In a survey released today, the NPD research group reported that the time spent gaming online went up by 10% from 2009.
The report titled Online Gaming 2010 surveyed over 18 thousand gamers from January 4 - 19. Amongst gamers who reported that they play games on at least one platform, only 54% said that they personally play games online, down from 56% and 55% in 2009 and 2008 respectively. But those who do play online are spending on average 8 hours a week doing so, up from 7.3 hours/week last year. The PC is also by far the platform most used for online gaming; almost 85% of online gamers said that they use a PC. Breaking it down, even if 1% less people are playing online in 2010 than in 2009, those that are fragging in MW2 or leveling their Captain in STO are doing it for longer amounts of time.
"While the percentage of the population that reports playing games has declined slightly, this study details other metrics which point to both stability and growth in both online and offline gaming," said Anita Frazier from NPD.
While the PC is online gaming king (And why wouldn't it be with the plethora of time sucking MMOGs?), the numbers for other consoles are worth investigating. The Xbox 360 leads the console pack with 48% of online gamers using the system, with the Wii and PS3 neck and neck at around 30%. The PS3 is the biggest story of 2010, as the amount of gamers using it to play online rose by over 10 percentage points.
Software has a bigger effect on these numbers than at first glance. I wonder if the growth of PS3 numbers online in January were in response to the amount of gamers who got MW2 for Christmas and spent their breaks taking out their friends and enemies online. NPD reported that it was the best-selling game on Sony's console last year, and it was so popular that it just might have skewed the numbers for online gaming.
In contrast, the Wii's biggest games this year were games like Wii Sports Resort and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which didn't have a large online component.