NPD study tracks online gamers by platform

Online study states the obvious: Online gamers prefer to play online via their PCs, even if there's a networked console nearby.

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Research mavens The NPD Group, those folks who tally weekly and monthly software sales and revenues figures generated by the game industry, today promoted the results of a study that sought to determine which is the preferred platform for online gaming.

The stats, in the study titled "Online Gaming: The Consumer Perspective for PC and Video Games," are hardly surprising. Most gamers use their PCs rather than consoles to access online gaming opportunities. And even among those who have both a networked PC and console in the same household, the PC is the favored platform to go online and play--by a "significant" margin, says NPD.

All told, 60 percent of the 7,400 repondents who own a networked PC, PS2, or Xbox use the network connection to play online--with most gamers going online via their PCs. NPD senior industry analyst Richard Ow says, "The seeds of online gaming were planted when the Internet was made available for commercial use in the early 1990s, so it’s not surprising to see that PC games have the home-court advantage when it comes to online gaming."

What is surprising, says Ow, is that 10 percent of online gamers access the Web via their mobile handset. That percentage, according to Ow, if poised to grow, could one day possibly match the percentage of gamers who use consoles for online gameplay. "With most mobile platforms being online-ready, they’re close to competing with the console systems for the attention of online gamers," he said.

Other key metrics from the study are as follows: PC gamers split their time between online and offline play 60:40, with a majority of the time allocated to online gaming. For console gamers it was the direct opposite. Those gamers spent 40 percent of their time online and the remaining 60 percent of their time in offline gameplay.

And in terms of gender, online gamers skew toward the guys, with 53 percent of online gamers male verses 47 percent female. And as for number of hours spent playing online verses offline, respondents said they played an average of 6.1 hours online and 5 hours per week offline.

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