By Jared Newman | Monday, July 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm
With new video game-related purchases flattening over the last few months, we’re starting to hear that the recession is catching up to the industry, but that doesn’t mean people are playing less.
To the contrary, a study by Nielsen found that video gaming, in hours played per week, is bigger than ever. As seen in the graph below, gamers — defined as people who purchase a game in the last six months and play at least an hour per week — are spending an extra two hours playing per week compared to the last two years.
The results appear to corroborate two other recent developments: Used game sales are on the rise (according to industry analyst Michael Pachter and to Nielsen’s own survey results) and new game sales are lower this year than in 2008, according to The NPD Group. For good measure, Nielsen asked its survey respondents how many DVDs they purchased over the last six months and found, unsurprisingly, that the numbers are roughly on par with last year, and lower than those from 2007.
It’s easy to pin these changes on the recession, but as NPD has said for the last couple of months, the first half of 2008 was cluttered with blockbusters, such as Mario Kart Wii and Grand Theft Auto IV. This year’s new releases are weaker in terms of buzz.
But common sense says that blockbusters don’t necessarily make for the best games. In a twist, Nielsen found that 34 percent of people who played more said they liked this year’s games better. This is most true for Playstation 3 owners (41 percent), who are finally getting long-awaited titles such as Killzone 2.
A full examination of how the recession affects gaming would look at playing habits within individual games. Are players milking each title for all its worth or ditching their games halfway through? This sort of data isn’t available in Nielsen’s study, but it’d be interesting to know.