gaming Web site; 12% played on a social networking site; 19% played a game that came with their mobile phones; and 11% purchased and downloaded a game to a mobile phone.

The study was conducted online and is based on more than 11 000 completed responses from U.S. consumers.

Tags: Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony

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