Nielsen: Video Game Usage Up 18%

The argument that next-generation gaming platforms would expand the video game industry got some added support Monday, as Nielsen reported that it had found video game penetration had increased 18 percent over the past two years.

In the fourth quarter of 2006, 45.7 million households owned a video game consoles, or about 41.1 percent. This compares with about 39.1 percent in 2005, and 35.2 percent in 2004. During this same period, the number of total television households increased 1.6 percent.

Nielsen suggested that these numbers could even increase more as both the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 launched late last year and likely did not have much of a material effect on overall results.

"The video game console has become a major player in the battle for the living room," Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services vice president Jeff Herrmann said. "In households across the country, consoles are successfully competing for consumers' time and attention."

Later this year, Nielsen plans to launch GamePlay Metrics, which for the first time will give an idea of what games, consoles and genres gamers are playing most often. This is expected to help with in-game advertising, as developers would be able to offer more specific demographic information on who is playing their games.

The report, titled "The State of the Console," found that two-thirds of men aged 18 to 34 who reside in television households have access to a video game console in the home.

At any given minute during the day, some 1.6 million people in the United States are using a video game console, the report said. Additionally, between September 18 and December 31, 2006, nearly 94 million people used a video game console for one minute or more.

Of the top 20 percent of gamers, average gaming time stood at 5 hours and 45 minutes.

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