HOME Technology 2004
Games no longer just teen domain
PC holds place beside consoles
Interactive games remain the fastest growing entertainment sector with the momentum escalating through on-line action, mobility and enhancements while the market awaits next generation consoles.

And it’s not just pubescent males driving things forward. Originally games were the domain of teenage boys playing Nintendo and Sega. Now worldwide the dominant console maker is Sony up against Microsoft and Nintendo and the average gamer is 29 . In fact a third of gamers are women.

One report suggests there are more adult women playing video games make up 21 per cent of the market – that’s more than boys aged 6-17.

Locally, Interactive Software Association of New Zealand (ISANZ) executive officer Garth Wyllie says Sony’s Playstation 1 and PS2 collectively have 36 per cent market share and Microsoft’s Xbox around 22 per cent

PS2 game sales suggest penetration is relatively high and while the new mini PS2 is network ready and adds a few extras, he says it’s substantially the same machine.

The PC games market is looking healthy with just on 36 per cent share of games sold, defying the global trend. The Gameboy is the only handheld game registering on the charts here.

Worldwide revenues of game hardware and software topped $US25 billion in the year to May 2004.

Dramatic shifts in the distribution of entertainment through wireless and online global markets are expected to propel the global market to $US55.6 billion in 2008, an annual growth rate of 20.1 per cent.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2004-2008, the majority of growth will come from the Asia/Pacific region moving up 23 per cent from $US8.4 billion in 2003 to an expected $23.8 billion in 2008.

The report covers spending on console games, PC games, online games and wireless games, but not hardware and accessories.

Sony's PlayStation2 which has 20 million units in the US alone is expected to continue its dominance over the highly competitive Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube.

Game sales are expected to remain fairly flat through 2005 before surging ahead in 2006 and 2007 following the launch of next generation console games.

While the report says slow dial-up speeds will make online games less exciting, the market will still expand to 25 million online players in 2008 through new games, consoles, and greater adult appeal.

The PC game market is expected to shrink from a spend of $US2 billion in 1999 to $1 billion in 2008, unable to compete with the speed and sophisticated graphics of next generation games.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 2004 consumer research reveals 70 per cent of all male gamers want games to look and sound better with less licensed material and more original content. And while mainstream players want games that are easier to play the more discerning gamer wants a deeper and more complex experience.

Meanwhile New Zealand gamers seem to have a strong interest in fast and furious driving with V8 Supercars, Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto and Gran Tourismo consistently high in the sales figures across PC and Xbox. While Fable on the Xbox is the top selling title, others that are riding high include Sims, Star Wars and Tony Hawk skateboarding titles.

Pre-sales for Microsoft’s flagship game Halo 2 had reached 1.5 million ahead of launch including 5000 in New Zealand.

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