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Console sales fall sharply while online game users rise 22%

By on July 13, 2009

One swallow does not make a summer, but with NPD data showing continued weakness in retail sales and ComScore reporting a strong rise in web gamers, are we moving to the end of the boxed game?

Yahoo Games screenshot

87 million Americans visited a gaming site in May 2009, up 22% from the same month in 2008. Yahoo! Games was the largest site with 19.3 million uniques while Electronic Arts (the only traditional games company in the list) was #2 with 18.0 million visitors.

Amongst the independents, SPIL (up 65% to 7.2 million visitors) made major inroads against companies such as Miniclip (up 12% to 8.4 million) and Wild Tangent (up 16% to 13.8 million.)

MSN Games and Real Arcade both lost visitors, two of only four sites in the top 25 that aren’t growing.

Venturebeat writer Dean Takahashi writes that the growth in the online games market is “a stark contrast to the slide in overall console game revenues in the U.S., which fell 23 percent compared to a year ago in dollar sales, according to market researcher NPD.

While monetization remains an issue for web games, the infrastructure costs and marginal cost of delivery are vastly lower. This is yet more evidence of the inevitable decline of boxed games.

Top Online Gaming Sites

May 2009 vs. May 2008

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Media Metrix

Total Unique Visitors (000)
May-2008 May-2009 % Change
Total Internet : Total Audience 190,858 193,825 2
Online Gaming 71,624 87,102 22
Yahoo! Games 18,340 19,391 6
EA Online 13,374 17,988 34
Nickelodeon Casual Games N/A 14,836 N/A
WildTangent Network 11,896 13,844 16
Disney Games 12,137 11,717 -3
MSN Games 10,017 8,986 -10
AOL Games 8,318 8,711 5
MINICLIP.COM 7,551 8,432 12
Betawave Partners – Partial List 3,894 7,406 90
Spil Games 4,345 7,163 65
GSN Games Network 910 6,034 563
Big Fish Games Sites 4,392 5,592 27
ARMORGAMES.COM 2,684 3,860 44
Y8.COM 1,243 3,537 185
GAMEVANCE.COM 3,982 3,466 -13
RealArcade Sites 6,143 3,427 -44
IWIN.COM 2,112 3,356 59 Ltd. 1,601 2,872 79
GAMENINJA.COM 1,172 2,434 108
Stardoll Sites N/A 2,294 N/A

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:

One Comment

  1. Free Games

    January 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Interesting statistic. I think gamers now are more into online games, because it provide more than a game, it also provide connection with other people

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