More Grown-Ups Playing Video Games

As the video game market has matured over the past few years, so, apparently, has its fan base.

No longer are video games the exclusive domain of young kids and teens; the age of gamers is on the rise, according to a new study.

In fact, more than one in three U.S. adults who go online — approximately 37 percent — own a video game console, and 16 percent own a portable gaming device, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Sophistication Factor

The ever-expanding age range of gamers is likely the result of numerous factors, including the convergence of technologies on single machines, improvements in entertainment quality, and the simple fact that many gamers are getting older.

A large majority of game console owners — 71 percent — are now married, and 66 percent have at least one child in the household.

“As game consoles have become increasingly sophisticated, families have incorporated them into their centralized home media centers, which include the television, digital recording device, digital music player and the PC,” Carolyn Creekmore, senior director of media analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings, told TechNewsWorld.

More Than a Game

Many companies in recent years have been positioning their consoles as more than just game players. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 are now promoted as hubs for music and photo-viewing almost as much as for gaming.

“Companies that can leverage these new technologies across a number of products will have a distinct advantage in the competitive marketplace,” said Creekmore.

Sony, in particular, has invested a great many resources in making the living room an entertainment hub. The Japan-based firm is now installing a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player in all of its PS3 consoles, which run an industry-high US$500 to $600 in the United States.

The Competition

Meanwhile, Nintendo is largely responsible for attracting more adults to the gaming market.

The generation of gamers who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s with Nintendo products — now known as “Nintendads” — are likely as interested in playing video games as their children.

Among the most popular game console providers, Nintendo has enjoyed the fastest Web-traffic growth over the past year with the much-anticipated release of the Wii, according to the Nielsen//NetRatings report.

Unique visitors to Nintendo.com increased 91 percent, from 856,000 in February 2006 to 1.6 million in February 2007. Xbox.com also saw significant year-over-year growth in February, with its unique audience increasing 47 percent from 827,000 to 1.2 million. However, traffic to Playstation.com dropped 8 percent in the same period, from 1.1 million to 1.0 million unique visitors.

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