06/11/2012 04:02 EDT

Video Game Consumption Up 46 Per Cent In Canada, Study Says


Canadian consumers snapped up new video games at a frenzied pace in the months leading up to February, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were paying to play, according to a new report.

Consumers acquired more than 77.6 million games for different devices within the six months leading up to February of this year, the market research firm NPD Group said. Acquisition of new titles in the same six months last year topped out at about 53.3 million, said Darrel Ryce, director of technology and entertainment for NPD Group.

Although that amounts to a 46 per cent growth in the acquisition of video games compared to the same period the previous year, NPD Group noted the biggest driver boosting the numbers was free games and downloaded demos.

While video game consumption jumped substantially in recent months, the video game industry experienced only a four per cent uptick in revenue.

"I think it's important to note that although we're seeing such a significant growth in the acquisition, the revenue growth at four per cent certainly isn't as strong," Ryce said.

"But the market is showing growth — a lot of that obviously coming from the free games."

Sales of new games on discs and cartridges experienced a decline of four per cent this year. Ryce said that "free gaming" downloads accounted for more than half – or 58 per cent – of total acquisitions in the six months ending February 2012, according to his company’s estimates. That’s an increase from the previous year, when free gaming was about 45 per cent of total acquisitions.

"It is extremely important, therefore, to completely understand how today’s gamers are acquiring games and how these methods are changing in the face of the market evolution," he said in a release.

As for where most of the game development industry’s revenue increases were coming from in Canada, NPD pointed towards the used-video-game market, where revenue was up 46 per cent. Purchased downloaded add-on content jumped 143 per cent.

The NPD Group's Video Games Acquisition in Canada report was based on online survey responses from nearly 4,000 members of a consumer panel who reported owning at least one gaming device. The survey was conducted from Feb. 14 to 19, with the respondents ranging in age from 13 to 54. Ryce said a margin of error was not published with the study.

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