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Report: Recession Drives Online Gaming

13 Jul, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Spurred by the recession, consumers are increasingly opting for cheaper entertainment alternatives, including online video games. The category attracted 87 million U.S. visitors in May, up 22% from the same period last year, according to comScore. 

The Reston, Va.-based digital data measurement company said the growth was due in part to the increased availability of free games on third-party content platforms, including widgets and applications, which can reach audiences of a size comparable to pure online gaming destination sites.

Yahoo! Games ranked No. 1 in the category, with 19.4 million visitors, representing a 6% increase over last May, followed by EA Online with 18 million visitors (up 34%), Nickelodeon Casual Games with 14.8 million visitors and WildTangent Network with 13.8 million (up 16%).

GSN Games Networks achieved particularly strong gains in the past year, growing 563% to 6 million visitors, due primarily to the additions of entities such as WorldWinner.com and CrazyMonkeyGames.com.

Indeed, through May, sales of used packaged games increased more than 31% compared to 2008, with new game sales down 2.8%, according to a separate Nielsen report.

The reported cited lower-priced used games as possible catalysts for Best Buy and Wal-Mart begin experimenting selling used games through kiosks.

“Online gaming continues to be one of the top gaining categories over the past year, growing at 10 times the rate of the total U.S. Internet population and reaching nearly one out of every two Internet users,” said Edward Hunter, comScore’s director of gaming solutions. “And the growth in the category is occurring not only at the top gaming destination sites but also through viral distribution platforms, including widgets and applications. In fact, some online gaming companies that distributed their games across sites are reaching as many people as the top online gaming sites.”

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