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Casual online gamers log more hours, but spend less money

Wednesday, 17th June 2009 17:46 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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Future Ads has revealed that casual gamers play online longer, but at the same time spend less money on gaming.

The survey conducted by Gamevance shows that 61 percent of 8,000 casual gamers polled spend longer periods of time now than a year ago with 80 percent of them having cut back on console purchases. Also, 77 percent feel console gaming is too expensive.

“While the flight from paid console games and the surge in casual online gaming has certainly been intensified by the recession, this data also suggests that gaming will follow the path of all media, whether newspapers, music or film: the inevitable migration to the more efficient, cost-effective, consumer-friendly online model,” said Jared Pobre, CEO of Future Ads.

“The extraordinary crossover between the casual and console markets, the fact that some online gaming sites are routinely attracting and monetizing millions of monthly users, and the growing consumer demand for online hubs where every kind of game can be played, suggests that powerful and profitable partnerships between console and casual companies may – and should – lie ahead.”

Full thing through the break.

Via Massively.

Gamers Report Dramatic Cutbacks in Paid and Console Games in 2009, While Online Casual Gaming Surges, According to New Survey from Gamevance.com

Nine in Ten Cut Back on Console Games; 2/3rds Spend More Time Gaming Online; 90% Predict a Console-less FutureOnline Casual Gamer Also a Console Gamer; Online Gaming Spread Evenly Across Gender and Age Groups

06.01.2009 – Irvine, CA – June 1st, 2009 – As the gaming industry converges at the E3 Expo, Future Ads, owner and operator of Top-5 casual gaming site www.Gamevance.com and recently launched game hub www.PlaySushi.com, announced the findings of a series of surveys conducted among over 8,000 online casual game players in April and May 2009.

This look at the current online gaming landscape not only reveals who’s playing, how much, where, and why – but uncovers pronounced shifts in the consumer position on paid versus online casual (and predominantly free) gaming models – as well as in the current online gamer’s demographic profile.

As the economy’s downward spiral quickened in 2009, the survey reveals that consumer spending on paid online and console games was sharply cut, while the amount of time spent playing online casual games accelerated dramatically. Industry reports* have shown significant declines in console game revenues in the last several months, but these new surveys suggest this weakness may not only be ongoing, but may intensify. Among the nearly 80% of casual gamers whose households also own consoles, roughly four in five report they’re making ‘significant’ cuts in their console game, accessories, and peripherals spending this year. The surveys also validate wider industry reports** on the dramatic growth of online casual gaming in the recession: 61% report they’re spending more time playing games online this year than last.

The Gamevance surveys also reveal dissolving boundaries between casual and hardcore users and markets, a disappearing gender gap, and increased online gaming adoption across all age groups. Furthermore, ad-supported free online gaming proves to be a powerful model, as does mobile gaming. Additionally, according to the surveys, consumers predict a console-less future, with 90% of respondents reporting they believe that physical consoles will become ‘a thing of the past,’ and that they will ultimately be able to access all games from their computer. Finally, gamers show a strong preference for online portals or hubs that aggregate games, where hardcore and casual games can be easily accessed, with 96% preferring a single online hub versus multiple sites.

“While the flight from paid console games and the surge in casual online gaming has certainly been intensified by the recession, this data also suggests that gaming will follow the path of all media, whether newspapers, music or film: the inevitable migration to the more efficient, cost-effective, consumer-friendly online model,” said Jared Pobre, CEO of Future Ads. “The extraordinary crossover between the casual and console markets, the fact that some online gaming sites are routinely attracting and monetizing millions of monthly users, and the growing consumer demand for online hubs where every kind of game can be played, suggests that powerful and profitable partnerships between console and casual companies may – and should – lie ahead.”

KEY FINDINGS:

FREE IS KEY: PAID GAMING TAKING HITS – ONLINE CASUAL USAGE SOARS
Consumers report slashing their spending on paid console and online games this year. Among the nearly 4 in 5 casual gamers owning consoles, 79% report ‘significantly’ cutting back on game purchases this year over 2008, with another 10% reporting they’re cutting ‘somewhat.’ There is also a similar tale for console accessories/peripherals: 85% are cutting back significantly, with another 7% cutting ‘somewhat.’ For paid online gaming (subscriptions, etc.) 83% are cutting significantly, and 7% ‘somewhat.’ Conversely, online casual gaming continues to boom: 61% are spending more time playing online games this year than last.

When asked what the single biggest drawback to console games was, 77% singled out ‘they’re simply too expensive,’ swamping the less than 4% that pegged other specific obstacles: ‘the technology becomes obsolete;’ ‘not all games work on all platforms,’ or ‘can’t travel with them.’

POWER OF AD-SUPPORTED FREE MODELS – AWARENESS OF ONLINE SITES SPREADS VIRALLY
78% of respondents report preferring free online games that are supported by advertising vs. the 22% preferring paid games without ads. And casual gamers state they’re far more likely to click on ads when they are shown at the beginning of a game (55%) vs. the 11% that chose ‘at the end of the game,’ 3% ‘around the game,’ and the less than 1% who stated ‘in the middle of a game’. Furthermore, there’s strong evidence that awareness of online gaming sites is generated through viral word-of-mouth: 55% report learning about sites they use ‘from a friend,’ 22% named online advertisements, and 13% found these sites through a search engine.

CASUAL GAMERS ARE INCREASINGLY CONSOLE GAMERS TOO
The data seriously questions any hard-and-fast walls between casual and console gamers or markets. 79% of casual gamers report their households own a console, with 50% of crossover gamers owning one, 13% owning two, and 16% owning three or more consoles. And 51% of online gamers surveyed personally play hardcore games. The time spent with, and enjoyment of, these platforms, is notably balanced: 52% spend more time with hardcore games, 48% more with casual. And despite multi-million production budgets for hardcore titles, 46% actually find casual games more entertaining.

Casual gamers are embracing mobile: 49% now play games on cell phones/mobile devices, and among those casual/mobile crossovers, 56% say they plan to spend more time playing games on mobile devices in the future.

THE GENDER GAP IS HISTORY – AND ALL AGE GROUPS ARE CASUAL GAMERS
The ‘common wisdom’ that casual gamers skew heavily female and middle-aged needs to be replaced with new wisdom that the ‘face’ of the casual gamer now looks more like the average American. 50% of casual gamers are now male, 50% female… and usage is spread across all ages, if skewing slightly younger. 36% are under 24, 13% are 25-30, 19% are 30-40, 18% are 40-50 and 14% are 50-plus. So, 49% are under 30, and 32% are over 40.

CUBICLE DWELLERS NOT WASTING TIME AT WORK ON ONLINE GAMES
Employers, take heart: 76% of online gamers report they primarily play games at home, vs. the 24% primarily playing at work/school. And games are played across the day: 35% primarily play in the morning – 31% in the evening – 16% in afternoon – 14% late at night – and 3% at lunch.

CONSUMERS PREDICT A CONSOLE-FREE FUTURE AND DEMAND
GAME-AGGREGATING ONLINE HUBS
90% of respondents believe that someday physical consoles will become ‘a thing of the past,’ and they will ultimately be able to access all games from their computer. And despite the explosive proliferation of casual gaming sites today, consumers restrict their usage to just a handful of sites: while 76% play at multiple sites, out of those, 83% only play at a total of two sites. This may be why consumers report being overwhelmingly predisposed to online gaming hubs/portals: 96% state they’d be more likely to use a single online hub (aggregating games from favorite sites), than visit numerous sites offering a single brand.

The Gamevance Surveys were conducted among over 8,000 Gamevance users in April and May 2009.

* NPD Group reported sales of video game software in the U.S. fell 23% in April 2009 from the year-ago period MarketWatch 8:17 PM ET May 14, 2009 http://www.marketwatch.com/m/Story/6c2acc23-558e-4d77-a912-e018ada57cb4; In April, according to NPD Group, the industry posted revenue of $1.03 billion, down 16.9 percent from the $1.24 billion it recorded in April 2008. Sales for the month were also down 30 percent from $1.43 billion in March CNET May 14th, 2009 http://news.cnet.com/8301-10797_3-10241545-235.html

** comScore Press Release Game On! Online Gaming Surges as Gamers Seek Out Free Alternatives in Tight Economy (1/28/2009) reports that the online gaming category grew 27 percent during 2008 to 86 million visitors in December 2008, while the total time spent playing online games jumped 42 percent.

About Future Ads
Founded in 2001, Future Ads (www.futureads.com) is one of the online industry’s most rapidly growing interactive marketing firms. The Company owns and operates Gamevance.com (www.gamevance.com), a Top-5 game site which attracts 12 million monthly unique visitors and is one of the fastest-growing game sites and Web properties overall. The company enables advertisers to target the fast growing, highly desirable, and responsive casual gaming audience through Gamevance.com and through its recently launched casual game hub, PlaySushi.com (www.playsushi.com). The company’s award-winning Resultlinks, a self-serve and in-text display ad network, is the fastest growing in its industry. Blending traditional and new media expertise with cutting edge technology, Future Ads’ mission is to bring together Interactive entertainment with savvy marketers to produce the most profitable source of Internet media.

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