Women now playing more games in US: Nielsen

MUMBAI: Girls just wanna have fun. So, they are picking up more gaming equipment in the US.

This fact came to light in a Nielsen benchmark report on the gaming industry. This is the first installment of a bi-annual study and was released by Nielsen Entertainment's Interactive Group.

The benchmark report found that 39 per cent of gamers are female and that nearly 24 per cent of all gamers are over the age of 40. Nearly 40 per cent of US households own at least one of the following game systems for game play -- PC, home console or handheld device. In terms of cross ownership, the study found that 23 per cent of gamers own all three types of gaming devices - PC, console and handheld.

Women between the ages of 18 to 24 show relatively high entertainment expenditure and time availability. This suggests that there are opportunities for publishers to target this consumer. The use of video games for entertainment is directly related to overall leisure time availability. Younger gamers reported the most leisure time and are most likely to play games.

The other key findings include:

* Gamers are growing beyond the traditional 8-34 year-old male target

* Women, Hispanics and African-Americans are an underserved and emerging market for interactive entertainment

* For males, spending on games comes second only to DVDs and before CDs, MP3 and music purchases

* Women and older adults are playing games in increasing numbers

* Graphics dominate as a significant motivation for purchase of specific titles and next generation hardware

* There is a strong connection between DVD and game consumption to be exploited in marketing and cross-promotion

* While Caucasians report spending the most money per month on DVDs, African-Americans and Hispanics report spending more money per month on games and mobile services.

The report has also explored consumer sentiment towards future next generation devices such as 'Xbox 2/Xenon' and the 'PS3' home consoles. The report found that at this time consumer response to next generation consoles is lukewarm and only minimally heightened by decreasing price.

Active gamers who express some interest in purchasing one of the next generations consoles say that they are more likely to wait some time after release before purchasing the system. Also important is that among the current consoles, Xbox holds up slightly better than PS2 in retaining consumer loyalty.

Nielsen Entertainment CEO Andy Wing said, "As interactive entertainment aims to take a more central place in the living room, we will continue to monitor consumer awareness and purchase interest of next-generation consoles, and more broadly, the ways in which all consumers are responding to competing forums for their leisure time."

The report is a first for the interactive entertainment space, a medium which has flourished among the young male demographic and has until today, been guided more by instinct and technology than empirical data. The second installment of the report will be released later this year.

Nielsen further states that the reports will assist developers, marketers and interactive entertainment sales executives in strategy and planning decisions. The reports will provide the entertainment industry, more broadly, with a clear picture of video games today and their potential as a thriving entertainment medium in the not so distant future.

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