UK survey reveals massive gaming growth
Games now take up more time than reading magazines and newspapers for many; mobile, social platforms boom.
Gaming is now more popular than print media, according to the latest UK National Gamers Survey. In an average week in the UK, males now play games for just under five hours, compared to reading newspapers and magazines for under four. Seventy-three percent of the UK population now plays games, according to the pan-European survey that looked at the responses of more than 2,000 people in the UK.
This can partially be attributed to the large rise in casual gaming. Games portals such as Shockwave.com and PopCap.com are now visited by 41 percent of men and 47 percent of women. The survey, based on 2,226 respondents in the UK, reflects the massive growth in casual gaming platforms. Former Playfirst CEO John Welch announced at GDC '08 that "we will have succeeded when 'casual games' goes away as a category and 'hardcore games' is the niche." A Forbes report from the same year reported that Europeans prefer "short, so-called casual games" to the likes of core titles such as Halo.
Social gaming on the Internet on sites such as Facebook and MySpace has now reached 11 percent, significantly growing in popularity, though lagging behind the US where the figure reportedly stands at 24 percent. It is also proving particularly popular with women, with social gaming being the only platform where females outnumber the males. In terms of raw numbers, more women play Brain Training games than any other genre, though they're outnumbered by men in that category.
Mobile gaming has also seen a sharp increase in use, doubling to 20 percent in the past year, thanks to the success of new platforms such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android. Apple itself described the iPhone as a "superior" platform to both the Nintendo DS and Sony's PSP.
Those new platforms and portals have seen gaming gain a significant amount of traction with the older generation--42 percent of respondents over 50 spent more time gaming than reading magazines. The younger generation seems even more set on gaming, with boys aged 8 to 12 spending more time playing games than browsing the Internet.
The Wii, often regarded as the console for casual games, helped Nintendo reach record sales of $16.2 billion (£10 billion) in 2008. Though recent financials have been less than impressive, the company still posted a profit of $442 million, much better than rival Sony, who posted a loss of $390 million (£224 million), and Microsoft, who posted a loss of $130 million (£81 million).
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