NPD: Online gaming up by 25% in '09

[UPDATE] Top US research firm's annual survey finds Internet-enabled gaming accelerating; 50% of those surveyed used 360s to play online, 29% used Wiis, 20% used PS3s.

Today, the NPD Group released its annual report on online gaming in the US. The survey of 20,000 respondents aged 2 and up* was conducted from January 6-26 and measured Internet-enabled gaming on all consoles, handhelds, and PCs.

[UPDATE] "We start with the pool that play games (61 percent of population ages 2 and over)," NPD analyst Anita Frazier explained to GameSpot. "Of those, 57 percent play online. Of those that play online, 87 percent use a PC to play games online (folks can use multiple systems so it adds up to more than 100 percent)."

Overall, the study found that combined online gaming has risen dramatically, up 25 percent over the year prior, which itself saw a 19 percent bump on 2007. Surprisingly, though, it also discovered that despite the burgeoning popularity of massively multiplayer online games, PC online gaming was "slightly" down from the year prior. However, NPD did not say exactly how much the decrease was.

Less shocking was the increase in console online gaming. Aided by Microsoft's heavy support of Xbox Live, some 50 percent of online gamers used Xbox 360s to play games via the Web--a privilege that gamers must pay $50 a year for. Despite its use of cumbersome friend codes, Nintendo's Wii was in second with 29 percent, a sharp jump from 18 percent the year prior. In third place was the PlayStation 3, which 20 percent of those surveyed used to game online. No portable percentages were made public.

The only demographic group that NPD released hard numbers on was for respondents aged 13-17, whose online-gaming use grew from 17 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2009. The industry-research firm also noted a small downturn in online play for gamers aged 18-34 and 35-54, but did not release specific percentages.

NPD was also vague when referring to downloadable content. Its survey found that Xbox 360 and PS3 owners downloaded more content than other console owners, and their favorite type of DLC was expansion packs. That fact made ironic NPD's findings that DLC consumption had slowed overall, given that the survey was conducted before the release of the year's most popular digitally delivered expansions, Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage (January 27) and Grand Theft Auto: Lost and Damned (February 17). Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter believes that the latter expansion has already sold more than 1 million copies, and will go on to sell 2 million by year's end.

*=Respondents under age 12 had their answers submitted by their parents.

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59 comments
Sir_Demii
Sir_Demii

Meh, 256 isn't that big a number actually. I'm sure there'd be enough players to fill up a few of those matches. ;)

BenBenBen93
BenBenBen93

hassy has agood point i don't think there will be enough PS3 gamers online on that single game at any one time. most people online on PS3 are iver on fifa COD and now Killzone, no one will bother with this really it will

hassy94
hassy94

"any one know what happend to that online fps that could play 256 in one match? its was shown at e3 2008." It's called Massive Action Game (or M.A.G.) and it's still in production. I wouldn't be too surprised if they suddenly cut the number of players in half, then in half again.

arcelonious
arcelonious

Why are so many people here jumping on Sony for being in third place in terms of online users? Sony PS3 users are the least abundant in the United States, so it is not surprising that they are the smallest portion of online gamers in that sample. The Sony PS3 is a great system, but it does have a hefty price tag, which a lot of gamers simply cannot afford, so of course there are going to be less PS3 users. I think the 360 has sold more than twice the amount of consoles than the PS3 in the US, so Xbox Live users should be a bulk of that sample. The only fairly surprising news in this article is the amount of Wii online users. Wii has outsold BOTH the 360 and PS3 by a large amount, but yet, they're way behind Microsoft, and only slightly ahead of PS3 users. But even that isn't very surprising, because the Wii is played by a much more varied gamer audience. All this news article tells me is "Hey, more people are playing online," duh, and "Hey, more people in the US have 360's than PS3s," another duh. Again, it seems to be another Gamespot news article written in the attempt to get people here to argue about which console is better.

Sethbeastalan
Sethbeastalan

First, to the people who are saying this isn't accurate. It's impossible to be completely accurate without interviewing everyone (I know I wasn't), but just because it isn't 100% accurate doesn't mean it's not accurate. Now... I was really shocked about Nintendo's percentage, but there are some things to take into account. For one, nintendo has more casual games, which are played by both casual and hard core gamers. Another, and probably the biggest thing, however, is availability. The Wii only costs 250, while the PS3 costs a lot more (Idk the specifics), and the Wii is has both the younger and older gamers, while the PS3 mainly only has the older ones (even though there are some 4 year olds who play Dead Space). In the end it isn't completely surprising. Also, to all, please proof read your longer comments before posting. Some of them are a little hard to read.

angelcar
angelcar

jsmoke03: "It's only a sample group" Wow... really? That's how polls are done. Good statistical studies are based on representative sample groups. Obviously you can't ask every single person on the population.

invictuslemming
invictuslemming

Its the most financially feasible form of entertainment at the moment. Lets face it, one online game garners much more time spent than most other forms of entertainment out there. Tough economic times call for tough gaming!

mattwbrad
mattwbrad

The rise in internet gaming can be contributed to the proliferation of high speed internet across the nation. And I would just like to say: 87% B!T(HS!

QuasarZ71
QuasarZ71

PC was the remaining 1% and it was all the original Diablo :P

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

What I want to know is what are the 2-year olds playing online?!

xxcallmegodxx89
xxcallmegodxx89

these statistics are quite interesting. i didn't realize the PSN would have a lower statistical rating then wii. I could have easily guessed that xbox live would be at the top though seeing that they provide the best online service regardless of the $50 a year. Only the future will tell how the PSN does in terms of there online capabilities.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

A lot of people are pointing out that the PSN numbers talk about the accounts that are free (which all of them are), and that somehow inflates the numbers. But guess what? All of the Live numbers for 360 also include the SILVER memberships which are also free. So if the numbers are being inflated because of that, then they are for 360, too. As for Wii, although I'm a little ashamed (as I don't really like that fad of a re-packaged GameCube with a new controller, and with mostly shovelware and old rehashed ports), but I'm not too surprised. The one key factor: Mario Kart. Millions and millions of people own that game, and it seems many play it online. It probably accounts for at least 75% of the online activity (and most of the rest from the Wii arcade downloads, etc.).

-Inertia
-Inertia

More Wii online gamers then PS3? umm okay, XBL yeah probably 1

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

yea its only a sample group....its not really an accurate representative of the actual numbers....a lot of ppl do play on xbl though...

GANGSTASAN
GANGSTASAN

20% for Playstation 3? There has to be something wrong here....

SpikedStrider
SpikedStrider

roflmuffins8 The numbers you quoted are from the PSP to and the PS3 was including their people with multiple accounts. I knew those numbers would get thrown back at them some how. I am just glad there is independent sources like this that show them up. lol

SpikedStrider
SpikedStrider

I have to admit that those numbers seem a little high for the Wii, but if that's what they are then ok.

Valen_Ca
Valen_Ca

Actually blackace, that number that Sony gave is most likely for all of their online services, including access to the Playstation Store and Home, so their numbers could still be correct.

blackace
blackace

Wow. There are more people playing Wii online then the PS3. What's even more amazing is 50% are playing XBox 360 online even though you have to pay $50. That's a huge blow to Sony's recent announcement about having more PS3 and PSP online subscribers combined. More subscribers, but it's too bad many of them aren't playing games online.

Pete5506
Pete5506

This report cant be all true

method115
method115

@ raahsnavj Can't say I agree I've never been so annoyed by someone online that I can't play the game anymore. Not even remotely close. I've been playing games online since I was 14 I'm 24 now. So in 10 years no one has ever made me think about not playing a game. I don't think the two our related at all.

07pops07
07pops07

unless every gamer in the usa took this survey is not 100% accurate so dont take it so seriusly but it not meaning less. really though when they start making online games more popular we will start to see more online co-ops (like l4d but more game like and with a story) idk mabe single player will dominate games for the next ten years any one know what happend to that online fps that could play 256 in one match? its was shown at e3 2008.

king23_
king23_

Wait so did they really survery some 2 year olds?

Mac11_Fanboy
Mac11_Fanboy

PD was also vague when referring to downloadable content. Its survey found that Xbox 360 and PS3 owners downloaded more content than other console owners, Because the wii has loads of DLC

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

@raahsnavj Agreed when I was in highschool all my friends were playing starcraft on PC but I couldnt because my dad was against using PC's for games. When I finally did get PC about four years later the only people still playing starcraft were handmedowns in their early teens that would through temper tantrums and type x-words to me when I win.

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

"noted a small downturn in online play for gamers aged 18-34 and 35-54" is directly related to "age(s) 13-17, whose online-gaming use grew from 17 percent" When this group grows in numbers it is very easy for the older group to justify leaving...

themyth01
themyth01

[quote]This information isn't accurate. It makes absolutely no sense that 50% of the gaming population uses Xbox Live and only 20% PSN, seeing how there are 20 million PSN users and only 17 million Xbox Live users.[/quote] PSN users include the PSP owners of which there are 50 million but there are way more people connected to Xlive than PS3's PSN. Just fire any 360 game and compare its online populace to an equivalent ps3 game.

ricardo-sene
ricardo-sene

stradd, I guess your comments are not right. The article says that some 50 percent of "online gamers" play 360 online. The "online gamers" means all the gamers in all the platforms that play online. So, half of the people who plays online are playing in the Live. And 29% of all the players that play online use the Wii, and 20% of all the players who play online are on the PS3. We have to consider that this survey was made with the US players, and don't represent the worldwide statistic.

da_illest101
da_illest101

i don't know why some ppl say those number are not accurate, take me for example, i have 2 psn accounts but do I play games online, barely any, i only played warhawk online and that was like last year. i played killzone 2 a good 20 mins online then when back to the single player

ricardo-sene
ricardo-sene

My biggest problem in playing online is the time. I have so many games to play with no time to them that I prefer to play the next game I have and not go online..

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

I rarely play Playstation 3 online. Maybe once every three weeks on average. I'm old by videogame standards been playing since 1983. I not 15 to 20 years anymore. That would be the prime age for on-line gaming. I don't have as much time to All night anymore.

metalkid9
metalkid9

multiplayer is the future ... now :D

ricardo-sene
ricardo-sene

I have a PS3, but I don't play online. I'm on the others 80%'s side..

moose_knuckler
moose_knuckler

@a rayment1992 I would love to hear you explain why this survey is "flawed"?

Tebbit
Tebbit

JackHoleFace00: It means that 20% of the people they surveyed in the US played PS3 online. In America, it sort of makes sense as more people have Xbox 360's than PS3s. roflmuffins8: There are 20 Million PSN users worldwide, so I that 20% is only a portion of worldwide users. They only surveyed 20,000 people (American people no less) in this case.

stradd
stradd

hey rofl, the numbers aren't saying what you're thinking. It's saying that 50% of the people who own 360's are online with them. Likewise, only 20% of the people who own PS3's are online with them. What gets me though is the numbers reference you just used. Everybody knows there are nowhere near 20 million unique users on PSN. if that number were legit, Sony would have had to sell over 100 million PS3's for NPD's figures to be accurate, and they're pretty head on, usually. I'm not saying there are 17 million unique users on 360, either, but the majority are paid subscriptions, and thats mind blowing. All I'm saying is that if I wasn't paying for it, i'd have10 or 20 gamertags the same way a lot of people on PSN are running. Oh, and Jack, it makes perfect sense that only 20% of PS3 owners play online. Sony isn't marketing a game console, there, they are marketing Consumer Report's and CNET's number one pick for best blu-ray player since it came out. A 60 year old grandpa who doesn't play video games is more likely to buy a PS3 than a gamer.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

So wait, is it saying only 20% of all PS3 owners use their system to play online? Or that they only make up for 20% of online gaming (and also that 360 owned 50% of the online activity, etc.)? That wouldn't make sense if only 1 in 5 PS3 owners actually played online. Especially now that KZ is out, and it already had games like Resistence 2, COD 4 and WaW, MGS Online, Little Big Planet, etc. etc.

Koi-Neon-X
Koi-Neon-X

I've had my PS3 for a bit and I just got online for the first time late last year!

ricardo-sene
ricardo-sene

What is the difficult to get the numbers that decreased? The way to get them should have the same process of the numbers that increased.. What's the difference? Anyway, people are going online..... I guess I'll be the only in my "off-line" gaming...

roflmuffins8
roflmuffins8

This information isn't accurate. It makes absolutely no sense that 50% of the gaming population uses Xbox Live and only 20% PSN, seeing how there are 20 million PSN users and only 17 million Xbox Live users.

Wilfred_Owen
Wilfred_Owen

Age 2? I know you want to include a wide range demographic but come on!

a_rayment1992
a_rayment1992

Wow, does this group not see how flawed this report is?

Red_Armadilloe
Red_Armadilloe

This information seems very misleading. Just my opinion though.

Superdude475
Superdude475

No kidding, I don't think anyone was aware...

-Celeste-
-Celeste-

The survey of 20,000 respondents aged 2 and up... Err say wha? I'm sorry but a 2yr old playing online games? Thats a pretty developed 2 yr old that plays PS3, X360, Wii, or PC games online.

george999819
george999819

Not surprising at all. Of course the 360 has the most people online. It is known for Xbox LIVE and is any hardcore gamer's choice console. And the PS3 losing to the Wii. That is just sad. Just another sign of the end for the dying PlayStation brand. If the PS3 does not outsell the 360 in the next NPD release, then the console wars are over. Better yet, if Killzone 2 does not outsell Halo Wars, then the console wars are over. Halo Wars is a console RTS and Killzone 2 is a FPS. If a FPS cannot outsell a console RTS, especially with being out a week longer, then something is very, very wrong.

akiwak
akiwak

Making your survey only available online already restricts valuable information from being gathered. BTW I don't like seeing 2 year olds buying things online and then having to battle them online. They are the toughest guys to beat!!!