Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Majority of Online Leisure Time is Being Spent Playing Games

With all of the media attention as of late, one would think that things like online video and social networking take the cake when it comes to leisure time spent online. But this isn’t the case. According to research firm Parks Associates, casual gaming actually leads the online leisure activity race, with 34% of U.S. adults admitting to playing games on the 'net weekly. Video clip watching is right on gaming’s heels at 29%, followed by social networking, which was surprisingly only cited as a weekly occurence by 19% of those surveyed.

This could be attributed to the age range of the survey sample: I’d guess the majority of the participants were above 30, while the average age of a social networker is undoubtedly much younger. Had they conducted this same survey among 16-30-year-olds, I’ll bet the numbers would have been skewed much differently.

Nevertheless, the study discovered that online gaming has grown 79% year-over-year, compared to 46% growth in social networking. However, video streaming sites blew gaming out of the water when it comes to growth, with an impressive 123% year-over-year rate. Interestingly, although a recent study by Parks’ claimed that consumers weren’t interested in downloading videos online, the results of this new survey imply that they have no problem watching them there!

This survey sheds some light on the often overlooked ‘net activity of “casual” gaming. I’m a victim of this growing trend myself, having engaged in a quick game of MSN Bejeweled 2 every now and then when I’m unwinding at home. It just goes to show that, even in a world with complex, first-person shooter, car chasing, gremlin massacring games, there’s still a thriving market that simply wants to match three shapes together repeatedly until a game board is cleared.

[Photo: MSN's Bejeweled 2, which is accessible via the MSN Games page.]

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