Online gaming rises as console revenue falls

As if we needed another reminder that Americans are broke. Yesterday, Games Beat broke down (h/t Kotaku)  a new market research recently published by comScore and NPD. The information isn’t all that surprising, so much as it is clearly indicative of our economic times.

Online gaming rose 22 percent in from last year’s numbers, to 87 million players in the US. Yahoo, EA Online, and Nickelodeon rounded out the top 3 online gaming sites (all with +14 million unique visitors), with honorable mentions for AOL, MSN, and Disney. Viral distribution of games is picking up too.  Mochimedia had 16.9 million users all by itself.

This type of data combined with the slumping console game sales suggests two things: 1) people are really bored at work and 2) gamers are seeking cheap or free games in much larger numbers. In fact, the rate of growth in online gaming is 10 times the growth rate of the US population.

We shouldn’t be all that surprised at these numbers. It’s far simpler and much easier on the bank account to play some online Tetris than to buy a $300 console and $60 games. Plus, the prevalence of gaming gadgets like iPhones is making access to simple flash games even easier. It remains unclear if players are moving away from console games and towards online games, or if the online gaming community is simply growing independently. Either way, 193 million users in a month is a number that the media and advertisers simply cannot ignore.