One-Third of U.S. Adults Own Game Consoles?

A new report from Nielsen-Netratings (PDF) finds that more than one third of “online” U.S. adults own a video game console, contradicting the popular notion that video games are strictly in the realm of kids—or, at best, slacker teens who would otherwise be out on the streets throwing bricks through windows. According to Nielsen, 36.5 of U.S. adults own a gaming console; 71 percent of those adults are married and 66 percent of them have at least one child in the household.

“As game consoles have become increasingly sophisticated, families have incorporated them into their centralized home media centers, which include the television, digital recording device, digital music player, and the PC,” said Carolyn Creekmore, Nielsen-NetRatings’ senior director of media analytics. “Video game technology will only benefit other media, since what makes a video game fun and exciting brings life to movies and music as well. Companies that can leverage these new technologies across a number of products will have a distinct advantage in the competitive marketplace.”

Nielsen-Netratings also found console owners turn to retailer Best Buy, finding some 90 percent of the the retailer’s Web site users are video game console owners. Amazon and Gamestop ranked well too, with console owners representing 89 and and 88 percent of those sites’ unique visitors.

Nielsen also reports that the recent release of the so-called “next-generation” consoles from Nintendo and Sony (the Wii, and PlayStation 3, respectively, joining the previously-launched Xbox 360) has impacted visitorship to the console system’s flagship Web sites. Traffic to nintendo.com increased 91 percent from February 2006 to February 2007, rising from 856,000 visitors to 1.6 million visitors. Microsoft’s xbox.com also saw year-over-year growth, climbing from 827,000 visitors in February 2006 to 1.2 million visitors in February 2007. However, Sony’s playstation.com saw an 8 percent year-over-year decline, dropping from 1.1 million visitors in February 2006 to just over 1 million visitors in February 2007.

As usual, Nielsen doesn’t disclose any methodology for these report results, so the numbers must necessarily be greeted with some skepticism, and extrapolating visitorship to the “home sites” for the top three gaming consoles into consumer interest in the consoles themselves is an unwarranted stretch. But we suppose it is interesting that Nielsen believes video game console owners are 71 percent more likely to be interested in collecting comic books than the “average” Web user.