Friday, September 21, 2007

Because Neilson has never been wrong about anything. *ahem*

We have been going over Nielson ratings (mostly for television) in class all week, so I thought I'd tie it together with the blog today. Back in July, Nielson Media Research launched Nielson GamePlay Metrics to measure PC and console video game usage. This new system provides electronic ratings and survey data to show the games and consoles being used, and the time periods they are being used for in an effort to better estimate what kind of games should be created for what systems, and represent the gaming audience to advertisers.

Results have been released for the months of May and June of this year, showing an estimated 68.1 million people using a video game console in June, for an average of 7.5 days a month. The clear market leader in gaming consoles at the moment is the PS2, which accounted for 42% of game play in June. Not terribly surprising when you consider how popular the PS2 has been and for how long. While all of the newest generation of consoles improved from May to June, they still have a long way to go to catch up with any of the older systems. Also found was that the average gaming session lasted for about one hour, except in the case of the PS3, where the average session lasted 83 minutes. Since Nielson GamePlay Metrics is based on the same infrastructure as their television ratings system, they can get the same kind of in-depth information about gamers and their households, such as seasonal patterns or the social class of the average Wii-owner, which is valuable information for advertisers.

Nielson claims to have "significantly advanced the understanding of how video game consoles are used and which games are actually being played", using a sample of 33,000 individuals ages 7 to 54. Qualifications to be included in the study were ownership of a console or PC, playing video games at least one hour a week, and having bought at least one game in the last six months. The question is, as with any ratings that Nielson provides, how accurate are their findings? If the little game advertising that exists is going to start depending on Nielson data, it's important that all key markets are properly identified and represented. Personally, I have never had great faith in Nielson, as they have only recently begun to include college students in their television research, meaning that for years they had been ignoring millions in the television-watching market. So how significantly have they advanced the understanding of gamers? Is there a significant portion of the market that is being left out (33,000 isn't that big a number in the scheme of things)? Should advertisers buy based on these findings? I don't know, but I guess it's nice that games are a big enough medium to finally get their own Nielson research.


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