Tough times mean that consumers are scaling back on a lot of things but according to the NPD Group, subscriptions to online games aren't one of them.
The NPD's latest consumer study shows that while people are cutting back on "traditional" subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, expenditures on "entertainment content" subscriptions are actually growing as people try to squeeze more bang out of their bucks. Magazines and newspapers still have greater overall penetration than online games, but the gap is shrinking: The percentage of U.S. households with a newspaper subscription fell by two percent to 29 percent, while magazine subscription rates dropped the same amount, to 41 percent. Entertainment subscriptions, on the other hand, are up by seven percent year over year and 14 percent of households now have a subscription to some form of online game.
"Despite concerns that the recession would cause consumers to reduce spending on entertainment subscription services, most forms of subscription entertainment are doing just fine," says NPD entertainment industry analyst Russ Crupnick.
"Consumers are clearly looking to the value offered by entertainment subscriptions and like what they get for their money," he continued. "Plus, new technologies and products have helped bolster data plans and other newer kinds of subscription-based services."
I'm a bit of an anachronism in this particular area of gaming; despite being dedicated to a platform almost purpose-built for online gaming, I haven't had an online game subscription since Air Warrior. (Look it up, noobs.) But compared to the cost of an average night out, monthly fees for MMOGs and services like Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network are tremendous bargains and with an ever-increasing focus on exploiting the online market, that popularity is sure to continue to grow.