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Online gaming drives US PC market revenues

The latest figures from retail analysts the NPD Group have revealed revenues of USD 1.4 billion for PC game sales in North America during 2005, significantly bolstered by a sharp rise in digital spending.

The latest figures from retail analysts the NPD Group have revealed revenues of USD 1.4 billion for PC game sales in North America during 2005, significantly bolstered by a sharp rise in digital spending.

The survey, which received 60,000 respondents, revealed that USD 344 million of the total revenue was generated by online gaming from subscription-based MMO titles such as World of Warcraft and pay-to-play causal online games.

Single game subscriptions accounted for USD 292 million, with online casual games and pay-per-play titles accounting for the remaining USD 54 million. Figures show a paid subscriber base of approximately 1.4 million for the MMO titles and 1.05 million for online casual games.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier commented: "While The NPD Groupâs retail tracking service shows what appears to be a decline in PC game sales, critical developments in the PC games industry, specifically the Internet, is fundamentally changing the PC software industry."

"With the increase in high speed Internet access, not only are users purchasing their games online, they are also willingly paying additional recurring fees over and above the price of the game to subscribe to services that let them play with others online," Frazier continued.

Exploring the differences in gender and age, NPD noted that 49 per cent of female gamers played casual games, compared to just 29 per cent purchasing single title subscription services. In terms of age, 55 per cent of subscription MMO gamers were 34 or older, whilst 87 per cent of casual gamers were found to be 25 or older.

The MMO and online casual games market has seen a tremendous surge in popularity in recent years, Vivendi's World of Warcraft paving the way for a phenomenal increase in dedicated online gaming.

Platform holders are keen to capitalise on the trend for the console market too, with Xbox Live rapidly becoming a key revenue generator for Microsoft, which will shortly be expanded to encompass cross-platform community gaming through Live Anywhere.

Author

Paul Loughrey

Contributor