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Current-gen gaming consoles in over half of US homes, digital purchases on the rise

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A recent report by Nielsen reveals that over half of US households now own a current-generation gaming console of some kind, and that game purchases and rentals are on the decline in lieu of digital content purchases.

xbox 360
xbox 360

February may have seen a significant drop in US retail game sales, but a recent study by Nielsen shows that console ownership is on the rise. According to the report, at the end of last year 56 percent of US households had at least one of the three current-generation gaming consoles, up six percent from 2010. Time spent playing video games also increased, jumping up seven percent from the prior year, driven largely by massive gains by the iPad (the Wii, by comparison, saw a 22 percent drop in gaming time). The downward trend in retail game sales is also echoed by the report. According to Nielsen, the amount of money gamers spent didn't decline, but the way in which they spent it did, with the average outlay on games and rentals dropping eight percent in favor of digital content purchases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, consoles across the board also saw increased use as streaming video devices. While some have posited that the rise of mobile gaming would harm the console and PC gaming industries, with 26 percent of gamers stating that they now play on multiple devices — a 7 percent bump from 2009 — for the moment it appears the two types of gaming are just complementary players in an increasingly larger arena.