Study: Female Web Gamers Outnumber Males 2 to 1

Of the 117 million Active Gamers in the United States—or people who are 13 years old or older, have a game console to call their own and who play a game for at least an hour every week—approximately 56 percent play some form of online game in 2006, according to Nielsen Entertainment’s third annual Active Gamer Benchmark Study. Not too surprising, but take this into consideration: Of those 65.5 million some-odd online gamers, almost 42 million—or 64 percent of them—were females.

And you thought video gamers were all teen- to college-age guys with bellies and a need for a shower.

While teenagers do make up the most significant percentage of what Nielsen calls Active Gamers at 40 percent, 8 percent, or roughly 15 million, are 45 years old or older, according to the study.

Some clarification is in order, however. Though females seem to be taking to the Web-gaming wave, males have been less inclined to use their PCs to satisfy gaming urges. But they still own the console game space by a factor of more than 2 to 1, the study found.

Another finding of note: Active Gamers increasingly are playing “social” games online, in which they interact with other gamers via the Web. The study found that on average, Active Gamers play five hours of interactive games in a week’s time, with teenagers leading the age demographic in that category with an average of seven hours a week playing such games, according to the release.

“The Active Gamer 2006 Report comes at a pivotal time in the evolution of the video game industry,” Emily Della Maggiora, Nielsen Interactive Entertainment senior vice president, said in a press release. “We see every day how important online gaming is in terms of connecting people and bringing communities of gamers together. [O]nline gaming has the power to unite gamers across the street and/or around the world.”

The study also found that PC-based gaming has made a major comeback in recent years due to the proliferation of high-speed broadband Web connections and the ability to play Massively Multiplayer Online Games in groups and connect in additional ways that consoles cannot provide.

Additional findings:

  • Sony and its PlayStation 2 system currently own the console space in the United States with 59 percent market share, followed by Microsoft’s Xbox with 33 percent and the Nintendo GameCube with 30 percent of the market. Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox 360, has only 15 percent of the console market in the United States. Many gamers do, however, own multiple consoles or multiple platforms.

  • Over the previous half-year, Active Gamers bought on average of four games, though only 10 percent of those were purchased online.

Nielsen surveyed 2,200 Active Gamers over the age of 12 for the study, conducted a “behavior segmentation analysis,” and even assembled focus groups to study and analyze the findings.

For more information, or to purchase the full survey, check out the Nielsen release, posted on Yahoo Finance.

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