Media analysis group The Nielsen Company says that while Nintendo's Wii has attracted a broader audience and more female consumers than Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, the system is also used the least compared to its rival consoles.
Nielsen released results from a new study comparing demographics and usage for the three current-generation home consoles during the October to December period in 2008, finding that each system tends to appeal to different groups.
According to the study, Nintendo's Wii saw most of its usage from boys age 6-11 and women age 25-34, and was used by more women age 35+ than either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Nielsen explained this phenomenon as the result of titles such as Wii Fit
, Guitar Hero
, and Rock Band
having "engaged an older female gamer like never before."
Despite its success in broadening the gaming market to a wider demographic audience, Nielsen notes that Wii, the best-selling console out of the three systems, saw significantly less overall usage than its rival consoles.
Males across all age groups turned on their Wii consoles an average of 17.9 days during the three-month period, while male Xbox 360 and PS3 owners used their systems 27.1 and 24.4 days, respectively. And while women played with the Nintendo console an average of 12.2 days, female Xbox 360 and PS3 users turned on their system an average of 14.3 and 14.5 days.
Of the male Xbox 360 gamers, some 30 percent of the total time spent with the machine was attributed to the 12-17 age group, the largest time chunk out of the groups. Overall, males played the Xbox 360 almost twice as many days per month as females, though the ratio isn't nearly as pronounced among male and female Wii and PS3 players.
The PS3 was most popular with its 18-24 male and female owners, which Nielsen says is due to consumer brand loyalty, as it skews the oldest demographic of the three consoles.
"Sony has been the dominant market player since it introduced the PS One in 1994 and PS 2 in 2000," the firm explains. "Gamers who owned one or both of these consoles in their youth may have 'graduated' to the PS3 in their assumed adulthood."
Nielsen's study also showed that November had higher than average usage days on all three consoles, due largely to the number of titles that shipped during October and November ahead of the holidays.
"All three of the consoles have their fans, and sales of consoles and games have been some of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak retail environment," says Nielsen Games marketing manager Bradley Raczka, Marketing Manager for Nielsen Games.
"It will be interesting to watch the continued migration to the current generation consoles in 2009, and see how releases of titles such as Halo Wars, Resident Evil 5, MadWorld, Killzone 2
and Street Fighter IV
impact usage trends in the first half of the year," he adds.