According to the firm, 40% of United States residents aged 2 years or higher played an online game in 2007, with that figure expected to rise 2% in 2008. A whopping 90% of those who played online in 2007 reported using a PC to do so, with NPD describing the PC as "the driving force in online gaming."
Though the exact reasons were not specified, the high ratio of online PC gamers is most likely due to the abundance of massively multiplayer online games and free web-based casual titles available on the platform. Shacknews attempted to confirm this with NPD, but was told that information is not available to the media.
Renowned game designer Peter Molyneux recently commented on the shifting PC market, claiming that "the PC is just reinventing itself" and is "being owned more and more by casual gamers."
Only 19% of online players stated that they played online with a console, with the Xbox 360 accounting for half of that figure. Interestingly, Xbox 360 owners were reported to spend the most time gaming online per week, respectively followed by PC and PS3 gamers.
"Despite the buzz in the industry regarding online gaming, it is still relatively small compared to offline gaming," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. "There is still a large, untapped market for gaming in general and online gaming in particular."
The report noted that 3% said they own two of the three current-gen systems--PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii--with only 2% owning all three. It was not specified if those figures were based on the total US population or the percentage of those that play games.
To qualify as an online gamer, participants had to play games online using at least one of the following: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, or PSP.
Along with console and PC efforts, NPD's classification of video games includes mobile phone releases as well. The data for the report was collected through online surveys of 20,240 NPD Consumer Panel members aged 2 years or older, with a surrogate overseeing participants aged 2-12.