How have gamers responded to the recession? While much of the conversation has focused on fluctuations in new game sales, a new study "The Value Gamer: Play and Purchase Behavior in a Recession" by the Nielsen Company shows there is much more to the story. Over the past several months, the number of hours that gamers claim to be playing is at an all time high, part of a rising trend in gameplay that began in 2007. Additionally, gamers have increased their purchase of used games to record-breaking totals since the Video Game Tracking survey began asking about this in 2006. The same is true for subscriptions to video game rental services by mail. Taken together, these trends point to gamers' continued engagement with the category even as their budgets have come under pressure. Overall, the recession has not abated the trend of increasing gameplay and may have in fact accelerated it as gamers look to get more value out of the games they own.
"Primarily, we believe mainstream gamers are playing more of the broadly appealing games (i.e Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and Rock Band) pushing their hours of gameplay up," said Michael Flamberg, director of client consulting, Nielsen Games. "The social aspects of these games have engaged them. We don’t believe hardcore gamers are driving up the usage averages we've observed. Second, gamers may be looking to stretch their entertainment dollar further through playing games they own more. The importance of value for them is evident in the findings on used game purchase."
In terms of why new game sales have been soft, Nielsen offers three contributing factors that explain this:
For more, download The Value Gamer: Play and Purchase Behavior in a Recession and read the coverage in the Los Angeles Times.
A gamer is defined as claiming to have purchased a title in the past 6 months and played for at least 1 hour per week on any of the current consoles or the PC.