Nielsen Entertainment has released initial findings of its online survey of over 2,000 North American consumers engaged actively in buying and playing video games, which Nielsen qualifies by the surveyed gamer owning a console and spending at least one hour a week playing on it.
The report, according to the firm, has some particularly interesting responses for how the active gamer defines "games," in identifying a games category with gender parity, in charting the the rising importance of MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games), and attitudes on the connection of games to mobile devices.
Among the key findings, these is evidence that many active gamers appear to be in a holding pattern before making a purchase decision on next-generation consoles, with nearly 50% of active gamers stating they will likely wait until both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are released before making a final decision. However, while most are taking the wait and see approach, those that own and prefer Xbox are more likely to buy Xbox 360 than those that own and prefer PS2 are to buy the PS3, according to Nielsen.
The survey also revealed that 57% of active gamers have played online, with free casual online games the most used, and a notable 21% having played MMO games. While online-enabled console, MMO and gambling gamers are disproportionately male -- 76% vs. 24% -- casual gamers who play free online games such as puzzles are just as likely to be women as men, 49% vs. 51% respectively.
In addition, 18% of active gamers have downloaded a game to their cell phone, with nearly two-thirds (63%) rating their experience from good to excellent. Nielsen also suggested that males between the ages of 25 and 34 and Hispanics represent the most valuable emerging market for video games, with high entertainment budgets and higher potential than other segments for increased video game spending. Finally, nearly 25% of a gamer's leisure time is spent playing video games, with males surveyed by the firm playing 12 hours per week on average.
Michael Dowling, General Manager, Nielsen Interactive Entertainment, commented of the results: "Games are a part of a broader number of people's leisure time, as evidenced by the findings in our study. Playing video games, once considered the domain of teen boys, has evolved into a medium that is now capable of reaching expanding demographics of gamers, including females, Hispanics and older players."