Nielsen to start tracking games

New rating system will track frequently played games, demographics, and related media trends among gamers.

78 Comments

After years of preparation, Nielsen Media Research, famed for its influential television ratings, is planning to provide its usage-tracking ratings for games, the firm announced today.

The rating system will monitor the goings-on of game consoles, including next-generation models such as Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii. Data will include which games are played most frequently, along with corresponding information about the demographics of the players. The video-game rating system is also intended to offer insight into what television and Internet trends the players follow. Called GamePlay Metrics, it will be the first project to come out of Nielsen's new Wireless and Interactive Services Division, which itself launched today.

By offering statistical data on game use, Nielsen said advertisers that target games and their players will be able to better pinpoint their audiences and which titles are potentially the most lucrative. In-game advertising has recently been on the rise, and technology's mainstays are noticing: Microsoft, for example, snapped up game ad leader Massive in the spring.

In addition to advertisers, Nielsen is marketing GamePlay Metrics toward the game industry itself. Creating games is an expensive and often hit-or-miss enterprise, and Nielsen said its data could help game manufacturers develop a business model that can cut down on costs.

Participants in GamePlay Metrics will come from the same 10,000 sample households used for Nielsen's television ratings. When household members load up games on their consoles, the titles of the games will be recorded without interruption, along with relevant demographic information.

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Avatar image for _Sam_
_Sam_

I don't like what they are recording

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cjcr_alexandru

I'm waiting to see what consequences this will produce. Until then continue playing!

Avatar image for V-Nine
V-Nine

WTF!!! They do a terrible job with the tv ratings system(most definitely there are not enough nielson boxes out there otherwise that dreadful show "Friends" wouldn't have dragged on for as long as it did) If tampered with just right it could easily cause misconstrued popularity of one thing over another which is why tv in this country sux now. but on the upside it will track how many kids are playing stuff they aren't supposed to...hehehehe. Did anyone know the retirement age is now 70? Go figure.

Avatar image for fluffebunnie
fluffebunnie

gaming_otaku Well get ready because it's coming... And don't forget to buy your horse armor!

Avatar image for gaming_otaku
gaming_otaku

fluffebunnie: lol :lol: Anyway, I don't think it'll be Neilsen's fault if anything should happen with the videogame market: it'll be the fault of the companies that take Neilsen's ratings as the rule on videogaming demand...

Avatar image for juicebomb
juicebomb

Nielsen for TV is all about advertising. Games are not supported primarily by advertising at this point. Maybe, if we all wish upon the exact same shooting star, ads will drive games instead of $60 price tags. Ask Tim Schafer if the Nielsen ratings were responsible for a lack of publisher support of Psychonauts. Game publishers don't need the Nielsens to know that the real money is in Smackdown vs Raw(!). Re: Nielsen ratings being 'a joke'....yes they are, but they are the only measurement in what is generally considered a passive form of media. Monopoly = influence. Tivo could probably provide a far more accurate research, in that every show watched includes an interaction with their software.

Avatar image for fluffebunnie
fluffebunnie

gaming_otaku Hehe, sorry that just struck me as someone saying they don't like mainstream music but they have U2 or Creed as their icon. I consider Mario to be the most mainstream video game character there is. I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Mario Tennis, Mario Madness Adventure 4 - Wario's Revenge, Mario Touchscreen Madness 6.

Avatar image for gaming_otaku
gaming_otaku

To fluffebunnie: By mainstream gaming I mean games like Grand Theft Auto, Need for Speed, Prince of Persia: games that most casual gamers like to play. Sorry if I caused confusion regarding that matter. However, do consider that Mario may be a mainstream icon, but Mario games themselves are another thing. Mario games are mainstream within dedicated gamer circles, which means Mario games are the mainstream of the cult, which is still cult. How many people that know Mario actually own a Mario game aside from the original Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 3 or SM World? Mario is a mainstream icon, but his games sure aren't. This is all beside the main point, but I just wanted to clear that up. In the end, I agree with your view on how the gaming world will be affected, but I think your exaggerating a bit. Also, most of the consequences you mention that will arise from these ratings, seem to only affect Microsoft's side of the equation.

Avatar image for snakenamedjoe
snakenamedjoe

Yes, but console manufacturers would be biased. Sony in particular has a bad reputation for presenting the facts in colorful ways to make their consoles look like they're doing better than they are. This information will help companies decide where in video games to place their adds, and on what consoles. It is imperative to have an unbiased 3rd party for this.

Avatar image for YukoAsho
YukoAsho

This is completely unneccessary. Microsoft probably already does this with XBL, and I'm sure Sony has the same plans. The console manufacturers doing the usage tracking is simply more reliable than having it done by a less reliable 3rd party.

Avatar image for Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

The Neilson ratings are a joke, I have a friend that used to live in one of the Neilson housholds(the equiptment stays with the home not the people and they moved) and that guy personally kept some of the worst shows on air that were ever concieved he watched saved by the bell like 5 times a day it made me want to kill him. We owe the fact that 95% of the stuff on television is mindless crap to those Neilson families, who i believe as a whole are a group of under educated mass media whores who will watch almost anything you put in front of them. Now we are going to turn controll of the game industry to the same people, God help us.

Avatar image for fluffebunnie
fluffebunnie

I thought of that to... The only thing I can think is that they want to know which games you are playing and for how long and how often. That way, they can load those games up with more ads. Or, the producers of that game can use the rating as a thing to get more people to buy ads in their game. For example: Tim buys Shadow of the Colossus, plays it through twice. Tim buys Halo and plays it online every night. Each game sold one copy, but Halo gets higher rating, and can make more money off of ads. More games like Halo get made. Less games like Shadow of the Colossus get made.

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Sabtura

Why can't we just compare individual game sales to understand what's being played?

Avatar image for fluffebunnie
fluffebunnie

You have Mario as your icon.

Avatar image for fluffebunnie
fluffebunnie

All I am saying is: Arrested Development - Many awards, funniest show on TV, the only show I watched on TV, cancelled after 2.5 seasons because of low ratings. Everyone I knew at the time watched it but no one had a Nielsen box. The soul of gaming is being sold daily. All in the name of more profits and more ad revenue. There are already games out now that are ruined by advertising but no one mentions this in game reviews. Now game developers are putting out INCOMPLETE games and selling additions as 'Microtransactions' that you should have received at the time of purchase of the game. Also, developers are making a move away from physical media so that you don't even really own anything. So for the people like me that like reading the book and collecting the boxes, sorry! Here's what will happen: - You will download crappy unfinished games, and will have to keep paying to get more of the game. - Games will have commercials that you will have to pay to avoid. - Like television and movies, gaming will become even more stale. Forget small publishers because these games are going to be too expensive to make. You'll have to become part of the machine to have the money to produce these games. Of course, the ratings will decide which games get made. The only way to fight this is to not buy into the types of experiments that they are trying to push on you. Don't buy the horse armor, don't buy a game crammed full of ads.

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StillWingless

so in the interest of not having to write a lengthy reply, i'll agree with gaming_otaku to save myself some time. it's nice that we're being recognized, but it doesn't sit well with me that it's by neilsen ratings. it's true that it's helped raise standards in television, but there have always been things that fall through the cracks. the only way to accurately predict popularity, however, would have to take on a big-brother-ish approach... and i don't much like that either. for some reason, it feels like things are just going to get tougher for smaller developers/producers/studios that have promise, but haven't had a chance to make a name for themselves. i mean... would nippon ichi have become so well-known if there was some kind of tracked media research at the time? working designs? clover? i'm not sure.

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fluffebunnie

Behold the beginning of the end of gaming. The Nielsen ratings have done nothing to help good TV shows stay on the air, and soon 10,000 sample households will determine which games get made. Horrible news.

Avatar image for gaming_otaku
gaming_otaku

We have to remember that us dedicated gamers are the minority of players in the world. This is a study aimed at mainstream game developers based on mainstream gaming. Thus, it is only meant to rate what is most profitable for the industry. I for one, don't like mainstream games, but I'm not against the idea of these ratings, because whatever games are spawned from these studies will in no way interest me or affect me. I'll just keep buying the same games I've always bought. Someone mentioned something about tracking DS's and PSP's. Quite honestly, I don't think these consoles will affect the data much. DS players are either dedicated gamers or kids. The former group, as I said, isn't relevant to the study, and the latter, kids, most likely have consoles in their houses, and will most likely play those instead of their portables while at home. And the PSP... well, it takes a dedicated gamer to actually find good games for the PSP, so it too is irrelevant to the study. Saying "how can they track people that use their portables" is like saying "how do you track what shows people watch outside their households": it doesn't change the tendency that is maintained through studies of their activities in their households, which is apparently quite accurate, considering Nielsen's fame.

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GKBeetle

According to Nintendo, the Wii is supposed to be for the entire family. So, how are they gonna know if 6 year old Bobby or 80 year old grandma is playing?

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OPOLO

WOW - this is huge

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Autolycus

money money money mon-ey

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ftjx

so what do I get if I sign up for this?

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wwonka666

I reiterate what I said before and after reading this am even more upset. Total BS, BS BS BS BS. How are they gonna track PSP's and DS's? Wow this is really dumb. But X-Box Live is already tracking our 360 games? Ever looked at your gaming history I'm sure MicroSoft has someone analyzing everyone's playing/buying habits. Seeing how many games you play once, i.e. rent versus games you play multiple times. The whole achievement thing is a way of ranking people's ability to finish games they start. I love X-Box Live but wish it didn't track my usage too.

Avatar image for MakeMeKing
MakeMeKing

actually the pop. of the US is now over 300,000,000

Avatar image for VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

So basically the same "random" people who make up these surveys and seem to watch nothing but Survivor, American Idol and CSI are going to be asked what games they play? Let me guess their answer: The Sims. They watch fluff t.v. so they will likely be playing fluff games if they even play any.

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desanvium

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Sabtura
Sabtura

Word, SunWyvrn, Nielsen is worthless. It's ratings for tv should be ignored and done away with. It's sad to see this come to video games. This will hurt the industry and mislead advertisers. As if we need to know that more hours are spent playing WoW than anything else, anyway.

Avatar image for sun_wyvrn
sun_wyvrn

"PLEASE REMEMBER THIS, YOU LEARN THIS FROM STATISTICS IN COLLEGE OR STATISTICS AP, 10,000 PEOPLE IS ENOUGH TO GET AN ACCURATE RESULT. Why? When a person take samples ramdomly, if you get enough, the sample drawn would equally represent the from the "pool" (the population of Americans). Doesn't 10/1000 and 10000/1000000 both have an answer of .01 (1%)?" ~~~ The current population of the US is 298,444,215, which is an estimate done in July '06 (<< LINK REMOVED >>). To get an accurate test amount, Nielsen would have to get 2,984,442 people in his studies (1% of the population). Furthermore, he'd have to make sure that the 1% is chosen completely randomly for best results. As I said before, 10K is pitiful. And don't patronize me about statistics, I'm in college and statistics. You just don't know the proper numbers.

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TryMe01

ShockG707 In a nutshell this is spyware for videogames. that is very true

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LordBraz

i'll give you a hint, people play madden, halo, and big-release nintendo games. there, work's done.

Avatar image for jasonmacrillo
jasonmacrillo

10000 people is plenty when taken randomly, it will show great data on who is playing what games, and hopefully in turn means more good games... hopefully :)

Avatar image for ShockG707
ShockG707

In a nutshell this is spyware for videogames.

Avatar image for Igwababa
Igwababa

hey if people want to know what I play I will tell them, however any information that is gained from this isint bad or worthless (as long as we keep it out of the reach of politicians) but instead someone will find it useful and maybe the industry will become better from it

Avatar image for fmprodguy
fmprodguy

More research... More data... used correctly will mean more games we want... Used incorrectly... will further squash creative and new ideas.

Avatar image for demoralizer
demoralizer

I dont want people spying on me while I'm playing games what are people going to think when they find out I played Sponge Bob and Barbie adventure!? What goes in to my game conle is between me and my console. Stop spying you fruity people.

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thebrazenone

it's almost like people sit around all day and think of how they can make things worse

Avatar image for NFunspoiler
NFunspoiler

I think this is good. It will be cool to see all the demographics of gamers everywhere on each consol. I look forward to it.

Avatar image for Myke_Kreed
Myke_Kreed

I wish this meant more GOOD GAMES for us. But really it will mean more REHA$H.

Avatar image for christopherneal
christopherneal

This will end badly. We recently topped the 300 Million mark in the U.S. population. How much can you learn from 10 thousand homes? I felt a great disturbance in The Force and now I know what it was.

Avatar image for DarkGhost89
DarkGhost89

"10,000 people is not an accurate test study by any means. What is that, 1/100th of the US population? While the findings could be useful, they are only as useful as they are accurate, and 10K is not accurate. " PLEASE REMEMBER THIS, YOU LEARN THIS FROM STATISTICS IN COLLEGE OR STATISTICS AP, 10,000 PEOPLE IS ENOUGH TO GET AN ACCURATE RESULT. Why? When a person take samples ramdomly, if you get enough, the sample drawn would equally represent the from the "pool" (the population of Americans). Doesn't 10/1000 and 10000/1000000 both have an answer of .01 (1%)?

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CheddarLimbo

Nielsen ratings are, no pun intended, overrated. The ratings mean almost nothing in terms of an accurate portrayal of the target demographics. However, the clout the company carries from perceived accuracy is astonishing. So basically, the numbers mean a lot to advertisers, but the numbers don't reflect the demographics.

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makemeweak

It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers this puts out - but in the end it won't affect anyhting I play, just like TV ratings don't affect anything I watch. A sample of 10,000 is a very respectable sample size - much higher than the sample size of most surveys/data mines.

Avatar image for sun_wyvrn
sun_wyvrn

10,000 people is not an accurate test study by any means. What is that, 1/100th of the US population? While the findings could be useful, they are only as useful as they are accurate, and 10K is not accurate.

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WolfSkill5544

Nielsen firm is just pure propaganda. If they really let everyone in the U.S to use their system of ratings, most of the sitcoms that are number one today, wouldn't be on the top. 10.000 houses ain't nothing.

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Hitman4Hire

How about instead of games, they just stop all together, and Nielsen just dies right now. 10 thousand is bull! No wonder so many reat shows get shot in the face so often, 10 thousand houses, full of obviously the dumbest people. Oh and those houses are probably full of fat couch potatoes that watch nothing but football and sitcoms... How about finding a way to track EVERYONE'S viewing habits through the cable itself?

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Alexandre_Palma

I hope developers don't start to simply follow Nielsen's advices of what a good game should be.

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DarkSaber2k

I have a baaaaaaaad feeling about this.

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RaiKageRyu

Ughh... doesn't sound too cool.

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vaejas

This is, uhm, "promising". Buy Uno once, play 2,000 times; wins out over, buy Madden every year, play 150 times. Net result: Madden skin packs annually for Uno!

Avatar image for nitrog
nitrog

"sccUniverse This is actually a bad thing. Game publishers will automatically kill so many creative concept/outside the box projects because Nielsens won't be as effective tracking niche titles as they will be for established titles/series. Furthermore, many, many gamers replay the same game for a loooonnng time. So what are they going to do, only focus on the newest systems and ignore evrything before them? This is biased also, since many old games would deserve to get sequels or updates but never will because there isn't an existing version on the newest systems. It just doesn't make any sense. TV is a much more controlled environment and with the use of Tivo-like devices and boxed TV shows on DVD, I highly doubt the numbers this research firm reports are even 50% accurate at BEST. 10,000 is also an extremely SMALL number to judge data for MILLIONS of players. So you are telling me that the kid down the street who is obsessed with Madden is going to tell the industry that AT LEAST 1,000 other gaming households like his LOVE football games 24/7? Puh-leeze. This is a numbskull idea. Advertising "geniuses" really need to be more productive and beneficial to the world then inventing stuff like this... " Obscure gaming will get lost exactly I couldn't of said it better myself i can see by your icon (shen-mue`) that you like the games that people often ignore. I like these as well as mainstream. but you do have to realize that it won't get rid of them completely there is always room for a underdog to come out with a shocker. like guitar hero. that was one of the most ambitious projects that didn't nessacarily have a bright future ahead of it i think mainly this will give software compaines better ways to determine their successes and failures the result gameing may become more mainstream but it will also become more profitable therefore maybe even cheaper or more may go into developing certain games that have been identified as being surefire hits. i think we can all agree that bouncer woulda been a whole lot better if it had more then 2 hours of game content.

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