Gaming and Used Sales Boom During Recession, Says Nielsen

Time spent playing games and used game purchases are up, and in fact way up over the past several months, says the Nielsen Company. Citing a new study that gauged game playing and purchasing habits during the recent recession, the media audience tracker said the number of hours gamers claim to be engaged is at an "all time high," while the purchase of used games and video game rental service have both increased to "record-breaking" levels since tracking began in 2006. The conclusion? When it comes to entertainment, consumers are opting to get more from, well, more.

Anyone surprised? Used games can literally double or triple their value if they're something long form, say Dragon Quest VIII (around $10 used) or Final Fantasy X (around $15 used). You can drop $10-$15 on a movie ticket, a watered-down drink, and a bag of oily, over-salted popcorn for a couple hours of generally trite escapism, or direct that fifteen bucks toward something that'll keep you occupied for dozens. Something you can play in the comfort of your home. Something you can start or stop at leisure. Something you're actually controlling and interacting with, as opposed to passively receiving.

Nielsen adds that new game sales have been soft for three reasons: Used-game purchases are at an all-time high, video game rentals too, and 2009's been lacking the "name" games (Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV) to bring in the crowds. Nielsen says awareness of new titles has dipped in 2009 to its lowest levels since 2007.

Importantly, Nielsen says it's not hardcore gamers driving up the usage averages, but mainstream gamers "playing more of the broadly appealing games" like Wii Fit, Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

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