According to a Nielsen Company study last April, almost 50 percent of all PC gamers are female, with hit PC titles like The Sims played primarily by women. The latest Sims iteration, The Sims 3, sold more than 1.4 million copies a week after its release, presumably bolstered by that aforementioned demographic. However, a new study by the NPD Group shows that female gamers branch well beyond the PC platform and now constitute more than a quarter of all console video gamers.
In NPD's Gamer Augmentation 2009 report released today, the industry-tracking group revealed new figures that show 28 percent of all console video gamers are female in 2009, up from 23 percent last year. NPD attributed the five-point rise to the Nintendo Wii, which it believes has attracted a large number of new female gamers. It reports that Wii usage has increased by 19 percent from 2008 for all demographics.
At the 2007 Women in Games Conference, Electronic Arts VP Sharon Knight said that the Wii is attractive to female gamers because of the console's accessibility.
"The Wii levels the playing field," she said. "You don't embarrass yourself--you can grab it and right away start having fun. ... [Wii games] don't require the same investment to learn and to master how to pick up and play [as other consoles' games]."
The NPD study also contained a few other figures on other gamer demographics. It found that "extreme gamers" played an average of 39 hours per week, down from about 46 hours last year. Even though the NPD Group found that extreme gamers have the lowest average household income out of all gamer demographics, they dole out the most cash to buy games. Extreme gamers purchased an average of 24 titles in the 2008 holiday quarter. However, the study reported that the demographic only makes up 4 percent of all gamers.
The amount of time gamers spend playing online has remained the same relative to last year, despite what the NPD calls a "focus of industry on more online gameplay opportunities." On average, 38 percent of a gamer's playtime was spent playing online.
The Gamer Augmentation 2009 study was conducted in January 2009 with more than 20,000 participants ages 2-65 and above and includes data from the 2008 holiday season. Survey data was weighted to portray gaming trends only within the US.