One look at US retail sales over the last three months as reported by The NPD Group, and it's clear that the gaming industry isn't as strong as it was this time last year. One cause for that weakness, of course, is the global economic recession, which has wrecked individuals' discretionary income across the globe. Another primary cause is the tough year-over-year comparison, as this year's wares go up against all-time best-sellers like Grand Theft Auto IV.
Be that as it may, gamers are by no means cutting back on the time they spend in front of their consoles. According to new market research by The Nielsen Company, 42 percent of gamers age 7 to 54 stated that they are playing or plan to play more games than they did last year, with 41 percent saying their gaming habits will go unchanged.
Notably, the prime gaming demographic of males aged 18 to 24 reported a 16 percent to 29 percent increase in time spent playing console and PC games during the first five months of 2009. However, females age 13 to 17 also reported substantially increased gaming time, which rose 12 to 30 percent during each month of 2009. Nielsen noted that this statistic is particularly interesting given that handheld gaming devices--the traditional platform of choice for younger females--were excluded from the study.
Nielsen's research also found that 35 percent of its sample say that they are spending more money or plan to spend more money this year on games than they did in 2008, with 39 percent claiming they will maintain their spending levels. The discrepancy in Nielsen's study and NPD's numbers lies in used versus new game sales. Used game sales have spiked nearly 32 percent compared to last year, while new software spending is down almost 3 percent.
Also impacting the new game sales is the rental business, which has seen substantial growth through May. According to Nielsen's research, 14 percent of all gamers subscribed to a game-rental service, such as GameFly, in May, up from about 10.5 percent during the same period a year ago.